Music News

The Notwist

If you've ever wanted to just feel stoned, turn out all the lights and watch the image generator on your computer's MP3 player. Without some green, the closest parallel to being blissfully baked lies in the glow of those gurgling, psychedelic screen savers. The best of these, ones my friends and I call "travelers," transport the viewer through winding tubes of light along a roller coaster of rainbow wisps.

No band makes a better soundtrack for this near-bud astral plane than the Notwist, German techheads who redefined the experimental bridge between pop and IDM with 2002's Neon Golden. Their latest, Different Cars and Trains, is a set of glitchy, itchy remixes from Neon Golden and a trio of European B-sides. The five-song EP clocks in at just under half an hour, more a supplement to Neon Golden than a follow-up. That said, the two remixes by Notwist's Martin Gretschmann (who operates here under the moniker Console) and the contribution by Domino labelmates Four Tet warrant some heavy listening. The looped extractions from Neon Golden's title track set the pace by manipulating the band's original text in mesmerizing, inoffensive repetition. The Console remix of "Pilot" takes inspiration from the band's live sets, improvising a repetitious lyrical riff over a near-disco thump. The collection's standout comes with the Four Tet/Manitoba reworking of "This Room," a dizzying, eight-minute ping-pong match of super-stereo synth patches that aggressively departs from the band's original material.

When the visualizer whirs along to the record's final track, "Different Cars and Trains (Loopspool Version)," the dub-heavy touch of reggae is the perfect faux 4:20. The record's coda is entrancing and soporific, fading with a subdued glimmer. If you have the computer light show set up right, when the music fades, you might even see a dissipating cloud of smoke.

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Nate Cavalieri