Close to the Glass
Feb 26, 2014 Issue #49 - February/March 2014 - Portlandia
The career trajectory of German polymaths The Notwist has always been one of steady evolution and mutation. We've long waved auf wiedersehen to the early '90s punk stylings of The Notwist and Nook, and now it seems the sentimental bedroom electronica of Shrink and Neon Golden is headed the same way. Close to the Glass is at once the most diverse and the most alive record the band have put out in some time.
The four-piece took to processing each other's performances live during the recording of Close to the Glass, a technique that goes some way to explaining its more frenetic digital moments. The modular contractions of opener "Signals," the jerky viscera of the album's title track all suggest a spirited sense of improvisation that—Germanic stereotypes aside—prizes bodily instinct over intellect and pragmatism. Simultaneously, there's a song-to-song stylistic variance at the core of Close to the Glass: the anxiety-ridden acoustic number "Casino" juxtaposed against the shifting, jittering samples of "From One Wrong Place to the Next," the rattling indie-pop of "Kong" and "Seven Hour Drive" existing in stark contrast to 9-minute, lilting instrumental "Lineri."
The Notwist have never succumbed to stagnant obsession with one genre, but never in the scope of a single album have they been so divergent. Close to the Glass is a forum in which ramshackle indie-pop, acoustic balladry, and expansive electronic sonic explorations happily coexist, and it's all the better for it. (www.notwist.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 8/10