German genre shape shifters The Notwist brought their electric sound to den Atelier on Tuesday night.
Having begun their career back in 1991 with their self titled grunge-metal orientated debut album, The Notwist have become as well known for their eclectic sound as anything else. After experimenting with a whole host of sounds through the 90s they found an international audience with the critically acclaimed fifth studio album “Neon Golden”, with some publications proclaiming it as one of the best of the decade.
Since then they have continued to evolve and having always been lauded as a must see live act they finally released their first live album “Superheroes, Ghostvillains +Stuff” earlier this year.
As The Notwist took to the stage at the early time of 8:40pm there was a somewhat subdued atmosphere around Atelier as the house lights were still up and there was quite a sparse crowd, however I’m putting this down to their stage time which I think caught a lot of the audience off guard. For the crowd who were there early they got to see the band kick off the evening with the ambient intro to “Day 7” which danced around the ever present xylophone with the tranquil texture of Markus Acher’s subdued vocals sitting on top before the galloping drums and synth drove the song forward.
Whilst The Notwist have been known to jump from genre to genre between albums they are also just as proficient at doing so during the one song, as “Kong” began as a straight forward indie twee number before being transformed through small bells and beads rattles to glittering jingles on the xylophone and looping electronics on the key pads which drove it towards a crushing crescendo. It’s these directional shifts that set them apart from their contemporaries and always keep you on your toes, never quite sure where they’re going to take you next.
With decks and a xylophone on stage the band have the instruments to take each song wherever they want and with “This Ride” they certainly cranked it up a few notches as the driving percussion and a wave of electronic gurgles and throbbing beats took the song to a more Jungle sound live, filling Atelier with a wall of sound.
The beauty in their set is that however much might be going on in each song, and there is a lot, it never sounded cluttered, there is a clarity in the chaos with the feeling that every bleep and tweak is perfectly timed and fully intentional, with nothing left to chance. This almost free jazz ethos is what drives the bands sound to the limit but without ever falling over the edge.
For a band that have their core in alternative indie they certainly know how to transport you into the darkest dingiest of small underground clubs as the hit us with a triple header of “Run Run Run”, “Neon Golden” and “Pilot” which ebbed and flowed before another euphoric crescendo.
With over 25 years of intricate experimental sounds behind them, The Notwist always had the prospect of being an exciting live band and so they turned out to be. I now understand why there were requests for a live album, as their songs grew to new levels in the live environment and produced moments of sheer delight and wonder. If you have even a fleeting interest in the band then make sure you see them live as you’ll not be disappointed.
den Atelier – 13.12.16