German indie veterans the Notwist draw from Chicago’s jazz community for the new Vertigo Days | Music Review | Chicago Reader

German indie veterans the Notwist draw from Chicago’s jazz community for the new Vertigo Days 

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click to enlarge The Notwist

The Notwist

Gerald von Foris

Long-running German group the Notwist perfected their airy combination of lovelorn indie rock and tender electronic sounds nearly two decades ago, but once they got it just right, they apparently decided never to repeat themselves. They preceded the new Vertigo Days (Morr Music) with an instrumental album steeped in the wallpaper aesthetics of library music (2015’s Messier Objects) and a live full-length whose tension and aggression contrast with the relatively restrained feel of their studio work (2016’s Superheroes, Ghostvillains & Stuff). For Vertigo Days, they reached out to musicians outside indie rock, and two prominent Chicago jazz musicians make crucial contributions: Angel Bat Dawid’s snaking clarinet intensifies the hypnotic magnetisim of “Into the Ice Age,” and Ben LaMar Gay’s resonant vocals bring a serene power to the nonchalant trip-hop of “Oh Sweet Fire.” The Notwist experiment with their sound throughout the album, which helps me hear its familiar baseline elements differently. Markus Acher’s tender, understated vocals on “Where You Find Me” remind me of the band’s best classic material, but when the clanging, stuttering percussion comes in, I can’t keep hearing this song as the same old band.   v

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