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The Notwist

Vertigo Days

Morr Music

Released: 14th February 2021



Crystal clear 3-sided vinyl, heavy wide-spine outer sleeve, incl. printed inners & poster
3xLP Black Vinyl
CD



In any moment we all need to have a sense of what we’re about. In 2021 an emerging theme is a new narrowness, this is felt particularly acutely here in Scotland where we’re having to adapt to a worldview that is at odds with what most of us voted for. Sometimes it’s hard to say exactly what you stand for but maybe it can be explained in small ways that together make a whole.

The Notwist return, Vertigo Days, is a magnificent all-encompassing sweep of a record - a timely reminder that music is no respecter of geographical boundaries and artificial limitations. It's an important record - generous in spirit and refusing to rest on previously accrued laurels. It’s a record about reaching out, about adventure. Three dedicated, inquisitive musicians - Markus and Micha Acher and Cico Beck - determined to use their Munich hq as a launch-pad to somehow make things work at this complicated, impractical time. Markus: “We wanted to question the concept of a band by adding other voices and ideas, other languages, and also question or blur the idea of national identity.”

The Notwist have always been a mixture of the traditional and the new. They always seem like a group that enjoys the jam and more than ever I can hear in their music the kind of dynamics that were second nature to their predecessors, especially Can. Maybe they don’t play together every day but it feels like they all know each others music quite well by now and have a strong group sound with flashes of inspired individualism. Vertigo Days is their first album in seven years and it feels completely fresh and vital. There’s an intensity about it but also a thoughtfulness, a fire and in places a sense of calm. It joins up, it’s got the ebb and flow of that kind of European cinema which is both slightly everyday and extraordinary in its detail.

Vertigo Days is not surprisingly partly reflective of the group’s time working on cinema and theatre, and this comes across in the rich, luminous photographic artwork by Lieko Shiga that adorns the cover. It’s amazingly been seven years since The Notwist’s last album, Close To The Glass, but rather than abandoning the group, it feels like the members other activities have made this record what it is - these activities include Spirit Fest, Hochzeitskapelle, Alien Ensemble, Joasihno, guest appearances, a record label (Alien Transistor), helping organise the Minna Miteru compilation of Japanese independent pop & running a festival (Alien Disko). This community building work is at the core of Vertigo Days - they’ve built a new platform for themselves and others.

Late last year they released an extraordinary single, Ship, in collaboration with Saya from Tenniscoats. It’s here and still sounds like one of the best things they’ve ever done. Other contributions include American multi-instrumentalist Ben LaMar Gay on Oh Sweet Fire, jazz clarinetist and composer Angel Bat Dawid on the spaced-out dream-pop of Into The Ice Age, while Argentinian electronica songwriter Juana Molina gifts some gorgeous singing and electronics to Al Sur, which is currently on BBC6 most evenings. Saya also reappears as a member of Japanese brass band Zayaendo, who guest on the album. None of these contributions feel intrusive or extra as Vertigo Days flows sweetly together like one long flowing suite. Morr Music have described it as “perfect for the long-distance, dedicated listening experience”.

Vertigo Days reacts in real time to the story of the the past 18 months - its narrative, both musical and lyrical, moving from the personal realms of relationships into a global and political story. Summing it up, Markus describes it as being about learning and how you never arrive. It’s a record about imagination and possibilities, a dreamer’s record. It’s the perfect document of the way things are and suggests ways that we can make things better for ourselves. Thanks Notwist.