The Notwist formed in Germany in 1989 as a punk-metal outfit, but you'd never know that by listening to their latest album, "Neon Golden." Drawing on Jamaican dub and electronic music, the band has evolved and is now mapping the blueprint for the burgeoning glitch-pop subgenre of electronic music. (See also Matmos, or any release on the German Morr Music label.)
"Neon Golden" opens with singer Markus Acher's subdued vocals and wisps of bowed strings, laying the groundwork for a melancholy album. Layers are added and taken away: a reverbed guitar plucks out a sad arpeggio; sheets of static lap up against organic instrumentation, lending an undercurrent of tension. At times, the stunning violin passages fully envelope the electronic bedrock. At others, like on the decidedly rockin' "One With the Freaks," it's hard to discern where the electronics end and the acoustics begin.
Elegant and subtle, "Neon Golden" convincingly balances the scales of pop and glitch electronics and is the best argument yet for combining the two.
"Neon Golden" is out now on Domino Records.