(Review of 1997 reissue; shorter version originally published at All Music Guide, 2003)
If La Düsseldorf’s self-titled 1976 debut began Klaus Dinger’s post-NEU! career with an exciting proto-punk bang, 1980’s Individuellos ended the band’s three-album run with a near-irrelevant whimper.
Although the record’s original side one recreates some of the driving, anthemic feel that distinguished the first La Düsseldorf album, the songs pale by comparison, coming across as half-hearted, one-dimensional knockoffs. Locked into familiarly rigid rhythmic patterns, synth- and drum-propelled numbers like the title track and the sloganeering “Menschen 1” (subsequently reprised as “Menschen 2” and “Lieber Honig 1981”) charge along with relentless gusto, but Dinger seems to have been running out of steam as far as genuinely interesting ideas are concerned.
Whereas the repetitive grooves on NEU! classics like “Hallogallo” and “Für Immer” delivered a hypnotic, transcendent payoff, most of these numbers are never anything more than mundane and mechanical: boring and bombastic, they hold up a distorting mirror to NEU!’s understated minimalist glide. While Dinger’s anarchic, playful spirit was always an asset in his previous work, here things just tend toward the inane and the cartoonish. Cases in point are the keyboard-centered Wendy Carlos pastiches, “Dampfriemen”—a garish Oompah stomp complete with an inebriated novelty sing-along—and the Thomas Dinger composition “Tintarella Di…,” an execrable blend of fairground queasiness and Baroque-moods-for-the-masses. Amid all this, however, there are some moments of respite: “Sentimental,” an ambient interlude featuring an answering machine message apparently from Dinger’s grandmother, and the atmospheric collage, “Flashback,” which incorporates the rowing-boat and water sounds from NEU!’s “Lieber Honig” and “Im Glück.” (Both also, surreptitiously, recycle “Menschen 1” again – albeit backwards this time.)
Flush with enthusiasm for the first two La Düsseldorf albums, David Bowie prophesied that Dinger’s music would be “the soundtrack of the 80s.” Unfortunately, at the dawn of that decade, Individuellos failed to make good on Bowie’s prediction, and the record is the unmistakable sound of a creatively bereft band reaching its inglorious conclusion. [This reissue compensates a little by including “Ich Liebe Dich” and the Joy Division-esque “Koksknüdel,” which had originally appeared together in 1983 on a single released after the group’s demise.] (Wilson Neate)