Song Of The Week: 'Kong' By The Notwist

Feb 25, 2014

As he does each week, NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson joins Here & Now with a new song. This week, he introduces us to The Notwist’s new track “Kong” from their new album “Close To The Glass.”

Thompson says listening to the German indie rock band, which has been around for 25 years, is like visiting old friends.

“Its members have dabbled in hardcore and jazz and hip-hop, but its newer albums are full of incredibly ingratiating, poppy sound collages,” Thompson says. “Singer Markus Acher has a wonderfully warm voice that sounds like a friend is talking to you. The band has been putting out records at a rate of about one every five or six years, so hearing him is like revisiting your best friend at a high school reunion.”

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Transcript

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

Well, let's get a little music into the show now. As he does every week, NPR music writer and editor Stephen Thompson is here with a new song. And, Stephen, what have you got for us?

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: I've got a German band called The Notwist, which has been around for about 25 years now. And along the way, its members have dabbled in hardcore and jazz and hip-hop. But its newer albums are all full of incredibly ingratiating, poppy kind of sound collages. The singer's name is Markus Acher, and he has a wonderfully warm voice that sounds kind of like a friend is talking to you. The band has been putting out records at a rate of about one every five or six years. So hearing him is actually a little bit like revisiting your best friend like every five years at a high school reunion or something. The Notwist has a new album called "Close To The Glass," and this is the first single. I just love it. It's called "Kong."

CHAKRABARTI: "Kong." OK. Let's hear it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KONG")

MARKUS ACHER: (Singing) Something wrong, this. Don't be alarmed. Water's coming in. Water's coming in.

CHAKRABARTI: Stephen, so you mentioned that The Notwist has its roots in hardcore and jazz, but I'm hearing more pop.

THOMPSON: Yeah. It's just this big, jangly pop song, and it's very big and catchy and streamlined. But there are also a lot of sounds just kind of zinging around in there. This particular song, "Kong," if you listen to it closely, is inspired by a true life incident where Markus Acher and his family were trapped in their house during a flood in Germany. And it's about this fantasy of a super hero coming to rescue him. It actually takes a while - you can hear that water's coming in line repeated. It takes a while to pick up the full story, though, just because the song sounds so distractingly great, popping out of the speakers. There's this spring-like feel to the song the way it builds and it builds. It kind of feels like clouds parting.

CHAKRABARTI: Oh, well, I'm so glad that you said that because you always let the sunshine in for us.

(LAUGHTER)

THOMPSON: That's why I'm here, Meghna.

CHAKRABARTI: That's "Kong" by The Notwist from a new album called "Close To The Glass." NPR music writer and editor Stephen Thompson, thanks so much.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Meghna.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KONG")

ACHER: (Singing) (Unintelligible) someone's always fond to cold, and the rain, it wouldn't stop. And the rain, the rain, the rain, the water filled the room. Our house got swept away. Mighty Kong, help. I know you're strong. Are you coming in? Are you coming in? Drop us off in another spot.

CHAKRABARTI: You're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.