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032 neutral. driving backwards . 12" 33rpm . may 2k1


kitchen kilometer green
february and march
j. doesn't do acid anymore
why don't you like me?

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neutral, contrary to the name, is thematic and full of emotion. where her debut, font translation errors explored industrial overtones, driving backwards cultivates the organic essence of electronics. this equinoctial music rides between late winter and early spring, that time when the flesh begins to warm as it emerges from darkness into sunlight. driving backwards is a rewarding and original listen.

neutral discography. 05.2k1
v/a - enter the monkey cd (mad monkey)
neutral - font translation errors cd (mad monkey)
v/a - md1 (n5md)
neutral - driving backwards lp (hymen records/mad monkey)
beef bouilion/my sweatshirt 7" (planet mu) as nicole elmer
dance america cd (chromosome 57) as squab teen

upcoming appearances/releases/remixes on: component records, gun music, ad noiseam, delikatessen records, mad monkey records and hymen records.


side-line no.36 july-august-september 2001

who would have thought we would ever hear a piano solo on hymen records? fortunately the bavarians manage to confound expectations again and again. they made a real catch with neutral, aka nicole elmer. atmospheric, organic tracks with lots of rhythm, disruptive sounds and cheap sounding melodies. tracks with change moods as often as others change the channel. 'february and march' is such an example. a catchy energetic pop start with head-nodding beat and driving naive sequences which comes to a sudden halt and changes into a minimal, early eighties electronic track, complete with anne clark spoken words only to end up in a fusion of these styles. brilliant. other songs dangerously rattle along the edge of the abyss to click and cuts laptop hell only to ussaved from tumbling in by constant beats and acoustic guitar manipulations. and then there is the aforementioned self-pitying piano piece which ends up in an electronic coughing fit for 'why don't you like me?' which mixes a accusingly whispered vocals with amplifier humming and putting-the-finger-on-connector-plugs drivel. fun, fun, fun. i really need to check out her debut cd on mad monkey records. (ttm)


under her neutral guise, nicole elmer is determined to lose herself from the tired idiom that now routinely gets called intelligent dance music. in fact, she listens to very little contemporary electronic music and thus any anxiety of influence is simply irrelevant here. instead, one hears industrial influences on "j. doesn't do acid anymore", but the industrial dimension is offset with guitar samples. airport begins as a serene, contemplative track but opens into something more acrobatic, leaving the listener slack-jawed. (tim haslett)

recycle your ears

more than a year after being stormed by the "font translation error" by neutral, here comes the "driving backwards" 12", co-produced by mad monkey and hymen, 29 minutes of pure enjoyment and emotions from a musician that is clearly my best surprise of 2000. nicole elmer is back with six pearls that demonstrates that you can write electronic music and still have diversity, emotion and sheer talent. it all starts with the background distoeted electronics, the slow but weird strings and the soft groovey rhyhtm of "airport". you are slowly but surely taken into the neutral universe, where accoustic and electronic are mixed with a lot of thought and soul, before the "kitchen kilometer green", a slightly faster track that contains an "epic" melody remidning me of the very good "blue paper" on "font translation error". these synthetic keys, typical of neutral, are tweaked and still fill of emotions, dominating a strange and alwayse changing rhythm. next is the short "curtain", a track that fits well its title: a melancholic piano is slowly joined by some strange echoing percussion, creating a perfect transition to "february and march", the first track with vocals on this lp, a song filled with a deep, idm-like bass, before it all breaks out and leave place to nicole elmer's almost whispered voice. "j. doesn't do acid anymore" is a somewhat darker track, very hard to describe, with some strange keys and samples, and a slow beat that grows on you, till it gets lighter when a more ethereal melody appears. finally, "why don't you like me" is a really frightening track, staring with a bizarre sample, then going through a piano passage, and finally being dominated by things that sounds like electronic current and nicole elmer asking why we don't like her. well, with such a release, i am not among the one who don't like her. releasing a follower to a very strong debut album is very hard, but she master the challenge with ease, and this 12" goes directly in my best of list. i can not recommend neutral enough, and i am still impressed of the qualities of the release put out by mad monkey (and it was a smart move from hymen to co-produce this release). in brief: get this. (nicolas)


this new record by nicole elmer came out as a split release between hymen and mad monkey records. i was quite surprised when i heard an announcement about neutral being picked up by hymen. although i did like "font translation errors" as well as neutral's great contribution to n5md sampler, i never really considered it to be suitable for hymen records. but now that the record is out, it is definitely a big step forward for nicole elmer in terms of recognition within the ant-zen/hymen crowd. at the same time it makes me wonder what is stopping hymen from branching more and more into idm space. this record contains six tracks that overall sound more "solid" than "font translation errors," keeping within the same electronica format, and yet each track has something different to offer. soft melodies (something that i have always liked neutral for) are accompanied by simple percussion, small noises, and carefully placed acoustic elements that together result in varied, well-composed tracks. what sets nicole elmer apart is the variety of music elements used placed together in a very unusual way that defies the standards established by existing genres. as with previous release, there are several tracks that stand out on the album, while others are either too disjointed or simply pale in comparison with the others. opening "airport" quietly plays with miniature beats and small melody. the track mixes together both acoustic and tiny noisy elements. following "kitchen kilometer green" reminded me of better sybarite moments for its light and simple acoustic melody and flowing simple percussion. it is full of wonderful unusual sounds that make up a simple and catchy melody. and finally "j. doesn't do acid anymore" shines with beautiful deep strings and an array of minimal percussion. at times i wish the melodies were "deeper" and more layered, but i guess neutral is more about combining many influences and styles together, not going for the easy appeal like many idm/electronica. i noticed that overall i would like each single track, but there always would be a few questionable moments that sound out of place. strangely enough those very moments will make you go back to the song and listen to it again, just trying to figure out how it all fits.


a collaboration-release of hymen (¥032) & mad monkey records (mmr1202) +