Personnel: Markus Acher (vocals, guitar, turntables); Cico Beck (guitar, keyboards, percussion, electronics); Max Punktezahl (guitar, keyboards); Micha Acher (keyboards); Karl Ivar Refseth (vibraphone, percussion); Andi Haberl (drums, percussion, electronic percussion).
Audio Mixers: Willy Löster; Olaf Opal.
Recording information: UT Connewitz, Leipzig (12/16/2015).
Recorded on the second night of the Notwist's trio of concerts at UT Connewitz in December 2015, Superheroes, Ghostvillains & Stuff finds the band using the live setting to rework songs old and new. The album was beautifully recorded and mixed by Olaf Opal, who captures how the spark of a good live performance can invigorate -- or reinvigorate -- a song. There's a newfound fire in the looping beat that drives "Close to the Glass," while the gamelan-like chromatic percussion on "Run Run Run" has an extra sparkle. Not surprisingly, a good chunk of the generous 100-minute set list comes from 2014's excellent Close to the Glass, as well as the fan favorite Neon Golden, both of which showcase the Notwist's music at its most inventive and emotive. "Pick Up the Phone" sounds urgent instead of obligatory, and feels right at home with Glass songs like "Into Another Tune." Similarly, the extra improvisations the band adds throughout Superheroes enliven the proceedings: The free jazz-tinged interlude on "This Room" and the glitchy breakdown on "Pilot" make it all the sweeter when the Notwist return to more familiar territory. The band also show off their impressively wide range, spanning the lush "One with the Freaks" and "Gloomy Planets," as well as the heavier terrain of "Kong" and "One Dark Love Poem," which comes from 1992's Nook. The Notwist blends all of these sounds and eras together organically and with an excitement that suggests they'll never tire of finding different ways to combine their pop and experimental sides in concert as well as the studio. ~ Heather Phares