To Rococo Rot
Hotel Morgen

By Ed Chamberlin

 
Album number six for the Berlin three-piece, and the adage 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' could never be better applied. The music contained on Hotel Morgen could easily sit alongside songs from their debut CD and not seem out of place. This is no bad thing really, as the brothers Ronald and Robert Lippok and Stefan Schneider have been creating their inimitable blend of disciplined home electronica with such god-like consistency that any more similar material is heartily welcomed.

There are few bands out there at the moment that come close to To Rococo Rot's sense of balance. Their music is based on collections of very short samples, phased and tweaked into all possible shapes, electro-acoustic percussion and the warmest bass sounds imaginable.

Opener Dahlem is as good a manifesto of the To Rococo Rot sound as you are likely to hear. A throbbing bassline arrives, and gradually amasses a procession of other sounds that obediently accentuate its autobahn funkiness. Strange bass blurps (to use the technical term) trade off with squiggly keyboard sounds, and sweet melodies intertwine forever.

Feld shows the ’rot's menacing side as wave upon wave of static sound wash over one another, and bowel-quaking bass shakes the walls. One of the attractive aspects of To Rococo Rot, has been that they have always avoided the temptation to stretch their compositions out for hours, a pitfall that a lot of electronic artists fall into. None of the songs here last longer than five minutes, and each uses its short time period to say as much as it needs.

About five basslines intertwine with clicks, pops, high pitched whistles, digital tones and all manner of other sounds on Portrait Song, and it is testament to the trio's skill as producers that this bizarre collection of sounds doesn't sound cluttered. In fact, there is so much space between the individual sounds that your ear can happily roam around affording every element the attention it deserves.

This is the secret behind To Rococo Rot's music: every track they produce consists of many, many parts. They are like a never-ending Lego model; always more pieces to play with and infinite ways of configuring them. The balance of the tracks on the album is so great that, rather than collapsing under their combined weight, the elements work together with the grace and beauty of the springs and cogs in a watch.

It is hard to pick out particular standouts, as this music seems to an exercise in making the most complex music unobtrusive, a molehill out of mountains, perhaps. So relaxing to this is a pleasant as chilling on the beach in summer, while close concentration is like observing the sand through a magnifying glass and seeing that it is actually teeming with microscopic life.
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