To Rococo Rot: Hotel Morgen (2004)
When you consider abstract electronica, it's important to remember that its abstraction works on a sliding scale. The architects of jumbled beeps and clicks stand to the left of drum-n-bass groovemeisters, but there's a whole lot of meat in between. To Rococo Rot is meaty in exactly that way: experimental without becoming an exercise in frustration, affable without becoming soft. Nine years after getting together in Berlin, the trio of Robert Lippok, Ronald Lippok, and Stefan Schneider return with their Domino debut, Hotel Morgen.
The asymmetrical symmetry of the band's palindromic name reflects the way these musicians do their thing. It's definitely art music in the most serious senseyou won't want to dance to a lot of it, that's for surebut it's still rooted in a (kraut)rock sensibility. Short, regular units cycle through simple melodies, evolving gradually over time, resembling the better known Chicago post-rock band Tortoise's approach to composition. It is sometimes difficult to resolve exactly where the live performance stops and the electronics begin, which is fair enough given the band's unified theory.
Hotel Morgen winds its way through corridors alternately psychedelic and concrete, working cross-rhythms against each other. "Cosimo" is a downright trippy collection of fuzzy reverberations and echoes, so completely cloaked in dub-like trance that it's often hard to separate notes from ghosts. The brief, bass-rich "Portrait Song" has a synthetic edge to it, sort of like a polyester pastel, never really settling down. "Miss You" and "Bologna" are the most techno-ish of the bunch, with a repeated vamps tying down regular funky beats that suggest some sort of robot dance. "Ovo" and "Opak" exude a stop-start tension which gets sort of annoying if you're not paying attention (but if you are, it's just fine).
There's something authentic about this mixed-up sound; TRR is not afraid to blend moods and textures in ways that do not seem immediately coherent, yet still make plenty of sense over time.
Track Listing: 1. Dahlem 2. Cosimo 3. Tal 4. Feld 5. Portrait Song 6. Sol 7. Plong 8. Miss You 9. Basic 10. Venus 11. Non Song 12. Ovo 13. Bologna 14. Opak.
Personnel: To Rococo Rot is Ronald Lippok: wurlitzer, grand piano, percussion, ppg wave, yamaha vss 200, yamaha vss 30, boss sp 202; Robert Lippok: i-book, logic audio 6.1, akai mpc, arp oddity, ppg wave; Stefan Schneider: ms 10, evolver, atc-1, novation bass-station, wurlitzer, vibraphon, bass.