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.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.