Release Date: Jul 21, 2014
Record label: City Slang
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Over the past few decades, since the '70s/'80s, Germany has nurtured a budding electronic streak. Pioneering genres such as dance and electronica, the nation altered the course of music history, and bands such as Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream helped indelibly shape the noises we hear today. It's something to allay the stereotype of beer-guzzlers and wurst-gobblers; instead, the nation of Germany has a vital position in the roots of electropop, trance and avante-garde techno.
As Robert and Ronald Lippok and Stefan Schneider were recording material for Instrument, the first To Rococo Rot album in four years, the musicians felt that some of it was in need of a lead voice. They sought admirer Arto Lindsay, who is present on three of these ten songs -- the group's first songs with vocals. Lindsay's appearances are neatly distributed on the first, fourth, and last (of ten) cuts.
When Berlin trio To Rococo Rot started out, nearly 20 years back, their music was labelled post-rock, before that meant wanky MOR with no singing. Having now racked up multiple albums of tastefully burbling electronics and inscrutable guitar oddness, ‘Instrument’ still suits the term: rarely does it ‘rock’ at all, so TRR may as well have progressed beyond it. It’s by no means without merit, though.
The first album from To Rococo Rot in four years feels like a collaboration, even though the collaborator in this case – the American singer-guitarist Arto Lindsay – appears on just three of its 10 tracks. Still, the presence of Lindsay feels to have shunted the Berlin trio onto a slightly parallel line, their electronic post-rock settling comfortably into a format you might broadly define as “songy”. Certainly, Lindsay and To Rococo Rot – the trio of brothers Ronald and Robert Lippok and Stefan Schneider – feel like easy bedfellows.
Berlin-based trio To Rococo Rot are now in their eighteenth year and, despite their many imitators, continue to sound fresh and innovative. On Instrument, their first album in four years, they choose their influences wisely, yet are only ever really capable of sounding like To Rococo Rot. The discordant, plonking piano on “Spreading the Strings Out” comes straight from the John Cage songbook; “Sunrise”’s warped ambience is pure John Cale.