To Rococo Rot ~ Hotel Morgen
To Rococo Rot are a German trio staffed by the Lippok brothers (Ronald and Robert) and Stefan Schneider. They’ve been together for nine years now with Hotel Morgen being their fifth release and their first since 2001’s Music Is A Hungry Ghost. Personally speaking (is there any other way?) To Rococo Rot have never quite clicked into place aesthetically for me. There’s something about their particular mix of live and programmed instrumentation which has prevented full engagement, at least to date. To Rococo Rot’s sound is not a million miles from:
- New Order - sans vocals of course - both groups share similar instrumentation and an identifiable degree of pathos located in the sound of the electric bass
- Tortoise – the politer, less switchback numbers - I made this connection because I’m reviewing Tortoise’s new album at the same time as Hotel Morgen. At one point I thought I was playing Tortoise when in fact it was To Rococo Rot. As with New Order there’s similar instrumentation
- Kreidler – this is more understandable given the fact that Kreidler is a side project of To Rococo Rot’s Stefan Schneider. Even so, both groups do sound remarkably similar to each other
To Rococo Rot’s music appears polite, sophisticated and slightly anonymous, somehow reminiscent of a well-appointed but unremarkable apartment building. It traces a series of paths which occasionally encroach upon other identifiable genres such as house, idm, glitch, ambient, etc. It does so with a deft, light touch. Like water it’s refreshing, but colourless, odourless and doesn’t leave an identifiable taste on the palate.
Hotel Morgen makes no significant departures from this template and ultimately I’m reminded of Hypgnosis’s brilliant cover for Peter Gabriel’s first solo album. However much I listen to Hotel Morgen I feel like the unseen person looking at both the rain which has gathered, but not been absorbed, by the shiny blue metal of the car and at the person seated inside the car, who is there but untouchable, alien, removed.
Addendum: A couple of weeks after completing the above review I'm playing Hotel Morgen in the car driving through early morning traffic. From the moment the first track begins I find myself unexpectedly humming along, enjoying the melodies, the small sonic details and the structure of each song. I still don't conceptually 'get' To Rococo Rot, but now I'm sitting inside the vehicle looking out and instead of the rather bleak impression conveyed by Peter Gabriel's album cover, my view appears to be rosy, warm, gentle and friendly.