LIVE REVIEW: Michael Rother @ OAF, Sydney (17/03/12)


written by Chris Familton

Melbourne’s Baptism of Uzi opened the night with their heavily krautrock influenced take on instrumental rock. With busy and propulsive drumming and wonderfully swirling psych synths they took the music into a decidedly human realm rather than the robotic nature of much of the music of that genre. Guitarist Bojan Stojanov kept the sound riding high and melodic with his heavily Tom Verlaine-influenced playing yet he also filtered it through a blurred combo of metal styles leading the audience away from new age post rock into a more febrile and primal place.

It was clear from the moment the OAF curtains parted that Michael Rother was going to give us a set of clinical, precise and studious music. From the clean, white backdrop showing minimal textured projections of light and shapes to the three professorial looking musicians it felt I’ve you were in the presence of musical scientists rather than a primal rock band. Rother looks much younger than his years and with the assistance of the grinning drummer Hans Lampe (Neu! La Dusseldorf) and Dieter Moebius (Cluster, Harmonia) he set about conducting a lesson on krautrock and it’s role as one of the crucial signifiers of space rock, electronica and post rock.

Rother played a range of songs from Neu! to Harmonia and onto his solo work. Hallogallo, the undeniable highlight was epic in scale, a pulsing motorik mantra of a song that Lampe anchored with his precision drumming, as he did all night long. Most songs followed the template of mood setting atmospherics before Lampe’s electronic kit entered the fray bringing it all together and leading the song into space. The audience, that was overwhelmingly made up of middle aged men, nodded heads in unison and approval as the trio shone fresh and playful light on electronic music and Rother showed how guitar solos and psychedelic rock can be played without an ounce of posturing and bravado attached.

The transportive feel that Rother and co created on stage was entirely the result of the music, not ‘rock star’ personality or stage presence. It was born of repetition, slowly evolving melodies, drones and controlled noise, all the while anchored by that essential motorik beat. It felt like a special privilege to experience firsthand the sound from such an influential period of European music and Rother executed the celebration perfectly.

this review was first published in Drum Media

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