◎ Krautrock天团Faust核心成员Jochen Irmler跨刀相助，深具传承意义的两代菁英大会师
来自德国柏林的Intelligent Dance Music（简称IDM）组合「颓废洛可可乐团To Rococo Rot」，与时下一般电音乐队大不相同，除了冷冽疏离的电子节拍，他们还多了点Post-Rock的风采。To Rococo Rot主要由Robert Lippok、Ronald Lippok两兄弟，再加上Stefan Schneider共同组成，三人皆拥有扎实的乐器演奏技巧，因此常常成为其它乐手组团借将的不二人选。Stefan（贝斯手）曾是德国知名Post-Rock乐队Kreidler的一员，后来还与Luke Sutherland及Volker Bertelmann共组Music A.M.。Ronald、Robert两兄弟与义大利钢琴大师Ludovico Einaudi曾以Whitetree为名，在2009年发表深受好评的专辑作品《Cloudland》。此外同时精通多样乐器的Ronald，也是另一组乐队Tarwater的重要成员。正因为上述错综复杂的音乐分支关係，让To Rococo Rot在德国乐坛享有不可取代的重要地位，并得以不时吸纳其他音乐人的特色与长才。回顾To Rococo Rot成军的时点，当时乐坛正展开一场电音革命，冰冷的电子音乐不再曲高和寡，陆续攻佔主流排行榜，并在全球各地培养出为数不少的乐迷。以To Rococo Rot早期作品《Veiculo》与《The Amateur View》为例，虽然建构在艰涩古怪的电子声响之上，却未牺牲动听的编曲与旋律，以丰富的层次形塑出极具未来感的动人音乐。
2001年后To Rococo Rot消声暱迹好一段时间，2004年他们透过英国独立厂牌Domino重返乐坛，发表在该厂牌下的首张专辑《Hotel Morgen》。而你手上这张《Speculation》，则是To Rococo Rot的最新创作大碟，展现他们不同以往的迷人样貌。相较他们过去冰冷且条理分明的风格，《Speculation》充满许多让人无法预测的惊喜，而带来这项改变的重要原因，可以归功於德国Krautrock天团Faust核心成员Jochen Irmler的影响。To Rococo Rot这次借用Jochen Irmler的私人录音室进行录音，Stefan对这个位於南德偏远乡间的录音室讚誉有佳，他认为那里虽然没有先进豪华的设备，却让他们顺势调整过去的录音习惯，激发三名成员前所未见的潜能，并对本张专辑产生直接且深刻的影响。〈Seele〉以沉重的钢琴开场，Ronald渐急的鼓点紧追在后，不时出现的鈸与电子声响幻化为绵密柔软的背景，最后曲子又在钢琴声中收尾落幕。超过10分鐘的〈Fridays〉，则是本张专辑中唯一的长篇作品，有Jochen Irmler亲自下场客串伴奏，让人彷彿在黑暗中漂浮漫游，睁开双眼则见繁星点点。Jochen Irmler贵为德国Krautrock浪潮的重要乐手，这次不仅大方出借私人录音室，还下场为后生晚辈抬轿伴奏，让这张专辑多了两代音乐菁英交流传承的特殊意义。藉由《Speculation》的洗礼，To Rococo Rot打破大家对他们的既定印象，却始终保有那别无分号的优雅身段。
颓废洛可可乐团 / 暗夜沈思 To Rococo Rot / Speculation
唱片公司：Gold Typhoon Music
进口专辑 / CD / 1 片装
The German trio turn electronically-tinged, instrumental rock music inside out.
David Sheppard 2010
Eight albums into a career that began during (and arguably defined a Mitteleuropa response to) the first flush of 90s US post-rock, the palindromic Berlin-via Düsseldorf trio continue to turn electronically-tinged, instrumental rock music inside out, their enthusiasm for recombining and recontextualising familiar sounds and genre traits seemingly undimmed. As is perhaps inevitable when experiment defines a musical approach, Speculation proves to be something of a mixed bag; but so laudable are its makers’ intentions that even when things occasionally fall flat, you find yourself applauding their efforts.
Partly recorded live and in the moment at Faust’s studio in Scheer, in rural southern Germany, To Rococo Rot’s is now a relatively unembellished sound, certainly compared to the sophisticated electronic layering of their benchmark 90s albums Veiculo and The Amateur View. As then, however, it’s Stefan Schneider’s bass which provides the music’s centre. Oscillating between graph paper dub, neo-krautrock throb and needling lead line, Schneider locks in with Ronald Lippok’s stripped-back live drums and discretely processed beats, while his brother, Robert Lippok, sprinkles ephemeral textures and discrete melodies.
As dextrous and nuanced as much of Speculation is, it’s also the rawest music they’ve yet produced. Thus, hypnotic opener Away is a tone-setting exercise in combo deconstruction – the sound of a band purposefully reducing itself down to essential constituents. Featuring just heartbeat drums, a primitive, loping bass line and a slow accumulation of gauzy sonic scree, it seamlessly conflates the robotic and the organic.
Seele, meanwhile, constructs a counterpoint flow of flickering hi-hats and snaking bass beneath a cloud of reverberant piano chords, while Horses uses the implacability of a burbling sequencer to allow drums and bass to meander jazzily – like much here, it’s perched on the cusp between warm-blooded humanity and technological rigidity.
The formula wears slightly thin later on, but things pick up again on a closing pair of tracks, Bells and Friday, which recall the delightful modal-pastoral experiments of 70s German antecedents Harmonia and Cluster. The latter number even features an organ cameo from Faust’s Hans Joachim Irmler – an imprimatur from krautrock aristocracy that’s well earned.
去年与义大利钢琴家Ludovico Einaudi合组的Whitetree也很有意思。新专辑《Speculation》在传奇Krautrock乐团Faust的专属录音室录制，其中多曲採即时收音，更能第一时间抓住跳跃贝斯与连发钢琴甩出的推进力。长十分鐘的最后一曲〈Fridays〉甚至请来Faust成员Hans Joachim Irmler亲自出马，那种波段式的动能转换让人目不暇给。
Audio CD (June 29, 2010)
Original Release Date: 2010
Number of Discs: 1
Label:Domino – WIGLP234
Format:Vinyl, LP, Album
Country:UK & Europe
Released:26 Mar 2010
Style:Krautrock, Avantgarde, Experimental
The artwork of Speculation, To Rococo Rot's seventh album and their first in six years, sees an arm reaching into grey space to unlock a panoply of coiled, wound, frayed and notched wires. Though circling in on each other, and replicating structures across the visual field, there's something unruly about the way the dense, steely material folds and curls on itself. Here's the thing: Through repetition, incremental change becomes apparent, and everything's connected, even at its most improvised and uncertain. It's as good a metaphor for To Rococo Rot's music as you're likely to get.
If it's brave for a group to go out in their 15th year and call their album Speculation—by now, according to rock lore, they should be on the downward slide, repeating one idea to diminishing returns—it's also a good marker of how To Rococo Rot continue to function. Back in 1997 they were calling their instruments "tools," analogising their laminar, instrumental songwriting with the fluidity of the contemporary, multimedia arts that were burgeoning across the EU, and thinking through relationships between their micro-managed riffs and the repetitions of everyday life. Nowadays, To Rococo Rot sometimes sound vaguely anachronistic, given the way minimal techno has leapfrogged electronica and IDM in the collective conscious of electronic music fans, but this works to their advantage: there's really still nobody who does this thing (ticking, shuttling, film-projector rhythms, Stefan Schneider's plangent, melodic bass melodies, the clicks, hums and gurgles of their collective kit's central nervous system) remotely as well—if ever.
Speculation was mostly recorded at the studio of Krautrock legends Faust, which accounts for Jochen Irmler's appearance, on spiky, treble-overload organ, on the ten-minute unravel of the closing "Friday." It's nice—To Rococo Rot goes out to sea with their predecessors—but what comes before is the revelation. While they've often included acoustic instrumentation, or simulated acoustica, in their armoury, on Speculation it's often upfront, structuring the songs. The three-note piano refrain that serves as "Seele"'s backbone is oddly reminiscent of The Cure's Seventeen Seconds, and "Forwardness" brings the piano back to duel with Reichian marimba patterns. "Place It" offers an orchestra of bass, from plucked harmonic chimes to sliding, rolling patterns, weaving through electronic melodies in miniature, with the trio's crackling hand claps running interference, all while ghostly waves of synth strings coast and coat the song.
For anyone disappointed by the hermeticism of this album's predecessor, Hotel Morgen, Speculation will pleasantly surprise. Its generous openness recalls To Rococo Rot's signal album, 1999's The Amateur View, and like that record, its melodic flourishes prove the group are no shirkers when it comes to pop music. But I sense something else going on here, perhaps an intensification of character that comes from meeting in such a focused setting after having spent a longer time apart than usual (all three members, Stefan Schnieder and brothers Ronald and Robert Lippok, are busy with extra-curricular activities), leading to a re-tooling of their wonderfully "systems"-oriented approach to making music. Most of all, Speculation reminds that there's always been something deeply human about To Rococo Rot's music, and the way they bring "artificial worlds into correspondence with nature"—as they once described the presence of the tulips that stretch across The Amateur View's front cover—is on fine form here. A very welcome return.
Mon / 29 Mar 2010
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Domino Recording Co. Ltd.
Copyright © – Domino Recording Co. Ltd.
Artwork – Matthew Cooper (2), Stefan Schneider
Drums, Handclaps, Piano, Drum Programming [Boss Sp 404], Sampler [Yamaha Vss 30] – Ronald Lippok
Engineer – Andreas Schmid
Mastered By – Bo Kondren
Mixed By – To Rococo Rot (tracks: A1, A3 to B4)
Piano, Synthesizer [Logic Synths], Bass, Guitar, Handclaps – Stefan Schneider
Programmed By, Sequenced By, Synthesizer [Waldorf Puls], Other [Tenori On], Handclaps – Robert Lippok
Written-By – Irmler*, Lippok*, Lippok*, Schneider*
Published by La Chunga.
Recorded at Faust Studios, Scheer, July 08 and January 09.
Mixed at Stefan Schneider's place, Düsseldorf March 09; A2 mixed in Berlin, July 09.
Mastered at Calyx, Berlin, August 09.
P&C2010 Domino Recording Co Ltd.
Made in the EU.
180 gram heavyweight virgin vinyl; comes with download voucher.
Barcode and Other Identifiers
Rights Society: BIEM/MCPS
Matrix / Runout (Side A): WIGLP234A
Matrix / Runout (Side : WIGLP234B
Label Code: LC10192
Other Versions (5 of 5)
05. No Way To Prepare
06. Working Against Time
07. Place It