AStudents who are too young to quit, for example, lead to the Hamburg “Daniela Bar”. It was the same when two musicians roamed the Schanzenviertel in 1997, where creative people met back then. You enter the bar and let yourself be enchanted by the singing of a young English woman with a cello. After the performance, they speak to her and offer her a collaboration.
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She is cautious, after all, they are a quarter of a century older than her. But when one of them tells what he has done in life, she lets herself be convinced. A few months at Kraftwerk, then he founded the band Neu !, which was one of the reasons why David Bowie moved to Berlin in the late 1970s. He worked with Harmonia and Brian Eno before he recorded four solo records with Can-Drummer Jaki Liebezeit from 1978 onwards and then continuously delivered strong records.
Michael Rother found his voice in Sophie Williams (later Joiner) that evening. For the album “Remember (The Great Adventure)” he wanted to work with vocals for the first time. Before the session, the guitarist had prepared 75 sketches. While his cat strolled around her legs, she should call him a number, then he played it and she improvised: slogan-like phrases, little melodies, maybe one to one and a half minutes long.
After he released the record in 2004, the rest of the material lay idle in the computer. In the meantime, what should have happened long ago happened: In a second wave of fame, English and American musicians discovered the Krautrock pioneer for themselves. Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth became his companion, John Frusciante brought him together with his band Red Hot Chili Peppers.
As the greatest recognition, the Californian superstars asked Rother on stage in Hamburg in 2007 to do a long encore: something that sounds like a dissonant version of his Krautrock classic “Hallogallo” on a few bad YouTube videos. Oasis, Kasabian and Primal Scream paid homage to his band on a sampler. “New! sound like joy to me, ”said Radiohead singer Thom Yorke. “Like a brand new motorway, and you’re the first to be allowed to drive on it.”
Touring Australia, Japan, America and Europe kept Rother on his toes (although he still looks like those sixteen years never existed) and kept him from recording new music. “Sharing the joy with the audience was firmly established,” he says in a Skype conversation. “I was not interested in working on something new for six to eight weeks.”
But then Corona came, concerts were canceled, suddenly Rother had time. He spun compositions to the end, worked on Joiner’s voice, listened to the music in the kitchen, in the living room, rode a bicycle, and for many years he has been recording his characteristic guitar again.
“Dreaming” is a fascinating experiment: the vocals from the late nineties mixes with a guitar that could have sprung from his solo debut in 1977 and current warm electronics. Rother is not a musician who draws inspiration from others, but from life. Childhood experiences in Pakistan brought him to a linear rather than circular understanding of music. Later his love of experimentation and the motor rhythm of his partner Klaus Dinger became the blueprint for electronic music.
Despite these anachronistic building blocks, “Dreaming” sounds contemporary. Percussion-like rhythms are paired in pieces like “Fierce Wind Blowing”, “Hey-Hey” or “Bitter Tang” with noises, spherical harmony surfaces, melodies from the depths of the soul. In addition, repetitive vocal phrases.
When the guitar shimmers through, which was already heard in “Weissensee” in 1972, it feels like the happy marriage of fresh electronics with the Kraut tradition, which is too little appreciated in this country. Rother recently turned seventy and has been living with his partner in Tuscany because of Corona since June. But as soon as performances are possible, he will be heard.