To Rococo Rot ABC123 Review

Released 2007.  

BBC Review

ABC123 is hardly a giant step forward for electronica – more of a mildly engaging...

Jon Lusk 2007

Their annoying name is somehow less so once you learn that it’s a palindrome (a word or phrase that’s spelt the same if the order of letters is reversed) and in that respect, the ‘theme’ that inspired this new 20-minute mini-album – the 50th anniversary of the Helvetica typeface – seems apt, not to mention its title. To Rococo Rot are an experimental electronica 3-piece from Germany whose last album Hotel Morgan (2004) was an emotionally neutral piece of post-rock flavoured noodling; music to do the dishes to, if you like.

ABC123 is a more energised and focussed affair, which ditches their bass/drums/analogue synth setup in favour of digital sounds, using only a Yamaha vss30. Spokesperson Stephan Schneider explains that the midifiles for it on his computer were arranged ‘in a graphical rather than musical way’. This may explain fillerish interludes like “Post Reprise” and “abc”.

Nevertheless, there’s an unquestionable musicality to the likes of “Lvx 4”, which almost qualifies as ‘Intelligent Dance Music’. “Verschieden” has an ominous, throbbing rhythm track which hints at early Suicide, although the effect is somewhat offset by random-sounding keyboard doodling.

There’s no escaping the occasional echo of Kraftwerk – who also hail from Dusseldorf, as do members of this group – in numbers (no pun intended) like “Zigue Zague”. This is more for the textures and digibeats used than any Teutonic melodies or synthesized vocals; there’s no attempt to emulate the human voice. If anything, there’s a kind of insectoid bustle to these eight short tracks, rounded off by the playful space age gamelan of “H5”, which comes across like the intro theme to one of those futuristic ’70s TV programmes about new developments in the world of science and technology. ABC123 is hardly a giant step forward for electronica – more of a mildly engaging taster for the full-length album promised in early 2008.

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