Circuit training

Kraftwerk’s man machine aesthetic is still in evidence

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To Rococo Rot

To Rococo Rot

As some of German electronica’s pioneers prepare to hit Scotland, alongside new shining talents of the genre, Neil Cooper profiles the upcoming Teutonic talent

As some of German electronica’s pioneers prepare to hit Scotland, alongside new shining talents of the genre, Neil Cooper profiles the upcoming Teutonic talent

‘Tangerine Dream,’ Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hutter said to Lester Bangs in a 1975 interview, ‘although they are German they have an English name, so they create onstage an Anglo-American identity, which we completely deny. We cannot deny we are from Germany, because the German mentality, which is more advanced, will always be part of our behaviour.’

Kraftwerk’s man-machine aesthetic was still very much in evidence when they played Glasgow in 2004. But what of their contemporaries Tangerine Dream, playing one of only two UK dates at the Edinburgh Eye Concert next week? While never as cool as Kraftwerk, throughout the 70s Tangerine Dream were the populist prog fan’s favourites, with John Peel naming their 1973 album, Atem, his best of that year.

Led by Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream’s mix of portentously opaque album titles, marathon tracks, state-of-art instrumentation and sci-fi graphics ensured them a place in the hearts of serious young men. Where other German artists such as Can, Neu! and the recently reactivated Harmonia acquired underground cult status, Tangerine Dream became more immediately associated with Vangelis and Jean-Michel Jarre. Thirty-odd years and over a hundred albums later, Tangerine Dream still focus on the epic, which, stripped of electronica, may sound rather ordinary.

Tangerine Dream’s appearance heralds a welter of contemporary German electronicists over the next few weeks, ploughing a more low-key furrow to Froese and co. Take Pole, aka Stefan Betke, who plays a rare Edinburgh date the day after Tangerine Dream. Having defined his sound accidentally via a Waldorf-4-Pole filter, he used static to create a discreet late night electronic dub, which he’s recently expanded to feature vocals and other musicians.

To Rococo Rot’s analogue-derived melodic pop instrumentals are equally thoughtful, and their mini album, ABC123, praised the Helvetica type-face. Live, the tunes on their three dates should be given more computerised bite.

Barbara Morgenstern’s return to Stirling, meanwhile, should offer even poppier fare. Her one-gal band approach pairs her impassive voice with a very portable kit. Plus, Betke has produced records by Morgenstern, who has worked with members of To Rococo Rot. Both acts joined The Pastels onstage at the Stirling-base Le Weekend festival a few years back.

As for Tangerine Dream, they look set to be around for a long while yet. Perhaps Lester Bangs’ 1977 live review should explain what to expect at the Edinburgh Eye Concert. Prior to watching the ‘technological monoliths’ accompanied by a laser show, Bangs suggested to a Tangerine Dream-head they were little more than ‘a poor man’s Fripp and Eno.’ ‘Well,’ came the reply, ‘you gotta have imagination...’

Tangerine Dream, The Picture House, Edinburgh, Sun 2 Nov. Pole, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Mon 3 Nov. To Rococo Rot, The Tunnels, Aberdeen, Wed 5 Nov; Captain’s Rest, Glasgow, Thu 6 Nov; Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline (with Emma Pollock and Adem), Fri 7 Nov, Barbara Morgenstern, Tolbooth, Stirling, Thu 20 Nov.

Pole, Araya and Tr-i/o-fon

Minimal electronica from the artist also known as Stefan Betke. Early workshop and Q&A session followed by a live set.

To Rococo Rot, Laki Mera, Sarah J Tingle

Avant-garde minimalism from To Rococo Rot, lush electronica from pan-European collective Laki Mera and Chinese pop from Sarah J Tingle.

Barbara Morgenstern

Key-board pop-stress Morgenstern brings a fine set of German electro fun.

To Rococo Rot and Laki Mera

Avant-garde minimalism from To Rococo Rot and lush electronica from pan-European collective Laki Mera.

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