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Michael Rother - Sterntaler CD (album) cover


Michael Rother



3.67 | 18 ratings

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3 stars Michael Rother's sophomore effort is probably the least essential of his early, post-NEU! solo albums, but that's a relative distinction: his first three (career best) albums are remarkably consistent in style, performance and production. Consider it the middle chapter of a trilogy in progress, before the guitarist shifted in the 1980s to a less organic, keyboard-based sound.

A newcomer might not hear a lot going on here. Simple, strummed guitar rhythms; uncomplicated melodies; minimal soloing...all accompanied by some of the most repetitive drumming this side of a metronome: a Jaki Liebezeit trademark. But on closer exposure the beautifully simple design and execution reveals enough depth to allow the listener plenty of room for a private epiphany.

It's true the half-dozen instrumental tracks tend to blend together with sometimes unchanging uniformity. And yet individually each one is a minor miracle of understated grace: the gentle echoes of "Blauer Regen"; the monotone thrumming in the middle section of "Stromlinien"; the ecstatic chords rising to the climax of the title track. And best of all, that moment in the chorus of "Fontana di Luna" when the stereo separation dramatically opens: another clue to the subtle genius of producer / guru Conny Plank.

Imagine the music of NEU! without the Krautrock aggression, uplifting instead of edgy. But stick with the original vinyl if you can: the CD bonus tracks, recorded more than a decade later, actually spoil the experience. Vapid New Age harmonies, a barren digital soundstage, and the absence of a flesh-and-blood drummer all underline the extent of Rother's stylistic atrophy between 1977 and 1993. But of course the grass was usually greener on the other side of the analog fence, wasn't it?

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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