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To Rococo Rot - Hotel Morgen

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Artist: To Rococo Rot

Album: Hotel Morgen

Label: Domino

Review date: Apr. 21, 2004

To Rococo Rot always reappear on your radar at the most opportune moments. It’s timely that they should resurface with their new album just as electronica writhes in its final death throes, and it’s somehow important that the album re-invigorates everything that is good about said genre while dispensing with all of the frivolous, mawkish excesses. But I imagine that Lippok, Lippok and Schneider would have me sent to the principal’s office for such a claim. And regardless, To Rococo Rot are completely at odds with most current electronica. The trite melodicism, indie-gone-powerbook incapacitation, and general sense of overwhelming underachievement – To Rococo Rot are miles away from all that. It’s the difference between a syrupy piece of geek-tronic fluff, and a serene, perfectly rendered monument placed in the middle of a lush yet uninhabited meadow.

Hotel Morgen is all about finding warmth in symmetry, and finding pop music in the poetics of space. Any discussion of ‘symmetry’ or ‘clean lines’ will inevitably direct conversation toward To Rococo Rot’s German roots, and you can always find the super-attenuated and crisp sound of Kraftwerk’s Computer World in the trio’s music. Their music manages to cover a lot of other ground (especially for a band with an ethos that some misconstrue as myopic). The charm of Hotel Morgen is precisely this – how do To Rococo Rot take those small blocks of signature sound and emerge, some three years after their last album, with a record that doesn’t sound exactly like the previous four?

The change occurs at a molecular level. Hotel Morgen sounds like the music of people who finish each other’s sentences in a completely logical manner. This is perhaps the most confident To Rococo Rot have sounded. They’re not afraid of pop, and “Miss You” is a particularly lovely pop song, a piece of humble, quiescent disco for after-hours recollection and connection. (Maybe its title is a knowing wink to rock music’s dalliance with the disco meme.)

To Rococo Rot are fascinated with sound placement, making sure that every note sits just right, that there is no excess or flab weighing down the effortless, gilded glide of their music. In lesser hands, this approach would lead to music of unbearable ass-clenching restriction and preciousness. To Rococo Rot's Hotel Morgen is seductive and suggestively sculpted; romance music for people with unforced, natural, and charmingly contrary style.

By Jon Dale

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