Michael Rother

Michael Rother:

Hearts on Fire

As a founding member of Kraftwerk, Neu and Harmonia, multi-instrumentalist/composer Michael Rother is a central figure in the story of the somewhat indefinable music of the 1970s which has come to be known by that charming appellation Krautrock. Playing mostly an elegant, spare guitar to the electronic machinations of KraftwerkÕs Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider, or alongside drummer Klaus Dinger in the coolly propulsive Neu, and later joining ClusterÕs Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius for the daydreamy textural whims of Harmonia, Rother was a chief architect for a sound that has grown hugely influential on later generations of musicians. That sound ŠŠ in particular his sustained-note, pastoral string work and extraordinarily tasteful leaving-out of notes ŠŠ was further refined and defined on a series of superb solo albums in the mid-'70s done in collaboration with the equally tersely tight Can poly-drummer Jaki Liebezeit.

A few months ago the Gršnland label re-released HarmoniaÕs Tracks and Traces, a sort of remake/remodel-type collection of the last recordings that Rother, Roedelius and Moebius did with their friend Brian Eno in 1976. Long lost and forgotten, the resurrected tapes of the original sessions revealed upon close inspection to be a nicely free-flowing and unfussily avant-garde set of soundscapes. The tapes had been recorded at RotherÕs longtime farmhouse-studio in bucolic Forst, Germany (where he still resides), in a low-key, friendly atmosphere of un-goal-oriented musical exploration. Over the phone from his digs in Forst, Rother gives us a look at the wherefores and whatsits of the albumÕs genesis and evolution, and offers a bit of insight into why the music he made more than 30 years ago sounds ever more relevant today.

BLUEFAT: Tracks and Traces has some interesting history behind it; your colleague Roedelius had reworked these pieces previously, it seems.

MICHAEL ROTHER: Reworked is maybe not the right expression. The story was that Brian Eno took those tapes with him when he left Forst in Õ76, and he took tapes full of music when he went on to record with David Bowie. The idea was that he should return to continue our collaboration, and from then on, many things happened ŠŠ my first solo album came out shortly afterward, and I became very busy, and he didnÕt return.

So some years later I heard from Roedelius, who was in touch with Brian, that the tapes somehow were missing. Brian couldnÕt find them, maybe he didnÕt look hard enough, I donÕt know, but I was very busy, and the fact was that I just had to accept that the tapes were gone. I was sad, but since we originally didnÕt have in mind to release anything, it was just sad that the documents were gone.

But in 1997 Roedelius found one of those tapes when he visited Brian and asked him if he could have a look. Because there was some trouble in the band at the time, especially between Roedelius and Moebius, they werenÕt speaking, and I wasnÕt on very good terms with Roedelius either, Roedelius just decided on his own to transfer the four-tracks onto digital media and then mix the recordings. He then sent a CD and said, ŅThis is what I found, and how do you like it?Ó We werenÕt very happy about how that happened, because obviously Dieter Moebius and I would have preferred to join Roedelius in that project, but we couldnÕt really argue about the quality of what he had transferred.


On Bluefat Channel:
Rother & Moebius in Tokyo
Š Night 1 (Shibuya)

Michael Rother Flammende Herzen