Monday, April 10, 2017

Michael Rother - 1978 - Sterntaler

Michael Rother 

01. Sonnenrad 6:01
02. Blauer Regen 3:09
03. Stromlinien 8:11
04. Sterntaler 6:46
05. Fontana Di Luna 6:39
06. Orchestrion 3:40

Michael Rother - Guitar, Piano, Bass, Vibraphone, Hawaii-Guitar, Synthesizer, Strings
Jaki Liebezeit - Drums
Conny Plank - Producer, Recording

Aufgenommen Sept-Nov '77 in Forst & Connys Studio

Sterntaler is the second studio album by the German solo artist Michael Rother. It was released in 1978 and includes the single "Sterntaler" b/w "Sonnenrad".

The album was recorded between September and November 1977 in Germany at Rother's own studio in Forst and Conny's Studio. Receiving positive reviews the album was released as an LP in 1977 before it was re-released by Polydor in 1982. The album was reissued on CD in 1993 with bonus tracks and having been remastered. The artwork for the album was designed by Rike with photography by Ann Weitz.

On completion of Flammende Herzen his debut solo album, Rother re-teamed with Cluster members Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius and former-Roxy Music member and solo artist Brian Eno to record a third Harmonia album in Forst in 1976. The studio sessions were productive but the recordings were left unreleased until November 1997 when they were released as Tracks and Traces and credited to 'Harmonia 76'.

Rother recorded Sterntaler in conditions that were similar to his debut, working again with Neu! and Harmonia producer Conny Plank and augmented with Jaki Liebezeit from Can on drums. Aside from Liebezeit, the entirety of the album was written and performed by Rother utilising guitar, bass guitar, piano, synthesizer and electronic percussion.[1] Rother also used Hawaiian slide guitar and synthesized strings, evident was an increased used on synthesizer for the main melody lines on a number of compositions most evident on the title track and an ambient drum-free approach on "Blauer Regen".

"Fontana Di Luna" was later re-recorded in 1990 as "Morning Sun", a song that was recorded in collaboration with Station 17 on their self-titled début album in 1990. Station 17 is a project that gives disabled people the opportunity to work as an artist in music, movie and video.

Sterntaler was first released on Sky Records as an LP in 1978. The album has been re-released several times, again as an LP on Polydor after Rother joined the label in 1982. In 1993, Rother secured the rights to his back catalogue and re-issued all of his solo albums with bonus tracks and remastered sound on his own label, Random Records.[3] In 2000, Rother re-issued all of the albums again in partnership between Random Records and BSC Music.[3] Expanded editions include the 1993-era tracks "Lichter Von Kairo", "Patagonia Horizont" and "Südseewellen (Extended Dance Remix)". The album has since been released in the US on Water Records and as a heavyweight 180 gram LP on the 4 Men With Beards imprint. The 2000 edition runs a little slower than the original LP, whilst a 2007 edition runs faster.

This was the NEU! guitarist’s second and finest solo album. Joined on both records by Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit and co-produced by Rother and audio guru Conrad Plank, it’s a purely instrumental album of six songs precisely overdubbed to perfection. Rother is credited with a battery of instruments (guitar, piano, bass, vibraphone, Hawaiian guitar, synthesizer, strings) but it’s not the least bit muddled, fussy or overdone. As far as solo albums go, this is about as uncluttered as they come, and nothing overstays its welcome. The contents are so light and pleasing yet so incredibly hook-ridden, he could’ve recorded each of these six tracks as an album side apiece and they’d be in no danger of ever becoming the least bit boring. Small children and animals will delight to this record probably as much as you. “Sonnenrad” opens with the first of many melodies, the main riff soon bursting in like the first rays of a promising morning, as an unhurried exercise of parallel and contrasting guitar lines coexist in this peaceable kingdom. “Blauer Regen” is a gentle though just as forlorn cousin to NEU!’s “Seeland,” percussion-less save for sparsely hit cymbals all muted into hollow incantations. Rain begins to fall over the love-lost guitar line as the water drips from the drains outside. The rain then gets phased and faded at the same time, followed by the almost looser relative of the first track, “Stromlinien.” Liebezeit holds up a steady beat, natürlich, as the FX-ed Rother guitar lines are all double-tracked alongside harmony synthesizer runs. Here, the NEU! automotive groove is given a far more relaxed treatment and you get to see the countryside as overhead trees pass above an open convertible made for two. It breaks down into a slight respite with everything faded down into a low valley, but it reappears at the other side of the mountain, refreshed and going for it, as the double-tracked riff re-enters once more. It’s an insidious melody where you don’t hear the repetition -- you just sense the pulse behind it. Soon string synthesizer and massed guitar lines collect on the horizon as Liebezeit switches to just hi-hat in the phased fade out.

The title track, “Sterntaler” opens side two with a gentle synth melody as the sparest rhythm line creates plateaus until a robust, lightly-fuzzed double track guitar emerges to the surface with a slow melody that builds with every note -- a phenomena common to Rother’s guitar approach, and not too many others. Ahhhh...then the centerpiece of the whole album, “Fontana di Luna.” Phased cymbals and a slow tempo drum pattern begin as low synth and tinkling chimes flurry together to frame the most beautiful track on the album. Here Rother plays echoed vibes as lightly-struck percussion resound over Rother’s backseat snatches of guitar melody that pick up where the vibes trail off, like gentle foreplay on a warm Mediterranean night. Phased, phased rhythm generator appears in the vibe-less bridge, like a reminder of last night’s activity in the morning sun. The vibe and guitar/cat and mouse melody is then reintroduced, and chase each other playfully for the remainder of this atmospheric and spacious love vibe-out. “Orchestrion” is just that: an orchestra of overdubbed bass generator and controlled guitars running rampant over a spry drum pattern through all manner of effects from Plank’s studio. More guitar melodies are introduced--delicate ones as well as the reoccurring dense fuzz ones like rearing steeds, all reigned in by the genius that is Michael Rother. This album stands alongside his work with NEU!, Harmonia and his “Zuckerzeit” associations as final proof of not only of his vast instrumental facility, but his keen ear for both melody and arrangement -- which on this album are about as vast as the aural vistas he captures so perfectly.

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