Michael Rother

Solo

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Michael Rother's solo discography isn't talked about nearly as much as his work with Neu! or Harmonia, but it's just as essential for anyone interested in Krautrock. After both of those groups disbanded, Rother began releasing albums that featured Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit providing metronomic yet human rhythms, and Conny Plank doing an indispensable job engineering and co-producing the material, arranging parts in a way which Rother acknowledges he couldn't have done by himself. Starting with 1977's Flammende Herzen, Rother's three albums on Sky Records feature the driving beats and chiming, circular guitars and synths one would expect from Neu!, but there's clearly more of an emotional range here. Flammende Herzen is quite energetic and optimistic, but 1978's Sterntaler is considerably more sentimental, slowing down the tempo and allowing more room for reflection. The gorgeous "Blauer Regen" practically sounds like a blueprint for Mogwai's less aggressive side, and ends with a gentle wash of rainfall. Tracks like "Stomlinien" highlight Rother's skill at constructing simple yet resounding melodies, as well as his knack for tastefully applying fuzz guitar effects. 1979's Katzenmusik remains one of his most ambitious and accomplished works, fully expressing his sheer fascination with cats through joy and a surprising amount of pathos. 1982's Fernwärme was Rother's first solo album without Plank and his last with Liebezeit. It's altogether darker, colder, and more electronic than its predecessors, but there are still calming, upbeat pieces like "Silberstreif" and "Hohe Luft." Skipping over several additional solo albums released between 1983 and 2004, this 2019 box set spotlights some previously unissued soundtrack work from the early 2010s. The music from The Robbers achieves John Carpenter-level suspense (particularly in the Halloween-like pulse of the second part), while Houston is much lighter, gauzier, and more free-floating. The vinyl edition of Solo also includes a disc containing a few more recent recordings, including one by Hallogallo 2010 (a Neu! redux featuring Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley) and Rother's remixes of songs by Paul Weller and Boxed In, surrounding their vocals with his inimitable waves of effervescent guitars and brisk drums.

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