Michael Rother

Remember (The Great Adventure)

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Michael Rother's ninth solo album picks up where Esperanza left off eight years before, delivering a similarly trance-inducing and emotionally potent blend of ambient textures, layered guitar minimalism, and state of the art beats. Compared to its predecessor, though, Remember (The Great Adventure) sounds much fresher -- revitalized by Rother's openness to the work of others and by his willingness to embrace the synergy of collaboration. Here the former Neu!, Harmonia and (briefly) Kraftwerk guitarist comes full-circle, teaming up with innovative younger artists influenced by his own generation of German musicians who explored rock's interface with electronics in the 1970s. Andi Toma of Mouse on Mars contributes beats to the standout "Energy It Up (Pt. 1)," the track's mantric groove suggesting the Beta Band at their best; Thomas Beckmann assumes Toma's role for the more shimmering, spacious "Energy It Up (Pt. 2)"; and on "Elevation No. 9," Jake Mandell fashions the perfect driving, rhythmic frame for Rother's sparse, hypnotic melodies. While Esperanza saw Rother expand his instrumentals with the occasional sampled voice, here he ventures into song-oriented formats, with guest vocalists Sophie Williams and Herbert Grönemeyer. The interplay of Williams' fragility and Grönemeyer's rougher tone is particularly compelling on "Energy It Up (Pt. 2)" and the melancholy, haunting "Morning After (Loneliness)." Sung by Williams alone, "He Said" and "Sweet Sweat" recall William Orbit's recordings with Beth Orton, but although gorgeous and affecting, they tend to drift a little, their dreamy soundscapes verging on the soporific. Even so, that's not enough to mar the broader success of this material. Remember (The Great Adventure) is by no means groundbreaking, but it's unquestionably the work of an artist who, rather than churn out progressively diluted versions of his own signature sound, is committed to moving forward and making music that remains vital and relevant.

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