Sterntaler marked the beginning of Michael Rother's deep preoccupation with introspective melodies projected outward. Where Flammende Herzen was full of anthemic instrumental rock that was constructed to be just that, Sterntaler is more reflective even if its drive is as insistent and mechanically accurate. Again collaborating with producer Conny Plank and Can's drummer, Jaki Leibzeit, Rother set out with Sterntaler to create true electronic rock music -- even if what he came up with was the first real ambient trance music. Unlike his former bandmates in Kraftwerk and Harmonia who had wholeheartedly embraced electronic music as an end in and of itself, Rother was deeply entrenched in the idea that the entire idea for synthesizers and drum machines was to make rock & roll itself more futuristic. What's so odd about that notion is his method of composition. On the opener, "Sonnenrad," his signature electric guitar sound plays melodies that are almost folk-like in their simplicity over his trademark Motorik percussion and rhythmic churn. On "Blauer-Regen" Leibzeit's cymbals mark the simple chord changes on an introspective ballad filled with the sounds of falling rain cascading down through the guitars. "Stremlinien" and the title track are more hypnotic rock tracks with veritable choruses of guitars all playing the same notes in harmony over a cut-time drumbeat and Leibzeit's percussive embellishments. Keyboards swim through the mix, creating a chords progression -- though it feels like one phrase over and over again -- and Rother concentrates on using a slide guitar to control and advance dynamics in the swirl. This is awesome driving music, perfect maybe for the Autobahn, but certainly for American two-lane blacktops during the first flush of fall.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek