To Rococo Rot
Although I've always enjoyed their releases that I've heard, there's something about To Rococo Rot that has never quite hooked me like it should. Perhaps it's something to do with their rather austere sound (I wouldn't go so far as to call them outright "cold," as many have), but while the hooks are definitely there with the group, I've only found myself coming back to one of their releases over and over again (their last effort Music Is A Hungry Ghost, on which they teamed up with turntablist I-Sound).
I think the thing about that last release which caught my attention more than their previous work was simply that Willingham (aka I-Sound) wasn't afraid to dirty up their sound a bit and murk it out a bit more. While the group retains just a slight bit of that touch in some tracks on Hotel Morgen, it's mainly back to the style that they worked on their previous albums. Other than a vibraphone and a bass, there's nothing on Hotel Morgen that isn't electronic, and while that lends itself well to the dancefloor, To Rococo Rot is more about creating heady music that works more for casual listening.
While there's nothing wrong with any of the disc, it just feels like tracks such as "Dahlem," "Basic," and "Cosimo" have already been done by the group before. Texturally, they're all lovely and warm, but as mentioned above they just seem to lack that small something further. Meanwhile, other songs show that the group isn't all stark black turtlenecks and digital machines. "Tal" is one of the shorter tracks on the disc, but benefits from a layer of grit and a repetitive bassline that draws the listener in further with each iteration while "Plong" says 'fuck art, let's dance' with super grooving intertwined bass parts and a thumping beat. The luscious "Non Song" takes things down yet another level, reveling in the minimal ambience that Robert Lippok has done so well on his solo releases. With 14 tracks that run by in just over 40 minutes, the group never lingers on anything too long, but they're definitely at their best on Hotel Morgen when they break any past molds.