Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Kraut Fishing in America: Moebius and Plank- Rastakraut Pasta (1980), Material (1981)
Oh, that Krautrock bug. If you've got it, then you may already have these two essential albums from the superhuman duo of Conny Plank and Dieter Moebius. Or maybe you don't-- in my experience these records don't seem to come up all that often when the conversation turns to desert island Krautrock records. Sure, you've got the Can albums, at least the first Neu! record, some Harmonia, maybe, something by Faust, and hopefully Kluster's Zuckerzeit, but before you start eating Amon Düül's trash or trying to focus on Manuel Gottshing or Achim Reichel, even before you start snacking on tasty stuff like La Düsseldorf, Moebius or Roedelius as solo artists, Gunter Schickert, SYPH, or the more enduring works of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, You Gotta Get Down With Moebius and Plank.
One of the qualities I value most in Krautrock is what the Neu! boys dubbed "Motorik", that post-apocalypse highway sound that you find in some of the best, but not all, Krautrock specimens. (That link, by the way, goes to the wikipedia page for motorik. Yes, it has a wikipedia entry.) These two records find the boys serving up some very very innovative and playful takes on the moto-music sound, blending it with the sympathetic aesthetic of that Zuckerzeit-y, tinkle-toy video game/music box sound that Moebius often specializes in, creating very full, delightfully artful repetitious compositions. Fans of the full pop-kraut universe Bowie and Eno created for Low and "Heroes" will find a heart song for their souls on these grooves.
Honestly, these records could be a perfect introduction to the Kraut world, as they roll together and epitomize so much of what is great about Krautrock, from Motorik rollouts to electronic doodles to minimalist pop-repetition to Czukay-style sampling (Czukay actually plays bass on Rastakraut Pasta). They even dip heavily into the dub language and pull out some weird victories.
Moebius and Plank were both old masters of the game by 1980, when the first of these albums dropped, having been involved in what seems like half of the best Krautrock projects of the 70's. Plank himself may have actually been on more than half, but he is a superhero. Here are two guys who were not ready to slip into New Agey synth tranquility, electronic laziness, or any kind of routine. Here are two Kosmisch Wizards, more powerful than ever, soaring through the universe.