Michael Rother – In session for Marc Riley – August 10, 2019 – BBC 6 Music –
Running across this recent (August 2019) session with German electronica pioneer Michael Rother it immediately summoned up all kinds of memories. Having been very familiar with his work since his days with the legendary German prog-Rock band Neu!, his solo work has been remarkable, starting with this debut album Flammende Herzen, which came out in 1976/1977. Rother was also a founding member of Kraftwerk. Needless to say, Michael Rother has been a linchpin in the German prog-rock movement almost since Day 1, along with other legendary bands such as Can, Amon DüülII and Faust, he was part of that nucleus that changed the face of Rock music, but we didn’t know it at the time.
Sadly Rother’s, and in fact Neu! and all but a very few band’s albums weren’t available in the U.S. at the time and could only be gotten through import channels, which wasn’t always the easiest at the time. They became something of a secret discovery; albums you could play for your friends, who would be suitably blown away and ask where they could get a copy, or could they borrow yours.
When Kraftwerk broke into the U.S. market, along with Tangerine Dream, it established Germany as a vital and highly productive scene, but was already almost a decade old when it finally arrived over here. But thanks to the imports and eyewitness accounts from friends who investigated the scene, the influences of Michael Rother, and in fact many of the German underground bands were already getting established via the American underground – this was music that was just too good to be ignored.
Going back and listening to some of his early albums, it becomes very apparent that what was happening with the German prog-scene (or Krautrock) in the early 1970s has worked its way into a lot of current music and that Michael Rother had his finger squarely on the button for a very long time.
This session, done for Marc Riley at BBC 6 Music in August of 2019 is a nice reminder of where things got started and how he’s owed a debt of gratitude for freeing a lot of contemporary music up to go exploring. If it wasn’t for that pack of insane geniuses running around Berlin and Hamburg, Pop Music might be in a whole different place right now.
Crank it up and enjoy.