Let’s build together: To Rococo Rot, Peel Sessions

With Monorail Exclusive Bonus CD

We’re extremely proud to partner with To Rococo Rot and Bureau B on this dazzling collection of their BBC Sessions for John Peel. Our exclusive edition will come with an “Influences” cd they’ve kindly made for us featuring music that influenced the group.

To Rococo Rot are a group that have held sway over me for 25 years – I’m as fascinated by the them now as I was on first listen. The first time I heard them was in 1997 just outside Edinburgh. We (The Pastels) were playing a show in London the next night and it was a late set-off as our guitarist, Jonathan, was working in the university and we’d gone through to pick him up. I remember we also stopped for a couple of bottles of wine to get the journey off to a good start and as we settled back in some style we started to listen to the John Peel show. To Rococo Rot were in session and we all thought it perfect late night travel music.  Soon after, I picked up their first two records and started the inevitable process of information gathering that comes with liking something new.

It was the last days of the pre-internet world for us, we didn’t own a computer and their story took a while for us to gather together, allowing an extended and enjoyable amount of speculation which we’ve carried on through the years. The group featured two brothers from Berlin, Ronald and Robert Lippok who had grown up in East Germany where access to instruments was not always possible and where tapes from the John Peel show were traded around between friends. Stefan Schneider, from Düsseldorf was also a member of Kreidler, who had joined them to make music for a sound installation / lithograph exhibition which became their first record.

To Rococo Rot’s music has always had a sense of belonging to different worlds, it’s hard to know where they fit in. They never seem like one thing, instead they move fluently in and out of genres, from place to place. Some of the nice sounds, the attention to detail suggests an affinity with minimalist techno – you can easily play a Maurizio or Monolake side then move on to To Rococo Rot for a bit more action or colour, or melody. To Rococo Rot have an extremely graceful way with melody that forges a connection with an earlier generation of electronic musicians like Roedelius or Ralf and Florian. But there’s noise elements too, concréte sounds, and something punk or make-do when it comes to equipment and other aspects.

To Rococo Rot’s work for the BBC not only complements their studio albums – it presents something new, something slightly more documentary, slightly more in the moment. It’s a mixture of unreleased songs, radically different versions and a cover / remix of Thomson Colour by The Pastels – it was always quite the thrill when they would open their set with this. Here the version is live in Liverpool in front of a privileged audience that comprises only John Peel and his family. It is proceeded by a very good discussion between Peel and Robert Lippok on the correct way to pronounce To Rococo Rot. Across the whole set the group sound like the expert chance takers they’ve always been, making music that always sounds as if it can change course wherever there’s a beautiful detour.

Not only do To Rococo Rot still sound very modern, they still sound like the future. Their music tells us that we are all European, we are all present, we can construct something together. In everything they’ve ever done they’ve seemed to know when to change, when to stay the same. They’ve just announced that they have plans to work together – they’ve been on quite a long hiatus. Can they sound even newer than this? I wouldn’t be surprised. Absolutely exceptional.

Stephen Pastel, Glasgow 2022

Parts of this text originally appeared in Rocket Road, To Rococo Rot 1997-2001 (City Slang).

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