Friday 22 October 2010

Hallogallo 2010: Michael Rother and Friends Present the Music of Neu! at Barbican Hall - 21 October 2010

You’ll be familiar with the sound of ‘motorik’ even if you don’t know what it is.

It’s that metronomic, fast ticking beat that powers along and forms an essential part of the repertoire of any act that proclaims itself to have Krautrock influences.

The pioneers were Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger, who collaborated as the band Neu!. In the mid Seventies they released three groundbreaking albums with the less than groundbreaking titles of Neu!, Neu! 2 and Neu! ’75. It was a fraught partnership and the duo had long since stopped performing together at the time of Dinger’s death in 2008.

Michael Rother has now come back around to that insistent, driving rhythm and tonight, with the assistance of Steve Shelley on drums and bassist Aaron Mullan he is performing under the umbrella title of Hallogallo 2010. The name of the ensemble is a reference to the landmark track on that original Neu! album.

However, this is an exercise in looking forward, not back, as the tunes that they play either unique to this group of musicians or are so heavily reworked as to barely nod to the originals.
For an hour or so the black-clad and largely er...let’s say ‘mature’ crowd sit in their seats and imperceptively tic and shudder as they absorb Steve Shelley’s furious yet extremely disciplined onslaught.

Songs are distinguished by swooshes of electronic noise or heavily distorted found sounds, such as at one point the slow metallic grind of a heavy iron gate.

Rother plays guitars and twiddles with miscellaneous pieces of equipment piled across a table. Mullan experiences some technical difficulty early on, but is soon in the groove, nodding along with the others in perfect synchrony.

In many respects, and perhaps rightly, it is Shelley who dominates, here working far harder than he would ever have to do with his other group Sonic Youth, his arms a blur.

This is a night about a beat, an urgent pulse of music that quickens the beating of your own heart. Imperious and mesmeric, Rother and company have tapped into the rhythm of life itself.

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