Stylistically diverse latest long player from Germany's Rotersand that delivers all their familiar compositional strengths and does so with such a polished efficiency that it suggests there's either: a) potentially no end to Rotersand's gradually evolving musical journey, or b) that they could suddenly announce they've achieved all they set out to and have chosen to disband. Hopefully the reality is answer a, but perhaps oddly, I find myself saddened at the prospect of the latter less for their impressive recorded output but rather at the potential loss of a great live act. For although not yet having had the pleasure, it's clear that Random Is Resistance offers up many opportunities for sublime live delivery. An underlying, intelligent shimmering quality runs through all twelve tracks, but is distilled into its most compelling essence on contemplative and emotional songs like We Will Kill Them All.
What Rotersand have always done for the best part of a decade now is their thing, their way. Genre labels are not just a handy shortcut for lazy/busy journalists but a useful, practical guide to what to expect, a point of reference and a fascinating means of monitoring how a genre evolves over time. It infuriates many (not me I hasten to add!) when acts cannot conveniently be placed into one of those symmetrical boxes in some rigidly constructed classification matrix resembling a periodic table of musical styles. So, to anyone familiar with the band it should not come out of leftfield that Random Is Resistance continues their uninhibited forays into anything that quite takes their fancy at the time. With their considered, thoughtful approach to composition we soon realise that Rotersand have chosen here to spell out what you could say is their manifesto: don't play by the rules, don't do as you are told or what fans, (even the alternative) music scene, or (as the album explores more widely) society or governments expect or demand of you. Follow your whims not the crowd. Therefore, even in its simplest reading, random acts in themselves are indeed resistance. We should cultivate them, let them flourish. Thankfully, Rotersand choose to draw inspiration from that which they enjoy or see merit in, whether that's in the distant past of classical forms of music or forever peeking into its near future. This seemingly effortlessly (though we know it isn't really) spans futurepop, acoustic guitar and voice ballads, Ministry of Sound trance anthems, and industrial club music. In spite of the open-mindedness of the writing, this then is no messy, disparate collection of unconnected flotsam and jetsam.
Pick up the needle and drop it onto the first song, the cynical (but spot on) Yes We Care and if you weren't paying attention you might think, with its guitars and soaring vocal it was somehow playing Pink Floyd. But listen to those lyrics: "Hello my friend. We know you… We are information gatherers and hunters, we feed on you. We can feel you, watch you, track you. We unfold you, and we mould you, yo control you… And, yes, we care." My preference for albums to work as a distinctive collation of inspiration, for any individual track plucked out to somehow share base DNA with its siblings (and be readily identifiable as such) is always challenged when listening to Rotersand; and never more so that with this latest long player. Suddenly, I realise that I'm slipping into that dangerous mind space where I want the acts I like to deliver less what excites me than what I expect and know I like. Down that path lies mediocrity! I have Rotersand to thank for giving me the red pill and unveiling reality once more. Thank you guys - I owe you. 7/10
Rob Dyer (February 2010)
Extensive eight-track complement to and extension of Rotersand's fourth album Random Is Resistance, War on Error showcases the variety within the range band members Rasc, Gun and Krischan (aren't those just the coolest names!?) allow themselves. Whether it's the stomping bass of electro club tracks like Dirty or the fragile piano-based remix of the gentle We Will Kill Them All - Lullaby (don't let the title and the faint sound of gunfire in the distance mislead you), the extent of that range is broader than many of their contemporaries. Moreover, they are not only adept at either end of that range, as exemplified by the two examples above, but anywhere in between those two extremities. You'll find several intermediate points represented here too.
Lyrics have never been a crucial or key component in most of my musical choices (at least not outside the realms of Simon and Garfunkel!). But if we must have vocals and the lyrics they usually deliver (though the Cocteau Twins proved that the former doesn't necessarily depend on the latter) then, of course, I'd rather have something poetic, clever or thought-provoking than otherwise ("hello" almost all mainstream chart music!). Again, Rotersand deliver on that front too and although I (once more) find the title track the least interesting musically, it does contain lyrics that touch on some pretty big concepts which the album appears to explore in more depth. This EP is another solid extension to the industrial electro edifice that Rotersand are building for their fans and themselves whilst, I suspect, others continue to look on with a degree of jealously. 7/10
Rob Dyer (October 2009)
After providing tour support to Covenant, gaining virtually universal praise for their second album Welcome To Goodbye (including our very own !DSO Recommended! accolade) and only being held off the #1 spot in the German DAC year end Album Charts by Depeche Mode's Playing The Angel, I think it's fair to say that by the end of 2005 Rotersand had well and truly made their mark on the global electro scene. It's a measure of the self belief in the band and the confidence in label Dependent that the following February saw the release of this remix companion, subtitled "Perspectives on Welcome To Goodbye". Officially (and modestly) designated an EP, this is actually a full album's worth of material - nine tracks including two new ones. And this in a genre where its often an extravagant waste of good money for many bands to even release a lone single.
A brave punt then, especially given that the preceeding single of cracking album track Exterminate Annihilate Destroy was lacklustre - but does it pay off? In a word - absolutely. Wisely, rather than overstretch their admittedly impressive own talents, the German three-piece have also invited a variety of guest artists in for their remix duties. Daniel Myer under the split guise of haujobb/destroid applies his usual creative cut-up skills to Storm. The extensively reworked re:clubbed mix of Would You Buy This? - turned into Would You Spin This? by Nathalie de Borah transforms what was something of a filler track into an entirely new beast that towers over its parent. Technoir's Julia Beyer provides additional vocals on the first new song, Give It All Away, a rich, warm and very welcome addition to the band's catalogue. Drop Your Edukation is the second new song and sees Rotersand employ a more regular pop song structure on a middling mid-tempo entry. Soman does his techno fiddling on By The Waters (Sheffield Remix) focusing on the stammering sequencers and beats; whilst final track 4am Edit of Almost Wasted by Sonus Criteria adds a flute to the mix and produces a relaxed, reflective small-hours interpretation that sees the album version from another perspective entirely. Mission accomplished. 7/10
Rob Dyer (January 2008)
Five track single that gives us three versions of the Dalek-infused Exterminate Annihilate Destroy from the Welcome To Goodbye album, plus a Rearranged mix of Last Ship and the previously unreleased Caustic Greed. The Reclubbed mix of Exterminate... by Rotersand themselves is fine if unexciting. It's just a different take rather than a radical new approach. The second version is the album edit and, in my view, remains the definite version and the one yet to be bettered. The third version (Renoised) comes via config.sys and is a crunchy, noise heavy cut that does at least take the song into a side genre but also leaves me indifferent. Caustic Greed sees the band quell their darkest industrial charcteristics in favour of soft synth pads, guitars and a lighter dance-tinged production meaning that perhaps for all the unintended reasons it's this that provides the sole reason to return to this single. One for die-hard fans only. 6/10
Rob Dyer (January 2008)
If ever there was an example of a breakthrough album, then Rotersand's Welcome To Goodbye (their second) is it. Not only does it manage to fulfill your hopes given the glimpses of talent they've already shown to date, but it manages to surprise too. Having fallen for Rotersand, it didn't come as a surprise though to find this topping the German DAC album charts in short order after its release.
Most impressive is that their talents are not restrained by anything as mundane as pigeon holes or as predictable ego. They are as compelling and convincing whether they turn their skills to gentle ballads like Angels Falling or the in-your-face screaming Dalek stomp of Exterminate Annihilate Destroy, while tracks like By The Waters seamlessly, somehow, straddle those two extremes. What sets Rotersand apart from their peers is the intelligence that goes into their compositions. They are cleverly constructed, yet not afraid to take risks. They never become self-indulgent, nor lazily rely upon alternative electronic music conventions to carry themselves.
With Welcome To Goodbye Rotersand have created an audio landscape often shrouded in grey skies but there's an eternal sense of optimism (just listen to those beautiful strings in the background of The Last Ship Pt. 2). It's dark but not morose. Reflective but not self-obsessed. Welcome To Goodbye is the epitome of hard work and talent fusing to produce glorious results. Whichever the vehicle, the standard of songwriting remains admirably high throughout. There's no padding here. Just wall to wall quality. 8/10
Rob Dyer (March 2007)
With its melodic sequencer patterns, muted drum beats, sweeping lead synth lines and slow, sparse, spoken vocals, the title track could be right out of the Dependent stable. Instead its German label Endless and like much of the European electro, this sets a certain level of professionalism, even if it doesn't exactly inspire. However, it's nice to see a mid-tempo track like this get a single release on a scene that seems to only sustain singles releases if they are intended to fill a dark club dancefloor somewhere.
With the repetitive robotnik bass sequencer and beats of the S.O.P. mix of Sonic Agony faintly echoing Summer/Moroder's I Feel Love this is easy to like. Then there's Winter Paints It White - another mid-tempo entry that is mellow beat-driven but is as elegantly simple as it is effective. Quite something. To round this four tracker off, there's the original mix of Sonic Agony. Based around an extended piano intro, this is quite different. Overall, this single builds impressively meaning that, for my money at least, the title track is the least interesting thing here. Rotersand are definitely one to place on the 'one to watch' list. 7/10
Rob Dyer (January 2005)
Official Rotersand website: http://www.rotersand.net