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[Music Monday]: Chill Neu Rock

Chilled out rock tunes and indie jams from incoming artists Michael Rother (NEU!), pg.lost, Wang Wen, The Drums, Hualun, and more.
By Dec 8, 2014 Nightlife
Music Monday is a weekly SmartShanghai column, serving up songs from bands living and making music in China (or coming to China, or thinking about coming to China, or whatever). Copyright holders: if you would like your song removed, please contact us here, and we'll honor your request promptly.

[Krautrock pioneer Michael Rother back in the 70s. He's at Mao Live on Saturday.]

Greetings and salutations Shanghai rockers. Hopefully your weekend was full of music and pints refreshing you to once again stare down that barrel called "the workweek". Last Saturday, hot off the heels of Hong Kong's Clockenflap festival, electronic artist Dopplereffekt killed it with a dark set at The Shelter. Then on Sunday Guangzhou beat maker Pete Chen showed the wax hungry crowd a selection of his beats live on the SP-404 sampler at the Daily Vinyl record swap.

As we slide deeper into winters grip there seems to be no downturn of quality gigs around town. Topping the list this week is Saturday’s free Vice show at Mao Livehouse featuring Michael Rother who was a founding member of NEU! and also played for Kraftwerk, Harmonia, and Brian Eno. Also at Mao Livehouse on Friday is a little New Noise birthday celebration re-joining post rock bands Pg.Lost and Wangwen who put out a well-received split vinyl 12” last year. And on Friday you've got some Smiths/Interpol-ish action at the QSW with Brooklyn duo The Drums. Let’s kick out the slow jams.

Michael Rother

Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's Michael Rother, in Germany during the 1970s. Yes I’m talking about Krautrock and this guy was knee deep with pretty much every seminal act of the genre. Rother got his start playing in the late 60’s band Spirits of the Sound whose bandmates would also go onto Kraut-rocking success. After departing from Spirits of the Sound he met up with drummer Klaus Dinger where they alongside Florian Schneider briefly made up the early trio version of Kraftwerk. Schneider remained in Kraftwerk until 2008.

Dinger and Rother left Kraftwerk to form Neu!, who released their first of six self-titled albums in 1971. If that wasn’t enough, Rother was also part of the 70’s band Harmonia which included Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius (aka Cluster). Let’s just say he was pretty damn important and bands like Radiohead, Stereo Lab, Joy Division, David Bowie, and countless others site Rother’s projects as their main influences. His main project Neu! never received commercial success and their first album sold a mere 30,000 copies. Now all of the Neu! material has been re-issued on vinyl and is a pretty hot commodity at record stores across the world.

Since the late 70’s Rother has been a solo artist/producer creating mostly ambient electronic rock where he plays guitar and keyboard. Saturday’s show is a curious one as it’s one of those Vice free shows usually filled with rambunctious, hormone-filled youth ready to get wild. Let’s see if the kids can sit still for a little bit of history. Also playing is Wuhan founded post–rock band Hualun (another slow burner) along with Shanghai surf rock band the Psyders and Russian pyschobilly outfit Messer Chups. Now I’m going to share a Michael Rother solo song titled Silberstreif from the 1982 album Fernwarme. You can blame Rother for also laying down the foundation for modern post rock. Check out this Hualun song and see if you can hear any of his influence.

Michael Rother - "Silberstreif"

Hualun - "Farewell"

Wangwen & pg.Lost

Those crazy Swedish experimental instrumentalists pg.lost are back in China to celebrate the promotion group and record label New Noise’s 5th birthday. A purely instrumental outfit, these Swedes create dark atmospheric music that gets increasingly loud and powerful as their 20 minute songs drone on. They can burst out with explosive guitars before transitioning into a funky drum line with defined guitar picking. The band had two solid albums before the 2013 release of the famous New Noise release with Wang Wen but nothing out recently. Since it’s been almost two years since their last release let’s see if Friday’s show has something new to offer from the Swedes.

Wang Wen on the other hand has a brand spanking new vinyl album out on New Noise which runs for a cool 200RMB and will be available at Saturday’s show. The prolific band has released seven studio albums and continue to evolve their sound with each passing year. This 8th album is titled 8 Horses (wonder where that came from) and was produced by the infamous Yang Haisong of P.K. 14, along with Ningbo based producer Anzi and Wouter Vlaeminckx, front man of Belgium indie band Toman. Truly a collaborative piece that is elevating China’s every growing post rock scene. That’s right our great land will one day be known for the most beautiful boring music ever made. Friday’s Mao Live House show also includes Shanghai indie rockers Duck Fight Goose who have really been tightening up on all their 2014 sets. Looks like a recipe for awesome town population you.

pg.lost - "desperdicio part"

Wang Wen - Northern North

The Drums

Also on Friday is another big Indie rock show in form of New York’s own The Drums. Known for taking strong influences from the Smiths, Joy Division, and Orange Juice the band has shared its public dramas over the years with departing members. Now reduced to a two piece, the band carries on with a brand new album Encyclopedia that has been met with mixed reviews. Remaining member Jonathan Pierce had this to say about the new album “We were feeling very angry, confused, and alone when we made this album, and we wanted to be very honest this time around, even if being honest meant making some people uncomfortable. We've left the beach for higher ground, always searching for hope”.

Many of you know the Drums from their Jimmy Fallon debut back in 2012 that catapulted them into indie success. For those expecting the pure Brookyln stylings of a Drums years past don’t hold your breath. However the band still seems to have some levity yet but you’ll need to pay a mean 280rmb (or 350rmb at the door) to experience the new Drums style.

The Drums - "I Hope Time Doesn't Change Him"

There is your slow rock recipe for the week. Mix with some melancholy and take often.


This column is written by DJ Sacco, who runs Uptown Records, Shanghai's dedicated vinyl shop. Ironically, they don't sell Mp3s or dabble in anything digital, instead they have 7" and 12", EPs and LPs from rock to electronic, rare pressings, DJ equipment and band merchandise. Find them in an old bomb shelter at 115 Pingwu Lu.



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