Just motoriking along …
November 30, 2019 9:06 AM   Subscribe

On October 22, 2011 Michael Rother, Camera and Dieter Moebius appeared together at the HBC in Berlin. Video artist Christian Garcia has posted a 26-minute clip of the jam on the web.

Camera being modern day explorers of the so-called Motorik beat, which Brian Eno famously declared to be one of the three great beats of the 1970s, Neu! being the so-called Krautrock duo with which it is most often associated. Sadly, drummer Klaus Dinger (the true keeper of the motorik time) died in 2008, but Michael Rother (guitars, bass guitar, keyboards) is still with us, still working solo or hooking up with young guns like Camera or old friends like Dieter Moebius (who we also sadly lost a few years back), still exploring " … the soft approach to fast forward music, a music that sort of runs forward, has no ending, which is aimed at the horizon … or beyond."

Bonus track: Adam Curtis: While the band played on. (previously)
posted by philip-random (9 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Wait! Wait! I know this one! I mean, yo, you gotta understand! OK, so, this is a thing - OK, so we live (in Berlin) in a supremely boring part of town. I mean, like as close to a bedroom community as you can get in a city. Not a cool part of town, no one is doing anything that anyone is talking about unless it blocks the sidewalk or otherwise inconveniences someone on their way to the market or the subway. Supremely boring. OK, so, we are out one Thursday night walking the dog at about ten or so and as we get to the S-bahn station (surface train/public transport) station we hear this odd sound that isn't quite a beat or... anything. It was odd and we both wondered where it could be coming from. (Because loud noises after ten get the police in action. Boring part of town.) We get closer to the station and realize the sound is coming from down there so we go down the stairs to check it out. There's a long tunnel, couple hundred feet, going under the train tracks and an elevated four-lane road and at a point one third down is a guy facing the wall, with a guitar and a mess of pedals and an amplifier at his feet. And he was making a-m-a-z-i-n-g sounds - this isn't my cup of meat, really but damn this was interesting. It was good. We stood there for fifteen minutes, easy. He wouldn't turn around. I bought the CD he had for sale, I asked how much he shrugged his shoulders so I put 10 in his case. He kept making these amazing sounds, playing the tunnel against his looping pedals. The train emptied out every ten minutes and people, about a quarter would stop and gawk. Not a few shake their heads in Gutburgerlich disgust.
It was really remarkable. A couple days later I found out who he was, I can't remember which but one of Camera. The CD was a bit of a let down. But live, they are fucking mighty. So Thanks!
posted by From Bklyn at 9:56 AM on November 30, 2019 [6 favorites]

Great video - hypnotic. I love that kind of music.
posted by awfurby at 2:22 PM on November 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have been really enjoying this post! I made a Motorik beat having not heard of that before as A Thing, and am listening to Camera all day to try and finish NaNoWriMo, which it's great soundtrack for! Help me procrastinate more: I am fascinated by the idea of Eno's "three great beats of the 1970s" and don't seem to see that specifically in the articles. I'm probably being stupid and certainly being lazy, but where is that?
posted by freebird at 3:47 PM on November 30, 2019

the three beats question gets answered in here:

Brian Eno would declare the Dingerbeat devised by Neu!'s Klaus Dinger to be one of the three great beats of the 1970s, along with James Brown/Clyde Stubblefield's funk and Fela Kuti/Tony Allen's Afrobeat. It's also known as motorik, a word with an ultra-modernistic, Teutonic sheen but one which was actually coined to describe the work of the pre-war German composer Paul Hindemith who, in works like the Sonata For Solo Cello Opus 25, sought to emulate the industrial rhythms that were a new addition to the sonic environment of the early 20th century

The writer is David Stubbs, whose 2014 book Future Days: Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany is what got me wandering around the interwebs, discovering these links. An excellent read, and such an endlessly expansive (and rewarding) soundtrack.
posted by philip-random at 7:32 PM on November 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Well, aside from being too short, that was fantastic.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 9:49 PM on November 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

The story I heard was that the word "Motorik" was first used to describe the drumming of Can's Jaki Liebezeit. It's part of the Can mythology - I'm writing this from memory but I'm sure that a source is just a few clicks away. Liebezeit started off as more of a jazz drummer, and, as the story goes, after one early gig, a semi-deranged fan came on stage and told Jaki Liebezeit that he "must make his drumming more motorik!", and the drummer took this suggestion very strongly, changing his style permanently to develop the fantastic Can groove we all (?) know and love. Just listen to "Vitamin C" from Tago Mago, or pretty much all of "Future Days". Note also that the German "Motorik" does not really refer to motors or engines, it has more to do with what we call "motor control", i.e. fine control of physical movement.
posted by crazy_yeti at 5:18 AM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here is a video of Jaki Liebezeit telling the story in his own words. I guess I got it slightly wrong, the word was "monotonous", not "motorik", at least in Jaki's English version of the story... but anyhow, he's one of the greatest drummers ever and you should listen to him!
posted by crazy_yeti at 5:28 AM on December 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

That clip of Jaki Liebezeit is great in a very subtle, low-key way. Super dry, but when (for a few seconds) he plays the 'monotonous' rhythm you immediately understand. With a little poking around, you can find most of the rest of the documentary. I've heard Can, compliments of Spotify, thought they were great but its hard to emphasize how vastly underrated they were. You can hear the 'motorik' pop up in all the Eno albums after that, (not to mention Kraftwerk) which then seeps into the rest of pop music.

Fucking cool.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:45 AM on December 2, 2019

With a little poking around, you can find most of the rest of the documentary.

I'm pretty sure it's this one: KRAUTROCK - Rebirth of Germany ... which I actually posted here almost exactly a decade ago.

There's also CAN - The Documentary which I find refreshingly random, the way it rather wanders around (and through) it's subject matter, allowing for extensive, uninterrupted musical moments.
posted by philip-random at 8:39 AM on December 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

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