The two albums format yields discussion of some sophisticated and slightly low-key European releases on this week’s podcast. The charms of Melotrons’s Sternenstaub and Cryo’s Hidden Aggression are examined by the Senior Staff, alongside some impressive live streaming sets from Mr.Kitty and Panther Mordern (good week for cat-related acts, we guess). All that and plenty more jackassery on the latest episode of We Have A Technical. You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.
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It was great to see some attention given to Melotron. Having thought way too much about this for 20+ years, I would argue two fundamental reasons they never picked up steam in North America.
First, while their production was amazing and their songs “good enough”, their sound was tired. Beborn Beton, De/Vision and 100 other bands had already mastered the 4/4 club-ready synthpop five years before they started. And when they shifted to futurepop, they were still followers, not innovators.
Second, while it’s true they only sung in German, this has never been that big of a barrier to acceptance. The more subtle point is that they were TOO German; in other words, too foreign. They did not fit neatly into the preconstructed stereotypes of how an American would categorize something German:
A) Aggressive (Rammstein, Wumpscut, 1000 other examples)
B) Comically cheesy (David Haselhoff, some And One, various SNL skits)
C) Weird but accessible (other And One, Nina Hagen, Wolfsheim)
D) Completely unemotional and programmed (Kraftwerk, Tresor techno)
Melotron were none of these things. They were normal music for normal people, if “normal” meant German. Their brand was simply unrelatable and they never compromised to build a cultural bridge.
All of that being said, Mörderwerk (Zoth Ommog, 1999) is a contender for top 20 synthpop records of the 90s. It’s really, really good. It layers in the EBM bounce (“Dein Meister”) without being afraid to downshift into contemplative pieces (“Maschinen Aus Stahl”). And, as a side-note, the lyrics are quite, um, lyrical; they really take advantage of the nuance of German language.
On the total flipside, thanks for the introduction to Cryo — they’re new for me.
At 28:10, the sketch was called “Deep House Dish,” and it was supposed to be the only hip hop and house show on the fictitious MTV 4 network. I could only find one clip online of one of the sketches on Vimeo, but it was, in fact, a 4-bar intro melody for “Der Kosmonaut.” As for Sprocket’s, Kraftwerk’s “Electric Cafe” melody was played at 1.5x speed as the outro song “when we dance.” The intro music for Sprocket’s seems to be an interpolation of “Electric Cafe” but not the actual song.