I asked Patrick, Oliver, and Frank of Fursattl if they could think of anyone else making modern motorik. They bounced the question back at me, so I thought I`d have a go, starting by scanning for when I`d recently used the term in a review. This gave me a handful of names which I think still stand up.
Travelling through 2022 and 2021 you’ve got Gary Irwin’s Vendetta Suite, and Christmas In Cologne. A heartfelt homage if ever there was one. Its bass being sent backward beneath crystalline cascades, paying tribute to a sound rooted in the progressive `70s. As distinct a musical landmark as Detroit techno. Both somehow totally of their time, while simultaneously timeless. Motorik, to me, is not psychedelic, but instead a blue-skied, sober morning, full of purpose and possibility.
Gary`s mate, David Holmes, has also been referencing Neu! and La Dusseldorf for a while now. The drive of his music might be more electronic than that of Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother, but his plugged-in pounding is showered with clusters of cosmic circuitry. You can hear this is on at least two of the prolific produer’s recent singles, for Hoga Nord and Heavenly Recordings, No One Is Smarter Than History, It`s Over If We Run Out Of Love, and Hope Is The Last Thing To Die.
Some shoegaze I guess has Motorik at its core. Andy Bell and Steve Queralt, members of the classic shoegaze band Ride, both released records this year that fit the “modern motorik” bill. Steve’s collaboration with poet / author Michael Smith, truly shone, especially on the song Vespertina – where an ambient synth and 6-string intro accompany Michael’s prose – positively describing a rare oasis of calm, rather than his usual detailing of our day-to-day dystopia – before a racing rhythm section initiates lift-off.
Andy’s music as GLOK in general is a mix of kosmische and clubland, but the Richard Sen remix of his track Dirty Hugs – much the same as Fursattl – dovetails Neu! with disco – while spotlighting Bell’s great Manuel Gottsching-like lead playing and echo experiments.
Justin Robertson’s Deadstock 33s / Formerlover tune, Dark Endless, was a real highlight of Spun Out`s More Of That Frightful Oompty Boompty Music label sampler. Its bass-line, combined with a very Balearic – go-go-not-go-go groove packs a super propulsive punch, while the synthesized sequences and chiming guitar generate that same sense of soaring shared by both kosmische and motorik. Melodically exploring microtonal mazes of pretty, intertwining, repeating, patterns. Painting pictures of wide open spaces, and optimistic, obstacle-free horizons.
Spun Out named their compilation after a famous Andrew Weatherall quote (I think the collection was in part a tribute), allowing me pull the Guv`nor in, for just a mo. When he was working with Timothy Fairplay the two of them made tons of records built around an electronic motorik meets glam stomp. Their 2014 team up with Friendly Fires – Before Your Eyes – put these kosmische influences even more up front.* Weatherall`s 2019 remix of Silver Apples` Edge Of Wonder, in a manner very similar to David Holmes, also updates and celebrates stripped down man-machine drumming of Dinger and Jaki Liebezeit. Hypnotic harmonies circling the metronome-like tick and boom.
A mutant of motorik is also apparent in the melodies and feelings of forward motion on tracks, such as Apres Le Villa, and Birthday Three, that Andrew produced with Nina Walsh, as Woodleigh Research Facility.
With Weatherall`s untimely passing his courageous A Love From Outer Space co-pilot, Sean Johnston, has taken the motorik / glam “drug chug” and deviated further by stirring in a passion for Italo, and a heavy dose of dub.
Stepping away from the old Scrutton Street Axis, there`s the terrific Trees Speak. Effortlessly, authentically recreating the sonics of classic giallo scores, on pieces, such as Glass, from their 2021 long-player, PostHuman, they also dance in darker, Can-like shadows.
Finally, I`m also gonna put forward Osaka’s HutteSoundSystem, and their Hutte Life In Future – from a recent Emotional Response / Chillmountain collaborative 12. A mini-Hallogallo hooked up to a head nodding to hip hop beat.
*If I can go back as far as 2014 then Eat Lights Become Lights` flickering, intricate, Into Forever is another fine example.
Eat Lights Become Lights – Into Forever
Justin Robertsons Deadstock 33s – Dark Endless
Friendly Fires – Velo
Steve Queralt & Michael Smith – Vespertina
David Holmes – Hope Is The Last Thing To Die
Silver Apples – Edge Of Wonder (Andrew Weatherall Mix)
Vendetta Suite – Christmas In Cologne
Hutte Sound System – Hutte Life In Future
Woodleigh Research Facility – Birthday Three
Fursattl – Links Der Pegnitz
Trees Speak – Glass
GLOK – Dirty Hugs (Richard Sen Remix)
David Holmes – No One Is Smarter Than History
6 thoughts on “Thoroughly Modern Motorik”
This is an excellent cut into a narrow but beautiful genre! I’m now able to categorise a whole raft of stuff that until now had been unable to. The shoegazing vibe is definitely central. Maybe a cup of Smith & Mudd too?? Love your work, Rob. Always. Hope you’re superbly well. Merry Christmas xxx
Carl, thank you mate! Enjoy the holidays!! Have been meaning to drop you a private line. Hope all is well!!!
Check this Rob. New to me but very Motorik IMHO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ampwgKyT9fc
Thanks Skip – new to me too (although I have interviewed Cooper Saver) – great track – definitely fits the bill in my book!
Cavern of Anti-Matter are worth checking on the modern motorik front, imho. A recent find but really enjoying their latest album.
Thanks Tom – totally agree – Cavern Of Anti-Matter are great! I’m only familiar with 2016s Void Beats – but I will check their newer stuff out – all the best, Rob