What is it about that beat they call Motorik? The beat Klaus Dinger, its ‘inventor’ preferred to call ‘Apache’, that people generally associate with Krautrock, although its appearance in this particular genre is limited to a handful of tunes only? On the face of it, a four-four beat of simply ‘bass-bass-snare-bass’, or as I sometimes prefer to play it, ‘bass-bass-bass-snare’ with no accent or groove, shouldn’t really be all that should it?
Yet to me and many others (according to the results of a quick Google of ‘Motorik’) this beat is so much more. When I hear Dinger doing his thing on those opening tracks of the Neu! albums, and in my opinion no-one did it quite like him, I feel like I’m setting off on a journey, a mystery trip with no destination in mind. I’m on an inter city train, soothed and hypnotised by the, steady grooveless, yet somehow groovy rhythm, gazing through the window, my mind registering the evolving guitar lines like the passing scenery, the occasional reversed guitar or drum fill like a sudden tunnel or passing train on the other line, but always focussed on the beat, always propelled forward.
I was first introduced to this beat through that esteemed shaman of all things Krautrock – Julian Cope and his ‘Jehovakill’ album of 1992. The track in question ‘The Subtle Energies Commission’ certainly had the ‘Apache’ beat but was verging more towards spacerock. No matter, from there a whole Neu! journey unfolded in front of me. The early works of Stereolab, especially the ‘Transient Random-Noise Bursts…’ album and ‘Refried Ectoplasm’ retrospective had me hooked. Later came Primal Scream’s ‘Shoot Speed Kill Light’, to me the perfect motorik battering ram, underpinning Kevin Sheilds’ squalling guitars and ‘More Light’ by J Mascis and the Fog.
In Einstellung, we often use a motorik beat to convey a sense of movement, a vehicle to link specific sections of music together, a kind of “Ok, we’ve done that bit, get back in the car-we’re off to the next bit” to the listener. Other times I might just use that beat as a solid foundation for the guitars to gradually build upon for extended periods, taking the listener out of themselves, warping their perception of time, until something comes along, maybe a little deliberate stumble in the rhythm to awake them from their daydream.
For me, the music writer and critic Douglas Wolk summed this up perfectly in his piece for the Boston Phoenix -‘The old Neu!-rediscovering the roots of motorik’ when he said “Dinger and Rother made listeners wait and wait for something to change by more than degrees, or for a vanished rhythm to reappear, and their fans learned to love the waiting game”.
The full article is a concise summary of the classic Neu! albums and can be found at http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/music/other_stories/documents/01779241.htm
Si Rider – Einstellung
Thursday 11th Feb 2010
Cluster play Town Hall Birmingham
with support from Einstellung