Rotsler’s Rules (Remote Control)
THIS IS A RECORD to dance to.
It does a lot of things beyond that of course. It plays with the notions of technology and methodology (intrinsically good or bad?); it crosses electronica that punches and rock that grooves; it dabbles in cosplay (Rotsler’s rules being a set of directions for those indulging in the dress up/act up scene); its sound rewards the close attention of headphone-wearers; it slides in sly jokes (musical and lyrical); and as well as punching the card of four or five decades of music, it makes references to the band’s own recording past without labouring the point for newcomers.
And it does those things really well. This is smart music that isn’t afraid of physicality, it’s machine-driven business that constantly cuts against notions of distance and the impersonal with strong undertones of emotional resonance (but is also comfortable saying “machines go ping, and we’re good with that”), and it sounds great at volume.
But best of all, most decisively, it just hits you in your moving bits.
The feed-me-to-Afrika-Bambaataa rhythmic stiffness of Bad_Robot pops and locks even geriatric hips and elbows, the barebones pattern under the ancient synths like some eye-blurring pendulum in front of you. The mix of electronic drums and damp-in-Manchester keyboards of Hanna Pt.1 invites terse shoulder moves and matching brief feet shuffles, before Hanna Pt. 2 throws off the heavy coat and chucks some Moroder blissful trance onto the Italian techno.
Karl Marx Stadt sprinkles rinky dink sounds onto its tight circle of simplicity that expands and contracts and somehow forces your breathing to mimic it, while the title track feels almost lush in its keyboard bed but the cruising momentum is inexorable. And if Halo, with its Hook-ian high bassline hook (played, you would hope, about 30cm above the floor and at least four pints in) and shimmering overlays, somehow conjures night-time sunshine, Superfans – the bass this time leaning into blue-eyed funk and the drums cutting back in – brings a certain menace to what should really be two and a half minutes of letting go.
Even the carefully measured march of One Night, a mid-album moment to pause and ponder maybe, suggests a rhythmic crinkle in the material, while Superheroes opens proceedings with a Rick Smith-style build to euphoria (which would definitely peak gloriously in another four or five minutes that I’d love to see added in an extended version) and Karl Hyde-style cryptic murmurings, that sets out Rotsler’s Rules’ stall unequivocally.
They want you to dance – maybe in your living room, your car, their shows in Sydney on the 20th and Melbourne on the 28th , or wherever you find yourself hearing this. I can’t see any reason to argue really.
APPLE MUSIC: Listen to Black Cab - Rotsler's Rules