Michael Rother – Katzenmusik 5

4th February 2024 · 1970s, 1979, Music

Last night I went to see music legend Michael Rother and took my chum and self-styled (kraut) ‘rock expert’ David Stubbs along to the Barbican to help me identify some of the tunes.

I don’t remember whether his krautrock expertise extended to identifying this one but it was definitely played by Rother, one of the pioneers of krautrock through his work with Harmonia and Neu!

On the night he performed a selection of both bands’ material and a couple of solo compositions, playing his electric guitar (and electronics) accompanied by a bass guitarist, drummer and electronic musician.

This is from his solo work Katzenmusik – ‘Cat Music’ – from 1979, a suite of instrumental pieces based around four different five-note melodies, including the one at the centre of this tune (they are all numerically titled and this is #5).

On the album Rother plays the electric guitar and electronics, and the drums are played by the great Jaki Liebezeit of Can (though he is hardly extending himself here), and it’s produced by the equally great Conny Plank.

It has the kind of lingering melody you could end up humming all day; the sort of catchy tune that could well have made it a hit single had it come out a few years previously.

Earlier in the ’70s the glam-filled pop charts were occasionally interrupted by an instrumental guitar piece like this – for example Sylvia by Focus and Jessica by The Allman Brothers.

This is not a million miles away from either of those in its use of fluid electric guitar melody. But it was not to be; more’s the pity.