New Direction . Mapstation & Ras Donovan
2002. dl . lp
The title track of this Mapstation release is a soulful reggae meets electronica anthem featuring reggae singer Ras Donovan who already backed luminaries such as Joseph Cotton, Dennis Alcapone and Tipa Irie. The combination with Donovan's rich narrative voice appears like the logical extension of his intimate electronics between minimal techno, Cluster and Düsseldorf funk. The EP also includes instrumental and acapella versions of "New Direction" and the previously unreleased track "Stop".
“After an outing together for Domino, Stefan Schneider of To Rococo Rot reunites with Ras Donovan for his second excellent EP for Staubgold. Schneider removes the analogue hiss of Rhythm and Sound from the equation, instead sleek and clear lines indeed deliver on the promise of a ‘New Direction’. Wonderful, useful instrumental and acapella cuts strip the elements to the bone. Bonus cut Stop, like the other music here, fits snugly into the To Rococo mould - modulating bell-like tones shift against swelling digital flurries, with some guitar as textural interest. But it is the essential warmth of Donovan's voice against the soulful, metronomic precision of Schneider's music which indeed provides a clear development from 2000's Sleep Engine Sleep. Rootical reggae music with electronics is sounding more like the future than ever...” (Boomkat)
In 1999 Stefan Schneider (To Rococo Rot, Kreidler) discovered the possibilities offered by the arpeggiator mode of his analogue synthesizer, directing patterns of random notes to the oscillators to create unpredictable pulses, distortions, superb disorder.
To approximate the spontaneity and chaos of real life, Schneider decided to take a step back as composer and let the machine make most of the musical decisions.
Soon, the resulting simple basslines began to seep into Stefan's occasional DJ sets - at the time mostly a blend of electronic sounds (1950's - Detroit techno) and a capella versions of reggae 12" singles - and finally turned into a complete live set.
In early 2000 the owner of notable London-based label Soul Static Sound, Darryl Moore (D), asked Stefan to record a self-titled mini album, which was released a few months later during a UK tour with Vladislav Delay. On the strength of this recording Stefan was approached by minimalist electronics label Staubgold, who later relocated from Cologne to the German capital of Berlin, and their fertile partnership lead to three consecutive albums between 2001 and 2003.
On 'A Way To Find The Day' (2002) Schneider decided to explore his take on contemporary reggae music (he considers it a form of electronic music) in a collaboration with singer Ras Donovan. Introduced by their mutual friend Bernd Jestram of Tarwater, whose studio expertise both had previously relied on, Donovan and Schneider later continued their exploration of uncharted territories with “Version Train” (2003), which featured abstractions of their previous set in the Jamaican 'versioning' tradition. Despite the fact that tracks like 'New Direction' or 'Stand me Stand' were obviously carried by Ras Donovan’s plaintive voice, Schneider never intended to compete with the genre’s Caribbean originators, but instead pursued his very own imaginary and decidedly non-authentic take on reggae music.
In late 2003, another fruitful alliance saw the light of day, triggered by a remix request by Leeds musician Meriel Barham (a former member of the Pale Saints who had already released a stunning album on Cologne-based label Karaoke Kalk as Kuchen), a request Stefan rejected in favour of a collaboration based on sending each other musical sketches on mini disc. After two years of postal exchange Meriel and Stefan finished their “Kuchen Meets Mapstation” album at the Tarwater studio in Berlin.
“Version Train” and “Kuchen Meets Mapstation” were followed by plenty of live shows and a tour all over Europe, Siberia and Algeria.) The album ‘Distance Told me Things to be Said’ was released on Scape, and contributed to the Jukebox Buddha compilation.