Monday, 25 July 2016

Moebius-Plank-Neumeier - Zero Set (1983)

Possibly Dieter Moebius' best work of the 80s?  Working again with Conny Plank, who was always so much more than just a producer, Moebius lays down a top-notch selection of synth sequences, then weaves in his customary offbeat, wobbly electronics.  These are then further blurred and smeared by Plank, as are fragments of garbled speech added to the mix at times, and in one instance a lengthy vocal sample of a Sudanese singer.  The late mixing desk wizard's unmistakable touch is all over Zero Set, even in the track titles - all taken directly from the recording console.

But the undisputed star of Zero Set is Guru Guru drummer Mani Neumeier.  A long time friend of Moebius, who'd featured on Harmonia's second album, Neumeier plays live drums throughout, giving this album a unique organic feel in an era taken with the possibilities of drum programming.  Reacting to the rhythm of Moebius' synth sequences, Neumeier subsequently plays across the beat, adding fills and whatever else he feels like.

At its most effective, this combination infects the two fantastic tracks at the album's centre with a jittering funkiness up there with Eno & Byrne's collaborations of the previous couple of years.  When the rhythms wind down in Zero Set's closing minutes, keep listening closely (as I overlooked this on early listens) for the jungle-like ambience.  Then listen to the whole album again, several times.  Utterly essential 80s German electronica.

Zero Set


  1. I wasn't expecting this album to rock as much as it does. Neumeier's drumming is fierce and technically accomplished at the same time while Moebius & Plank keep things less goofy than on "Rastakrautpasta" which is a plus. Part remind me of Hans Joachim Irmler's post-90s Faust, other parts recall Holger Czukay's work, as well as Pyrolator. Plank produced D.A.F. so he had already been involved in makint NDW sound good. Great album.

  2. Unbelievably after receiving a catalogue (in Argentina,mid 80's)and sending collected Deutschmarks (cash) inside an envelope I received this and other records ordered to the Sky label at the time. Something unthinkable nowadays, the music just blew my mind. Soon afterwards Plank & Moebius came to play in Argentina through some cultural exchange program (Goethe Institut) and it was a before and after kind of thing for many of us. We'll miss both DM and CP dearly.

  3. This was one of the first German/European electronic albums I bought and was blown away. A have searched over the years for other recordings with similar impact and found very few. My turntable died a long time ago and my Sky Records LP taunts me from its shelf so this is a very happy find. Many thanks!!


  4. Zero Set is one of my favorites of the eighties, period.