If you believe anything that is given in a title, it would seem that To Rococo Rot’s latest “Abc One Two Three” marks a return to school for the German band. The trio of brothers Robert and Ronald Lippok, accompanied with Stefan Schneider, have done many things since first performing together in 1995 and mostly in the post-rock genre, though journeys into experimental electronics are a staple of their sound too. Certainly there is a leaning towards that sound here, with heavy usage of very old-school sounds, some of which seem like they have come from the outtakes of some BBC Stereophonic Workshop experiment (“Helvetica abc” in particular) – but on the whole, what we have are experiments with (sometimes) familiar sounds in sometimes altogether alien ways…

It is difficult to classify what this album represents; largely experimental, though not altogether so. There are elements of the repetition often found in electronic music, but not used for the purpose of making people dance. This is more or less "head music" (copyright me, 2007), as it plays more on the senses than on any capacity to get your body throwing shapes. Some examples: “Verschleden” plays with a monotonous background soundscape, allowing simple synth notes to plod alongside electro-squiggles and random noises that zip in and out of focus. “Enigma” is a more upbeat affair – being one of the few tracks on the album that use any form of beats in its make up. There is a ghostly, ethereal rhythm line floating elegantly around a much more forceful bass – creating an interesting juxtaposition. “h 5 edit” is the final track, it’s the best track in terms of the sounds created, and also the most imaginative. The track is very skeletal, yet manages to create an interesting aural picture through its clicks, taps and squeaks.

Overall, the album is criminally short; very few of the eight tracks featured make it over the two minute mark, a real crying shame considering the quality of some of the production and ideas. Unfortunately that also must way in as a negative (strange really), but that is all these ideas seem to be, sketches from an aural sketchbook. If there had been more effort to flesh out some of the tracks here, certainly take some of them to a much more respectable length, then I would be happy to name this one of the most creative albums I have heard this year – as it is, so near, yet so far – a real shame.