I first became aware of Rotifer at a gig in Exmouth Market at the end of last year, when he was introduced by his (then) bass player and former Hefner frontman, Darren Hayman with the words “This is Robert. He’s not weird, he’s just Austrian”. However, on further inspection I conclude that he is also a bit weird; after all, it’s not every singer-songwriter who decides to release a 7” about the world’s first fitted kitchen. Over the past decade he has racked up six albums of elegantly crafted pop-noire, and the specificity of his subject matter has won him a number of accolades, from topping the Austrian indie charts to counting Robert Wyatt as a fan. He contributed several paintings and two songs concerning the Russian space programme to the Vostok 5 project last year, and has had a music video displayed in the New York Museum of Modern Art. In addition to all this, Rotifer somehow finds time to host a fortnightly radio show, curate the annual Viennese Popfest, and is currently writing two books (a novel in German, and a history of Austrian pop music).
His latest album, The Hosting Couple, was produced by Wreckless Eric and released last year on Edwyn Collins’ AED Records and addresses such issues as the Falklands war and Maltesers, all wrapped up in some cunningly surprising tunes with echoes of the grandiose arch-pop of The Auteurs. Robert is joined on stage by ex-Death in Vegas drummer, Ian Button, and on bass, Mike Stone, currently on loan from The Television Personalities.
Support comes from a fellow Vostok 5 band, Tigercats. Their debut album, Isle Of Dogs came out earlier this year and is an indie-pop masterpiece, crammed full of infectious hooks, disco basslines and snotty lyrics about teenage heartbreak, stupid haircuts and former Blue Peter presenters. Despite only having written a dozen songs, every gig they play feels like a greatest hits set. And if this is still not enough for you then you also get a chance to sample the “ham-fisted power-pop” (their words, not mine) of Danny Kendall.
By Ben Wright