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Rotel’s RCX-1500 receiver dealt with this cineramascopic production in proper grand stereo. Built upon taut though not abysmal bass this piece maintains brilliant inner clarity and structuring despite opulent orchestration. The actors on stage remain always clearly localizable. Paulchen Kuhn’s piano sits center stage, slightly in front is Niedecken’s vocal microphone, the bass is at the left, lead and rhythm guitars are in the middle and right. The brass and wind sections are at the far left of the rear whilst the Tote Hosen rip into their infectious “Humpa Humpa Tätärää” chorus (I’m serious, that’s the full extent of their lyrics). Without losing sight of this torrential downpour of vitality, the Rotel kept proper order and immaculate oversight as I’ve been used to with other gear from its stable.

Being on a Kraut Rock trip I moved geographically into the Ruhrgebiet. Stoppok’s CD Sensationsstrohm fed into the slot loader which works like a modern car radio but runs a lot quieter. As I’m accustomed, the pleasingly ironic Blues Rock number "Dr. Pillemann" worked its way straight into the ear with uncut rawness. The wahwah lead guitar dominating the intro appeared center stage, its panned effects alternated channels without getting unduly incisive as can happen with competitors which attempt a similar transparency transportation. The RCX-1500 didn’t lose its balance though this was arguably paid for with a small fee to Stefan Stoppok’s throaty pipes getting mellower. Likely tuned for mass consumption, resolution here seemed deliberately less intense. But the total effect wasn’t impacted. Stoppok’s first-rate troupe who purportedly cut this record live in the studio in just a few short takes appeared as joined at the hip into a single organism whilst each individual contribution was properly sorted without competing for headline billing.

I particularly enjoyed the angular yet phat e-bass run that’s usually hard to follow but here wasn’t nor defaulted into blurriness or portliness. Again the Rotel’s fascination with detail didn’t overanalyse the bigger musical arc to death. This followed the precedents set by stable mates which have been through here earlier. Between Wolfgang Niedecken and Stefan Stoppok I felt good about stage width, structure, general transparency and detail magnification. Ditto the ability to maintain proper musical flow which isn't dominated by separation into individual strands.

This impression compounded with Master’s Monkey’s Under the Shade of a Pine. Frontman Paul A. Kessler’s voice is an uncanny stand-in for Tom Waits’ melancholy broken pipes. Here Kessler quickly turns earworm whilst his instrumentalists navigate an exciting mix of singer/songwriter, Blues, Folk and Rock elements that transport the audience into a heavily smoky and far too dim club atmosphere. Rotel’s receiver maintained neutrality in the best sense of the word without favoring any particular frequency band. It was equally apparent that its class D power stage had plenty reserves to put the pedal to the metal. And why not?