Roger Roger & Nino Nardini
Informatic 2000






Disclaimer: Informatic 2000 – Roger's New Conception by the Lounge chameleons Roger Roger (1911–1995) and Nino Nardini (1912–1994) is definitely no Exotica album. Not at all. Its inclusion in this section of AmbientExotica makes sense to me though, as its 14 tracks dare to take a look into the future, a common concept in the Space-Age era and beyond. Released in 1982 on the Crea Sound label, Roger and Nardini (the latter curiously playing a seemingly smaller role in the production, using his real surname Teperino instead of his better known moniker on the album) create more of a so-called Space-Age Moog Pop album than a Lounge artifact. The synthesizer-heavy compositions, however, are top-notch! They may be very short – none of them reaches the three-minute mark – and very technical or remote, but just before they would potentially get on the listener's nerves, they are already over, making room for the next futurescape.


If you know at least one other album by the duo – with 1971's Jungle Obsession being their signature work and undoubtedly the best original Exotica album of the 70's – you know that they are always fully dedicated to the respective task on their agenda. Informatic 2000 contains everything a great post-Space-Age Sci-Fi album needs to have: an ebullient aura, many glistening sparkles, a transcendent ethereality, an enigmatic mystique and the occasional dystopian antrum of gloom. Whereas the 101 Strings deliver a warm-hearted and polished journey through space with their like-minded string-infused LP Astro-Sounds Beyond The Year 2000 (1969) and Enoch Light twists the works of The Beatles, Burt Bacharach and Johann Sebastian Bach around in his doo-doo choir-heavy journey Spaced Out of the same year, Roger Roger and Nino Nardini venture into murkier locations, as dark matter synth pads are orbiting as frequently around the transfiguring effervescence as bleepy robot bits. I don't know if Exotica fans should invest in this album, but fans of futuristic Space-Age records and electronic Lounge fans are in for a treat.


A swirling arpeggiated synth placenta, crunchy space pads and the rising glissando of keyboard flourishes are the ingredients for the titular opener Informatic 2000. The whirring crystals, the mellow snares, the oscillation between a darker theme and jovial structures in moll make this kick-off a haunting example of a futuristic outlook. Roger Roger and Nino Nardini did never deliver a string of simple-minded ditties on any of their albums, and the production-related scope of the intro shows it. Thousand Legs arpeggiates the bleeps even further. Luminescent 8-bit microchip shards are ping-ponging quirkily around a 60's double bass-evoking jazzy melody, and it is only on the following Pulse Wave that the depth of the arrangement grows. Roger Roger foresees the Trance movement of the 90's and unleashes piles of mellow but intense acid hooks in adjacency to a golden-shimmering wah-wah guitar, the only shelter in this maelstrom of Gothic melodies for a non-existing cyber horror flick. Exotica, where are you?


While Tomorrow sounds terribly dated on its synth pad side since distantly Oriental snake charmer bits literally clash with the post-Space-Age era as depicted by the iridescent Northern lights functioning as the backdrop, Expectation is a feast for Lounge fans as its much more easygoing and lacunar groove allows the glitz of the warbled synth sweeps to resonate with both the classic drum kit-resembling percussion and the quavering sun-soaked three-note motif. Beyond The Clouds, on the other hand, moves into an eery hodgepodge of downwards spiraling synth cascades, acid droplets and terrifically glaring Space-Age riffs. The 80's are fully in place on this one, only a fat 4/4 beat is missing. The euphony of side A is rounded off by the auspiciously named Hopeful Message. Another tremendously catchy three-note theme whirls around a bleepy cyberspace version of a Honky Tonk piano. Elastic synth pads, related Moog streams and a rising crystal fanfare round the curiously indecisive but great track off.


Side B opens with the shady Days To Come. The Moog washes are so melodramatic and over the top that this composition could well have been distilled out of a C64 game. The backing synths are oscillating like crazy and are the better ingredient, as the synth stabs are too dry and dark. The following Hardware is a real feast and opens the intrinsic soundscape for the first time, as its shuffling beat and chopped staccatoscape is traversed by the most mellifluous thermal heat of the whole album. Its robotic strangeness has to be heard to be believed. I am very sure that Lounge lizards of the 60's would have loved its harmless setting as well. Whereas the pernicious Eery Dream is powdered with star dust and a clichéd organ-resembling darkness next to deliberately cheap tension synth thrills, Strong Feeling has drama written all over it when pressing multilayered synth strings gyrate around gorgeously galactosamine sawtooth keys, aqueous droplets and an 8-bit chime loop. The moments of euphoria are great counterpoints to the otherwise dusky atmosphere.


The Fender Theme comprises of a self-explanatory, though quite complex tone sequence that comes in two different textures and is rounded off by twinkling wind chimes and whirling accentuations. The soundscape is rich, the theme itself more akin to lift music, but that can also be seen as its biggest boon. Walking Robot places a wobbling bass placenta in tandem with a bubbling beat next to the silkened cacophony of glacially plinking beeps and various frizzling echoes, but it is the closer Cosmic Run that truly puts a heretofore eerie and actually orchestra-related ingredient to the soundscape: droning timpani. Their spine-tingling impetus meshes with cyber cuckoos, wonky bubbles and elastically bouncing particles. The occasional wah-wah guitar burst is the only moment of warmhearted tranquility in this intriguing hodgepodge.


Once again: Informatic 2000 is no Exotica album. But this is its only flaw, as it may well be closer to that genre's overarching ideas as one might think. The strictly electronic soundscape – with a few scattered wah-wah guitars – might alienate even the greatest fans of Martin Denny's Moog album (who was not even involved in that project and simply lent his name) or the loungier kinds of exotic records, but one cannot deny the resplendent form of escapism that Roger Roger and Nino Nardini create. Their look to the future is poeticized, overly mellow and tied to the viewpoint of the 80's, but the Moogscapes are nonetheless quite dark at times. They are, however, always cheerful and harmless enough to be entirely captivating. The color palettes of Informatic 2000 are similar to the synthetic colors of Harold Faltermeyer or Giorgio Moroder, but somehow Roger Roger's album did never reach the spotlight despite its obvious qualities: the tracks are crunchy and very short, highly melodious and positively quirky and wonky. But as I have stated in the opening paragraph, neither do Roger and Nardini ridicule the intrinsic panorama they create, nor are they trying to be overachievers. They do not press the tracks into a storyline, each vignette can stand on its own.


Since the album features an overdose of Moog synthesizers and related keyboards, it is not only about the melodies, but the textures as well. It is in the latter regard where the longtime duo succeeds particularly well, as a multitude of tinges and hues is evoked by the implied surfaces and executed patterns. The concept of bustling machines, cozy space travels and an entanglement between man and machine is usually the domain of Kraftwerk, but whereas this German collective created deliberately cold and lifeless soundscapes, Informatic 2000 gleams and glows in a saturated manner. Exotica fans with a love for Space-Age and the various concepts of the future that wafted through the past decades as a golden thread should definitely check this release out. To my knowledge, it is not yet available in digital music stores, but the vinyl is easy to get. To my ears, it is an instant classic, although decidedly and glaringly different from the tropical realms I am usually visiting via the magic of sound waves.


Exotica Review 171: Roger Roger & Nino Nardini – Informatic 2000 (1982). Originally published on Jan. 19, 2013 at