Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
Timucua Arts Foundation and The Civic Minded 5 present
Hans-Joachim Roedelius (Kluster/Cluster/Harmonia!)
Timucua white house
2000 S. Summerlin Ave, Orlando
7:00 pm doors, 7:30 concert
$20 admission, advance tickets here and at Park Ave CDs, all ages welcome
Our ticket page states this opportunity rather succinctly: An evening of evocative electro-acoustic music in the intimate sonic embrace of Timucua. Hans-Joachim Roedelius is a founding member of Kluster, Cluster and Harmonia! Mr. Roedelius visits us for the first time during his sixth decade as a creator of seminal modern music.
“My university was life itself.”
Hans-Joachim Roedelius, born in Berlin, Germany in 1934, has led a life that reads like a Teutonic Terry Gilliam script. A preschool aged Achim appeared as an actor in German movies during the years where films automatically come with that baggage. After fleeing the war-torn city for the countryside- the beginning of a rootless existence that lasted decades- an eleven year-old Roedelius was schooled as KLV (Kinderlandverschickung) and conscripted into the Cub Scouts equivalent of Hitler Youth-Deutsches Jungvolk- by 1945. Handed a notorious, short-range anti-tank Panzerfaust rocket, he was slated to plug up a tiny bit of the line but the war ended before it could roll over him.
Post-war years placed Roedelius in the East of Germany, again what we in the U.S. perceive as the other side. After receiving certification as a masseur, he moved into West Berlin ahead of the wire, then notorious wall being finalized. This led to tripping around Europe, his masseur livelihood supplanted with titles such as thatcher, janitor, detective, hospice caregiver, shepherd, coal miner and bartender. A return to East Germany triggered a rude surprise in a Stasi arrest and imprisonment as a Western spy.
A masseur, a metal sculptor and a graphic artist walk into a bar together.
All of this preceded the Roedelius musician/artist years. Remember our first paragraph? After faking Stockholm Syndrome in prison and pledging his loyalty to the Eastern Bloc, Joachim headed to West Berlin again and pursued an artist’s life at a time of verdant expression. The Global Village exploded into social and artistic revolution in 1968. Roedelius was a founding member of West Berlin’s avant garde music incubator- The Zodiak Free Arts Lab. Much like the Brian Eno self-description, many of the makers were “non-musicians,” counting Roedelius among that number as a member of the mutable Human Beings collective. Burgeoning German “Kosmische” legends such as Ash Ra Tempel, Klaus Schultze and Tangerine Dream worked in the blank canvas spirit that Zodiak encouraged. Joseph Beuys student/Tangerine Dream member Conrad Schnitzler moved laterally to join Roedelius and another non-musician, graphic designer Dieter Moebius, to form Kluster.
Kluster played non-idiomatic music on a wide open array of sound devices and instruments. Their first two albums (Zwei-Osterei and Klopfzeichen) were released in editions of 200 on the Catholic Church-run Schwann label in 1971 and touted as “new church music.” Exit Conrad Schnitzler and enter the duo of Moebius and Roedelius as Cluster.
Sowing the oats of the international success of the “Krautrock” band Can and at the urging of their producer Conny Plank, the giant Philips label released the first Cluster album in 1971. Once Philips realized what they had purchased in Cluster, the duo moved over to an appropriate and enterprising independent- Brain – in for Cluster II (1972) and Zuckerzeit (1974). By this point, Moebius and Roedelius had moved into three isolated 17th century dwellings along Weser River in the German Low Country to create a bucolic live/work compound. Upon the dissolution of the legendary Motorik creators Neu!, guitarist Michael Rother moved out the country and in with Cluster to found Harmonia!
Add Brian Eno.
Eno proclaimed Harmonia! “most important rock band in the world” following their Musik Von Harmonia debut, joined them onstage at a 1974 concert and also moved out to those dwellings on the Lower Saxony to cut wood, pick vegetables and record with Moebius, Roedelius and Rother in 1976. These preceding Cluster and Harmonia! projects curved rock music by eschewing the human drummers of so-called “Krautrock” bands in favor of the Elka Drummer One rhythm machine. By This River from Eno’s Before And After Science album features Cluster and reads like a diary entry of their time together. Album length documents of Englishman’s stay include Cluster & Eno (1977), Eno Moebius Roedelius – After The Heat (1978) and eventually Harmonia ’76 and Eno – Tracks and Traces (1997).
Following the watershed German collaboration, it’s often stated that Brian Eno’s music bears distinct elements of the Cluster and Harmonia! experiments. Eno and David Bowie, mutual admirers, became collaborators. The Cluster/Harmonia!/Conny Plank influence on the duo is notable on Iggy Pop’s Bowie-produced The Idiot and rolls into the Thin White Duke’s “Berlin Trilogy” of Low, Heroes, and Lodger. Review Cluster’s 1976 Sowiesoso album and then the non-song structured second side of Bowie’s Low.
Eventually, an upstream Weser River nuclear power plant mishap and the Roedelius family move to Austria split the Cluster compound life. Cluster was no longer a 24/7/365 life and regular work came to a halt after Grosses Wasser (1978) and Curiosum (1981). There are more than 100 Roedelius and Moebius albums and further Cluster albums to add to this story.
Arguably a distinct sub-genre.
The component Roedelius/Moebius/Plank/Rother/Eno sonic collaborations are arguably a distinct sub-genre. Amorphous song forms, non-rocko jocko rhythms and timbral experiments that ride the line between Ambient and Free Improvisation bubble up to roll through experimentalists Mouse On Mars, Oval, To Rococo Rot, Boards Of Canada and bands in every college town to Platinum sellers Radiohead and Portishead.
“Like river water keyboard melody glistens“could be Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ own Six Word Story pitch. With fanfare, he was one of the last artists added to this year’s quickly institutional Big Ears Festival in Knoxville. Following his addition in Tennessee, we booked our guest at the tempo of a no-huddle American football offense. Those who dare win. Join us in this celebration.