INTERVIEW WITH HANS-JOACHIM ROEDELIUS-A LIFE MAKING MUSIC.
INTERVIEW WITH HANS-JOACHIM ROEDELIUS- A LIFE MAKING MUSIC.
The words pioneer and innovator are often overused. However, it is a fitting description of Hans-Joachim Roedelius. He is, without doubt, one of the most inventive and influential musicians of the past fifty years. His music has influenced several generation of musicians. And Hans-Joachim Roedelius has released more music that most musicians.
Prolific describes Hans-Joachim Roedelius. He has released over 200 albums over the past six decades. This includes solo albums and the albums he made Kluster, Cluster and Harmonia, who Brian Eno called: “the most important band in the world.”
By then, Harmonia had released two albums. Their debut album Deluxe, was released in 1974. A year later, Harmonia released their sophomore album, Music Von Harmionia in 1975. Both albums featured innovative and influential albums. They came to the attention Brian Eno. This resulted in Harmonia and Brian Eno collaborating on an album.
Recording of the collaboration took place in the studio in Forst. Harmonia and Brian Eno spent eleven days recording an album. Once the recording sessions were complete, the album was given a working title of Harmonia ’76. It was scheduled to be released later that year. That wasn’t the case.
The master tapes to the album went missing. Despite a frantic search for the lost tapes, it looked like they were lost forever. That wasn’t the case. They were discovered two decades later. Belatedly, Tracks and Traces was released in 1997. It’s part of the Harmonia’s forthcoming vinyl box set Complete Works, which will be released by Groenland Records on 30th October 2015. The lavish and lovingly curated Complete Works box set is a celebration of Harmonia’s music. However, Harmonia is just one of many chapters in Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ career. He’s also collaborated with the great and good of music.
Over the last forty years, Hans-Joachim Roedelius has collaborated with everyone from Brian Eno and Tim Story, to Lloyd Cole, Conrad Schnitzler, Morgan Fisher and Christopher Chaplin. He is a truly prolific musician, who even today is working on ten separate collaborations. It seems Hans-Joachim Roedelius, who I interview recently, has an insatiable appetite for music. His story began in 1934, some eighty-one years ago.
The Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ story began in Berlin, on 26th October 1934. That is when one of the future leading lights of the German music scene was born. However, unlike many future musicians, Hans-Joachim Roedelius didn’t grow up in a musical household.
Music was a luxury as Hans-Joachim Roedelius grew up. Like so many young Europeans, World War II interrupted his his childhood. He grew up “hearing bombs drop across the city” of Berlin. It must have been a terrifying sound and time for young Hans-Joachim Roedelius. However, better, more peaceful times were ahead for all Europeans. It was then that music entered Hans-Joachim Roedelius in earnest.
As Hans-Joachim Roedelius grew up, he begin to discover music. “It was classical composers who I listened to. Their music was played by the great orchestras, including The Bonn Orchestra. This was my eduction, and how I discovered music. I learnt through listening.” This was the first step in Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ journey to becoming a musician. Meanwhile, his future contemporaries were studying music.
By the sixties, many of the musicians who became leading lights of the German music scene were music students. Holger Czukay, Conny Plank and Irmin Schmidt were studying under the legendary Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne. Meanwhile, another aspiring musician, Dieter Moebius was studying under Joseph Beuys at Düsseldorf Fine Arts Academy. Their paths would cross with Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ after they graduated.
In 1968, at the height of the psychedelic era, Hans-Joachim Roedelius “cofounded music commune Human Being.I also co-founded Zodiak Free Arts Lab in West Berlin with conceptual artist Conrad Schnitzler. At that period, I was a member of the group Human Being, a forerunner of Kluster.” For Hans-Joachim Roedelius: “this was an exciting time, where there was a sense that anything was possible. It was like a revolution. We were happy to have found this place to work. All the freelance musicians in the city found their way to Zodiak Free Arts Lab. There were members of Can, Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra, Neu! at Zodiak. They were great times.” The Zodiak Free Arts Lab was also where Hans-Joachim Roedelius met someone who would play a huge part in his career.
This was Dieter Moebius. “About the end of 1969, Dieter Moebius visited The Zodiak Free Arts Lab. He wasn’t a member. No. He just visiting, and we got talking.” The two men found they had a lot in common, including the way they believed music should be made. It was almost inevitable that Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius would form a group.
“It was later, in 1970 that we founded Kluster.” Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius joined with Conrad Schnitzler to form Kluster. However, Kluster was no ordinary band. Initially, Cluster played an eclectic instruments and utensils. “Everything was spontaneous. Improvisation was key.” Kluster’s music was described in The Crack In The Cosmic Egg magazine as “unlike anything heard before.” Hans-Joachim Roedelius admits: “that was what Kluster set out to do. Kluster was about musical activism.” Soon, the musical activists would record their debut album.
Kluster’s debut album came about in the unlikeliest of circumstances. Although band were based in West Berlin; “one night we were playing a concert in Dusseldorf. A priest just happened to be walking past, and heard the music. He liked our music, and came in to the hall. Once the concert was finished, he asked if we would like to record an album of new church music? The answer was yes!” So Kluster made the journey to the Rhenus-Studio in Gordor.
When Kluster arrived at the Rhenus-Studio, “we met Conny Plank and producer Oskar Gottlieb Blarr. We went into the studio and recorded an hour of music in one take. Religious text was added to this, and became the ‘new church music.’ The music became our first two albums Klopfzeichen and Zwei-Osterei.
Only 300 copies of both albums were pressed. Klopfzeichen was released in 1970, with Zwei-Osterei following in 1971. Critics realised the importance of Kluster’s music. It was described as quite extraordinary, bleak, stark, unnerving and full of electricity. Despite the reviews, the sales of Klopfzeichen and Zwei-Osterei were small. However, later, Kluster would be recognised as one of the most influential groups of the early seventies. This influential and innovative group would only release one further album.
This was Eruption, which was recorded by Kluster during 1971. It featured an hour of experimental music, which was recorded by Klaus Freudigmann. Eruption is quite different from Kluster’s first two albums. There is no religious text, just Kluster at their innovative best. For many, Eruption is Kluster’s finest hour. However, 1971 marked the end of an era for Kluster. One group became two.
In the middle of 1971, Conrad Schnitzler left Kluster, and briefly, worked with another band, Eruption. This was the beginning of the end for Kluster.
After the original lineup of Kluster split-up, “Dieter Moebius and I anglicised the band’s name, and Kluster became Cluster.” Between 1971 and 1981, Cluster would release eight studio albums and a live album. Cluster’s debut was released later in 1971.
When Cluster recorded their eponymous debut album, they were joined in the studio by another legend of German music, Conny Plank. He featured on Cluster, which marked a change in sound. Gone was the almost industrial, discordant sound, which was replaced by an electronic sound. Dieter and I played all the instruments and Conny added all sorts of effects. For us this was the start of a new era.”
Cluster was released later in 1971 on Phillips. “This was Cluster’s major label debut. It found Cluster at a crossroads.” They were ready to turn their back on the avant-garde, almost discordant and industrial sound of Kluster, and begin the shift towards the ambient and rock-tinged sound of the late seventies. That was the future. Cluster which had very little melody, is a series of improvised and atmospheric soundscapes.” They would become part of Cluster, which is now regarded as an innovative classic, and in a sense, this was the start of Cluster’s career in earnest.
“For the followup to Cluster, Conny Plank was no longer a member of Cluster. We were now a duo, consisting of Dieter and I. Conny had other projects he wanted to concentrate on.” With three becoming two, the two remaining members took a different approach to recording. “To some extent, it was trial and error. We tried different things. Some worked, others didn’t.” Hans Hans-Joachim Roedelius explains. The end result, Cluster II “saw a further shift towards a more electronic sound,” and an album that is seen as a influential classic. Cluster were evolving, and would continue to do so.
Zuckerzeit, Cluster’s third album released in 1974, was co-produced by Michael Rother of Neu! “Michael first met Dieter and I in 1971. By 1973, Michael was on a break from Neu! We decided to head into the countryside to Forst, to build our own recording studio.” This could’ve been fraught with problems? “No. We knew what we were doing and trying to achieve. All of us had experience in studios, so knew what was required.” The result was a studio “where Michael, Dieter and I recorded the two Harmonia albums, Musik Von Harmonia and Deluxe.” However, before that, Zuckerzeit was released.
On the release of Zuckerzeit, in 1974 Michael Rother’s influence is noticeable. He placed more emphasis on melody, rhythm and the motorik beat.” Hans-Joachim Roedelius explains that previously, Cluster didn’t place the same importance on melody or structure. Michael introduced structure and discipline.” The result was a very different album. That would be the case through Cluster’s career. However, by then Cluster’s career was on hold. Harmonia had been born.
The Birth Of Harmonia.
After completing their recording studio in Forst, it seemed only natural that the three friends record an album. So Harmonia was born. It was meeting of musical minds. The two members of Cluster were receptive to Michael Rother’s way of working. Hans-Joachim Roedelius explains: “there were no problems, we wanted to learn. Previously, we improvised, which made playing live problematic. A song was merely the starting point, it could go anywhere. Michael however, taught us about structure. We influenced him. It was a two-way thing.”
Musik von Harmonia.
That proved to be the case. “Harmonia’s 1974 debut album, Musik von Harmonia, was a move towards ambient rock.” While Michael Rother influence can be heard, so can the two members of Cluster. Their influence is more prominent. They adds an ambient influence to what’s a groundbreaking classic. It saw this nascent supergroup seamlessly embrace and incorporate disparate musical genres. In the process, Harmonia set the bar high for future ambient rock albums. However, Harmonia changed tack on the followup to Musik von Harmonia.
The three members of Harmonia reconvened in their studio in Forst for the recording of Deluxe. Co-producing Deluxe was Conny Plank. This just happened to coincide with Harmonia changing direction musically.
Deluxe saw a move towards Krautrock or Kominische music. The music was more song oriented. However, still Harmonia were experimenting, pushing musical boundaries. This was Cluster’s influence. Other parts of Deluxe had been influenced by Michael Rother. Hans-Joachim Roedelius agrees. “Michael Rother’s influence can be heard on Deluxe, more so than on Musik von Harmonia.” What was also noticeable, was that Deluxe had a more commercial sound. “This wasn’t a conscious decision. The music morphed and evolved, and the result was Deluxe.” It was released in 1975, to the same critical acclaim as Musik von Harmonia. However, the end was nigh for Harmonia.
Tracks and Traces.
Little did the three members of Harmonia realise, that Deluxe was the last album they would release for thirty-two years. For what was their swan-song, Harmonia were joined by another legend, Brian Eno.
At the studio in Forst, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Dieter Moebius, Michael Rother and Brian Eno spent eleven summer days recording what was meant to be their third album. The working title was Harmonia ’76. However, by then, “Michael Rother was wanting to concentrate on his solo career. Once the album was completed, it became apparent Harmonia had run its course. It was evolution.” So, Harmonia ’76 was never released until 1997.
During the next thirty-one years, it was thought that the master tapes had gone missing. “That was a rumpur. Harmonia ’76 was released as Tracks and Traces in 1997.” Then ten years later, in 2007, Harmonia reunited.
The reunion was for the release of their Live 1974 album. It featured a a recording of Harmonia’s concert on the 23rd March 1974, at Penny Station Club in Griessem, Germany. To celebrate the release of Live 1974, Harmonia played live for the first time since 1976. This landmark concert took place at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, on November 27th 2007. By then, Hans-Joachim Roedelius had recorded nearly 200 other albums. However, following the breakup of Harmonia, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius returned to Cluster.
A New Cluster Album.
After “Harmonia ran its course, we returned to Cluster. We had never stopped being Cluster. We played live, but didn’t release a new album until Sowiesoso, in 1976, which we recorded in just two days.” Despite being recorded in just two days, Sowiesoso found Cluster at their creative, as they recorded an album of understated and beautiful melodies. This was the start of a three year period when Cluster could do no wrong.
Enter Brian Eno.
In June 1977, the two members of Cluster were joined by three old friends. The first was Holger Czukay of Can. “Dieter and I knew Holger from way back, back to Zodiak Free Arts Lab. We hung around with members of Can. Back then, there was a great sense of community. Everyone helped and influenced each other. We even went on to tour together.” Another of the guest artists on Cluster’s 1977 album first met Dieter and Hans at a Cluster concert.
That was Brian Eno: “who Cluster jammed with in 1974. Brian joined us on stage, and we spent the second half of the concert jamming. That was how we first met Brian. Then in 1977, he joined as for the recording of Cluster and Eno. We learnt a lot from Brian. Similarly, I like to think we influenced him. That was the case when we recorded After The Heat.” Before that, Cluster and Eno was recorded.
The four great innovators got to work. They spent part of June 1977 recording enough for two albums. Conny Plank laid down bass lines, while Dieter and Hans-Joachim Roedelius played synths and keyboards. So did Brian Eno who added bass and vocals. Once the recording session was complete, the first collaboration between Cluster and Brian Eno was released later in 1977.
Cluster and Eno.
When Cluster and Eno was released later in 1977, the album was a meeting of minds. Elements of both Cluster and Brian Eno’s music melted into one. Cluster supplied elements of avant-garde, while Brian Eno’s supplied the ambient influence. When this was combined with drone and world music, the result was another classic album.
Widespread critical acclaim accompanied the release of Cluster and Eno. It was hailed a groundbreaking album, one that was way ahead of its time. Cluster and Eno is an album that Hans-Joachim Roedelius: “is proud of.” He remembers the recording sessions fondly, and sees both Cluster and Eno, and its followup After The Heat, as an equally “influential album.”
After The Heat,
Just a year after the release of Cluster and Eno, the second collaboration between Cluster and Brian Eno was released. It too, was released to critical acclaim. This fusion of ambient, art rock, avant-garde, experimental and Krautrock were combined by Cluster and Brian Eno. Again, both Cluster and Brian Eno were influencing each other.
“This was not one way. We both influenced each other. On After The Heat, I believe we influenced Brian’s production style. If you listen to David Bowie’s Low and Lodger albums which Brian Eno produced, Cluster and Harmonia’s influence can be heard. So while Brian influenced Cluster, we certainly influenced him.” After two albums with Brian Eno, Cluster’s next album saw them return to a duo.
The Return Of The Cluster Duo.
Following two albums with Brian Eno, Cluster returned to the studio in 1979. This time, Cluster were joined by Peter Baumann of Tangerine Dream. He would produce Grosses Wasser, Cluster’s seventh album.
When Cluster released Grosses Wasser later in 1979, it proved to be Cluster’s most avant-garde album. “This wasn’t a conscious decision. Instead, it was just a case of evolution. That was the way that the Cluster worked. It was the same live.” That became apparent on Cluster’s first live album.
Live In Vienna.
Despite releasing seven studio albums, Cluster had never released a live album. That changed when Cluster took to the stage at the Wiener Festwochen Alternativ, on June 12th, 1980. It was the only time that Cluster took to the stage with Joshi Farnbauer. The result was one of Cluster’s most experimental albums.
Sometimes, the music veered towards discordant, and was reminiscent of early performances by Kluster. Hans-Joachim Roedelius remembers: “a song was just the starting point. We never knew what direction it would take. It was improvisation at its purest. Partly, it was because we couldn’t replicate our music live.” That was the case on, Live In Vienna, which featured Cluster at their most ambitious and inventive. However, just like Harmonia four years earlier, the end was nigh for Cluster.
Cluster recorded their ninth album Curiosum in 1981. Recording took place at Hamet Hof, in Vienna, which was now Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ adopted home. At Hamet Hof, Cluster recorded seven tracks. Some were relatively short by Cluster standards. Given the title, the seven tracks on Curiosum were somewhat unorthodox. However, they were unusually melodic. It was a fitting way to end chapter one of the Cluster story.
Just like Harmonia, “Cluster had run its course. We decided to concentrate on other projects. There was no fall-out, Cluster just came to a natural end. After nine albums, Cluster was over. Or was it?
The Solo Years.
By the time that Cluster came to an end, Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ was a respected solo artist. “My solo career began in 1972, and by 1978, I was working on various projects, including my debut album Durch die Wüste.” It featured Conny Plank and Dieter Moebius.” There was no ill feeling. The former member of Cluster was happy to help launch his friend’s solo career.
Durch die Wüste was released in 1978. Just like so many albums Hans-Joachim Roedelius had been involved with, critical acclaim accompanied the release of Durch die Wüste. A year later, Hans-Joachim Roedelius released his sophomore album, Jardin Au Fou. It was a fusion of ambient, avant-garde, electronica and new age music. Just like before, Hans-Joachim Roedelius was a pioneer, of what was being called new age music.
Selbstportrait, which was released in 1980, was another album of new age music. It’s described as understated and thoughtful album. That was the case with Selbstportrait Volume II and III. Already, Hans-Joachim Roedelius was showing that he was a prolific artists who is capable of juggling disparate projects “That has been the case throughout my career. Even today, I am working on seven, no ten projects. Back in 1978, I was combining Cluster and my solo career. Since then, I’ve continued to combine projects.”
Throughout the rest of the eighties, Hans-Joachim Roedelius released over a dozen solo albums. Some years he released two or three albums. It seemed Hans-Joachim Roedelius lived to work. “I love music, always have. Making music comes naturally to me. It’s what I enjoy doing.” So is innovating.
By 1986, Hans-Joachim Roedelius was still releasing groundbreaking music. This includes Wie das Wispern des Windes, an album of ambient piano music. The album had been recorded at Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ home, a friend’s house and at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London. Hans-Joachim Roedelius even designed the album cover. There seemed no end to his talents. Meanwhile, a new generation of artists were discovering the music of Hans-Joachim Roedelius.
From the early eighties, a new generation of artists had been influenced by Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ music. Whether it was the music he made with Cluster, Harmonia or Brian Eno, Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ music was proving influential. That would be the case over the next three decades.
As the eighties gave way to the nineties, groups like Primal Scream and the Stone Roses were being inspired by groups like Can, Cluster, Harmonia and Kraftwerk. So were the a new generation of electronic musicians, and even some hip hoppers. They were looking to the past for inspiration for the future. Meanwhile, Hans-Joachim Roedelius was still one of the hardest working musicians. He was looking forward.
During the nineties, Hans-Joachim Roedelius was averaging over an album a year. Still, his music was innovative, inventive and influential. There was no sign of Hans-Joachim Roedelius slowing down. Artists wanted to collaborate with hime. Then there was Hans-Joachim Roedelius various side-projects. Despite this, he managed to find time to reform Cluster.
The Return Of Cluster.
Cluster reformed in 1989, and straight away, began work on their first album for eight years. So Dieter Moebius made the journey to Austria, where his old friend was still living.
Recording of Cluster’s tenth album took place during 1989 and 1990. Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius recorded five tracks, including the twenty-two minute epic title-track. It was part of an album that was similar to Grosses Wasser.
That is the comparisons critics drew, when Apropos Cluster was released in 1991. The only difference was, that Apropos Cluster wasn’t as rhythmic as Grosses Wasser. Instead, it was understated, ethereal and thoughtful ambient music. The followup to Apropos Cluster was the first of three live albums.
The first of the trio of live albums Cluster released during the nineties, was One Hour. It came about after Cluster improvised in the studio for four hours. They edited this down to One Hour. The result is a truly captivating album that was released in 1995.
One Hour is Cluster at their most imaginative. They take their music in the most unexpected directions. Curveballs are constantly bowled, as what sounds like the soundtrack to a surrealist film unfolds. Elements of ambient, avant-garde and modern classical music combine, resulting in one of the most intriguing albums in Cluster’s discography.
Two years later, in 1997, Cluster released the first of two live albums. The first was Japan 1996 Live. It was followed by First Encounter Tour 1996, which was their thirteen album, was the first double album Cluster had released. It would also be the last album they released for eleven years. During that period, Hans-Joachim Roedelius released countless solo albums, side projects and collaborations.
Throughout his career, Hans-Joachim Roedelius has collaborated with an eclectic selection of artists. Michael Rother and Brian Eno were among the first. That was just the start of Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ unquenchable thirst to make music.
From the eighties onwards, Hans-Joachim Roedelius would collaborate with everyone from Alexander Czjzek, keyboardist Richard Barbieri, Aqueous and Mexican vocalist Alquimia. However, one of his most high profile collaborations came with Tim Story.
As Lunz, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Philly born composer and musician Tim Story recorded four albums. The story began in 2000, when Lunz released The Persistence of Memory. Two years later, in 2002, came Lunz’s eponymous sophomore album. Just like Lunz’s debut, it won favour with critics and cultural commentators. However, Lunz’s finest album came in 2008, when Inlandish was released. That is the album that Hans-Joachim Roedelius: “is most proud of. It’s the best album Lunz recorded and is the perfect introduction to Lunz. Recording these albums was an enjoyable period of my life, and I’ll be pleased to be reunited with Tim Story at the forthcoming festival celebrating my career.” Three other artists Hans-Joachim Roedelius has collaborated with will feature at the festival.
This includes Conrad Schnitzler, who back in 1968, co-founded the Zodiak Free Arts Lab with Hans-Joachim Roedelius. They collaborated on the album Acon 2000/1. “That brought back great memories, of the early days at Zodiak. Back then anything seemed possible. It was an exciting time not just for me, but everyone involved.” Then in 2012, Hans was joined by the son of a famous father.
Christopher Chaplin is the youngest son of comedian Charlie Chaplin. He began life as an actor, and became a composer. In 2012, Christopher Chaplin and Hans-Joachim Roedelius released their collaboration King Of Hearts. The following year, Hans-Joachim Roedelius worked with an honorary Scot.
Although he was born south of the border, Scots regard Lloyd Cole as one of their own. He was the lead singer Lloyd Cole and The Commotions, who released a quartet of albums. Their finest hour was Rattlesnakes, a stonewall classic. After Lloyd Cole and The Commotions split-up, Lloyd embarked upon a solo career. Not only has he released a string of successful albums, but has collaborated with a variety of artists. In 2013, this included Hans-Joachim Roedelius.
He has fond memories of their collaboration, Selected Studies Volume 1. “Lloyd is a nice guy, who I enjoyed working with. He is talented and interesting. I will be pleased to see him at the forthcoming festival.I’ll play piano for Lloyd who I enjoyed working with.” That is what everyone who has collaborated with Hans-Joachim Roedelius says.
There are so many people who have been fortunate enough to work with. Among them are Fabio Capanni, Felix Dorner, Hirishi Nagashima and Robin Storey. They collaborated with Hans-Joachim Roedelius on their 2001 album Evermore. Then there are the collaborations between Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Nikos Arvanitis, Morgan Fisher, David Bickley, Kava and Italian composer Alessandra Celletti. Each and every one of these artists have been fortunate enough to work with Hans-Joachim Roedelius. That list continues to grow, as “currently I’m working on ten separate projects.” Then there are Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ various side projects.
Ever sice his days working with Harmonia, side projects have played an important part in Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ career. This includes Aquarello, who fused ambient music and jazz.
Aquarello were based in Austria, and featured Hans-Joachim Roedelius, multi-instrumentalist Fabio Capanni, and saxophonist Nicola Alesini. As Aquarello, they released three albums. The first was Friendly Game, which initially, was credited to Roedelius, Capanni, Alesini. It was released in 1991. By the time To Cover The Dark was released in 1993, the trio were known as Aquarello. Their swan-song was the 1998 live album Aquarello. A year later, and Hans-Joachim Roedelius embarked upon a new project.
This was the short-lived Globe Trotters. It featured Kenji Konishi, Susumu Hirasawa, Alquimia, David Bickley, Felix Jay, Alex Paterson of The Orb. The Globe Trotters only album was Drive, released in 1999. Later that year, a remix album was released. That however, was all that was heard from the Globe Trotters. They’re just one of the side projects that Hans-Joachim Roedelius has busied himself with. However, with a new millennia about to dawn, the sixty-six year old’s career was about to enjoy one of the most productive period of his career.
The Solo Years Continued.
As some artists struggled to complete one album in two years, Hans-Joachim Roedelius released eight albums between 2000 and 2001. This Hans-Joachim Roedelius acknowledges “was one of the most productive periods of my career. It’s also some of the music I’m most proud of.” Despite approaching the veteran stage, “I was still brimming with ideas, ideas that I wanted to record. It was what I enjoyed doing. There was hardly any time for anything else.”
That would be the case throughout the noughties. Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ album count was rising. He had long passed the hundred mark, and in 2015 “has released over 200 albums. I’m not finished yet. There are still the ten projects I’m working on, plus albums awaiting release.” However, back in 2007, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius decided to reform Cluster.
On The Road With Cluster..One Last Time.
It had been ten years since Cluster split-up. They reformed in 2007, and made their first appearance at the Kosmische Club, London. However, the main event was in Berlin.
It had been thirty-eight years since Cluster played in Berlin. That was back in 1969, in the early days of Cluster. That time, Cluster played a twelve hour concert. This time around, Cluster were playing to a packed concert hall. The concert was recorded, and released in 2008 as Berlin ’07.
When Berlin ’07 was released, it featured just two lengthy tracks. This allowed Cluster to stretch their legs and experiment, while fusing musical genres. The album was well received, and resulted in Cluster returning to the studio.
Qua was released on May 21st 2009, and showed that after making music for thirty years, Cluster were still relevant, and capable of making music that was imaginative and inventive. This was Cluster’s twelfth album, and first studio album in fourteen years.
It was described as variously cinematic, spartan, sombre and hymnal. Qua was also intriguing. Still Cluster were capable of taking the listener down avenues and alleyways that they never expected. That was what one would expect from one of the most innovative groups of the past forty years, Cluster. They decided to call it a day in November 2010. That wasn’t quite the end of the story.
Following the demise of Cluster, Hans-Joachim Roedelius announced he was forming a new group. Just like Cluster picked up where Kluster left off, Qluster was picking up where Cluster left off. It was an exciting time for Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and his new group.
Qluster were a trio, consisting of electronic musicians Onnen Bock and Armin Metz. They released four studio albums and a live album between 2011 and 2015. Their debut was the studio album Rufen, which was released in 2011. This was the first in a trilogy.
Fragen was also released by Qluster in 2011.The third and final instlemnt in the trilogy was released in 2012. That was Antworten. By then, Qluster were being heralded as one of the most important modern day groups. Age didn’t matter to Hans-Joachim Roedelius. What mattered was the music.
By the time Qluster released their fourth album, Lauschen Hans-Joachim Roedelius was seventy-nine. He wasn’t slowing down, and certainly hadn’t lost any of his enthusiasm for music. Several generations of record buyers were drawn to Qluster’s music. From those who grew up listening to with Kluster, Cluster or Harmonia, Qluster was essential listening. They released their fifth album earlier in 2015. Tasten however, isn’t the end of the road for Hans-Joachim Roedelius.
Far from it. Talking to Hans-Joachim Roedelius he has the energy of someone half his age. He enthuses about music, past and present. Still he constantly juggles numerous projects. “Currently, I’m working on ten different projects. Nowadays, I work with an iPad and software. It’s very different from the old days, when we worked in studios. I can make music anywhere, and the equipment is much lighter! The new software is so helpful and easy to use. Digital audio workstations and plug-ins mean anything is possible. I could never go back to what it was like. Always, I want to go forward, and make more music. One of the projects Hans-Joachim Roedelius I’m most excited about is Imagori, my recent collaboration with Christoph H. Mueller.” However, that’s not the only release that Hans-Joachim Roedelius is excited about
“On October 30th 2015, the Harmonia box set Complete Works will be released.” At last, Harmonia’s albums have been remastered and given an overdue reissue. This has been Michael Rother’s baby. The result is a loving curated and luxurious box set. Michael Rother has overseen the remastering of Harmonia-Complete Works. It will be released by Grönland Records on 30th October 2015. Included in the box set are the five digitally remastered vinyls; including Musik Von Harmonia, Deluxe, Tracks and Traces, Live ’74 and an album of unreleased material. That’s not all.
There’s a thirty-six page booklet, detailing Harmonia’s history and a tour poster and even a digital download code. Looking at the Complete Works’ box set, it’s without doubt, a luxurious, lavish and lovingly compiled product. This seems a fitting way to remember the group Brian Eno considered as: “the world`s most important rock group.“ However, the release of Complete Works is tinged with sadness.
After a brave and lengthy battle against cancer, Dieter Moebius died on 20th July 2015. The man whose been at Hans-Joachim Roedelius during some of his greatest and most ambitious musical triumphs will be missing. “After a lifelong friendship, losing Dieter has left a void. We were friends since 1969, and spent a lifetime making music. Many a month we spent on the road, talking, and enjoying friendship as the kilometres passed by. We travelled the world together, and enjoyed every minute. So losing Dieter has come as a shock, albeit it was expected. However, I have great memories of a great man, and a great friend, who I’ll never forget.” Hopefully, when the star studded lineup celebrate Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ career over four days in Berlin, they’ll take time to remember Dieter Moebius. He played a huge part in life and career of Hans-Joachim Roedelius.
And what a life it has been so far. Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ career that has lasted forty-six years. During this period, Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ has released over 200 albums. This includes some truly innovative music.
While a very few artists will be part one groundbreaking group, Hans-Joachim Roedelius has been a member of several. This started with Kluster, then Cluster and Harmonia. For the last five years, Hans-Joachim Roedelius has been part of Qluster. Just like the other groups he has been part of, they continually made music that’s innovative, inventive, imaginative and inventive. That has been the case throughout Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ career.
During his career Hans-Joachim Roedelius hasn’t been afraid to push musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, way beyond. That’s what you expect from a true musical pioneer. Hans-Joachim Roedelius has boldly gone, where others musicians have feared to tread.
That has been the case throughout Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ long and successful career. Now eighty-one, Hans-Joachim Roedelius thoughts are the future. This means more music that is ambitious, innovative, inspiring and influential music. That is what Hans-Joachim Roedelius has been doing for forty-six years. It’s certainly what Harmonia did for three year.
Harmonia were musical pioneers, and released music that was ambitious and innovative. It was also inspiring and influential. Even today, a new generation of musicians have been influenced and inspired by Harmonia’s two Komische classics, Musik Von Harmonia and Deluxe. So impressed was Brian Eno, that he called Harmonia: “the most important band in the world.”
Brian Eno was one of the first people to recognise the importance of Harmonia. Nowadays, they’re regarded as one of the most important bands in Komische history. That’s why it’s fitting that at last, all of Harmonia’s music has been remastered and will be reissued in the lovingly curated Harmonia box set Complete Works which will be released by by Groenland Records on 30th October 2015. Hans-Joachim Roedelius looks forward to the the Complete Works box set, which he sees a “fitting way to celebration the music of Harmonia,” the group he formed with his two friends Dieter Mobieus and Michael Rother.
INTERVIEW WITH HANS-JOACHIM ROEDELIUS- A LIFE MAKING MUSIC.