CULT CLASSIC: DIETER MOEBIUS-DING.
Cult Classic: Dieter Moebius-Ding.
Ten years after Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius formed Cluster in 1971, the first chapter in the Cluster story drew to a close 1981, after the release of their seventh studio album, Curiosum. Hans-Joachim Roedelius said: “Cluster had run its course. We decided to concentrate on other projects. There was no fall-out, Cluster just came to a natural end.”
In the post-Cluster years, Dieter Moebius divided his time with a variety of projects, including a variety of collaborations and, his solo career. Dieter Moebius’ solo career solo career had to fit round his many other musical commitments. As a result, solo albums were sporadic. In total, Dieter Moebius released just five solo albums during his lifetime, including Kram in 2009 and Ding in 2011. By the time, Dieter Moebius Ding, his career had taken a few twists and turns.
Moebius and Plank.
In 1980, Dieter and Conny Plank entered Conny’s Studio to record seven tracks. They were joined by another giant of German music, Can bassist Holger Czukay. He played on Feedback 66, Missi Cacadou and Two Oldtimers. When the seven tracks were completed, Rastakraut Pasta was would be released later in 1980.
Critics hailed Moebius and Plank’s debut Rastakraut Pasta a truly groundbreaking album. It was a fusion of avant-garde Kominische, industrial, electronica, experimental and dub reggae. This disparate and unlikely fusion of genres proved a potent musical pot-pourri, that proved popular with critics and record buyers. So much so, that Conny Plank and Dieter Moebius released a second album together.
The Moebius and Plank partnership returned in 1981 with their sophomore album, Material. It featured five songs recorded at Conny’s Studio. This time, there was no sign of Holger Czukay. Instead, the two old friends and musical pioneers worked together on another album of truly groundbreaking music that became Material.
Just like Rastakraut Pasta, Material was hailed as another album of groundbreaking, genre-melting music. Elements of avant-garde Kominische, industrial, electronica, experimental and dub reggae. This resulted in music that wasn’t just innovative, but way ahead of its time. Material was also a timeless album, and one that resulted in what seemed like a queue of musicians wanting to collaborate with Dieter Moebius.
First in the queue was Gerd Beerbohm. They released their first collaboration, Strange Music in 1982. This was the first of two albums that the pair would record tougher. The followup Double Cut was released in 1983. That same year, Dieter Moebius released his debut album Tonspuren.
To record his debut solo album, Dieter Moebius headed for the familiar surroundings of Conny’s Studio, in Cologne. He had made this journey countless times before, and in the second half of 1982, Dieter began recording ten soundscapes. With Conny looking on approvingly, and making a few suggestions, Tonspuren began to take shape. Once the album was recorded, Conny mixed Tonspuren. It was then released in 1983.
Just like his previous collaborations with Conny Plank, Tonspuren was released on Günter Körber’s Sky Records. It was the perfect label for an album of minimalist, experimental and ambient music.
Günter Körbe had setup Sky Records in 1975, and had never been afraid to release music that many labels would’ve shied away from. Many other German labels were only interested in commercial music. However, Sky Records, just like Brain and Ohr before them, were determined to released groundbreaking music. This was how some critics described Tonspuren.
Critics had awaited the release of Tonspuren with interest. They wondered what direction Dieter Moebius’ music would head? When they heard Tonspuren, with its minimalist, ambient and sometimes experimental sound, they knew. It was a captivating debut album, and critics awaited Dieter’s sophomore album with interest. Sadly, they would have a long wait.
Sixteen years to be exact. Dieter Moebius would released several collaborations, and Cluster would’ve reunited before Dieter Moebius released his sophomore album. By then, Dieter Moebius had reinvented himself, while music, and the way it was made had changed.
Following the release of Tonspuren, Dieter Moebius continued to collaborate with other artists, This included two collaborations with Karl Renziehausen. Dieter Moebius also wrote the soundtrack to Blue Moon in 1986. However, it was Conny Plank that Dieter Moebius collaborated with most often. They recorded three further albums with Conny Plank, This included 1983s Zero Set which featured Guru Guru drummer Mani Neumeier; 1995s En Route; and Ludwig’s Law which featured Mayo Thompson. However, still, Dieter Moebius found time to reunite with Hans-Joachim Roedelius for the comeback of Cluster.
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 that Cluster would release.
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. This they edited this down to One Hour, and the result is a truly captivating album that was released in 1995.
One Hour features Cluster at their most imaginative as 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, Dieter Moebius released four further solo albums. The first of this quartet of solo albums was Blotch.
After a sixteen year period where he was constantly collaborating with other artists, the release of Blotch in 1999, marked the start of a period where mostly, Dieter Moebius would concentrate on his solo career. While there was the occasional excursion with Cluster, and a collaboration with Asmus Tietchens in 2012, mostly, the period between 1999 and 2014 are best described as the solo years.
One thing that never changed during the solo the solo years, was Dieter Moebius’ determination to innovate. Helping Dieter Moebius to innovate, was the technology that hadn’t been available when he recorded his debut solo album, Tonspuren in 1983. Dieter Moebius embraced this new technology when he recorded Blotch, which featured Tim Story. The result was his long-awaited comeback album, Blotch.
Blotch featured a series of playful mesmeric loop based tracks. They’re atmospheric and experimental, with Dieter Moebius adding bursts of speech and samples to the musical canvas. They were ‘painted’ by Dieter Moebius, who makes full use of musical palette, which included the new technology. Dieter Moebius’ willingness to innovate and embrace this new technology resulted in an album that was well worth the sixteen year wait.
When Blotch was released, Dieter Moebius was hailed as the comeback King. He had reinvented himself musically, and recorded a much more experimental, genre-melting album. Dieter Moebius had made good use of new technology, and added snatches of speech to the seven soundscapes. This proved a potent combination on album that fused everything from ambient and avant-garde, through to electronica and experimental to industrial, Krautrock and Musique Concrète. The result was an album of atmospheric, dramatic, futuristic and sometimes, ethereal, understated and beautiful music. These soundscapes were always cinematic and mostly, have a hypnotic quality on Blotch, the album that marked the return of Dieter Moebius.
Seven years after Dieter Moebius’ comeback, he returned in 2006 with the third album of his solo career, Nurton. The album was recorded a year earlier in 2005, with Dieter Moebius making good use of some of the technology that he had used on Blotch. One of Dieter Moebius’ secret weapons was the Korg Prophecy which replicated a variety of analog synths. This Dieter Moebius put to good use on Nurton.
Dieter Moebius had pushed musical boundaries to their limit on Nurton. Just like he had throughout his career, he had turned his back on musical convention and structure. Instead, he let his imagination run riot, and studio became a laboratory, where Dieter Moebius experimented.
The result was Nurton, which veers between moody and broody, to dark and dramatic, to ethereal and elegiac to understated and beautiful. Always, though, the best words to describe Nurton were futuristic, cinematic and hypnotic. Dieter Moebius had pulled out the stops on Nurton, which was a captivating album that painted pictures in the mind’s eye. Much of the music on Nurton was akin to a sci-fi soundtrack. Nurton also has a timeless quality, and featured some of the most ambitious, innovative and experimental music of Dieter Moebius’ career. He had set the bar high for the followup album, which was Kram, which was released in 2009.
By the time Dieter Moebius came to record Kram, life was good for one of the leading lights of the German music scene. Somewhat belatedly, the music Dieter Moebius recorded with Kluster, Cluster and Harmonia was receiving the recognition it deserved at home and abroad. German music fans realised that Dieter Moebius was one of their national treasures and had grown to appreciate his music.
Dieter Moebius was still one of the leading lights of the Berlin music scene in 2008, when his thoughts turned to recording a new studio album. By then, Dieter Moebius and his wife Irene were dividing their time between Berlin and Majorca, where they could enjoy a much more agreeable climate. However, Dieter Moebius spent some of his time in Majorca working on new music. He had a small mobile recording setup, which replicated the one he kept at him home in Berlin.
This meant that whenever he felt inspired to make music, Dieter Moebius could enter his studio, and work on music for his latest project. In 2008, the project that Dieter Moebius was working on was his fourth studio album, which would eventually become Kram, which translates as “stuff”. The time he sent in his studios in Berlin and Majorca resulted in ten soundscapes which lasted nearly fifty-two minutes. These soundscapes became Kram, which when it was released, became Dieter Moebius’ first album in three years.
With the release of Kram fast approaching in 2009, it was changed days for Dieter Moebius. In the early days of his career, when albums by Kluster, Cluster and Harmonia failed to attract the attention of critics. Sometimes, they passed almost unnoticed, or received just a few reviews. By 2009, Dieter Moebius was fifty-five and one of the elder statesmen of German music. He had been one of the pioneers in the late sixties, and forty years later, was still going strong and releasing ambitious and innovative music on Kram.
Critics upon hearing Kram, hailed the album one of Dieter Moebius’ finest hours as a solo artist. The album received praise and plaudits, with one of the founding fathers of modern German music creating a captivating album that was a musical roller coaster.
Kram is best described as veering between understated, ruminative and elegiac to playful, joyous and tinged with humour, to charming and moderne. Other times, the music is mesmeric and hypnotic, before becoming dark and dramatic. Sometimes, the music becomes experimental and ambitious, while other times, Dieter Moebius unleashes a myriad of futuristic and sci-fi sounds. They join found and throwaway sounds, samples and Dieter Moebius’ trusty synths which he uses to create another genre-melting album which is sometimes cinematic, but captivates from the opening bars of Start to the closing notes of Markt.
During Kram, Dieter Moebius combines elements of ambient, avant-garde, the Berlin School, electronica, experimental music, Krautrock and even briefly rock. The result is an album that features Dieter Moebius at most ambitious and innovative. Proof of this are some of the highlights of Kram.
This includes Kommit, where the mesmeric music pulsates and before becoming rocky ands futuristic. On Wommit which has a Krautrock influence, Dieter Moebius toys with the controls of his synths as avant-garde meets electronica. Then Dauert is an ethereal soundscape where Dieter Moebius adds sci-fi sounds. Steigert is dark, dramatic and cinematic. So too is Rennt, which features an urgency and a myriad of futuristic sounds. The hypnotic Schwitzt also has darkness, and is moody, broody and cinematic. Closing Kram is Markt, a dramatic and cinematic soundscape where Dieter Moebius fuses elements of avant-garde, electronica, experimental and Musique Concrète and ensures the album ends on a high. He had kept one of the best until last.
After three years away, Dieter Moebius returned with one of the finest solo albums of his career. Sadly, it would prove to the penultimate album of his long and illustrious career.
Two years after the release of Kram returned with his fifth solo album Ding in 2011. He had recorded Ding a year earlier, in Berlin studio. Now he was ready to release the much-anticipated followup to Kram. By then, the music Dieter Moebius had created with Kluster, Cluster and Harmonia had never been as popular. This resulted in an upsurge of interest in his solo career.
Just like previous solo albums, Dieter Moebius had embraced the latest technology. This included a random loop generator, which he had put to good use during the making of Ding. The loops it generated, were combined with bifurcate rhythms, impalpable and ghostly voices and a myriad of assorted audio matter which became part of the eleven soundscapes on Ding.
When critics heard Ding, they realised that it was quite different from its predecessor. It was another ambitious album, where Dieter Moebius set about reinventing his music once again. To do this, he combined elements of avant-garde with the Berlin School, electronica, experimental, industrial, Krautrock and Musique Concrète. There was also an array of hypnotic, industrial mechanical and robotic sounds on Ding, which was one of the most ambitious and experimental albums of Dieter Moebius’ solo career.
That is apparent straight away, on the album opener Walksol, where a myriad of repetitive and hypnotic sounds join various mechanical and industrial sounds as Dieter Moebius unleashes a fleet-fingered keyboard solo. Then Defekt has a much more understated, but moody and cinematic sound. Flink and Neue Newsw are among the most ambitious tracks as Dieter Moebius knits together a myriad disparate of sounds and samples. Somehow, they make perfect sense musically. So does Alaise a dramatic, futuristic and cinematic soundscape. Alfred also showcases a cinematic sound, albeit one that has an understated and lo-fi sound. Still though, it captivates and finds Dieter Moebius innovating. Ding marks a return to the more robotic and mechanical sounds, while Zufall sounds like it’s part of the soundtrack to a sci-fi film. Dramatic describes Bone, which has moody, mechanical sound, before Fou Dieter Moebius unleashes a menagerie of samples to create a menacing backdrop. Closing Ding is Ruston and Monotron, which picks up where Fou left off. Drones, samples and found sounds combine on this fusion of avant-garde, industrial and Musique Concrète. As befitting of a true musical pioneer, Dieter Moebius closes the album with one of his most ambitious soundscapes.
Just as he had been doing throughout his long and illustrious career, Dieter Moebius had created groundbreaking music and ambitious music on Ding. He embraced new technology, and used an array of samples, found sounds and leftfield sounds to create new and ambitious music. The music on Ding pushed musical boundaries to their limit, which amongst the most ambitious music released during 2011. That was what critics and record buyers had come to expect from sonic pioneer Dieter Moebius. Sadly, his cult classic Ding, which was the last album that Dieter Moebius released.
Musik für Metropolis
The following year, 2012, Dieter Moebius was invited to perform music to accompany a screening of Fritz Lang’s legendary silent film Metropolis. For the screening, Dieter Moebius began work on producing new tracks and samples. These he would play on the night and treated with a myriad of effects during Dieter Moebius’ improvised performance. His performance was planned so that it would provide the soundtrack to what was happening on the sliver screen. The Metropolis project took a lot of planning, but it was well worthwhile.
When the day of the screening of Metropolis arrived, Dieter Moebius made his way to the venue. With him, he took the equipment which he planned to put to good use that night. That was the case. It was a masterful and triumphant performance from Dieter Moebius, as he provided the perfect soundtrack for Metropolis. It had highlighted the drama and tension of Fritz Lang’s classic film. Buoyed by the success of his performance, Dieter Moebius began contemplating the next part in the Metropolis project.
All along, Dieter Moebius planned to record a full-length album featuring the music from the Metropolis project. Dieter Moebius began work on the Metropolis’ project, and continued to work on other projects. The sixty-eight year old still had an insatiable appetite for music, and immersed himself in the Metropolis’ project, which gradually started to take shape. Then tragedy stuck, when Dieter Moebius was diagnosed with cancer.
Suddenly, music didn’t matter any more, as Dieter Moebius was fighting for his life. He battled bravely against cancer, fighting for his future and very life. Sadly, Dieter Moebius died on the ‘20th’ of July 2015’ after what had been a brave and lengthy battle against cancer. He left behind a richest musical legacy.
This included the albums he released with Kluster, Cluster and Harmonia, plus his many collaborations and five solo albums. Two of his finest solo albums are Kram and his groundbreaking cult classic Ding. It features one of the founding fathers of modern German music doing what he did best, creating ambitious and innovative music. It’s a reminder of sonic pioneer and musical maverick Dieter Moebius, at the peal of his powers, during his constant and continual quest to reinvent his music during his solo years.
Cult Classic: Dieter Moebius-Ding.