Roedelius’s relaxed, idealist outlook and optimism infused the atmosphere at this afternoon session, during which he played “a little bit of the past”, through an excellent sound system, to illustrate highlights of his substantial, self-taught career in electronic music, and to play on the Vortex’s Steinway, commenting that the piano is his “most loved instrument”.
There was a question and answer session, where he deferred to his wife, Christa, for translation of the more oblique questions. Born in 1934, he is a pioneer of the German music scene which had its roots in the Berlin underground of the 60s, where he met Moebius (then a cook and graphic designer), and with whom he founded the Zodiac Arts Lab, and Conrad Schnitzler with whom they formed Kluster. He then went on to collaborate with, amongst others, Eno and The Edge. He eschewed the trap of falling in with the commercially driven musical Zeitgeist, describing his music as “anachronistic”. He explained that Conny Plank was the only producer they could work with, and that their attempts to work with the market-facing Peter Baumann of Tangerine Dream came to nought.
Roedelius was a practicing physiotherapist, which perhaps was a way of expressing his very human sensitivity, and his life became commune-based after long spells on the road – even Eno had to muck in when they worked together! His early music was created in a Revox and put through a bounce back system to create growing and receding musical forms. “Pure music which came out of my belly,” as he put it.
These days he, like Han Bennink, who appeared at the Vortex in the evening, is more drawn to classical music – particularly Slavic, Russian and Czech composers.
On stage, Roedelius’s piano solos were wistful, reflective, nostalgic. Whilst not technically complex, there was an engaging and deceptive simplicity to the melodies, in an area between folk melodies and ambient. Rarely straying into the upper reaches of the keyboard, he created a mellow, meditative mood which permeated the packed Vortex.
Still highly active, he hosts the ‘More Ohr Less’ Festival in Lunz am See in Austria, and, in the spirit of the afternoon, Christa mentioned that festival-goers can be collected from the local airport!
(*) Copyright Geoffrey Winston 2011. All rights reserved.