Posts Tagged ‘Roedelius’

Cluster Converges and The Foundry Founders

November 17, 2008

Some bands last for the long haul, some labels struggle.

Roedelius & Story (photo-jeff towne)

Roedelius & Story (photo-jeff towne)

Philadelphians got a surprise performance from the legendary German electronic band Cluster this past Saturday at St. Mary’s Parish Hall as part of The Gatherings series. The show was originally billed as a concert by Tim Story, Dwight Ashley and original Cluster member Hans-Joachim Roedelius (A.R.S.(e), the other half of Cluster, but Dieter Moebius, was flown in at the last moment.

Sowiesoso Cluster was always one of the quirkiest and idiosyncratic of the German electronic bands. At once more avant-garde and more D.I.Y, they could be as charming as an electronic music box and as strident as a Stockhausen encomium. For me, their best albums remain Sowiesoso and Grosses Wasser. grosses-wasser-cvr In this performance, their first in the U.S. since a 1996 tour, they struck a balance with Roedelius bringing in simple, Satie-like melodies while Moebius dutifully twiddled knobs, tweaked sequences and made funny noises. It was avant-garde, but with a welcome mat that invited anyone inside. The two musicians, now in their 60s and 70s, sat next to each other at a table covered with electronic detritus, only occasionally exchanging glances. From the middle of the house, they looked like two aged clerks, pouring over blueprints or maps.  And by the way, they both looked much more vigourous than any of their Wikipedia photos.

Cluster at The Gatherings (photo-Jeff Towne)

Cluster at The Gatherings (photo-Jeff Towne)

The concert opened with a set from A.R.S.(e) that probed ambient terrain over darkly minimalist rhythmic pulses. Then Story and Roedelius then played music from their two wonderful CDs of ambient chamber music, Lunz and Inlandish.  (Lunz was a CD of the Month a few years ago). Inlandish As Roedelius played out his keyboard melodies, I had a thought that he might be the true Godfather of ambient chamber music, mixing an almost nostalgic sense of classicism, with thoroughly abstract sounds. At eh end of the set, all four musicians got on stage for a surprisingly controlled electro-jam that reminded me of sets you’d see in the 60s at places like the Knitting Factory and Painted Bride.

All in all, the most welcome return of a 70s electro-icon this year. And the good news is the reason Roedelius and Moebius are both here is to record a new Cluster CD at Tim Story’s studios.

On a sad note, I relate the passing of Foundry Records, an American label that was the spawn of these early electronic sounds.  Since 1997, Foundry trawled the darker, dissonant regions of electronics, especially enjoying the drone zone. But they’d occasionally pop to the surface with albums like “Vast” by Saul Stokes, an Echoes CD of the Month in April of 2006. ( listen-icons-12x12 Listen to a profile of Saul Stoke’s new album, Villa Galaxia). It’s tough enough running a record label these days. Even harder when you shred the borders of music convention. If you go to their website, click on the logo next to the R.I.P. to see what they had to offer. Fond farewell to Michael Bentley, who also recorded on the label.

Echoes Top 25 for September-Ambient Leads the Way

October 6, 2008

Digitonal tops the Echoes Top 25 for September, and will no doubt be near the top for the next several months. But right behind is Marconi Union, topping their own record as the highest placing digital download recording on Echoes. October’s CD of the Month, Sumner McKane’s nostalgia-tinged ambient americana masterpiece, What A Great Place to be, is already near the top in September at #4. New Entries include Darshan Ambient, Jeff Pearce, General Fuzz, Anja Lechner & Vasillis Tsabropoulos , Peter Kater, and Wolfert Brederode.  Over-all, another month of chilled moods and exotic grooves from across the Echoes spectrum. It’s been a good year, and it’s not over yet.  You can read print reviews and hear audio reviews with music from several of them,  including Sumner McKane, Digitonal, Marconi Union, Ron McFarlane, Michael Brook & Djivan GasparyanOttmar Liebert, Solas, and General Fuzz.

John Diliberto

SEPTEMBER 2008    

1. Digitonal Save Your Light for Darker Days Just Music
Read the Review!
2. Marconi Union A Lost Connection MU Transmissions
3. Ronn McFarlane Indigo Road Dorian
4. Sumner McKane What A Great Place to Be Don’t Hit Your Sister Records
5. Darshan Ambient From Pale Hands to Weary Eyes Lotuspike

6. Michael Brook/Djivan Gasparyan Penumbra Canadian Rational
7. Ottmar Liebert The Scent of Light Spiral Subwave Records Int’l
8. Solas For Love and Laughter Compass Records
9. William Ackerman Meditations Compass Productions
10. Fernwood Almeria Self Released
11. Hans-Joachim Roedelius & Tim Story Inlandish High Wire Records

12. Niyaz Nine Heavens Six Degrees
13. Jeff Pearce Rainshadow Sky Jeff Pearce Music
14. Jesse Cook Frontiers Koch Records
15. David Cullen Guitar Travels Solid Air
16. General Fuzz Soulful Filling Self Released
17. California Guitar Trio Echoes Inner Knot
18. Peter Kater Cloud Hands Point of Light Records
19. David Arkenstone Echoes of Light and Shadow Gemini Sun Records
20. Joan Jeanrenaud Strange Toys Talking House Records
21. Anja Lechner and Vasillis Tsabropoulos Melos ECM Records

22. Michel Banabila Traces Tapu Records
23. Forastiere Why Not? Candyrat Records
24. V/A Harp Guitar Dreams Harp Guitar Music
25. Wolfert Brederode Quartet Currents ECM Records
Digitonal’sSave Your Light for Darker Days

was the Echoes CD of the Month
for September 2008


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