Cluster: Shaping the Sound of Germany

Cluster

Moebius,  Roedelius, and Plank, who performed together as Cluster, were each instrumental figures in the krautrock scene whose influence cannot be overstated. Between the three of them, they had their hands in the composition and/or production of over 300 albums of ambient and experimental electronic music that defined the German scene throughout the 1970s.

Hans-Joachim Roedelius has produced 115 releases to date with a new soundtrack pending. One notable work is his earliest recording finally issued in 2008 – Live at the Zodiak – Berlin 1968 which is a rare surviving example of work from the highly-influential West Berlin live music venue, Zodiak Free Arts Lab.

Conny Plank contributed to 122 albums during his lifetime, including influential releases by Kraftwerk, Can, Cluster, Guru Guru, Harmonia, Eno (for the ‘Berlin Trilogy’), Neu!, La Düsseldorf, and other major figures in krautrock.

Dieter Moebius was another principle artist of the scene. Moebius studied in Brussels and Berlin where he met Roedelius and Conrad Schnitzler to found Kluster in 1969, and later Cluster and Harmonia with Michael Rother of Neu!. Moebius is connected to 65 releases I’ll outline below.

I’d previously compiled a similar extended discography for the 178 releases by Tangerine Dream and its associated members’ solo projects, but this archive seems like it will offer a more dynamic range of sounds and shall make for most rewarding listening.

Hans-Joachim Roedelius Extended Discography (115-Release Catalog)

In Bands

In Human Being

2008 : Live at the Zodiak – Berlin 1968 (live album)

In Kluster

1970 : Klopfzeichen (studio album)

1970 : Zwei-Osterei (studio album)

1971 : Eruption (live album, originally released as Kluster und Eruption)

In Cluster

1971 : Cluster ’71 (studio album)

1972 : Cluster II (studio album)

1974 : Zuckerzeit (studio album)

1976 : Sowiesoso (studio album)

1979 : Großes Wasser (studio album)

1980 : Live in Vienna (live album)

1981 : Curiosum (studio album)

1984 : Stimmungen (compilation album)

1990 : Apropos Cluster (studio album, credited to Moebius + Roedelius)

1994 : One Hour (live album)

1997 : Japan 1996 Live (live album, credited to Roedelius Moebius on some editions)

1997 : First Encounter Tour 1996 (live album)

2008 : Berlin 07 (live album)

2009 : Qua (studio album)

In Harmonia

1974 : Musik Von Harmonia (studio album)

1975 : Deluxe (studio album)

2007 : Live 1974 (live album)

In Aquarello

1991 : Friendly Game (studio album, credited to Roedelius, Capanni, Alesini)

1993 : To Cover The Dark (studio album)

1998 : Aquarello (live album, credited as Roedelius solo album)

In Global Trotters (Kenji Konishi, Susumu Hirasawa, Alquimia, David Bickley, Felix Jay, Alex Paterson)

1999 : Drive (studio album)

1999 : GLOBAL TROTTERS PROJECT volume I – DRIVE (remix album)

In Qluster

2011 : Fragen (studio album)

2011 : Rufen (live album)

2011 : Antworten (studio album)

2013 : Lauschen (studio album)

2015 : Tasten (studio album – three pianos project)

2016 : Echtzeit (studio album)

Solo Work

1978 : Durch die Wüste (studio album)

1979 : Jardin Au Fou (studio album)

1979 : Selbstportrait (studio album)

1980 : Selbstportrait – Vol. II (studio album)

1980 : Selbstportrait Vol. III “Reise durch Arcadien” (studio album)

1981 : Lustwandel (studio album)

1981 : Wenn Der Südwind Weht (studio album)

1981 : Offene Türen (studio album)

1982 : Flieg’ Vogel fliege (studio album)

1982 : Wasser im Wind (studio album)

1984 : Auf leisen Sohlen (compilation album)

1984 : Geschenk des Augenblicks – Gift of the Moment (studio album)

1984 : Begegnungen (compilation album)

1985 : Begegnungen II (compilation album)

1986 : Wie das Wispern des Windes (studio album)

1987 : Momenti Felici (studio album)

1989 : Bastionen der Liebe – Fortress of love (studio album)

1990 : Variety of Moods (studio album)

1991 : Der Ohrenspiegel (studio album)

1991 : Piano Piano (studio album)

1992 : Cuando… Adonde (studio album)

1992 : Frühling (studio album) later re-released as Romance in the Wilderness

1993 : Tace! (studio album)

1994 : Sinfonia Contempora No. 1: Von Zeit zu Zeit (studio album)

1994 : Theatre Works (studio album)

1995 : Selbstportrait VI: The Diary of the Unforgotten (studio album)

1995 : Vom Nutzen der Stunden – Lieder vom Steinfeld Vol. I (studio album)

1995 : 61sechzigjahr (compilation album, released privately)

1996 : Sinfonia Contempora No. 2: La Nordica (Salz Des Nordens) (studio album)

1996 : Pink, Blue And Amber (studio album)

1999 : Selfportrait VII: dem Wind voran – ahead of the wind (studio album)

1999 : Amerika Recycled by America Inc (studio album)

1999 : Vom Nutzen der Stunden – Lieder Vom Steinfeld Vol.II (studio album)

2000 : Roedeliusweg (studio album)

2001 : Roedelius 2001 – Orgel Solo (studio album)

2001 : Das Verwirrte Schaf – Wort-Klang Collage zum Aschermittwoch (studio album) 2002 : Selbstportrait VIII – Introspection (studio album)

2003 : American Steamboat (studio album)

2003 : Counterfeit (studio album)

2003 : Lieder vom Steinfeld Vol.III (studio album)

2003 : Roedelius 1969–2002 (compilation album)

2006 : Works 1968–2005 (compilation album)

2007 : Snapshots/Sidesteps (studio album)

2008 : Back Soon (compilation album)

2010 : Ex Animo (studio album)

2016: Manchmal (1 track on 4 tracks compilation EP “past forward”, vinyl release only

2017 Release of Roedelius’ autobiography “Roedelius – Das Buch”

2017 Music for the soundtrack of Nick Cave for the film “War Machine”

2018 Music for the film “Symphony of Now” to be released February 14th

2018 Music for the film “Die Rueden”from director Connie Walther ( not yet released )

Collaborations

With Brian Eno, Dieter Moebius and Michael Rother

1997 : Tracks and Traces (credited to either Harmonia ’76 or Harmonia and Eno ’76)

2009 : Harmonia & Eno ’76 Remixes (remix album)

With Brian Eno and Dieter Moebius

1977 : Cluster & Eno (credited to Cluster & Eno)

1978 : After the Heat (studio album)

1985 : Old Land (compilation album) (credited to Cluster and Brian Eno)

With Brian Eno and Dieter Moebius on Eno’s solo album

1977 : Before and after Science (studio album)

Track: “By This River”

With Alexander Czjzek

1987 : Weites Land (studio album)

With Aqueous

1994 : Grace Notes (studio album)

1997 : Meeting The Magus (studio album)

With Richard Barbieri and Chianura

1998 : T’ai (studio album)

With Alquimia

2000 : Move and Resonate

With Tim Story (sometimes collectively referred to as Lunz)

2000 : The Persistence of Memory (studio album)

2002 : Lunz (studio album)

2005 : Lunz-Reinterpretations (remix album)

2008 : Inlandish (studio album)

With Conrad Schnitzler

2001 : Acon 2000/1 (studio album)

With Fabio Capanni, Felix Dorner, Hirishi Nagashima and Robin Storey

2001 : Evermore

With Lynn

2001 : Act of Love (studio album)

With Nikos Arvanitis

2002 : Digital Love (studio album)

With Noh 1

2003 : Imagine Imagine (soundtrack album, released as Roedelius and Fratellis)

2009 : Fibre (studio album)

With Morgan Fisher

2005 : Neverless (studio album)

With David Bickley

2008 : Bonaventura (studio album)

With Kava

2008 : The Gugging Album (studio album)

With Tim Story and Dwight Ashley

2008 : Errata (studio album)

With Alessandra Celletti

2009 : Sustanza di cose sperata (studio album)

With Christopher Chaplin

2012 : King of Hearts (studio album)

With Andrew Heath and Christopher Chaplin

2017 :Triptych in Blue (live album)

With Lloyd Cole

2013 : Selected Studies Vol. 1 (studio album)

With Leon Muraglia

2015 : Ubi Bene (studio album)

With Mateo Latosa and Cesar Gallegos (aka TKU Tecamachalco Underground)

2016 : Latitudes (music installation for photography exhibition, 2014/studio album release, 2016)

 

Conny Plank (122-Release Extended Discography)

Plank was involved with the following chronological list of albums, either as a direct contributor or because his studio facilities were used. The dates refer to the year of first release.

1969

The Living Music (Alexander von Schlippenbach)

Tone Float (Organisation)

1970

Just A Poke (Sweet Smoke)

Klopfzeichen (Kluster)

Kraftwerk (Kraftwerk)

1971

Zwei-Osterei (Kluster)

Legend (Parzival)

Eloy (Eloy)

Cluster (Cluster)

1972

BaRock (Parzival)

Mournin’ (Night Sun)

43 Minuten (Os Mundi)

Kraftwerk 2 (Kraftwerk)

Neu! (Neu!)

Cluster II (Cluster)

Echo (A.R. & Machines)

Lonesome Crow (Scorpions)

Kan Guru (Guru Guru)

Together (Jane)

I Turned to See Whose Voice it Was (Gomorrha)

Kollektiv (Kollektiv)

Supernova (Ibliss)

1973

Guru Guru (Guru Guru)

Neu! 2 (Neu!)

Ralf und Florian (Kraftwerk)

1974

Autobahn (Kraftwerk)

Zuckerzeit (Cluster)

Free Improvisation (Wired)

1975

Neu! ’75 (Neu!)

Andy Nogger (Kraan)

La Leyla (Ramses)

Hoelderlin (Hoelderlin)

Let It Out (Kraan)

Bröselmaschine (Bröselmaschine)

Mani und Seine Freunde (Guru Guru)

1976

Sowiesoso (Cluster)

Clowns & Clouds (Hoelderlin)

You Won’t See Me (Helmut Koellen)

La Düsseldorf (La Düsseldorf)

1977

Before and after Science (Brian Eno)

Cluster & Eno (Cluster and Brian Eno)

Flammende Herzen (Michael Rother)

Pompeii (Triumvirat)

Rockpommel’s Land (Grobschnitt)

1978

After the Heat (Eno, Moebius, Roedelius)

Ambient 1: Music for Airports (Brian Eno)

Flyday (Kraan)

Durch Die Wüste (Roedelius)

Question: Are We Not Men? Answer: We Are Devo! (Devo)

Out of Reach (Can)

Liliental (Liliental)

Sterntaler (Michael Rother)

Systems of Romance (Ultravox)

Welcome (SBB)

1979

Katzenmusik (Michael Rother)

Selbstportrait (Roedelius)

1980

Crann Ull (Clannad)

Rastakraut Pasta (Moebius & Plank)

Die Kleinen und die Bösen (DAF)

Three into One (Ultravox)

Hunger (The Meteors)

Tournee (Kraan)

Vienna (Ultravox)

Luminous Basement (The Tourists)

1981

Material (Moebius & Plank)

Phew (Phew, with Holger Czukay, Conny Plank & Jaki Liebezeit)

Alles Ist Gut (DAF)

Gold und Liebe (DAF)

Les Vampyrettes (Conny Plank and Holger Czukay)

Stormy Seas (The Meteors) Dutch band

In the Garden (Eurythmics)

Rage in Eden (Ultravox)

Der Ernst des Lebens (Ideal)

Edelweiß (Joachim Witt)

1982

Revelations (Killing Joke)

Latin Lover (Gianna Nannini)

Strange Music (Moebius & Beerbohm)

Für Immer (Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft)

1983

Zero Set (Moebius, Plank, and Neumeier)

The Fireman’s Curse (Hunters & Collectors)

Listen (A Flock of Seagulls)

Schlagende Wetter (Kowalski)

1984

Der Osten ist Rot (Holger Czukay)

Belfegore (Belfegore)

Begegnungen (Eno Moebius Roedelius Plank)

Les Rita Mitsouko (Rita Mitsouko)

The Collection (Ultravox)

Puzzle (Gianna Nannini)

Should Have Been Greatest Hits (The Tourists)

The Jaws of Life (Hunters & Collectors)

1985

Humpe Humpe (album) (Humpe Humpe)

Begegnungen II (Eno Moebius Roedelius Plank)

Tutto Live (Gianna Nannini)

Old Land (Cluster and Brian Eno)

Dein ist mein ganzes Herz (Heinz Rudolf Kunze)

Company of Justice (Play Dead)

1986

U-Vox (Ultravox)

Profumo (Gianna Nannini)

1987

The Prophecies of Nostradamus (Bollock Brothers)

Rome Remains Rome (Holger Czukay)

Savage (Eurythmics)

Mein Schatz (Heiner Pudelko) = his final production; finished by Annette Humpe

Posthumous

Laugh? I Nearly Bought One! (Killing Joke, 1992)

Box II (Brian Eno, 1993)

If I Was: The Very Best of Midge Ure & Ultravox (Midge Ure and Ultravox, 1993)

Rare, Vol. I (Ultravox, 1993)

Rare, Vol. II (Ultravox, 1994)

En Route (Moebius & Plank, recorded 1986, released 1995)

Space Ship (The Best Of, Part 1) (Guru Guru, 1996)

The Best of Ax Genrich (Ax Genrich, 1997)

Greatest Hits (The Tourists, 1997)

Guru Guru & Uli Trepte (Guru Guru and Uli Trepte, 1997)

The Michael Schenker Story Live (Michael Schenker, 1997)

Chronicles, Vol. 1 (Michael Rother, 1998)

Ludwig’s Law (Moebius, Plank, Thompson, recorded 1983, released 1998)

Music For Two Brothers (Rolf & Joachim Kuhn, 1998)

Best (Scorpions, 1999)

The Very Best of Guru Guru (Guru Guru, 1999)

La Luna (Holger Czukay 2000, expanded 2007)

Into The Arena 1972–1995 [Highlights and Overtures] (Michael Schenker, 2000)

Pioneers Who Got Scalped (Devo, 2000)

More Nipples (Peter Brötzmann Group, 2003)

Dieter Moebius Discography (65-Album Map)

As Cluster

Studio albums

1971 Cluster

1972 Cluster II

1974 Zuckerzeit

1976 Sowiesoso

1977 Cluster & Eno (with Brian Eno)

1978 After the Heat (by Eno, Moebius and Roedelius)

1979 Grosses Wasser

1981 Curiosum

1991 Apropos Cluster (by Moebius and Roedelius)

1995 One Hour

2009 Qua

Live albums

1980 Live in Vienna – Recorded with Joshi Farnbauer

1997 Japan 1996 Live

1997 First Encounter Tour 1996

2008 Berlin 07

2015 USA Live

Compilation albums

1984 Begegnungen (with Brian Eno, Conny Plank)

1984 Stimmungen

1985 Begegnungen II (with Brian Eno, Conny Plank)

1985 Old Land (with Brian Eno)

2007 Box 1 (boxed set)

As Kluster

1970 Klopfzeichen (studio album)

1971 Zwei-Osterei (studio album)

1971 Eruption (live album)

2008 Vulcano: Live in Wuppertal 1971

2008 Admira

2008 Kluster 2007: CMO (studio album)

2008 Kluster: 1970-1971 (Box Set)

2009 Kluster 2008: Three Olympic Cities Mix (studio album)

2009 CMO 2009: Three Voices (germany-usa-japan) (studio album)

2011 A unique remix of the material from Kluster 2007 featured in the Compilation CD VOL K compilation by Zelphabet Records.

2011 Kluster CMO 2010 (studio album)

As Harmonia, with Michael Rother and Hans-Joachim Roedelius

1973 : Musik Von Harmonia

1975 : Deluxe

1997 : Tracks and Traces (recorded 1976 with Brian Eno)

2007 : Live 1974 (Previously unreleased works)

As Cosmic Couriers, with Mani Neumeier and Jürgen Engler

1996 : Other Places

2014 : Another Other Places

With Brian Eno and Hans-Joachim Roedelius

1977 : Cluster & Eno

1978 : After the Heat

With Liliental

1978 Liliental

Solo albums and collaborations

1980 Rastakraut Pasta (with Conny Plank)

1981 Material (with Conny Plank)

1981 Strange Music (with Gerd Beerbohm)

1982 Zero Set (with Conny Plank and Mani Neumeier)

1983 Tonspuren

1983 Double Cut (with Gerd Beerbohm)

1986 Blue Moon (Original Soundtrack)[7]

1990 Ersatz (with Karl Renziehausen)

1992 Ersatz II (with Karl Renziehausen)

1995 En Route (with Conny Plank; recorded in 1986, additional mix in 1995)

1998 Ludwig’s Law (with Conny Plank and Mayo Thompson)

1999 Blotch

2002 Live in Japan (with Mani Neumeier)

2006 Nurton

2007 Zero Set II (with Mani Neumeier)

2009 Kram

2011 Ding

2012 Moebius & Tietchens (with Asmus Tietchens)

2014 Snowghost Pieces (Moebius, Story, Leidecker)

2014 Nidemonex

Posthumous Albums

2017 Musik Für Metropolis

2017 Familiar (Moebius, Story, Leidecker)

2017 Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (Live) (12″) (Moebius, Schneider)

 

And for those interested in the aforementioned Tangerine Dream library, you can peruse the index below.

 

Tangerine Dream (178-Disc Catalog)

 

Bootmoon Series

2004 – Aachen – January 21st 1981 – 2CD

2005 – Brighton – March 25th 1986 – 2CD

Studio Albums

1970 – Electronic Meditation

1970 – Electronic Meditation/Electronic Meditation

1971 – Alpha Centauri

1972 – Ultima Thule (2008) – 2CD

1972 – Zeit

1973 – Atem

1975 – Rubycon

1976 – Stratosfear

1978 – Cyclone

1979 – Force Majeure

1981 – Exit

1982 – White Eagle

1983 – Hyperborea (2008 HQCD)

1985 – Dream Sequence – 2CD

1985 – Le Parc

1986 – Green Desert

1986 – Underwater Sunlight

1987 – Tyger

1988 – Optical Race

1989 – Destination Berlin

1989 – Lily on The Beach

1990 – Melrose

1992 – Quinoa

1992 – Quinoa (2009)

1992 – Rockoon

1993 – Dream Music (the movie music of Tangerine Dream)

1994 – Tangents 1973-1983 (BOX) – 5CD

1994 – Turn of the Tides

1995 – The Dream Mixes – 2CD

1995 – TimeSquare Dream Mixes II

1995 – Tyranny Of Beauty

1996 – Goblin’s Club

1997 – Towards The Evening Star (Orb Remix)

1998 – Ambient Monkeys

1998 – The Analogue Space Years 1969-1973 – 2CD

1999 – Atlantic Bridges

1999 – Atlantic Walls

1999 – Dream Encores

1999 – Mars Polaris

1999 – The Hollywood Years Vol 1

1999 – The Hollywood Years Vol 2

2000 – Antique Dreams

2000 – The Seven Letters From Tibet

2001 – Dream Mixes III

2002 – Journey Through a Burning Brain – 3CD

2003 – The Bootleg Box Set Vol 1 – 7CD

Set 1 – Sheffield – Oct 29th 1974 – City Hall

Set 2 – London – April 2nd 1975 – Royal Albert Hall – 2CD

Set 3 – Live at Croydon Fairfield Halls – 23rd October 1975

Set 4 – Bilbao – Jan 31st 1976 – Pabellion de la Casilla – 2CD

Set 5 – Electronic Rock at the Philharmonics – Berlin – June 27th 1976

2004 – Dream Mixes IV

2004 – Purgatorio – 2CD

2005 – East

2005 – Jeanne D’Arc

2005 – Space Flight Orange

2006 – Blue Dawn

2006 – Metaphor

2006 – Nebulous Dawn [The Early Years] – 3CD

2007 – Booster – 2CD

2007 – Canyon Cazuma (2009)

2007 – Cyberjam Collection

2007 – Madcap’s Flaming Duty

2007 – One Times One

2007 – Silver Siren Collection

2007 – Springtime In Nagasaki

2007 – Summer In Nagasaki

2007 – Tangines Scales

2008 – Autumn In Hiroshima

2008 – Booster Vol 2 – 2CD

2008 – The Anthology Decades

2008 – Views From A Red Train

2009 – A Cage in Search Of A Bird

2009 – Flame

2009 – Plays Tangerine Dream

2009 – Winter In Hiroshima

Live Albums

1982 – Pergamon (Live)

1984 – Poland (Live)

1988 – Live Miles (Live)

1993 – 220 Volt (Live)

1998 – Tournado (Live)

1998 – Valentine Wheels (Live)

1999 – Sohoman (Live)

2000 – Soundmill Navigator (Live)

2002 – Inferno (Live)

2003 – Rockface (Live) – 2CD

2004 – Live in America (Live)

2005 – Rocking Mars (Live) – 2CD

2006 – Paradiso (Live) – 2CD

2007 – Bells Of Accra (Live)

Soundtrack Albums

1977 – Sorcerer (OST)

1981 – Thief (OST)

1983 – Risky Business (OST)

1983 – Wavelength (OST)

1984 – Firestarter (OST)

1984 – Flashpoint (OST)

1985 – Heartbreakers (OST)

1985 – Legend (OST)

1987 – Near Dark (OST)

1987 – Three O’Clock High (OST)

1988 – Shy People (OST)

1989 – Miracle Mile (OST)

1990 – Dead Solid Perfect (OST)

1991 – Canyon Dreams (OST)

1991 – Rumpelstiltskin (OST)

1991 – The Park Is Mine (OST)

1994 – Catch Me If You Can (OST)

1996 – Zoning (OST)

1997 – Oasis (OST)

1997 – The Keep (OST)

1999 – Great Wall of China (OST)

1999 – Transsiberia (OST)

1999 – What A Blast (OST)

2003 – Mota Atma (OST)

Solo Artists

Christopher Franke

1991 – Pacific Coast Highway

1992 – The London Concert

1992 – Universal Soldier

1993 – New Music for Films – Vol 1

1994 – Enchanting Nature

1995 – Klemania

1996 – Perry Rhodan – Pax Terra

1996 – The Celestine Prophecy

1999 – Epic

Peter Baumann

1979 – Trans Harmonic Nights

Johannes Schmoelling

1986 – Wuivend Riet

1988 – The Zoo of Tranquillity

2009 – A Thousand Times

Edgar Froese

1974 – Aqua

1975 – Epsilon In Malaysian Pale

1979 – Stuntman

1983 – Pinnacles

1995 – Beyond The Storm – 2CD

2003 – Ambient Highway Vol 1-4

2003 – Introduction To The Ambient Highway

2004 – Dalinetopia

Singles

2007 – One Night In Space (CD-Single)

2007 – Sleeping Watches Snoring In Silence (CD-Single)

2008 – Choice (CD-Single)

2008 – Das Romantische Opfer (CD-Single)

2008 – Fallen Angels (CD-Single)

2008 – Purple Diluvial (CD-Single)

Remasters

1974 – Phaedra (1995 SBM Remaster)

1975 – Ricochet (1995 SBM Remaster)

1977 – Encore (Live)(1995 SBM Remaster)

1979 – Force Majeure (1995 SBM Remaster)

1981 – Thief (1995 SBM Remaster)

1982 – Logos (1995 SBM Remaster)

1982 – White Eagle (1995 SBM Remaster)

1983 – Hyperborea (1995 SBM Remaster)

2000 – Axiat (2009 Remaster)

2007 – Hollywood Lightning (2009 Remaster)

2007 – Mars Mission Counter (2009 Remaster)

Unexpected Musical Magic

This evening’s musical discovery was entirely unexpected but has transformed my night.  An album was featured in a community I frequent and my eyes went wide at its summary. Free improvisational kosmische progressive electronic drone music? Sign me up! The album was Automaginary – a 2015 collaborative effort from two Chicago artists, Bitchin Bajas and Natural Information Society.

It was an absolute delight to be introduced to a quality release which encompasses a trifecta of my favorite musical styles. From the first note, this triumph embodies all of the elements I enjoy in a composition.

I’m always working to refine my response to the dreaded, “so what kind of music do you listen to?”, and in the past, I’d been unable to summarize in fewer than 286 words for those unfortunate enough to pose the question. My most recent revision resulted in an abbreviated, (albeit painfully incomplete) explanation of my listening tastes clocking in at a mere 73 words, which coincidentally nearly describes the music of this fantastic recording to a “T”. I said:

“I particularly enjoy minimalist music – compositions which employ static harmony, quasi-geometric transformational linearity and repetition, gradual additive or permutational processes, phase-shifting, and static instrumentation. I am captivated by the metamusical properties which are revealed as a result of strictly carried-out processes. Many of these recordings explore non-Western concepts like pure tuning, (e.g. pure frequency ratios and resonant intervals outside the 12-pitch piano scale), unmetered melodies like those of Carnatic ragas, and drones.”

Nearly all of those concepts are employed exquisitely on Automaginary, with the additional beauty of sparse electronic and organic atonal treatments which expand the transcendental atmospheric listening space even further. There are distinct nods to many of the greats here – La Monte Young, Riley, Conrad, Ravi Shankar, in addition to hints of inspiration from Coleman, early krautrockers, and even 1960s psychoacoustic recordings. While there is nothing terribly novel about this particular album, it is a magnificent execution of the post-minimal drone ethos and a wonderfully immersive listening experience.

Tune in!

Electronic Love

I’ve just received the most WONDERFUL Christmas gift from one of my oldest and dearest friends. If every you’ve asked yourself, “what is the perfect gift for the audiophile who has everything?” this is precisely the sort of gift you should consider.

This is the Electronic Love Blueprint: A History of Electronic Music by the Dorothy design collective – an electrical schematic of a theremin mapping 200 inventors, innovators, artists, composers spanning the entire history of recorded sound. Key pioneers featured include Léon Theremin, Bob Moog, Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Brian Eno, Kraftwerk and Aphex Twin.

It loosely groups genres, from the obscure Musique Concrète (Pierre Schaeffer) to the better known Krautrock (Kraftwerk, Can, Tangerine Dream, Neu!, Faust, Cluster, Harmonia and Amon Düül II) Synthpop (Gary Numan, Human League, Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Pet Shop Boys) and Electronica (New Order, The Prodigy, Massive Attack, LCD Sound System and Daft Punk). There are also references to the experimental BBC Radiophonic Workshop and favourite innovating record labels Mute and Warp.

This metallic silver screen print on 120gsm Keaykolour Royal Blue uncoated paper measures 60 x 80cm and will be the pride of my listening room.

I’ve ordered a UK frame and can’t wait to display it!

dorothy-104-electric-love_b-webdorothy-104-electric-love_2-webdorothy-104-electric-love_4-webdorothy-104-electric-love_3-webdorothy-104-electric-love_h-web

The Innerspace Labs Top 100 Albums

Recently a vinyl community I frequent held a month-long event where members shared their Top 30 LPs. I had a wonderful time coming up with my list and writing small reviews for each title. Unfortunately, I had a terrible time limiting my list to just 30, and it quickly grew to a Top 100. (And even then, I’ve cheated here and there with multi-disc box sets and discographies.)

But it all seemed too good not to share here at Innerspace so please enjoy a gallery of 100 of my favorite albums. Mouse over any thumbnail for artist and title info and click any image to expand and view the full-resolution photograph. All albums are presented alphabetically by artist.

Have I made any glaring omissions? Any indisputable electronic classics? Let me know! Perhaps we’ll have to push it to 200…

Enjoy!

Echowaves: Intergalactic Radio – Legends of Krautrock

Sunday Playlist of the day – Echowaves: Intergalactic Radio – Legends of Krautrock.

450 of the greatest kosmische musik albums from 77 German artists.

Echowaves: Intergalactic Radio

Spanning 1969 to the present, personal favorites among the list include discographies from:

  • Can
  • Faust
  • Kraftwerk (particularly the pre-Ralf und Florian LPs)
  • Amon Duul I&II
  • Neu!
  • Popol Vuh
  • Harmonia
  • Tangerine Dream
  • Klaus Schulze
  • Manuel Gottsching
  • Cluster
  • Ash Ra Tempel
  • Embryo
  • La Dusseldorf
  • The Cosmic Jokers
  • and A.R. & Machines

The list also includes modern artists who celebrate and revive the genre, like London’s Public Service Broadcasting.

Album now-playing: Cosmic Jokers’ s/t – the band that never was.

Cosmic Jokers - Cosmic Jokers

Their albums were acid party jam sessions recorded and released without the supergroup’s knowledge. Participants included Manuel Göttsching and Klaus Schulze of Ash Ra Tempel, Jurgen Dollase and Harald Grosskopf of Wallenstein, and Dierks. Regardless, it’s wonderful stuff!

DEEP DISTANCE: The Musical Life of Manuel Göttsching

Six years in the making, Author Christian Wheeldon’s magnificent account of The Musical Life of Manuel Göttsching is now available to the public.  Weeldon takes the reader on a journey through the rebirth of German music in the 1970s, the fusion of rock, minimalism and electronics, and through all of the pioneering music that followed.

Gottsching 2 sm

Wheeldon’s is the first proper book to examine the life of Manuel Göttsching, and is an absolute triumph at the task.  From the back cover:

[The book provides] previously unpublished interviews the author conducted with members of Ashra, as well as correspondence with other key personalities and selective historic sources.

But even more effective are Wheeldon’s rich and impassioned analyses of each of Göttsching recording sessions.  He provides an historic account of the socio-cultural circumstances surrounding each album’s production, and descriptions of the music which will undoubtedly inspire readers to seek out and enjoy these albums for themselves.

A few examples from the opening chapters of the book –

On Ash Ra Tempel’s self-titled record from 1971:

Ash Ra Tempel’s first track is freeform and as untamed as any open, mud-spattered festival jam ever hammered out.  A musical locomotive underpinned by the impressive, primal rumble of Hartmut Enke’s bass, there is a sense that Amboss could derail at any one of several moments as a result of its own pile driving brute force.  After a brief atonal guitar impasse the band steam back into action, finally rattling and clanging towards a furious, exhausted climax after 20 sweat-soaked minutes.

On The Cosmic Jokers’ self-titled LP from 1974:

Soothing guitar work from Manuel introduces the final part of the original first side. The waters of a gently lapping chemical ocean gradually become more turbulent and as proceedings gather pace we plummet beneath the surface into a swirling wormhole, hurtling towards some far corner of the universe at breakneck speed.  Schulze’s booming synthesizer suggests myriad multi-colour fragments of giant rock colliding in an asteroid field and a rather kitsch intergalactic voice confirms that we are now charting the far reaches of the great beyond.

I repeatedly found myself putting the book down to scribble notes for future listening.  A book exploring the incredible impact of Manuel Göttsching music is long-overdue, and thankfully Wheeldon’s guided tour of his catalog will spark a renaissance of listenership and musical discoveries for both long-time fans and for young listeners eager to develop a better understanding of the foundations of ambient and electronic sound.

The book was printed in a short run, so don’t miss your chance to claim a copy for your music library. Find out more at http://manuelgottsching.blogspot.co.uk/.

Author Christian Wheeldon with his, the first-ever
publication celebrating the music of Manuel Gottsching

An Exploration of Kosmische Musik Essentials (2 of 2)

Welcome to the conclusion to my 2-part feature on kosmische essentials.  First, an apology to readers who expected to see Neu’s first two albums, La Dusseldorf, Faust, and Harmonia.  I fully recognize the importance and grand influence of these artists, however they’ve thus far been absent from my collection.  They will surely be added in due time, but for now we’ll begin with another essential – Germany’s Can.

Can recorded three milestones of krautrock between 1971 and 73 – namely, Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, and my favorite – Future Days.  Fans may argue that their debut album Monster Movie was a far more important record, but these three albums feature some of the most mind-blowing tracks I’ve ever heard.  This is effectively the opposite of Kraftwerk.  Instead of Ralf and Florian’s polished industrial mechanized music, Can offers chaotic, psychedelic tunes and spontaneous lyricism that made them icons of the genre.

These are the United Artists marbled vinyl pressings from around 2009.  I’m uncertain whether or not these are authorized reissues, but no corners were cut on the quality of either the heavyweight gatefold jackets or the quality of the colored vinyl.  Absolutely essential.

Can - Tago Mago

 Can – Tago Mago (1971)

Can - Ege Bamyasi

Can – Ege Bamyasi (1972)

Can - Future Days
 Can – Future Days (1973)

Popol Vuh is another artist with a dauntingly extensive catalog of albums.  I’ll highlight my personal favorite – Hosianna Mantra – minimal choral music from Germany recently reissued by a small independent record store in Spain.  The pressing restored the original album art (after the 1980s American issue replaced the gorgeous cover with a boring large yellow circle).  Better still, the disc shipped with a bonus 7″ single and a poster, limited to 500 copies worldwide.  Wah Wah Records continues to release long out-of-print titles and is a label well-worth exploring.

 Popol Vuh - Hosianna Mantra 07 Seven Inch Sleeve

Popol Vuh – Hosianna Mantra (1972)

Another essential deep into the territory of Berlin School ambience is Manuel Gottsching’s Inventions for Electric Guitar from 1975.  This, in my humble opinion, is space rock perfection.  An expert’s blend of guitar, trance inducing rhythm, and delay and echo effects.  There’s really very little else happening on this record, but Gottsching transports the listener to the furthest reaches of outer space.  This is music for interstellar travel.


Manuel Gottsching - Inventions for Electric Guitar

Manuel Göttsching – Inventions for Electric Guitar (1975)

And Inventions became the precursor to Gottsching’s most important work – E2-E4 from 1984.  Allmusic was spot-on when they described the record as sounding like the house music of the 20 years that followed its release.  Gottsching focuses all his energy on the delicate interplay between guitar loops, drum synths, and sparsely-interjected tones from an accompanying synthesizer.  This is pure trance… from 1984.

Manuel Gottsching - E2-E4

Manuel Göttsching – E2-E4 (1984)

But perhaps no individual had as expansive a solo and collaborative catalog in the Berlin School than Klaus Schulze.  Irrlicht (1972) was Schulze’s first official solo album, recorded just a month before Zeit.  This is cerebral, classically-influenced cosmic music – a magnificent milestone of the genre.

Klaus Schulze - Irrlicht

Klaus Schulze - Irrlicht

Klaus Schulze – Irrlicht (1972)

If you buy only one Klaus Schulze record, (and there are well over 100), please consider the massively successful double LP – X from 1978.  X is hypnotic and entrancing modern classical music and is universally acclaimed as one of Schulze’s finest efforts.  The album is subtitled, “Six Musical Biographies” as each track is named after one of Schulze’s greatest inspirations.  This is not passive listening – these songs, many in excess of 20 minutes in length, are engaging explorations of synthesized sound.

Klaus Schulze - X

Klaus Schulze – X (1978)

Also recommended are Schulze’s 12-volume collaboration with Pete Namlook – The Dark Side of the Moog series, and for the fan who has everything-Schulze, I encourage you to look into The Ultimate Edition – a 50-disc collection of box sets featuring numerous live and non-album recordings.  It clocks in at 65 hours of material and I love cuing it up at work to transform my 9-5 into a calm and meditative atmosphere.

Here I’d like to touch quickly upon a non-German record that was really in the spirit of what Schulze and his fellow Berlin-schoolers were up to in the late 70s.  Steve Hillage, one of the primary figures of the Canterbury scene in the UK recorded Rainbow Dome Musick for the Festival for Mind-Body-Spirit in 1979.  While not geographically qualifying as “Berlin School,” it is most definitely of the same caliber as its German counterparts.

The album features Hillage on guitars, the Fender Rhodes, and ARP and Moog synthesizers.  A smattering of Tibetan bells and the sound of a running stream make the album approach the then-budding territory of New Age music, but Hillage’s musicianship and penchant for the avant-garde exempt the album from the flood of forgettable New Age music of the era.  If you like Schulze’s solo work, you really should check out Rainbow Dome Musick.

Steve Hillage - Rainbow Dome Musick

Steve Hillage – Rainbow Dome Musick (1979)

 I always end my multi-album features with something unique – and this is no exception.

Public Service Broadcasting is a London-based duo who create retro-futuristic electronic music much in the spirit of classic krautrock.  They use samples from old public information films, archival footage and propaganda material, to (quote) ‘teach the lessons of the past through the music of the future’.  PSB combines classic synths with banjo, ukulele, sax and trumpets all propelled by a nearly-motorik beat.

Public Service Broadcasting - Inform Educate Entertain

Both their album art and their music bear the streamlined magnificence of the Futurists.  My two favorite selections are The War Room EP and their first full-length release, Inform, Educate, Entertain.  I’ve also just pre-ordered their exciting new record scheduled for release this February.

Public Service Broadcasting – Inform Educate Entertain

But to close with a proper German record, I can’t leave out my recent acquisition from December of 2014 – GAS.  Wolfgang Voigt’s legendary titles released under the Gas moniker were combined in an abbreviated double LP, Nah Und Fern in 2008 on the Kompakt label.  Recorded between 1996 and 2000, Gas is perhaps the ultimate vision of the Berlin School’s musical philosophy.  To recap the brilliant descriptions from critics upon its release – zero-gravity club music, tunes for lucid dreaming, underwater techno, or as Wire put it, “an outdoor rave, heard floating through the air from a neighbouring village.”  This is precisely the sound of Gas.

Gas - Nah Und Fern

Gas – Zauberberg (1997)

Gas – Königsforst (1999)

Gas – Pop (2000)

My next German music purchases will likely include the first Cosmic Jokers LP, Schulze’s Timewind, and Froese’s solo debut – Aqua on the Brain label.

I hope these featured essentials are helpful to anyone venturing into kosmische music for the first time.  Have I left out any of your own favorites?  Let me know!

An Exploration of Kosmische Musik Essentials (1 of 2)

Right around the new year, I set myself to the task of compiling my favorite German experimental LPs of the late 1960s and early 70s for a feature on essential kosmische musik.  Quite sadly, founding member of Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese passed away last month, and a showcase of music he composed or inspired is the least I can do in his honor.  Electronic and ambient music would surely not be where it is today without the contributions of this fantastic musician.

The feature will be presented in two parts, and the conclusion will feature some special recordings you may not have heard of so be sure to tune in for both installments.

Additionally, I intend for this to be a one-click introduction for those interested in exploring highlights of kosmische musik, so I will include embedded full-album YouTube videos for every album that I can so that listeners can read about and listen to each artist I present.

Both general krautrock and the Berlin School rose to prominence in the late 1960s and early 70s and each produced a number of influential records which helped shape the music of the decades that followed.

 
Amon Duul II - Phallus Dei

Phallus Dei by Amon Düül II was arguably the first proper krautrock record, but personally, I prefer pensive and cerebral space music to brilliant uninhibited freak-outs.

Amon Düül II – Phallus Dei (1969)

 And so, fittingly, I’ll begin with the aforementioned Tangerine Dream.  This is the “In the Beginning…” box set released on Relativity in 1985 which contains their first four albums – Electronic Meditation, Alpha Centauri, Zeit, and Atem, as well as the then-unreleased Green Desert LP.

Tangerine Dream - In the Beginning...

Dubbed “the pink years” for the pink ear on the original Ohr labels, these were early explorations in ambient music, and with each release they ventured further from traditional rhythms and meter into the outer reaches of space music.

All four titles are staples of the genre, and fortunately each was recently reissued on 180g vinyl in a gatefold sleeve in the UK by Esoteric Reactive.  I’m considering trading the set in for these new pressings.

Tangerine Dream – Electronic Meditation (1970)

 Tangerine Dream – Alpha Centauri (1971)

 Tangerine Dream – Zeit (1972)

 Tangerine Dream – Atem (1973)

 Tangerine Dream – Green Desert (recorded 1973)

Of course there were many other excellent TD titles released in the years that followed.

Universally-acclaimed classics include Phaedra, Ricochet (a live album), Rubycon, Stratosphere, Cyclone, and Exit.  These recordings of their first 10 years of activity were their finest and most exploratory works.

Cluster - Cluster IICluster II (1972) is another staple of the genre.  Phillipe of ProgArchives.com accurately summarized the album as “industrial and chaotic… a sonic meditation… and a pleasant cerebral massage,” an excellent summary of this album’s sound.  As Cluster II is more accessible than the mechanical noise of their debut LP, this is a great introduction to Cluster.  (But once you’re hooked you’ll need to go back and pick up their debut from 1971.)

Cluster – Cluster II (1972)

If you prefer a more organic flavor of ambient music, seek out Cluster & Eno from 1977.

Cluster & Eno

More sparse and delicate than the collaborations between Fripp & Eno just a few years earlier, Cluster & Eno is reflective, late night music.  Put it on and ponder your very existence in a vast and expansive universe.

Cluster & Eno – Cluster & Eno (1977)

 A follow-up collaboration was recorded in 1978, this time credited to Clusters’ members by name.  After the Heat is a rewarding experience for the patient ear.  It has a slow but steady pace and concludes with two outstanding tracks with vocals by Brian Eno.  “The Belldog” is a must for fans of any period of Eno’s music, and the closing track (whose title I will not even attempt to pronounce) features the lyrics to “Kings Lead Hat” played backwards… and it WORKS… because Eno.

After the Heat

Eno/Moebius/Roedelius – After the Heat (1978)

Kraftwerk, of course, played a critical role as krautrock’s mechanized ambassadors to the world. But before they developed their trademark sound with Autobahn and Radioactivity, they released Kraftwerk I and II (1970-72) These early records are much more organic and free-form than the Futurist sounds of their better-known LPs.  The albums feature multi-dubbed flutes, an organ, tape-music noise and drone soundscapes.  If you dig experimental tunes, these are classics.

 Crown - Kraftwerk I

Kraftwerk – Kraftwerk (1970)

Crown - Kraftwerk II

Kraftwerk – Kraftwerk II (1971)

These are the Crown label bootlegs on red & green vinyl.  The jackets are quickly identifiable by the really shoddy low-res prints of the original art but that aside, they’re an affordable way to get your hands on some early Kraftwerk. 

Ralf und Florian

Ralf and Florian (1973) was their 3rd LP (not including Organisation’s Tone Float) and features much of the same sounds heard on 1 and 2 but with a more structured and polished sound.

Kraftwerk – Ralf und Florian (1973)

 As I tend to gravitate toward more abstract music I don’t play this record as often as the others, but its historical importance and impact on the music which followed can not be overstated.

 Ralf and Florian was followed by the records for which they are best-known –

Kraftwerk – Autobahn (1974)

Kraftwerk - Autobahn

Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity

Kraftwerk – Radio-Activity (1975)

Kraftwerk - Trans Europa Express

Kraftwerk – Trans Europa Express (1977)

and the electro-pop staple, The Man-Machine.

Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine

Kraftwerk – The Man-Machine (1978)

I’ll end this segment appropriately with a solo selection from Tangerine Dream founder, Edgar Froese.  He released three primary solo recordings between I’ve seen this title turn up multiple times in the Youtube Vinyl Community.  Epsilon in Malaysian Pale is Edgar Froese’s second album, recorded in 1975.  The album consists of two side-long pieces – the first featuring the Mellotron and the second a rhythmic wash of ambient synths.  If you’ve been meaning to get into Froese’s solo work, this is certainly the place to begin.

Edgar Froese - Epsilon in Malaysian Pale

Edgar Froese – Epsilon In Malaysian Pale (1975)

These classics will serve as an excellent introduction to the genre.  Stay tuned next week for more fantastic essentials!

Modern BBC Docu-Rock and Ambient Space Treasures

Friends, I have some very special records in store for you, and many more in the post on their way.

Recently I was exploring related-artist lists for long-standing favorites Sundae Club and Lemon Jelly on a number of music services.  One result had quite an intriguing name, so I gave them a listen.

Public Service Broadcasting is a project of J. Willgoose and Wrigglesworth from London.  The association with Jellyheads and fans of Sundae Club is instantly apparent – their music is electronic, but with a uniquely organic (and perhaps an emotive) element that separates it from the countless electro-pop artists of the day.

PSB uses samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material, which fits well in a playlist of Found Sound Orchestra and Future Loop Foundation recordings.

The result, when paired with their minimalist geometric album packaging, is a krautrock-flavored mechanical sort of BBC documentary music, if you can imagine such a thing.

I enjoyed their INFORM • EDUCATE • ENTERTAIN LP, but was most impressed by THE WAR ROOM EP.  Just one look at the album jacket and anyone who follows my blog with any frequency will instantly understand why I just had to acquire this glorious disc.

 

Here is your new desktop wallpaper.  You're welcome.

Here is your new desktop wallpaper. You’re welcome.

See if you can detect traces of the metronomic percussion of Neu!’s “Hallo Gallo” in PSB’s music, or a touch of Kraftwerk inspiration in the packaging of INFORM • EDUCATE • ENTERTAIN.

Public Service Broadcasting - Inform-Educate-Entertain

On to other treasures, I had perused the Record Store Day list for April 2014 but no items particularly grabbed me so I sat the holiday out and saved my cash for the seasonal record show that followed.

In the days after the holiday, I stumbled upon a redditor who ran an independent record store in the States offering limited edition RSD items at store-price to those who couldn’t make it that day.  He listed an album that had entirely escaped my radar – a condensed and remastered 50-minute distillation of the epic 24-hour “7 Skies H3” by Flaming Lips.

Available exclusively for RSD, this was most fans’ only opportunity to own a piece of the notorious track, of which 13 copies were produced and sold on a hard drive encapsulated in a real human skull.

Flaming Lips - 24hrskull - 7 Skies H3
The offer was extended to fellow redditors at 11am on the morning of Easter Sunday, and I didn’t hesitate for a single second.  To make the situation even more exciting, I discovered that I had just sold a record I had received for free for the exact price of the Flaming Lips album, which chalks up to getting it for free!

Flaming Lips 7 Skies H3 and KLF MINUS SIX

I should caution fans who acquire this record, however – The album ships with a download code from Warner Music, but the file is not what it appears to be.  There are no options for MP3 quality (or for a FLAC download) – the album automatically downloads a set of files marked as 256 CBR.  I was a tad suspicious of Warner Music so I tested the file and it appears to be only a paltry 128kbps MP3.

If anyone can verify this I would love to hear from you, but I was extremely disappointed that this rare recording was essentially presented in the sonic equivalent of a Napster file from 1999.

"I'm telling you... realplayer is going to be HUGE."

“I’m telling you… RealPlayer is going to be HUGE.”

Regardless, best to focus on the positive – like that mysterious KLF item from the Lips’ photo above!

I cannot express the level of my excitement in finally hearing this special recording.  You may well recall my featuring of Disc 6 and of The KLF Remix Project Part III in earlier entries.

This new disc was to be the ninth in the series of unofficial reworkings of the KLF’s catalog – masterfully engineered and easily one of the finest ambient recordings of the year. Sadly, due to issues beyond the producer’s control, the disc will not be released to the public.

The disc contains a 2014 72-minute epic rework of the original Space LP created 24 years ago, originally as a collaboration between Dr. Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty – the original line-up of The Orb.

For those who aren’t familiar with the outstanding KLF: Recovered & Remastered unofficial releases from my past entries, let me bring you up to speed.

1987. British acid house. Drummond. Cauty. The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. The Timelords. The JAMs. One World Orchestra. 2K. The Stadium House Trilogy. Doctorin’ the Tardis. Anarchism.   The White Room. The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Top of the Pops. America: What Time is Love? The Manual. A lost road movie. The K Foundation. Extreme Noise Terror. Why Sheep? Waiting. The Rites of Mu. Chill Out. The birth of Ambient House. Burning a million quid on the Isle of Jura. Abandon all art now. And Space.

There. That about sums it up.

20 years into the silence that followed the K Foundation’s exit from celebrity a man surfaced who set himself to the task of recovering and remastering the KLF’s catalog to fill the void left in Cauty and Drummond’s absence.

The first six releases, catalog #KLF 001 RE – KLF 006 RE were brilliant, and the sixth release, Live From The Lost Continent 2012 presented listeners with a 77-minute stadium-packed concert that never was.

Following this triumph, two more released emerged – KLF MINUS-ONE and KLF MINUS-FOUR, each better than the EP before.

But our hero had one last stupendous project up his sleeve. And in April of 2014, it was complete.

A message from its creator revealed that MINUS-SIX was to be:

“…a 72 minute remodel of the classic SPACE release, sounding like a cross between ‘Silence’ (from Pete Namlook’s legendary Fax +49-69/450464 label), SPACE, and classic ambient drone releases. It’s almost like Trainspotting for KLF fans.”

The original Space LP (1990)

The original Space LP (1990)

The final piece is a monumental achievement – a new Music for Airports, or perhaps a new Selected Ambient Works Vol II.  It effectively unites sparse white-noise drones with all of the familiar elements of the original Space record which made it so memorable.  It is brilliantly subtle, while simultaneously making the sounds of simulated space flight an exciting and dramatic experience.

Then came the crushing news – the MINUS SIX project had suddenly been halted, and there were to be no more releases in the series.

I make no exaggeration when I state that, with this loss, the ambient music audience is experiencing its own Nick Drake, or more accurately – its own SugarMan.

searching-for-sugar-man-poster

At least this dude got his own movie.

Worse yet – because Rodriguez had a nation celebrating his work for generations an ocean away from his quiet daily life, and at least Nick Drake experienced posthumous success – becoming a household name in the years which followed his untimely demise.

But production of MINUS-6 has been cancelled. Quite sadly, the millennium’s ambient and drone audience and the millions of listeners who grew up with the KLF may never hear this record.

Its legend is shroud in mystery. Will KLF fans ever know the engineer’s name?  Why the sudden cease just before unveiling his holy grail?

But perhaps it is the legend and the mystery that adds a touch of vitality to the series.

And I still have hope. The K Foundation announced a 23-year moratorium on all projects beginning November 1995. Perhaps, in honor of the 2018 reformation of the KLF, our mysterious friend will emerge.

My sincerest hope is that the man behind these nine fantastic EPs one day receives the recognition (and listenership) that he deserves.

If you’re out there – Bring the beat back.

The+KLF

 

The Summer Search for Rare Wax

While re-visiting some of my classics from artists like múm and Mark Kozelek, I found myself really enjoying The Album Leaf’s In a Safe Place.  It’s a wintery, sparse record that merits repeated listening.

A quick bit of research revealed that Jimmy LaValle (the lone member of The Album Leaf) had collaborated with Jón Þór Birgisson, Kjartan Sveinsson, and Orri Páll Dýrason (most of the members of Sigur Rós) and Gyða Valtýsdóttir (formally of múm) at Sigur Rós’ Sundlaugin studio for the album.

It’s no wonder the record is so enjoyable.

And what was even more surprising was that one year later, in 2005, LaValle mixed his next record with the help of Jón Þór Birgisson and Joshua Eustis of Telefon Tel Aviv.

With the hands of so many great artists in this music, and the sounds of a Rhodes piano and a Moog synthesizer in the mix, The Album Leaf has a sound which is just as enjoyable a decade later, and will continue to provide listening pleasure in the decades to come.

If you’ve been following this blog since June of this year you’re quite aware of my love of Black Swan, (drone for bleeding hearts.)

Black Swan continues to operate shrouded in mystery.  I’ve recently acquired 2012’s Aeterna and Heaven as well as 2013’s Redemption (swan plague).  Each is darker and more minimal than the disc which preceded it, and every title is magnificent.  Like all Black Swan releases, this is music for your best headphones.  Sadly these three titles have not yet seen a vinyl release.  I would contact the label, Ethereal Symphony but there is just as little information about the label as there is about the artist.  Clearly these are self-releases, as the titles are only available on CD-R or FLAC and the only (8) releases on the label are those of Black Swan, so the mystery continues.

Here is the opening track from Aeterna – “A Lesson in Slow Flight.”

My hunt continues for a copy of Popol Vuh’s Hosianna Mantra (featured in August 20th’s This Week’s Listening – Early Krautrock, Proto Ambient, and Musique Concrete)

Sales of the original German pressing from 1972 (Pilz 20 29143-1) average around $72.  There is currently a NM gatefold copy for sale, (in the USA, no less!) but it is marked at $120 and I’m saving my vinyl cash for something else at the moment.

Pilz ‎– 20 29143-1 1972
But what was truly staggering was the revised album art which appeared on the Celestial Harmonies (CEL 004) US pressing in 1981.

Gone was the ornamental, silver foil spiritual cover – and in its place was a hyper-minimal, post-modern painting of a circle, (or a sun, perhaps?)

Celestial Harmonies ‎– CEL 004 1981
Fortunately, the German Think Progressive label restored the original art for their 1998 reissue of this lovely recording.  (TPLP 1.803.023)  The TP issue can be picked up for around $45.

Here again is Hosianna Mantra.

But pricier records aside, I joined a few fantastic friends for a day of gallivanting at my local Antique World, where my favorite record dealer gave me a wonderful West German early ambient/drone record by Peter Michael Hamel.

Hamel was altogether new to me but I quickly learned that he is a veteran minimalist associated with the late-1970s New Simplicity movement.

The album is titled, “Bardo” – a Tibetan word meaning “intermediate state” or “in-between state,” a term which aptly describes the cycling organ tones throughout the two side-long recordings of the record.

R-230287-1177961913

This elegantly minimal album is lush with the warm sounds of the pipe organ, electric organ and analog synthesizers, performed by Hamel and Ulrich Kraus.

It’s always exciting when your record dealer knows you well enough to provide you with something wonderful that you’ve never heard. A delightful addition to my library – especially for only $8!

The opening track, “Dorian Dervishes” runs 21:47.  Here is the opening 6 minutes.

I will close this post with two absolutely essential early-electronic gems, both from Germany.

The first is Cluster’s self-titled debut release from 1971. Roedelius, Moebius and Plank produced a proto-ambient milestone which should be required listening of anyone interested in the history of electronic sound.

R-262961-1363962650-6521
Time practically stands still when you tune in to this beatless masterpiece.  The three untitled tracks run just over 44 minutes but when the record ends the listener may feel disoriented and unsure whether minutes or hours have passed.

Have a listen to the closing track.

The other LP I’m after is Manuel Göttsching’s E2-E4.  Recorded at the height of synth pop, this experimental record was a pioneering electronic album which pre-dated the house/techno-era that would follow.

R-303333-1290356604
And 31:13 into the single-track album of relentless, unyielding loops and minimal percussion, Göttsching begins noodling jazzy guitar riffs over the rhythmic loops, taking the listener’s trance to an even deeper level.

The album’s title is the most common opening move in a game of chess.

Enjoy!