For almost 50 years now, Hans-Joachim Roedelius has been improvising his self portrait and he still hasn’t finished it. True to his calling – a sound painter – he’s been poised to sonic canvas rendering his psyche in glorious lo-fi.
An idyllic childhood as an actor in the late 1930s German movies was abruptly ended by the firestorms of wartime Berlin. As a teenager, Roedelius was forcibly conscripted by the DDR Volksarmee only to desert and face two years imprisonment with hard labour 1000 meters underground in the coal mines. From there, Roedelius went on to become one of the most important and enduring artists to have emerged from the 1960s West German counterculture.
Like Woody Allen´s Zelig, he is a curiously omnipresent figure at several key historic points in time – he was a key player at the birth of Kosmische, Krautrock, Synth Pop and Ambient.
His duets with Dieter Moebius as Cluster – once hailed “20th Century music’s best kept secret” – at least equalled the more well-known innovations of their German cohorts Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Can.
His 40-plus solo albums were just as radical in seeking an unlikely reconciliation with the past. Cross-wiring Krautrock´s brutalist modernism with an earlier strain of teutonic enquiry, melding weird electronica with folk, jazz and classical voices to often stunning effect.
Co-founder of Berlin’s first free art studio, the Zodiak Arts Lab (1967), he was also a founder member of various groups, namely Human Being, Kluster, Cluster, Harmonia, Tempus Transit and Lunzprojekt.
He played on around 160 record productions either as a soloist or with band projects. Some 1600 musical works bear his name, plus a similar number of texts (poetry, prose etc.). Music for dance theatre productions, oratorios, radio plays, symphonies. Cultural award winner in his home town of Baden, near Vienna, stipendiary of Vienna’s Alban Berg Foundation. Honorary President of the Moving Culture Festival in Tirana (Albania), Honorary member of the Happy Valley Foundation in Ojai (California/USA), artistic director of the More Ohr Less symposum and festival at Lunz am See, Austria. Collaborations with artists all over the world, including Brian Eno, Holger Czukay, Susumu Hirasawa, Tim Story, Dwight Ashley, Dieter Moebius, David Bickley, Jurij Novoselic, Stanislaw Michalak, Fatos Qerimaj, Fabio Capanni, Nicola Alesini, Michael Rother, Stefan Schneider, Alquimia, Yuko Matsuzaki, Clementine Gasser, Bernadette Reiter, Florian Tanzer, Georg Taylor, Neil Mac’Coll, Felix Jay and Lloyd Cole