Showing posts with label Bureau B. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bureau B. Show all posts

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Karl Bartos

Karl Bartos was a member of Kraftwerk during their most iconic, productive era. As the band's classically-trained percussionist an co-writer, he had a massive influence on the sound and direction of Kraftwerk, and ultimately - through records like Trans-Europe Express, Man Machine and Computer World - on the advancement of electronic music and how we know it today. Since leaving the group in 1990 because of the continuing slow creative process brought on by the band's perfectionist approach, Bartos went on to release a number of solo albums, work with Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner in their band Electronic, produce music for others and even release the Mini-Composer iPhone app - which is a lot of fun. His latest album, Off The Record, draws from material he has gathered from the last 35 years of his life and is out now on Bureau B.

Atomium-headed Karl illustration by Andy Smoke.

So I understand that this new album is made up of pieces of a 'musical scrapbook' you've been building up over the years. If that's the case, does the record reflect more on where you are, musically, now or at the time you had the idea?
Hopefully the result is the best of both worlds! When my label approached me, they said "Hey Karl, haven't you got any old tapes in the attic?" I refused, but they kept asking me and asking me, and they just wanted to put these old tapes from the attic out. Finally I got convinced by the idea, and I transferred all my old tapes from my archive into the computer. When I saw all the dates, 1977, 1978, and so on, it looked like a kind of 'acoustic diary'. It wasn't meant to be an acoustic diary but it became an acoustic diary by seeing all the data. Once I transferred it into the computer it was easy for me to just put bits together, and I did what we call recontextualisation. It's easy to recontextualise material on the computer! I took these bits, these jottings, from here and from there, and they were not real compositions, but just jottings. Some of these scribbles I took into a place called Kling Klang studios, and they became rather famous. Some of them, I didn't. Some of them I took there and they seemed to be a misfit, or they just didn't belong to the current record. Unfortunately, we made so few records at the time, in the 70s and 80s! So I ended up with this encounter. Karl Bartos that I am now, with this youngster, this whippersnapper from the 70s and the 80s. So I could combine this naivety which a 20-something guy has, with my experience now, which led to this record that is in our hands today.


Was it easy to recontextualise the old stuff with modern technology? Bearing in mind you weren't writing all that stuff with modern technology.
Exactly. This is as developed as we can be, having a computer to splice these things together. In the early days you couldn't make an archive, and technology wasn't as accessible as it is nowadays, so it was a great help. It's a complete mash up actually, of the technologies from the 70s and 80s, and nowadays technology. So again, the best of both worlds. This record couldn't have been done in the 70s or 80s.

When you were in Kraftwerk, you were having to develop the technology to make music yourselves. Now anybody can make music on their computer. Do you think technology has affected people's creativity?
Yes, of course. The medium is always responsible for the content. It won't affect me, because I did my piano lessons when I was young, I played in an orchestra and I played guitar. So I use technology as a tool. But certainly, if you take your first steps in making music when you open up a computer and load some music software, then of course it will affect the content you are producing. There's no way around that. But I am just listening to music in my head before I compose it, and I'm not depending on software or anything else.

Kraftwerk already existed when you joined. Were you invited in as a writer, or were you initially just asked to join as a musician?
It was 1975 when Florian called my professor, and he was just asking for a classically trained drummer. So I got the job as a studio musician when I started, then I ended up on this famous US tour in 1975. It was a really good chance for me to make myself acquainted with the American music culture, and it really changed my life. That was the Autobahn tour, then I played the drums on Radioactivity and Trans-Europe Express. I already had some input then but unfortunately my name is not on the records. By the time we did Man Machine I got invited to be an official co-composer, and I found it very natural. I had already been round for two records, and had my input on them, and finally I got the credit on Man Machine. So it was a natural process.


What electronic music do you enjoy personally?
Stockhausen. Pierre Schaeffer from Paris, he invented what we know now as Musique Concrète. Pierre Henry... I must confess I don't listen to new music any more, or on the internet. It's just so confusing.

Do you think that because music is so easy to make and release now, that there's too much of it?
There can't be too much music in this world. We badly need music, and we badly need people to play music. This is very important for our soul. Music comforts us. It's really good for every one of us to sit down and play guitar or play a laptop, or sing in the shower. Every one of us needs music. I found out I can only relate to music which comes from people I know personally. Somehow you have to make a distinction, because there's only 24 hours in a day and I can't listen to all of it.

Do you think it's because you know where these people are coming from already? Do you think that if you listened to music made by somebody you didn't know personally that you wouldn't know the point they were making, musically?
It was much easier when I was young. We had (pirate station) Radio Luxembourg, and there was just the charts, and in the 60s and 70s you were sure that the first ten numbers were quite good. Although once in a while there was Englebert Humperdinck playing at number one. But normally, in the 60s, you would find people like Jimi Hendrix at number one, or the Beatles, or the Kinks. It was really good music and the message in the music was fantastic, and in some ways it changed politics and it changed society. If you look into the internet, this music is still around! It doesn't disappear. There's music that was created in the 90s that has disappeared. You can't find it any more. So it was much easier in the early days of pop music. I don't want to know about the latest Lady Gaga record anymore, it's not worth it. It's worth it if one of my students, or a friend, sends me music. We can have a conversation about it, and I don't get confused by two million songs on the internet. It's too much.


What's your average day?
I get up and I go out. I live on the outskirts of Hamburg, very close to the river. So I go to the river and exercise for an hour and a half. I go with the dog. Hamburg, as you know, has a big harbour so if I'm lucky I might see the Queen Mary II coming in. I'm not lucky all the time. By midday I'm ready to go to the studio. I need the contemplation and routine to regain motivation.

Do you listen to your own music?
No, you can't. You need distance. I can't listen to my new record because I'm close to burn out now.

Is that because it's a solo record? Would it be different if it was a record you'd made with other people?
Even when I worked with Johnny (Marr) and Bernard (Sumner), you put all your life into the record, and then it's finished. I'll tell you another secret. When you start a record, whether it's a solo record or it's a group attempt, the first thing you want to do is to change the world. But when you're finishing it, you just hope you're getting away with it.

How did you come to work with Johnny and Bernard?
Bernard listened to my first solo record, and must have though "Oh, this guy's solo, maybe we can get him to do some electronic percussion on our tracks". We ended up co-composing a lot of the music so I ended up writing a lot of songs with Bernard and Johnny. We're still friends, it's amazing.


You mentioned earlier the Beatles, the Kinks and Jimi Hendrix. If that was what you were listening to when you were studying classical music, what made you want to play electronic music?
After my initialisation with music, I learned all the famous songs from the 60s era. You had to. They were so beautiful, and it was like magnetism. I learned how to play guitar, and I learned pop music, and finally I understood pop music really well, by analysing it and playing it. Copycat style, in cover bands. It's always the same approach. You copy it, then you compose songs 'in the manner of'. If you're really good, you find your own identity and you come up with something new. Keith Richards used to say. "It's funny, if I play an old blues song, it's funny to see how it turns into a Keith Richards song". That's the whole story of creativity. I was quite young, but I wanted this to be the thread of my life, I wanted to become a musician. Coming from a German background, I thought I had to study it at university. So I went there, and after I discovered Chuck Berry I discovered Bach and Beethoven and I ended up becoming a percussion player. By studying percussion in the 60s and 70s you make yourself acquainted with Stockhausen and John Cage, and you learn about serial music, minimalistic music and electronic music. So I thought "OK, here is the guy who influenced Sgt. Pepper, this is Karlheinz Stockhausen, he lives very close to us!" Dusseldorf and Cologne are very close. And then I ended up in Kraftwerk, where I got it all together. We had the pop music approach, and we had the German electronics, all at once.

With all your musical training, and your interests, did you find it easy to make an album like Man Machine?
(Long pause) Yes. Normally, if you're following the lectures of Karlheinz Stockhausen, you would exclude pop music. But this was my first step, my initialisation, so it was very easy to have those different ingredients and bring them all together, and on top of that to add some funky rhythms by James Brown. If you mix them all up in a perfect cultural mash up, and I had this feeling we were going to generate something quite authentic.

You didn't really have anybody to base your music on, and that's never going to happen to somebody again.
We had to be authentic. I like I Am The Walrus, but it's not me. It belongs to another heritage. I can admire it, and I can praise it, but I can never be it.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
We have a screening in London, at the Rough Trade record shop, and I'm doing a lot of promotion all over Europe and America. Then I'm going to prepare my live show, which is an audio-visual show. I'm really into the convergence of image and sound.

What do you think of Ralf touring as Kraftwerk?
My lips are sealed. If Sir Paul McCartney plays, it's a Sir Paul McCartney concert. It's really great how he does that.

Yeah. He doesn't call himself 'The Beatles'. Anything else before we finish up?

I wish I had learned to jump on this little machine, the skateboard. I wish I could, but I am just not able to. I would break a leg. I'm not good at balancing!
More Karl Bartos info here. More great Andy Smoke drawings to be found here.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Tarwater

The release of the eleventh Tarwater album, 'Inside The Ships', finds the Berlin duo drawing reference from 1950s sci-fi, kraut-minimalism and experimental cinema; even eliciting the atypical circumstance of a film being made around their album- rather than the other way around. While the voice, effected guitar and analogue electronics of Ronald Lippok (also of To Rococo Rot) and Bernd Jestram seem rooted in an entirely post-modern space-age, it is inevitabley borne of their country's kosmiche heritage, flickering B-movies and their 1990s 'post-rock' contemporaries. Inevitable comparisons to Tortoise, Sonic Youth, Neu! and Stereolab abound, yet Tarwater are time-served alumni of this school, and continue to explore the furthest reaches of their (Forbidden) planet of sound. Their new record is clear testament to this, so I thought I should ask them a bit about it. This interview took place when they played the 'Eastern Promise' festival, at Platform, in Glasgow's Easterhouse.

                                                         Tarwater. Photograph by Christoph Voy

The album, Inside The Ships, took two years to finish. What happened during those two years?
R: We were working on stuff like film music, theatre, and radio plays and so on. When we started doing the album in the beginning we didn't have any idea. A friend of ours was working on a space opera- a science fiction space opera- and that was the kind of initial inspiration for the album. We thought that was interesting, and we started listening to space rock, to the Ladbroke Grove scene, and to old science fiction music from the GDR- East German science fiction film music. Actually, it was meant to be a space opera radio play. That was the initial inspiration for the album.

How much of the two years was writing, how much was recording, how much was mastering?
B: Because I'm running the studio, it's always one process. We don't compose at the beginning... We just say "Today is a Tarwater day, let's record something", and we start from zero.
R: We start to do something, and it's not very strategic. We don't write songs in the classic way where you start with an instrument- it always starts with sound, soundscapes... that's the best way for something to happen. When you never know.

The album has inspired a short film. Tell me about that.

R: There was a guy who said to us "Let's do it the other way around. Don't write music for the movie, give me the music first and I'll do the movie". We wanted to see how the video developed, based on the tracks. It's not like a video clip really, it's longer- it's 35 minutes- and it's based on Tarwater tracks. It was good doing it the other way around, because when you work on film music normally, you do the music when you have the pictures and this time it was the other way around.
B: We were recording and making the album at the time, so he got tracks that we didn't put on the record.

Tracks that were meant for the record?

R: Tracks that died!


What did you think of the film?
R: I really liked it it. It was done on Alexanderplatz in the centre of Berlin. Since we were children we've known this place, but looking at the movie we didn't know it was made on Alexanderplatz. It was interesting seeing a place that we're so familiar with, and not noticing it. Imagine going to the most famous spot in Glasgow, and you shoot a movie, and people don't know where it is...
B: It was shot at nighttime, just using the light that was coming from the surroundings.
R: They didn't bring any extra lights, it was just the lights that were there.

So if this guy approached you while you were making the album, did it change the way the album was created?
R: Hmm. Good question. Actually, I don't think so. Working on the album was taking quite a while, for us, because albums have their own needs. It's like when you try to attract an animal, and you go "Come! Come! Come!", we were waiting for the songs to come. To come together. We'd think one was good, then we'd think one was fantastic, but the album had no 'face'. Then when it started to come together, then we thought "OK, let's tour, we've got an album". Recording an album should be a microcosm. It doesn't necessarily have to be a concept album, but you should be able to listen to the whole album and see that this is a little world in itself. You never know when this is going to happen.


The press release for the album says that it definitely isn't a concept album.
R: (Laughs) I know... Science fiction was just an inspiration, but if you listen to the tracks there is a certain theme. Like 'Radio War' is about Orson Welles and the whole story about his radio play (War Of The Worlds) when everybody went nuts about the martians coming to Earth, and how at the time there was this big fear of communism. 'Do The Oz' is like a science fiction dance- "Put your left wing in, take your left wing out"- even though it was inspired by Oz magazine, because Oz was going to stop, and we wanted to support this underground magazine. Science fiction was an inspiration, but I think a concept album has to have a weird story going through it.

Like a Soft Machine album.
R: We love Soft Machine.Soft Machine was one of the inspirations for the album. We did a DJ mix for (excellent music website) The Quietus that you should check out. It's a one-hour mix of science fiction music.

Were you watching a lot of films when you were making the album?
R: Science fiction was always interesting to us, but we were watching a lot of Russian films at the time. We weren't doing 'research', science fiction is always around, it's to do with our lives. It's not like fantasy that puts you someplace completely else, with science fiction you still have a connection.


The science fiction that comes to mind when I listen to the new record is the science fiction of the 1950s and 60s. Stuff that was set in the year 2000. It's this vintage future that never existed.
R: That's a good way of putting it. When I was a child I expected to be living underwater by the age I am now. When you listen to 'Forbidden Planet', it's a very interesting soundtrack, made electronically. When you listen to a science fiction movie from now it's very boring. It's just standard. In the olden days they thought "OK, how could music sound in the future?" That was far more interesting than what science fiction music is now. I think it's a pity that people don't try harder now.

People like Delia Derbyshire, and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who did the Doctor Who music, don't exist anymore.

R: Doctor Who is a very good example. That's fantastic, frightening music. With science fiction there's so much more in the 50s, 60s and 70s than there is now.

Is there any music out just now that you like?

R: I really like the last Kreidler album. I'm not saying that because we're on the same label. I really appreciate that a band like that can make a statement with a record like that. Is there any other stuff?
B: I quite like the new Wire record! I've listened to it several times now, and I like the songwriting, and the singing. I was really impressed. I've been a Wire fan for so long, but the new one just made me say "Wow!"


How has the Tarwater sound developed over the years? The first album was quite beats-based, but do you think your music has begun to merge with the soundtrack work you do?
R: It's hard for us to say. I never listen to the old albums, unless I'm really drunk. Although I was listening to an old track today, for the show, and it sounded quite different to the version we play live. If you work for a long time things will change. With 'Dwellers On The Threshold', we had an interest in folk music. Like psychedelic folk, and soul. I think that changed the sound in a way. But we have always worked in Berlin. We've never worked in, let's say, the countryside. We're always in town, and we're out listening to DJ sets. We're always surrounded by people doing stuff that has an impact on our music. It's not very strategic. We don't go "The next record should be more song-based, or have less guitar" or anything.

Each album seems like a new sound.
R: I like that some people only know the new album, and some people only know the old albums. Some people will only like the albums from the mid 90s, with the singing and electronics. This curious mixture of sound and song. It's hard to say as a band. We don't ever plan anything. For our career that might not be good, but that's the way it is.


Are you touring the new album in a big way?
R: Tonight, we're playing the songs for the first time. It's a special night- it's an adventure! We've been rehearsing at our studio, but we don't know what they sound like through a sound system.

When you're writing a song, do you think about how it'll sound live?
B: No, never. When we're in the studio we just record what we like. We never think about live. So later on we sometimes have massive problems. Like, "How can we play this song, it's not possible".
R: Or we'll have something that we just can't repeat, from an old Korg or something.
B: We can't play all the instruments with just two people.
R: Playing live is like a parallel process to doing the album. We have to think "OK, what can we play live? How can we translate this?" And then we find out.

                                                         Ronald Lippok, me, Bernd Jestram


Tarwater - Inside The Ships sampler by Bureau B

Check out Tarwater's mix for The Quietus here- http://thequietus.com/articles/06987-tarwater-mix

Friday, 4 November 2011

Hans-Joachim Roedelius

The electronic pioneer Hans-Joachim Roedelius is a legendary figure in modern music. He founded the seminal bands Kluster (who later became Cluster, and now Qluster) and Harmonia (where he worked with a young Brian Eno), and he made music using the world's first drum machine- Drummer One. His work is considered across the world to be the blueprint for electronic music. He turns 77 this month, and rarely gives interviews, but Bite My Wire managed to trace him to his house in Austria for our conversation. He's just released his collaboration album with Stefan Schneider (of post-rock pioneers Kreidler and To Rococo Rot) and it's one of the most beautiful things you will ever hear.

                                                                  Hans-Joachim Roedelius.

How did you meet Stefan? How did the collaboration come about?
I met Stefan a long time ago, when I was playing somewhere. He invited me to one of his concert series in Düsseldorf, and that was the first time we played together. Now that's four years ago, I think. When we did these concerts we said "Let's do a record, and let's try something else". We needed about one-and-a-half years to get this thing on tape.

Did you have any idea how you wanted 'Stunden' to sound when you started working on it?
I had no idea which way it would work, so it was very surprising how it came out in the end. The rhythms came out really nice, because of what Stefan Schneider did to it. I'm more the abstract, melodic part of it.

                           Stefan Schneider and Roedelius. Photograph by Fabian Schulz

You've always done a lot of collaborations. Do you find yourself to be more productive in the company of strangers?
I think it gives a lot of new ideas, it enriches my own work and my own type of working. It's a challenge, especially to work with people who are almost half my age. It's a good challenge for me because I don't want to fall asleep whilst I'm still on Earth. I'm 77 now, and it's good refreshment, this well of youth. It's good to get together with young people and work with them. It's only young people I'm working with at the moment- the youngest is a girl from Pakistan. She's living in Croatia, and is a bass player and a computer specialist. She's 30. Onnen Bock, who I'm working with in Qluster is in his 40s... I think I'm only working with the younger generation! 


Your music has appealed to people for over 40 years, without you ever having to try, and without changing your sound. Why do you think this is?
When it's a collaboration, it's always about friendship. I think that's the main ingredient- my love to work with other people. Sharing the same values is basic, for being able to collaborate with people. With Moebius, it was 40 years we were working because we were good friends, but we stopped at a good time- because we ran out of ideas. Especially with the live stuff. It was like we were always doing the same thing. People appreciated it- and they loved it- and it didn't get boring, but I think it was a good idea that we split after the last work. It was a good swansong for a group that existed for 40 years.

So how important is playing live to you? Has the way that you present your music changed over the years?
After I found out that music is my thing to do, it was of great interest to me to work live. It's a different quality from studio work. Playing live in front of the public- who expect to be entertained- they can get into it, get something conscious from it, find themselves in it... find their own reality in it. 

                                              Cluster. Photographer unknown.

What inspired you to start making music?
I had a different approach, I was never bound by music theory. I always wanted to practice, I wanted to find out how I could express myself and my values in life, my being in life, musically. That was the main thing. Since the beginning I just wanted to express myself via music or via text, because I am writing as well, you know?

Of course.
So how would you describe your music to somebody?
It's more or less philosophy in sound, or a cinema in sound, what I'm doing. But I'm always telling people, "Don't look at it as if it was music, in the general meaning, it's something else". It's something else. It's like writing a diary. Every piece is a part of a diary of my life, and it's a joy to do it. It's the way I have to work- to express my respect of nature, of creation, of whatever you call it. To give back what I'm getting. It's a gift what I'm getting. If it comes, then I'm doing it. I don't go "Oh, now I have to do a piece of music that is ten minutes long, to express this", if it happens it happens, and then there's a piece. And then I have to find the right name for it, which is the second creative process, to explain what I am thinking of that piece to make it easier for people, perhaps. But a piece of art speaks for itself. If you listen to my music you don't need an explanation about why I did it or what for. If it's ready, it's something that has a certain value.

It's said that before the artist paints in the abstract, he must master fine art. What do you think?
I'm not sure. I'm not sure. I think it's up to the individual. People like me, who had a different profession before... I was a physiotherapist and masseur, so I got together for a long time- for about ten years- with many, many, many people and I touched a lot of bodies and listened to a lot of voices. That was a totally different way of approaching life and of approaching art, and that made a big difference. People who really want to study an instrument, and study music, it's a totally different method. I'm privileged to be able to express how I feel, and my existence, and so called 'reality', and I'm happy to do what I'm doing. Especially because I can really do what I want to do. There are many people who aren't able to do that, because they are not allowed, or they don't allow themselves.

                                             Cluster. Photographer unknown.

When you started making music, the technology you used was new. Now that pretty much everybody is able to make music at home on their computer, how do you think music has changed?
I really had to practice, to find out which sort of sound, which sort of tone, which sort of complex composition would fit my ears first so I could allow the piece to get out to other ears. It was not a problem that we couldn't use the machinery. We started with really simple stuff, and I think that's a good way to practice music. If you learn about noise, if you learn about tones and structures by just trying to find out if it fits your ears. Something different from learning an instrument or being able to read scores or write scores, which wasn't what we did when we were starting, and it isn't how I work now.
With technology, it's nice that it's easier to transport the microKORG (analogue modeling synthesizer), and to transport material to make noises, than it was in the past. It's good that it's easy to compose on a computer, but I'm not really doing it. I'm still very analogue in my mind, and analogue in my whole existence, so I just use what I'm able to. Little instruments. Presets in keyboards, and piano now of course, because my main interest is in piano sounds.

You don't compose on a computer at all?
With Stefan, we composed on a computer. He took everything we did here in my studio on to his computer, and he produced everything on his computer. He brought it to me and we listened to it together before we agreed to release it. When I'm playing my piano I put the digital recorder on, and I put it on digital tape, and if I like it afterwards I'll possibly put it on my computer. I have a very easy computer program, it's called 'Reaper'. I'm not even able to use a computer with eight, or ten, or even 24 tracks. I always have friends who can help me to do it! 


Stefan in this case.
Stefan in this case, and Onnen Bock in Qluster. These guys are really able to handle the material. Onnen Bock really is a genius in every field he works. I'm very happy to have him as a colleague in Qluster!

You've put out a tremendous amount of work in the 21st century. What's inspired you to be so busy over the last ten years?


I have to take care of a big family! I have three kids, and two grandchildren. I'm hoping I am taking care of the house. My wife is a teacher so she gets regular money. I'm promoting, and taking care of my career myself. It's not a long time ago that I got an agent, in Berlin, who takes care of my concerts. My day is full of work. I'm cooking for when my wife is coming home. It's all part of my art, because my life is not divided into an 'art part' and a 'living part', it's all together.

 
                                       Hans-Joachim Roedelius. Photograph by Camillo Roedelius.

Do your children, and your grandchildren, listen to the music you do?
My children love what I'm doing. All three, and my grandchildren- the oldest is 11 and he likes very much what I'm doing! He's sometimes in my studio, playing piano and trying to find out if he ought to want to be a musician. But that's not decided yet. He has to learn. He has to go to college. I think because I'm so in love with my art, everybody around me is infected by it!

Are you impressed by any modern music?
The only time I have to listen to music is when I'm driving my car for some distance, and I'm listening to the radio. But I'm not listening on purpose to modern compositions, I have no time. I have masses of CDs to listen to listen to but I can't do it because there is no time to do it.

With digital distribution and file-sharing, all music is now available to everybody. Is this the end of an era or the beginning of a new one?
It's very nice that every bit of music that's been done in the world is available online, so people can make a picture for themselves of what's going on in the world of music, or in the world of art. For me, online distribution is good because now it's feeding me! Just a few years ago it started that I get some money for my work. If my wife hadn't been there I would never have done such a lot of work, such a lot of recording. She allowed me to do it. Also, in Austria I'm privileged to get support from the state, and by many institutions, so if they wouldn't have helped me I wouldn't have done it. All gifts. When I came to Austria in '78 the institutions and people enabled me to work easily and freely, and with restriction. I could do what I wanted to do.


How did Harmonia come about? What was it like being in two groups at the same time?
Michael (Rother) came to us when Cluster had been five years on the road, and we settled down in the middle of Germany. I think he was a little bit bored with the work with Klaus Dinger in Neu!, so he tried to find a new situation, a new feel to work with, so he found us. Because we liked him and we liked his guitar playing we said "OK, let's try a second project beside Cluster". And it worked out.

Did he come to you wanting to join Cluster?
He came to join Cluster. I think the idea- which we didn't know about at the beginning- was to create a kind of 'supergroup'- Neu! and Cluster, under a different name, but it just didn't work out. So he stayed with us, and Dinger stayed in Düsseldorf and created La Düsseldorf instead of continuing working further with Michael Rother and Neu! So we tried to do a different thing with Harmonia, being influenced by Rother's guitar playing and by Rother's ideas about how to create music. We thought it could be a little bit more successful, because Cluster at that time was not very well known. It was well known, but not very successful money-wise. So we tried, and in the beginning it was fun to do it, but we couldn't really afford to rehearse the same piece of music every day, so we left it. It was not our aim to re-do the same stuff every time, all day long, so we left Harmonia after two albums. We had a last shot with Brian (Eno) when he came to our place to work with us. So we had three albums. The last one was 'Harmonia '76' with Brian. We did this when Harmonia had already split, but we still didn't get together anymore afterwards. This came out twenty years later, or so.
With Cluster we continued to work, and everybody did his solo stuff. There was a lot of solo stuff. I'm really glad that Bureau B is re-releasing so much. They're doing good, good work.


They're a fantastic label.
They're fantastic, and it's so noble. The quality of what they're doing is just perfect.

Do you think Brian Eno took a lot of your ideas when he went solo, or were these ideas that he already had?
Brian sent Cluster into the spotlight. He came because he loved what we did before, and he wanted to support us, in a way. And that's what he did with 'Cluster & Eno' and 'After The Heat'... It kept us alive for the next five years, the success of these two albums. Brian was more or less an ambassador for art, and he came to us to give us advice about how to work, and about how to get deeper into what we did. Not to be produced, just to do our thing. He still supports us in many ways. He wrote the foreword for the book, he wrote forewords for my new records, we've just been interviewed by him in London for a little festival in Austria. So he's still on our side because he's a big fan, and he's a good friend of ours.

Anything you think the readers of Bite My Wire should know?
Well, first of all, that Bureau B is doing splendid work. Not even just the re-releases, but all the new stuff they put on the market, like the 'Stunden' record. And they're taking care of the legacy of Conrad Schnitzler (contributor to Kluster and Kraftwerk who died in August). They're bringing out some music we did after the band split, and they're bringing out the first three Kluster records, which I'm very happy about. Please say hello to Brian Eno (laughs)! I've been invited to play Moogfest in Asheville at the end of October, in the states. I'm playing there as a soloist as with Tim Storey as party of the Lunzproject. So I'll see Brian there. Say hello to everybody in Britain. I hope I can come there again soon. I played a solo show at the Vortex Club in May and it was very nice. People liked it a lot.