I´d like to take you on a little journey through a musical universe of German music that had a big impact on me. In the nineties I listened to a lot of electronic music, but I wasn’t actually into techno.
That changed when I discovered the music of Gas, Monolake and the Chain Reaction label, who produced a totally deep and dark pulsating music that had massive space in it. It just hypnotized me straight away..
So, let´s start with Gas, who – like everyone knows – is Wolfgang Voigt, one of the legendary and most important figures in German techno, still very creative under diverse artist-names.
With Gas he created a wonderful dark romantic ambient music from samples of classical music and weaved it together like nobody has done before. And still until today I find it is not just a blueprint, but some of the most wonderful and beautiful electronic music I´ve ever heard.
He visualized it with photos and videos from a german forest, which gives the whole a totally German romantic feel, which appeals to me totally. In 2017 Wolfgang Voigt presented a new album after nearly 20 years of silence, which is called Narkopop. Narkopop 10 is a great opener for my set, here visualized by the famous the29nov films.
Rhythm & Sound – Aerial
The Chain Reaction label brought that kind of dark ambient techno to the people. The label was run by Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, who stood also behind projects such as Basic Channel, Maurizio and Rhythm & Sound.
The music presented allowed the space, the dub, the echoes to come in and I love space – did I mention that before? ;)
And while many guys were jumping on the train of dub techno, these guys just went on to present an even more-stripped down version of their sound universe – more oriented to Jamaica.
I remember when I heard it the first time in a bar next to my house. It was an exciting moment of a new discovery for me. I had to get that music immediately. Of course I love Dub music and Rhythm & Sound sounded like the a modernized version of it, contemporary Dub.
Rhythm & Sound - Aerial
Burnt Friedman – Uzu
In the nineties I stumbled over a few tracks from the artist Drome and Nonplace Urban Field.
That stuff was not only hypnotic or psychedelic, but also rhythmically complex. Nonplace Urban Field was more a minimal and deep melange of drum & bass, dub and electronica/IDM with an highly esthetic factor. The man responsible for that is Burnt Friedman – most-respected from me as he is as skilled as a musician/persussionist as he is as a producer.
I follow him for about 20 years now and just buy every record he puts out on his Nonplace label. Burnt Friedman is an important source for me when it comes to rhythms and production, each track is a lesson! His track Uzu has some Asian and Dub inside.
Burnt Friedman - Uzu.wmv
Jan Jelinek – Rock In The Video Age
Another big hero of mine is Jan Jelinek. His album Loop-Finding Jazz-Records is maybe the best ever released deep minimal techno ever. This album and all what Jan released under his moniker Farben the years before had a big influence on me. It´s just so organic and how samples are put together is just amazing. That brought in a different perspective on minimal techno.
Nachtwache – 15 September
Ever heard of the Kammerflimmer Kollektief? I came across the band in the late nineties, when they just started and since then I became a huge follower.
Since then I tell everybody about them, but outside of Germany they seem to be pretty unknown or at least in the scene for deep techno music.
Kammerflimmer Kollektief don´t play techno at all, but there is something very tempting about them, how sensible they play and how they form time into music, which is important to me. I don´t need to mention anymore, that their sound is also highly unique and aesthetic as I am a sound guy, I can get mad about great sound design.
I don´t know what genre they play actually. It´s kind of a very atmospheric Jazz. There name is hard to translate: Kammerflimmern translates to ventricular fibrillation and Kollektief is a word put together from Kollektiv and tief, which means low. Get it?!
Nachtwache, 15 September - Kammerflimmer Kollektief
Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto: “Moon”
Around the year 2000 the German label Mille Plateau put out a compilation entitled Clicks & Cuts creating so a little subgenre at the interception of glitch music, click music, deep and minimal techno and such.
It compiled some innovative producers pretty well-known in their field: SND, Frank Bretschneider, Vladislav Delay, Pansonic, Kit Clayton, Jake Mandell, Brinkmann, Sutekh, Farben and yes, also Alva Noto, who is besides Jan Jelinek and Burnt Friedman the third in the tryptych of producers, who were my main sources for starting my own Clikno thing.
Carsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto recorded some albums together with the legendary japanese composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto on piano. That crossover project with an acoustic grand piano and an extremely hermetic electronic sound is the best and most consistent attempt between classical and electronic music I´ve ever heard.
Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto: "Moon" (2005)
Günter Schickert – Wald
I would like to lead you back to some roots of German techno music now. Since my youth I liked the music of Günter Schickert – still pretty unknown, I know – which is made just with a guitar and an echo-unit, probably a tape machine as digital echo-devices were not existing at that time. The hammering pulses and ambient layers in his compositions and how he creates tension and release with that is unmatched.
You may have heard similar stuff only from Manuel Göttsching on his album ‘Inventions for Electric Guitar’ some years earlier.
Schickert plays it in a way that was absolutely unusual and which made it for me just being so wow. His track Wald (forest) is a pretty long one and refers in my little playlist here to the first track from Gas, who created decades later an even so romantic and mystical vision of the German forest with different technology.
Günter Schickert – Wald
Cluster – Sowiesoso
Another deeply romantic and minimal music was made by Cluster in the line-up of Roedelius and Moebius. In the seventies they moved away from Berlin and lived in the countryside in a village called Forst, so here you can find another reference to the German forest.
Their music sounded pretty electronic back in the days, but mainly their music was recorded on piano, fender rhodes, home organs, early rhythm boxes and delays and effects, all played by hand, and with the help of the German visionary sound engineer Conny Planck. Cluster just formed an early vision of a minimal sound. They are big heroes for me. My favorite track Sowiesoso is taken from the same-titled album.
Cluster - Sowiesoso
NEU! – Hallogallo
Another highly influential German band from the seventies was and is still NEU. As most of the really exciting and innovative music in Germany at that time it was recorded by Conny Planck. NEU actually brought music down to one rhythm and one chord and jammed over it. NEU was the Dinger brothers, who lateron formed La Düsseldorf, and guitar hero Michael Rother, also known today for his ingenious collaboration with Cluster under the Harmonia moniker. The track Hallogallo excites me with its steady rhythm, the pulse in it and all the guitar work. Many melodies are backwards, which means back then you had to record the melody forward and play the tape then backwards, which means you had to compose the melody backwards.
NEU! - Hallogallo
Richard Wahnfried – Time Actor
And to finish my round I think Time Actor from Richard Wahnfried will do. Richard Wahnfried is an alter ego of famous German ambient and cosmic music legend Klaus Schulze and what he formed here in 1979 together with Arther Brown on guest vocals can be described as one of the earliest forms of techno, but just very slow. I love it.