Hans Joachim Rodelius & Tim Story - Lunz Reinterpretations

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Unlike the new Pope he has worked in a Corsican nudist camp, knocked about with Joseph Beuys and looked after the Baader-Meinhof's children whilst they planned their next attack.


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Rodelius is, of course, a hero. Rather like the new Pope he is a Catholic who was conscripted into the Hitler Youth at an early age. Unlike the new Pope he has worked in a Corsican nudist camp, knocked about with Joseph Beuys and looked after the Baader-Meinhof's children whilst they planned their next attack. He has also been involved in the making of about 80 albums since 1970, including the seminal ones he made as one half of Cluster and as one third of Harmonia.


 


Lunz was originally released a couple of years ago but it has recently been re-released with a second album of reinterpretations tacked on. The original album has been compared to Debussy and I think I know what they mean. The songs are basically wistful piano pieces that are happy to wander along without any sense of being 'resolved'. The songs don't go anywhere – they are waves lapping up against the shore as opposed to river-water racing downstream. Underpinning the piano are some (mostly) subtle electronics and, occasionally, a cello. In truth I'm not sure what the electronics bring to the music and on a couple of occasions they seem to tilt it in a dangerously new-age direction. However, getting back to what the album sounds like I'd be more inclined to reference Harold Budd than Debussy, if such a thing is considered to be important.


 


It would be easy to sit and listen to Lunz and think: 'This is pleasant'. And the music is in one sense pleasant. But the listener would be missing out on a great deal if that were the limit of his or her appreciation. Beneath the surface simplicity of these songs is an emotional depth that can be explored if the listener wants to. Murmuring Mermaids seems to me to suggest regret (at something not said) and Cloud Pull is similarly mournful. Other songs convey feelings and fears – Under Mars We Were is disturbing in a Lynchian way whilst Carnickel and Pocketboat appears slightly sinister. Some of the songs convey places – Wobbly Fly Twilight conjures up the image of walking through a strange, large house in the dark. Clue, the track most hampered by the background interventions, presents a pastoral image whilst Uferlose Sea simply suggests the play of light on crystal. Different listeners, of course, will feel and imagine different things, but the overall effect is that of mood music, which is a very different thing to background music.


 


The disc of reinterpretations is specifically not a remix album and the tracks that work best are those where the interpreter takes the original and makes it his or her own. Oddly enough it is the weakest track that kicks off the cd. Alias just stuff a drum track over Clue. Having said that, Icarus' version of Murmuring Mermaids utilises the old Aphex Twin tactic of handing over something that bears no relationship to the original track whatsoever. They hand in something that sounds like a cutlery drawer being tipped out over piano strings. Maybe they were given this job at the same time as they were given something to do for a John Cage tribute album and got the two mixed up. The main highlights come with Adem's and Ulrich Schnauss' take on Lunz. Both take the song and make it completely their own. Adem's version of Lunz would have fitted perfectly on his last album and would also have been the best thing on it. I can only hope that he is as happy as his lyrics would seem to suggest. Ulrich Schnauss has Rodelius' ability to extract emotion from electronica (and I would advise anyone to snap up his albums if you don't have them). His version of Lunz is sleek and muscular, but it also shimmers and glistens and shows Schnauss to be the complete master of the sound that he has created for himself. Other highlights include the Half Cousin reworking of Dew Climbs (they add a narcoleptic brass band and some random Scottish nattering) and Millenia Nova's hijacking of Carnickel and Pocketboat (they rock out).


 


Lunz won't change your world in any significant way but it will bring a bit of subtlety and quality into it, and that's not a bad thing in this day and age, is it?