Roedelius: Wahre Liebe (Bureau B)

Electro pioneer creates a sequel to a 1979 LP using the same equipment to excellent effect

Released Apr 10th, 2020 via Bureau B / By Norman Miller
Roedelius: Wahre Liebe (Bureau B) German electronic maestro Hans-Joachim Roedelius has veteran legend status – a founding member of the influential Berlin Zodiak Free Arts Lab in 1967, and founder of bands including Harmonia. This new release, however, nods back to a 1979 album entitled Sanfte Musik that was originally released as part of an ongoing series dubbed Selbsportrait (Self-Portrait). And it's fair to say it was one of the key templates for the wonders of Kosmische musik and Krautrock.

Here, Roedelius takes up a challenge from Bureau B label founder Gunther Buskies to record a sequel to the 1979 album using the same instruments he used then: a Farfisa organ, drum machine, tape-delay and a Rhodes electric piano - to see whether, armed with vintage tools, he was “capable of 'beaming back' to his youthful years”.

So it's no surprise there's a pleasing old-school vibe – if he'd released this album in 1979 it would have sounded perfectly in keeping with its times. Which is no criticism as there's plenty of classic electronica outings in the dozen or so soundscapes here – most around 3-4 minutes, with just the closing Aus weiter ferne clocking in at nearly fifteen.

While channelling a period vibe, each track is distinctive enough to keep the attention. The opener Spiel im Wind serves up delicate trippy glock-like electronics, which contrast well with the title track that follows, whose jazzy vibe could be a Teutonic take on Pat Metheny.

The loose harmonic swing of Mitgewalzert is offset by contrasting notes like pendulums of electronic sound over an organ backdrop in arguably the album's best track – rivalled by the gorgeous folktronica lilt of Ebenfalls.

Winterlicht stands out too, reflectively reaching through simple melodic sequences like a cross between Vangelis and Susumu Yokota. Gerne oozes quietly surging hypnotic charm, while Gleichklang scores with bell-like chiming patterns over a slow organ backdrop.

While the general mood of calm reflection is a balm in these troubled times, Aus weiter ferne closes proceedings with an opening ten minutes of quiet menace like an eerie organ recital pierced by solitary high notes and echoing slow tempo chords. But it too gradually reaches towards calm in the final minutes. Welcome sounds for unsettled days. 8/10