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  • Born: Berlin, Germany
  • Years Active: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

From his early work with the pioneering Krautrock band Cluster to his later, more ambient solo recordings, Hans Joachim Roedelius remained one of the most innovative and prolific voices in contemporary electronic music. Born in Berlin in 1934, he drifted through a series of odd jobs before turning to music, later collaborating with conceptual artist Conrad Schnitzler in a series of experimental bands including Plus/Minus, Noises, and the Human Being. In 1968, Roedelius and Schnitzler were among the co-founders of the Zodiak Free Arts Lab, a group of avant-garde artists from a variety of creative disciplines that quickly became one of the driving forces of the Berlin underground scene; with Dieter Moebius, they formed Kluster in 1969, performing extended improvisational live dates throughout West Germany.

Cluster released their debut LP, Klopfzeichen, in 1970; in the wake of their third album, 1971's Kluster und Eruption, Schnitzler exited to pursue a solo career, and Roedelius and Moebius continued on as Cluster. Working with famed producer Konrad Plank, the duo began to move increasingly toward more structured soundscapes -- with 1974's Zuckerzeit, they even pursued an electronic pop sound similar in spirit to Kraftwerk. Roedelius and Moebius also teamed with Neu!'s Michael Rother in Harmonia, releasing a pair of mid-'70s LPs that caught the attention of Brian Eno, who in response collaborated with the trio on a legendary session (released much later as Harmonia 76), heralding a turn toward ambient textures (and influencing the sound of the 1976 Cluster album Sowiesoso). Roedelius and Moebius subsequently worked with Eno on 1977's Cluster and Eno and 1979's After the Heat as well.

In the interim, Roedelius made his solo debut with 1978's Durch die Wuste; after Cluster went on hiatus in the wake of 1981's Curiosum, he plunged fully into solo work, regularly releasing several new LPs each year. Although most of these projects pursued ambient paths -- the multi-chapter Selbstportrait series, 1981's Lustwandel, 1987's Momenti Felici, and 1992's Friendly Game all being good examples -- others like 1982's Offene Türen and 1992's Sinfonia Contempora I explored more dissonant electronic soundscapes. Additionally, Roedelius worked in a series of mediums including theater, dance, and film, collaborating with everyone from Holger Czukay to Peter Baumann; in 1990, he and Moebius also reunited for Apropos Cluster, and the duo continued working together throughout the decade to follow.