Hans-Joachim Roedelius has been at the front of experimental collaborative music since 1968. His appearance in Asheville, curated by visual artist Jason Scott Fur signaled a precursor to Brian Eno‘s arrival here at MoogFest. Eno and Roedelius have jammed together leading several waves of experimental electronica and interactive dance experiences. Roedelius is considered the founder of German electronica and experimental music and his penchant for collaboration has an inspiring analog for the global democracy movement.
Listening to a selection of Hans-Joachim’s music from over 100 albums presents its own history of ad–hoc group performance art. Decades of Roedelius’ improvisation and “out-of-the-box” compositions have created their own musicological strata in layered sediment of spectacular sounds with artists from around the world. Sometimes his live performances are unrehearsed and musicians who have only heard of each other by reputation and a few exchanged emails show-up on stage together to perform at “the zero point” – essentially starting from scratch in the crafting of a new soundscape. There is an important lesson here to be learned here for our society.
Faced with the deafening impotence of the electoral process, we are all being challenged with creating a new symphony for democracy based on the difficult process of collaboration. While the musical style of Hans-Joachim Roedelius features electronica roots, ambient soundscapes, downtempo, jazz and rock influences – his process engages the group. Together they co-develop a melding of melodies and beats – stretching our minds towards the novel, strange and wonderful.
Isn’t time we all stepped on stage and made art of our societal structure? For Roedelius fans, it certainly has never been boring. Part of the excitement of his live performances is that its a “happening” not so much a pre-packaged rendition of expected comfortable music. Hans-Joachim inspires us to think about art and society. Artists are charged by almost mythic mission to help us cope with a world of unending beauty and mindless stupidity. Their masterpieces are not just a panacea but an example of the discipline of process in the creation of beauty or commentary about our stupid existence. Roedelius has been courageous enough to push to boundaries of “acceptability” and delight in the exploration of musical frontiers and group dynamics. His example shows us that we don’t have to accept the status quo of commercial sounds. What was avant guard yesterday is main stream today. As we listen to the speeches of housewives, seniors, students, veterans and the displaced from the city centers of rebellion – we hear the speech of democratic dissent. Is it not a new conversation to advocate for justice or modernization of societal systems. But the fact that its happening in thousands of places around the world simultaneously is – at least since the turn of the 18th century. This new melody of free speech, improvisational democracy and experimental protest will form is own strata. Just like Roedelius’ music, we are Occupying the Frame. We are recontextualizing the beat of the commercialized world into something that is sympathetic to the needs of the The People. Will we be able to harmonize our voices? Will our experiment be delivered-up as the status quo after we invent a new way? Check out Hans–Joachims’ music and realize that much of what we listen to today was invented by someone who lived on the fringes of fame…just like you.