Ambient canal basin

Martin Longley drifted through the dappled waters of Roedelius, one of Germany’s ambient electronic pioneers.

Hans-Joachim Roedelius
The Tin

Hans-Joachim RoedeliusThis Saturday night show was the climax of the Synthcurious organisation’s full day of modular synthesiser jamming/gossipping, which also included an afternoon Krautrock documentary screening. Pye Corner Audio opened up the evening gig, a one-man operation for Martin Jenkins, who’s been active in this guise since 2010. His electronic palette reflects environmental calm and uppity techno in equal measure, although the manifestation of the latter is decelerated and neutered, present more in a textured way. The sound of broadly chorusing sonics can cause problems for those who prefer sounds of a more clipped, stark, blipped or blobular nature. PCA is hung up on a 1980s bloat-spreading of chords.

It’s difficult to believe that Hans-Joachim Roedelius is now aged 81. At least in the subtle lighting of The Tin’s interior, he seems much younger, as he leans over his laptop, pondering the next sonic move. His appearances in the UK are relatively rare, and Roedelius may never have played in Coventry before.

Back in the 1970s, he was part of Cluster (with Dieter Moebius) and Harmonia (with Moebius and Neu’s Michael Rother), also working regularly with Brian Eno. Tonight, he’s joined by Christopher Chaplin, the pair having being collaborators for the last five years. Chaplin is often jarringly high in the mix, at least during the first stretch of the set. This is also because he’s responsible for most of the punctuating harshness, even if his occasional forceful eruptions are heavily rationed.

These fleeting bursts emerge from a placid lake of Roedelius contemplation. Hans-Joachim is much less intent than usual on playing piano sounds, spending most of his time burrowing into laptop files and triggering organic washes with his smaller key-set. The duo build an inner space that invites the full crowd to stand transfixed, mulling over the glacial drift of the music, pieces that sound like an ongoing suite, dedicated to making the next hour into a common flow of meditational unfurlng.

Toasting the audience with his glass of red wine, Roedelius is tempted into an encore, returning alone at the piano-keyboard, to offer a lullaby. As it progresses, he chances upon the delicate melody of Eno’s By The River, from 1977’s Before And After Science. A beautiful conclusion to a masterful séance of a set…

Pic: Graham Tilley