Lunz are Hans-Joachim Roedelius, member of seminal experimental
krautrockers, Cluster, and Ohio-based, Grammy award nominated
composer, Tim Story. Both completely self-taught, they create
rich, piano-led ambience that gently stirs and inspires
with its warmth and melancholy edge. This year's 'Reinterpretations'
saw their eponymously titled album re-released alongside remixes from artists
as diverse as Adem, Elbow, Half Cousin, Lloyd Cole and Ulrich
Schnauss and they have performed across Europe at a string
of festivals this summer. SoundsXP caught up with them both
across the continents to talk about inspiration, friendship
and the intimate relationship between life and music.
How are you?
Same here, it's been a good summer.
How did you come to work together?
It was our music that made us friends immediately from the
beginning, but also how our families and friends understand
and live their lives, so somehow it was "preprepared"
that we had to collaborate one day.
I discovered Joachim's music - and that of his duo, Cluster
- back in the 70's. As a friend of ours Russ Curry brilliantly
put it, his music "was like some heavenly music except
the primary instrument appeared to be a coffee percolator."
So when I travelled to Europe in '83, I made a point to
make a swing through Austria to meet Joachim. Since then,
we've been great friends, and had often talked about doing
a collaboration. In '96 Cluster came for their first US
tour, and I spent some time with Joachim here. He came back
several times over the next few years, and we did a concert
together in Philadelphia. We started recording together
during that time - first with the very improvisational,
sound-collagey 'Persistence of Memory' and then with our
latest 'Lunz', which I'm especially happy with.
How would you describe your music to the uninitiated?
Nice, warm, rich, complex and simple at once, narrative,
I couldn't improve on that, but I might add a sprinkle of
mystery, atmosphere, and idiosyncracy...
Who or what inspires you musically?
Yes, I think we're both too old to be emulating any other
composers at this point! But I think Joachim and I share
a similar aesthetic, and more importantly, a similar outlook
and appreciation of life and music...
It must be hard handing your work over to someone else to
approach from their own perspective. Are you pleased with
the results of the 'Reinterpretations' project and which
remixes stand out most for you?
Yes, I'm pleased, but my favorite track is almost every
time another when I listen to the reinterpretations. (which
I now can't do so very often, because of all my work / preoccupations,
Stylistically, the results of the 'reinterpretations' couldn't
be more varied, which I think is a real strength. I was
especially happy that the label put no demands on the remixers,
so they pretty much were able to take the tracks and run.
Like Achim, my favorites change with time, but I like the
aggressive Millenia Nova mix, the vocal takes by Adem and
Half Cousin, and the heavy but atmospheric Arkham version
of "Under Mars We Were".
Your music is highly emotive. What feeling do you hope to
create within people when they listen to it?
As I said before, my music grows in life itself and not
in tradition, academic experience, therefore (I guess) this
music's "life-ingredient" corresponds well with
the experience of the open-minded listener. There is no
purpose at all with which I would/could try to create a
feeling in any listener. Almost every composition I did
in my career is "unique", expresses a certain
mood, is "a tone-photo of a certain life-situation"
I have a similar approach to music, trying to fill it with
some of the 'honesty' of life as it really is, with both
the light and the dark, the epic and the casual. But I never
make 'programmatic' music, music that's intended to illustrate
a certain place or time. I like to leave the music open-ended,
to encourage the listener to inject his or her own experience
into the 'mix'. Life is ambiguous, and I like music that
has the power to transform itself depending on a listener's
own experience. I like art that insinuates instead of shouts.
You've been busy performing live this summer, what has been
your most memorable experience?
Joachim: Meeting up with the people in
Albania who invited us for a concert in June in Tirana,
and a visit to the beautiful southpart of Albania; an improvisation
with two people / musicians with whom I'd never worked before,
(coram publico during our little festival in Lunz, Austria
in August). We improvised on some Lunzmaterial (piano-lines).
But of course the Big-Chill concert in the UK, and the scenery/atmosphere
around it which was very impressive as well.
I loved Albania as well, we met a lot of very special people,
and performing on the 'lake stage' of Lunz is always lovely.
I got in a little trout fishing in Austria, too, which was
great fun in such beautiful surroundings. And the Big Chill
had a very special vibe, both as performer and later, as
What are your plans for the future?
Doing what I'm doing all the time: working, taking care
of projects, corresponding with people all over the globe.
The next concert with Tim will happen in Pristina in Kosovo
in November and I'm preparing myself for a lecture-tour
in Hungary (University of Budapest) in October - a collaboration
with scientists who work on the field of existence-analysis,
Joachim and I are beginning work on a new project, and I
always look forward to performing with him - after Kosovo,
we may play in Madrid in February. I've just finished a
collaboration with composer Dwight Ashley called 'Standing
and Falling', and am looking forward to beginning work on
a new solo project as well.
thanks to both Tim and Joachim for their time and energy.
Ian Roullier, 09/2005