Take a 70-year-old German described recently in The Times as “the neglected pioneer of German electronica” and an American Grammy-nominated film composer and you may be surprised to learn that you will arrive at something quite beautiful. Hans-Joachim Roedelius, most widely known for his work in early 70s Krautrock bands Kluster and Harmonia, has got together with pianist Tim Story to make an album under the name of Lunz.
The album, which was originally released in 2003, is the soundtrack to a daydream and is now being re-issued with a bonus disc of remixes from artists including Elbow, Adem and Half Cousin. The results are stunning, offering two contrasting albums despite the fact that the songs on both are the same.
The original album begins with the title track, which flows like a tranquil stream with its delicate piano and cello. Second track, Clue, offers more of the same and, despite some repetitive piano melodies, you never tire of their beauty, rather like some of Brian Eno‘s early ambient works. If ever there was music made to relax to this was it.
Perhaps this album should be piped into the waiting rooms at hospitals and doctors surgeries around the country as its soothing effect is undeniable, particularly on the dreamy Uferlose Sea and Murmuring Mermaids.The atmospheric electronica of Under Mars We Were reminds of Boards Of Canada or Tangerine Dream, conjuring imagery of a friendly space ship which has come down and is hovering over that tranquil lake of the previous two songs. However, the suspense-filled Dew Climbs then makes you wonder if the little green men have come in peace after all.
Central to the album is Story’s piano, however Roedelius’ electronica influences are felt too, with Akimbo being the most modern sounding and cluttered song on the album. Its modern sound is emphasized even more by the archaic Cloud Pull which follows it – a classical style song which sounds like the soundtrack to a period drama set in the 19th century.
However, if contrasts are what you are looking for just wait until you put disc two into your CD player. The serenity of the original album is blown out of the water by the remix album which immediately wakes you from your reverie with the very punchy breakbeat of Alias‘ interpretation of Clue. A pleasant surprise on the Astrid Kane remix of Akimbo comes in the form of a guest appearance from Lloyd Cole, who offers some whispered lyrics which don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense but work very well.
The best thing about this bonus CD is the fact that no two songs sound the same, as it skips from the 80s feel of Faultline to the euphoric electronica of Ulrich Schnauss, the choral female vocal of Alquimia and the dance-fuelled Millenia Nova remix of the wonderfully named Carnickel and Pocketboat.
Elbow pop up after appearing on another remix album: Long-view‘s Subversions, but they shouldn’t have bothered. Their very psychedelic take on Wobbly Flu Twilight is more likely to give you nightmares than the sweet dreams the original would have induced.
The crown of worst track on the album however goes to Icarus. Just like the Greek myth, the song crashes into the sea after a collage of sound like someone fumbling in a cluttered cupboard, knocking pots and pans over. If you listen to it all of the way through I applaud your patience.
From the ridiculous though, most of the album is sublime and the highlights come courtesy of the aforementioned Adem and Half Cousin. Adem’s reworking of Lunz could almost be Coldplay and the lyrics “this must be love” sum up the beauty of the original. Meanwhile, Half Cousin have also added lyrics onto the originally instrumental Dew Climbs. The duo from the Orkneys impart some rambling Scottish speech onto the track, reminiscent of Arab Strap. It is totally indecipherable but it really doesn’t matter, together with the dreamy-voiced Kevin Cormack’s singing on a great new melody, the mix is the jewel in a sparkly crown.