Hans-Joachim Roedelius is a certified legend of the early electronic scene, and his newest record is a distinctly retro offering. Using the old equipment from his ’70s and ’80s Selbstportrait releases, he creates a series of pieces that work more as scenes or impressionistic images than as fully-fledged songs.
Each track introduces a sound, a tone, a motif, a concept, then remains remarkably static for its duration. The title track features languid, thoughtful Rhodes chords, echoing into the distance with the use of vintage tape delay. Im Kreisel paints a spooky picture with chromatic motifs and an uneasy waltz feel, while Gleichklang’s note clusters are practically hymnal in their grandiosity.
Wahre Liebe’s final track is a rare instance where structural progression is key, as the 15-minute-long Aus Weiter Ferne transforms a lingering dissonance into a major chord while maintaining a woozy freetime throughout. Gerne is the album’s most repetitive track, a vaguely mixolydian sequence that goes round and round without ever resolving, though its droning soundbed is pretty enough to see it through.
Forty years on, some of the sounds of this record now feel charmingly quaint, such as the ticking, bassless drum machine loop on Geruhsam, coupled with a fat-fingered organ vamp that feels more than a bit goofy. Similarly, the overlapping melodies and arpeggaic underbelly of Ebenfalls brings to mind a time when The Who were channelling Terry Riley and progressive rock was the future.
The album’s biggest drawback is a sense of aimlessness that infects longer songs, as the musical vignettes outstay their welcome and the sequences congeal. A more brisk runtime and shorter tracks – as on 1981’s Lustwandel, for example – could have elevated the record to greatness, but as it is Wahre Liebe is a diverting collection that showcases Roedelius’ sonic prowess well.