The pioneer of the electronic genre who sculpted it from its primordial beginnings in his German Krautrock group, Cluster, alongside Dieter Moebius, Conny Plank and Brian Eno, has a wealth of collaborative work amongst his solo projects. In 2012, he met fellow German ambient-classical musician, Arnold Kasar, whom he invited to his festival to play. The two hit it off immediately and their partnership culminated in the release of a studio album in 2017 entitled ‘Einfluss’, meaning ‘Influence’ in German. For a very rare live performance they came to play together in the UK – the maestro now approaching his 90th year – side-by side in purely improvisational spirit. Without knowing much of what they were about to perform, I had a quick chat with them before their set about how they met and their unique working partnership.


What are you doing tonight? Could you talk to me more about the improvisations and also how long you’ve been working together?

Kasar: I don’t know what we’re playing tonight. We’re improvising: I listen to him and he listens to me and it doesn’t matter what equipment we have. There’s only one or two [recorded] songs – ‘Rolling’ from an album; it’s a tune that Joachim brought into the production and also maybe we’ll make another song.

Roedelius: We play something totally different.

Kasar: Every concert is unique and we are not able and we don’t even want to recall something that we have recorded because we have recorded it by full improvising and if we were able to recall, exercise and rehearse it would never be the same.

[‘Rolling’] is the first song from his album ‘Einfluss’. This is our first album that we did in 2017. We’ve known each other since 2012 when we started to collaborate; we had some very small concerts before but the first serious concert was in 2017. That was the year when our first album was recorded and released.

How did you meet originally?

Roedelius: Disco dancing!

Kasar: Maybe he can still dance [laughs]. I was invited by him and his wife Christina to his festival to perform.

Roedelius: We invited him to join our festival and since then we became closer and closer until we worked on the first record. How long has it been?

Kasar: 12 years.

Roedelius: 12 years? That’s a good time.

Arnold, you followed Joachim’s career?

Kasar: I was introduced to him before through a common friend of mine. I came across his music – his new music and also his old music. His new music touched me really deeply in an album named ‘Ex Animo’ and also an album called ‘Luna’, which he made with Tim Story, [which] is really one of my favourite albums. We came together and he liked my music too.

When we play I have the feeling that there is not only me and Joachim, there’s also something more diligent…

You are usually playing on the piano and not keyboards as you are tonight?

Roedelius: If possible, we play on real pianos because we are such sensitive piano players, he as well as me; we have to play on electronic keyboards because it’s not possible to hire a big piano – to costs a fortune! But in our festival in Austria, I get support from PianoFabriek [who] gave it to me for less money.

Can you talk about the different styles of music and how they work together? How you two gel together and synchronise the electronic side together with the classical, more ambient sound.

Roedelius: We are synchronised by friendship. It’s the basic stuff – everything else works by itself somehow. Electronically generated sounds work with very different cycles. Psycho-acoustically it’s so different; we’re singing chords and more at leisure.

Kasar: I guess the most common difference is that I’m a so-called ‘classically trained’ musician. I know the chords and systems. And [Joachim] can say that he doesn’t know much about this and I have to believe it. Because he showed me another way: we work completely differently. He just catches things very differently. And the thing is, when I work with other musicians, I sometimes try to deconstruct what they are doing. When I play with him, I don’t want to know what he is playing before because then it’s not a secret for me. I really only want to listen to what comes in the moment and then I like to react and this is a thing that I learned very much during our collaboration. I was improvising with artists before as well, but not so deeply in harmony with another artist.

Roedelius: To change one artist to the other artist’s state. Now you’re more accomplished. Another way that you have abilities.

Kasar: Absolutely. Absolutely. I learned it. And for me the music that we two are producing together is music that I’m sure I cannot do on my own and it’s music that I only can do with him. When we play I have the feeling that there is not only me and Joachim, there’s also something more diligent…

Roedelius: …that tells us to do, to work, to create and we don’t want to know why and we don’t want to know who it is.

Kasar: And it’s out of every other structure that you can find, jazz or whatever. It’s just his music and my music.

How do you guys work in the studio together? You said you don’t want to hear what Joachim is doing. So do you do that separately? How does it work, the recording process and mixing the album?

Kasar: I went to his studio in Austria and I prepared my electronic stuff, but no sketches. Just went with my synthesisers. He sat on the piano and took his songs and then we recorded on multi-track two days, not more…two or three days. And that’s it.

It’s not about copying or pasting: it’s just looking what went good and what not and then the beginning and end. [‘Rolling’] was a track and the only thing I added was I changed the sound a little bit in the frequencies to make it more listenable.

Photos © Anna Marchesani/Nocturna Photography.

© Ayisha Khan.


In tribute to the late Killing Joke guitarist Geordie Walker and in conversation with Shane Embury (Napalm Death), Jaz Coleman remembered the band’s last live show together at the Royal Albert Hall just over a year ago marking their 40th anniversary. Coleman spoke about Walker’s harmonic abilities to create “chord formations that no one could dream of from another planet” and “make one guitar, through resonance, sound like three guitars”, relating personal stories of someone he considered closer than his own brother before he took questions from the audience.

29/03/24: Jaz Coleman @ Bush Hall, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.