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Hans-Joachim Roedelius (born 26 October 1934) is a German experimental, ambient and electronic musician and composer. He is best known as a co-founder of the krautrock groups Cluster and Harmonia and for his work in the ambient jazz trio Aquarello.

Hans-Joachim Roedelius
Hans-Joachim Roedelius in 2007
Background information
Born (1934-10-26) 26 October 1934 (age 84)
OriginBerlin, Germany
GenresAvant-garde, krautrock, industrial, electronic, synthpop, ambient, experimental, new-age, German rock
Occupation(s)Musician, producer
InstrumentsSynthesizer, keyboards, piano, guitar
Years active1968 – present
Sky Records
Egg Records
Barclay Records
Editions E'G
All Saints
Curious Music
Captain Trip Records, Grönland Records
Nepenthe Music
Fabrique Records
Psychonavigation Records, Transparency Record
Associated actsCluster
Human Being



Early lifeEdit

Roedelius was born on 26 October 1934 in Berlin, Germany.[1] As a child he acted in UFA films such as "Verklungene Melodie" (Dead Melody, 1938), "Es leuchten die Sterne" etc..[citation needed] He was an unwilling member of the German Youngsters in the Hitler Youth, membership being mandatory for all boys from the age of ten. In the 1960s, he worked as a physical therapist and masseuse.[2]

Kluster, Cluster and HarmoniaEdit

In 1968 Roedelius co-founded the music commune known as "Human Being" and co-formed Zodiak Free Arts Lab, the center of Berlin's Underground Culture at the time, with conceptual artist Conrad Schnitzler. He met Dieter Moebius at the Zodiak. In 1969 Roedelius, Schnitzler and Moebius formed Kluster. In 1971 Schnitzler left the group to start a long-running solo career and Moebius and Roedelius anglicised the band's name to Cluster. At first Cluster worked along the same lines as their parent group, signed first to Philips then to Brain.

In 1973 Roedelius and Moebius worked with Neu! guitarist Michael Rother for the first time. Rother helped to co-produce their third album, Zuckerzeit, providing his recording machinery. This album moved the band's style further from avant-garde 'noise' to a more melodic music, similar to modern-day trance. Roedelius, Moebius and Rother toured Germany and the Low Countries as a trio from early 1973 and decided to record an album together under the name of Harmonia. Musik Von Harmonia was released on the back of a huge publicity campaign by Brain. Harmonia released one further album initially, 1975's Deluxe. British musician Brian Eno, a fan of both Cluster and Harmonia, joined them for several jams, the result of which was released in 1997 as Tracks & Traces. Rother left Harmonia to pursue his solo career and Cluster returned to the studio to record Sowiesoso which was released on Sky Records. Brian Eno, who had returned to Germany to work with David Bowie, worked on two albums with Cluster: 1977's Cluster & Eno and 1978's After the Heat, the latter of which gained the band much attention in the British music press. A further Cluster album produced by former Tangerine Dream member Peter Baumann Großes Wasser extended Cluster's music into long form.

Solo careerEdit

Roedelius' solo career began with Durch die Wüste in 1978 and then Jardin Au Fou in 1979. This album laid down Roedelius' future style: melodic piano and (often faked) acoustic instruments played with a sharp tinge of electronics. The first of the lengthy Selbstportrait series was released in 1979, being material done beside his work with Cluster and Harmonia, without the input of his collaborators. Recorded on only two tracks, the Selbstportraits make up the backbone of Roedelius' early solo recordings. Leaving Sky in 1982, his work took a more new-age style as he signed to Virgin's Venture sub-label. During this period, his best selling solo album Geschenk des Augenblicks – Gift of the Moment was released.

He was dropped by Venture in 1989 and began releasing on a variety of small labels, notably Multimood and Prudence. He began to venture into the newly emerging genre of techno, starting with 1991's Der Ohrenspiegel, whose 25-minute opener, Reflectorum displays some of the characteristics of the later Sinfonia Contempora series. By 1994 Roedelius' style was a heady mix of amateur electronics and ambient jazz. An album from this year; Theatreworks, was rewarded with the title "album of the month" by experimental music magazine The Wire. Arguably the biggest turning point in Roedelius' career came in 1994 as well. The release of Sinfonia Contempora No. 1: Von Zeit zu Zeit marked, in Roedelius' own words, "Since the beginning of my career nothing was more important to me than to find my own musical language. I have, so I believe, eventually found it." The album consists of mismatched tape fragments (from numerous jams ranging from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties) multitracked over the top of each other to create a disjointed but oddly musical sound.

Sinfonia Contempora No. 2: La Nordica (Salz Des Nordens) was released in 1996, making for a much more sinister and mysterious sound than its predecessor. Also released in this period was Selbstportrait VI: The Diary of the Unforgotten, the first of the modern Selbstportraits. Now, rather than merely remastering the seventies tapes, Roedelius also played over them, the sound montage Homage á Forst samples many Harmonia and Cluster tracks into the mix.

Reformation of ClusterEdit

In the meantime, Cluster had reformed. 1990's Apropos Cluster was an update for the band, being a work of avant-techno not dissimilar in style to Großes Wasser. In 1996 Cluster embarked on two international tours, one of Japan and one of America. Both tours would be summarised on the following years live albums. The new sound of Cluster learns from the Sinfonia Contempora sound whilst adding Moebius' distinctive sound.

21st century: solo work and collaborationsEdit

The turn of the century was Roedelius' most productive year, with no fewer than eight albums being released between 2000 and 2001. Reprising the Selbstportrait series for the seventh time in 2000, Roedelius composed entirely new tracks for the first time on Selfportrait VII: dem Wind voran – ahead of the wind. The new millennium also saw Roedelius begin to work with other, usually younger, musicians than he had done since the late eighties.

Another series is Lieder vom Steinfeld. Begun in 1995, Roedelius recites poems over these pieces, primarily in his native German language. In 2001 Roedelius worked with Conrad Schnitzler again for the first time since 1971. The record "Acon I"has been released in Japan by "Capt.Trip-Records .

Roedelius had been growing substantially in fame since Cluster began touring again in 1996. He is often cited by electronic musicians and releases several albums a year, many of which are collaborations with modern musicians who are fans. He works extensively with Tim Story and released Fibre recorded with Jez Coad, Martin Barker and Georg Taylor an album which has reached 13th place in "the Third Uncut Playlist of 2009" for Uncut Magazine, ahead of Bruce Springsteen's Working on a Dream. In 2009 Hans Joachim Roedelius recorded "Sustanza di Cose Sperata" with the pianist and composer Alessandra Celletti for the American label Transparency Record. Together they played in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco[3].


In November 2010 it was announced that Cluster had split up for the third time. In the official announcement, the split up was described as Moebius leaving the group. In the wake of this news, Roedelius announced that he was beginning a new project called Qluster, to follow on from Cluster and Kluster. The band is made up of Roedelius and accomplished electronic musician Onnen Bock with third member Armin Metz and released a trilogy consisting of "Rufen", "Fragen" and "Antworten" (Calling, Asking and Answering) in 2011. They then released a recording of a live concert made at CTM-Festival in Berlin, titled "Lauschen" (Listening). Roedelius began to collaborate with Stefan Schneider from the groups "torococorot" and "Kreidler", with Christoph H.Mueller mastermind of the "Gotan-Project" (and recently "Plaza Francia"), with Christopher James Chaplin, Leon Muraglia, Lloyd Cole, Jurij Novoselic (with whom he's doing work since the early ninentees anyway) and lately with Arnold Kasar and Frank Wiedemann.


Roedelius' recorded career can be split into roughly 7 eras
  • The Schwann Years (1968–1971)
  • The Brain Years (1972–1975)
  • The Sky Years (1976–1982)
  • The Virgin Years (1983–1989)
  • The Early Baden Years (1990–1993)
  • The Symphonic Years (1994–1998)
  • The Modern Years (1999–present)


In Bands

In Human Being
In Kluster
In Cluster
In Harmonia
In Aquarello
In Global Trotters (Kenji Konishi, Susumu Hirasawa, Alquimia, David Bickley, Felix Jay, Alex Paterson)
In Qluster

Solo Work


With Brian Eno, Dieter Moebius and Michael Rother
With Brian Eno and Dieter Moebius
With Brian Eno and Dieter Moebius on Eno's solo album
With Alexander Czjzek
  • 1987 : Weites Land (studio album)
With Aqueous
With Richard Barbieri and Chianura
  • 1998 : T'ai (studio album)
With Alquimia
With Tim Story (sometimes collectively referred to as Lunz)
With Conrad Schnitzler
With Fabio Capanni, Felix Dorner, Hirishi Nagashima and Robin Storey
With Lynn
With Nikos Arvanitis
With Noh 1
  • 2003 : Imagine Imagine (soundtrack album, released as Roedelius and Fratellis)
  • 2009 : Fibre (studio album)
With Morgan Fisher
With David Bickley
With Kava
With Tim Story and Dwight Ashley
With Alessandra Celletti
With Christopher Chaplin
  • 2012 : King of Hearts (studio album)

With Andrew Heath and Christopher Chaplin

  • 2017 :Triptych in Blue (live album)
With Lloyd Cole
With Leon Muraglia
With Mateo Latosa and Cesar Gallegos (aka TKU Tecamachalco Underground)
  • 2016 : Latitudes (music installation for photography exhibition, 2014/studio album release, 2016)


Painting with Sound: The Life and Music of Hans-Joachim Roedelius by Stephen Iliffe. Foreword by Brian Eno – Meridian Music Guides 2003. ISBN 0-9545995-0-0


External linksEdit