In spite of the current enthusiasm for Krautrock round these parts, I must admit to being a bit sceptical about the new album from Hans-Joachim Roedelius: one half of Cluster, one third of the recently reformed Harmonia, and now collaborating with an American called Tim Story on a highly pretty CD called “Inlandish”.
My wariness, I guess, was based on a hunch that “Inlandish” might turn out to be pastel-shaded, bland ambience, not least because Story – who I confess I haven’t come across before – is described in the press notes as a “neo-classical composer”, which sounds a bit woolly.
As it turns out, I was both right and wrong. “Inlandish” is a fantastically inoffensive collection of digitally-augmented nocturnes, with Roedelius playing a kind of supper-club Satie role at the piano, while Story hovers round him with all manner of decorous electronic shading. I haven’t listened to this sort of thing much since the early ‘90s when, for a while, I’d play Irresistible Force records last thing at night a lot. With hindsight, those records felt like the musical equivalent of gateway drugs, a way into the gnarlier, creepier and more jarring worlds of avant-electronica, drone and minimalist composition.
“Inlandish”, though, turns out to be rather beguiling, too. It’s romantic instead of challenging, a very downy and cushioned listen, but one whose precision and subtle melodic richness raise it above the bulk of what we could vaguely describe as leftfield easy listening. I guess Eno is a fairly inevitable comparison, though I’m reminded of Harold Budd, too – or I think I am; in truth, it’s been so long since I played any of his albums, they could sound like Cecil Taylor compared to this, for all I know.
Anyway, it works very well as a sedate start to the week, and as a reminder that, come April, Roedelius will be back with Moebius and Michael Rother for the Harmonia reunion show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. See you there, hopefully. . .