Renowned as a child actor in Nazi Germany, Roedelius had a post-war career path of relative obscurity, working as a coal miner, salesman, nurse, gardener, waiter, and masseur until finding himself in the midst of Berlin’s own version of the cultural revolution of the 1960s. A brief encounter with several future members of the infamous Baader-Meinhof gang convinced him that art, not politics, was the form of protest best suited to him — and thus began a life in music that for the next four decades inspired a generation of musicians who followed.
Through the Berlin arts scene, Roedelius met Conrad Schnitzler, a kindred spirit with whom Roedelius ultimately co-founded the Zodiak Free Arts Lab and the 1968 happening known as Human Being. The project’s eventual demise gave rise to the trio Kluster, featuring Roedelius, Schnitzler and a young, unknown Swiss art student, Dieter Moebius. When Schnitzler left after two short years to pursue a solo career, Roedelius continued with Moebius as Cluster, going on to produce several albums in the late 1970s that defined electronic music of the era.
In the 1980s, Roedelius turned his attention to solo projects, which ranged in style from experimental to neo-classical. By the turn of the century, Roedelius had more than 50 albums to his credit, and was still hard at work on solo projects and collaborations, touring periodically with Cluster, and routinely performing at festivals throughout Europe, Asia and the US. In 2010, he and Moebius completed another Cluster studio album, Qua, produced by Ohio-based composer and Roedelius’ long-time collaborator, Tim Story.
In 2011, Roedelius and Dieter Moebius broke-off formals ties with each other and Cluster. Roedelius then went on to form a new variant of Cluster called Qluster. The new configuration is lined up with Hans Joachim Roedelius and Onnen Bock.
To read more on the life of Roedelius, read the wonderful biography written by Stephen Iliffe; Painting with Sound: The Life and Music of Hans-Joachim Roedelius.
Formally trained in Brussels and Berlin as a visual artist, Swiss-born Dieter Moebius has worked in the German film industry for years — but his world-wide reputation was made as a musician.
From his early work with the pioneering Krautrock band Cluster to his later solo recordings, Dieter Moebius remained one of the most innovative and prolific voices in contemporary electronic music, anticipating movements from ambient to techno years before the fact. By day a student at Berlin's Akademie Grafik, Moebius was moonlighting as a cook at an area restaurant when in 1969 he was befriended by Conrad Schnitzler, a key figure in local avant-garde circles, and invited to join Kluster, a band Schnitzler was forming with fellow underground artist Hans Joachim Roedelius. The trio released their debut LP Klopfzeichen, in 1970; in the wake of their third album, 1971's Kluster und Eruption, Schnitzler exited to pursue a solo career, and Moebius and Roedelius continued on as a duo, modifying the name to Cluster.
Working with famed producer Conrad Plank, Cluster began to move increasingly towards more structured soundscapes — with 1974's Zuckerzeit, they even pursued an electronic pop sound similar in spirit to Kraftwerk. Moebius and Roedelius also teamed with Neu!'s Michael Rother in Harmonia, releasing a pair of much-acclaimed mid-'70s LPs which caught the attention of Brian Eno, who in response collaborated with the trio on a legendary session (released much later as Harmonia 76) heralding a turn towards ambient textures (and influencing the sound of the 1976 Cluster album Sowiesoso). Roedelius and Moebius subsequently worked with Eno on 1977's Cluster and Eno and 1979's After the Heat as well; in the wake of 1981's Curiosum, however, they dissolved Cluster, with both pursuing solo endeavors.
Moebius' first subsequent effort was 1981's Material, a second collaboration with Plank (his proper solo debut, Rastakraut Pasta, had appeared two years earlier); together, they produced some of the most experimental recordings of their respective careers, creating harsh mutant soundscapes which over time gave way to the proto-ambient textures of 1986's En Route, their final work before Plank's untimely death. Concurrently Moebius also teamed with Gerd Beerbohm for 1982's Strange Music and 1983's Double Cut, both explorations of pure noise; meanwhile, with the solo album Tonspuren (also from 1983), Moebius clearly anticipated the emergence of techno. Apart from teaming with Karl Renzeihausen in the duo Ersatz. Because of his film career, his solo effort were put on-hold until his 1999 release Blotch and again in 2006 with Nurton. Around 2006 a building interest in Cluster reuniting (caused the soon-to-retire from his film career) Moebius and Roedelius to go on tour for around 4 years off and on. In 2009, he and Roedelius, with producer Tim Story came out with the first studio release in over 14 years, Qua. 2009 also brought out a new Moebius solo releases Kram. At the endof 2010 Cluster called it quits for good. As a result, Roedelius went on to form Qluster adding Onnen Bock to replace Moebius. In 2011, Moebius will be releasing his 5th solo release, Ding.
To date as of 2011, Moebius appears on well over a dozen Cluster recordings, as well as on collaborations with Brian Eno, Mani Neumeier, Gerd Beerbohm, Conny Plank, Karl Renziehausen, Tim Story and Dwight Ashley. Moebius also has released five solo albums, and has a soundtrack to his credit.
In addition to nine solo albums and dozens of compilations, Story's work has appeared on numerous television and film soundtracks, including the original score for the popular NPR documentary In Search of Angels, and Caravan, a feature-length documentary by the production company of Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar. Story received a Grammy nomination for 1988's Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a children's recording with Glenn Close, and a NAIRD "Best Album" award for Beguiled. Notable collaborations include three acclaimed CDs with Hans-Joachim Roedelius, three CDs with Dwight Ashley, and Errata, a project with both Ashley and Roedelius. Most recently, Story has also distinguished himself as the producer of Qua, the first Cluster studio recording in more than a decade.
A native of Northwest Ohio, Ashley grew up in a home constantly filled with music. His parents, while not themselves musicians, were devotees of opera and baroque composers—an influence that continues to shape Ashley's musical interests.
As a student of the cello in elementary school, Ashley began almost immediately to create his own compositions with a fellow orchestra student. Piano studies followed, along with choir and music theory in secondary school.
But despite this heavy involvement, music was little more than personal amusement for Ashley—until 1976, when he heard the Robert Fripp / Brian Eno recordings, Evening Star and No Pussyfooting. “So that’s what a guitar sounds like!” is how he describes the experience, which quite literally changed the course of his life. Inspired by the synthesis of classical form and rock instrumentation in Fripp and Eno's work, Ashley returned to composition in earnest. Within months, he had acquired a Freeman string ensemble, Fender Rhodes electric piano, an Arp Odyssy, a Mini Moog, along with assorted effects pedals and two TEAC 1/4" two-track tape units and a TEAC 4-track to record his earliest works.
In 1981, Ashley experienced a major setback in his recording career. Lightening from a freak thunderstorm struck his recording studio, a facility so new, it had yet to be insured. Virtually nothing was left after the fire that ensued, and it took Ashley the better part of the '80s to recover financially.
But this difficult decade ended with a new direction for Ashley, thanks to a chance reunion in 1988 with Tim Story, a high-school-era acquaintance with whom he'd briefly worked in a record store. While visiting a photographer in a neighboring studio, Story happened to hear a composition Ashley had recorded for his wife's noisy, fan-filled, warehouse-district office. Soon, the two were collaborating on compositions—which eventually led to the 1991 release of their first joint production, A Desperate Serenity, on Multimood Records.
Also in 1991, Ashley joined with Story and sound engineer James Kenzie to establish the commercial audio studio Zeta Recording. The second Ashley/Story project, Drop, was created at Zeta. However, the increasing commercial activity at the studio left the two artists little available time to work on their own projects, and eventually both Ashley and Story left the partnership to form their own private recording studios. This presented Ashley with an opportunity to move his instrumentation in new directions with additional guitars, an NS Design bass cello, and a greatly expanded collection of audio processing tools.
Drop was ultimately released in 1997 on the U.S.-based Lektronic Soundscapes label to critical acclaim. But the six-year wait for outside label interest convinced Ashley of the merits of creating his own record label. In 2004, Ashley released Discrete Carbon, his first published solo work on his new label, Nepenthe Music, and shortly thereafter released a third Ashley/Story project, Standing and Falling, and Story’s soundtrack to the Spanish film, Caravan, in 2005.
Now, almost three decades after the devastating loss of his first recording studio, Ashley’s label has now grown to offer a catalog of nearly 20 recordings by eight different artists or ensembles, including two additional Ashley solo works. Nepenthe has released a number of Ashley’s collaborations as well, the latest of which is Objective Objects with Cluster’s Deiter Moebius, scheduled for release in 2013.