Oddwind is indeed odd among the many albums I have created, in (at least) one particular way:
It’s all played by hand (with only three tiny exceptions), which means: no programming (obviously), but also no sequencing, and no use of arpeggiators, or anything of that sort - just good old real time playing using my ten fingers (…well - six to eight of them most of the time, when I think of it. ;-) ).
Like a couple of other albums, the music on Oddwind wasn’t intended to result in one at first - rather, it started as a combination of an exercise (in playing stuff by hand; something I am admittedly not very good in…) and as an exploration - of my little Waldorf Blofeld synthesizer, which I had acquired in 2009 (mainly to have some better equipment for a live performance I was to play later that same year).
In fact, Oddwind ended up being almost exclusively being performed on that instrument.
Actually, being able to record a whole album of (decent) music all played by hand was something I always had hoped to accomplish, but never really felt up to. I’m just not a very well trained keyboarder…
So, when I started recording tracks in that way (mostly improvising the needed elements - bass lines, chords, sequences, melodies, also some percussion - in traditional multi-track recording fashion, and - as I like to point out very clearly - without editing those recordings later, except for some basic level adjustments) I had little hope that anything worth listening to might come out of it, but much to my surprise, it did (in most cases). After the first few nice results, confidence grew, and at some point I realized that this whole thing might well result in what - at first - I had not even thought of: an album…
Another thing I soon realized was, that my hand played music turned out to be somewhat different from the more programmed - and therefore composed - music I usually did; of course - due to my lack of proper skills - it was considerably less rhythmically accurate, but on the more positive side, it also seemed a lot more lively and, I think, „soulful“ (not in the sense of the musical style „soul“, of course).
Also, I seemed to have other kinds of musical ideas that way - and I found these new aspects quite rewarding…
At one point, I had the notion that some of the tracks reminded me of some other music; at first, I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly it was, but finally realized that it was an old, rare LP by some (I thought) unknown German musician which I once owned and that was actually stolen later, all many years before I even had started to dabble in music myself. I had fond (but somewhat vague) memories of that LP and decided to dedicate my own album to it’s creator, who - so I believed - had only recorded that one LP and did vanish from the music business thereafter. Little did I know, but I soon were to learn better… 8-)
…for this musician was Asmus Tietchens (and the album in question his debut - recorded in Peter Baumann’s studio, btw. - entitled „Nachtstücke“, from 1980).
Now, in 2009, after my decision described above (and only then) I did some Google research to see if I could find any traces of this Tietchens guy - which was quite an eye-opener:
because (as many of you for sure know) Asmus Tietchens is a well respected German electronic avantgarde composer who - after his still slightly melodic first album (incidentally the only one I knew) excelled in a very serious, minimalistic and abstract - and also slightly dark - style of contemporary electronic music; from 1989 to 2009 he also taught sound design and research at the university of Hamburg.
I should also add that even if his first LP was released only in 1980, he was active as an experimental musician from 1965 on and has to be rightfully counted among the pioneers of this genre (…also especially in the field of industrial music).
Having learned all this finally - and much to my surprise - I slightly doubted if he actually would welcome my dedication; and decided to contact him and eventually send him the album (along with two others that were more „experimental avantgarde“ and therefore maybe more his cup of tea - which turned out to be the case…).
I was happy to receive a very friendly reply (from which a short, but very interesting email correspondence ensued), in which Asmus told me that he indeed felt that the music on Oddwind was „70s stone age electronica with slightly updated sounds“ which he wasn’t really fond of, but the dedication was OK to him anyway, thanks a lot!
Also, he proved indeed VERY generous, because he not only sent me a recent re-release of „Nachtstücke“ as a gift, but also added some of his later (much more abstract) albums - which I thought was very kind of him!
70s stone age electronica - really! Interestingly, I realized only later that the album title I had made up was somewhat reminiscent of another album (…guess which, and it wasn’t Moondawn ;-) ).
Anything else to add…?
Well, I said everything on the album was played by hand. Well, almost, with three exceptions:
- in „Meyring“ I switched on my Blofeld’s arpeggiator in one part for two or three minutes (still performing it in realtime, though)
- there’s one transition between two tracks - less than one minute long, as far as I remember - that was added later and that was programmed
- when preparing this re-release, I found some distortions in the very first track, „Opheymon“ and decided to re-arrange it to fix this, adding a few more synth chords etc. that were programmed
The track title „Teach Ends“ of course is an allusion to „Tietchens“ (the nice thing is that when I made that title up, I still had no idea that Tietchens also really had been teaching…)
Finally, here’s another example of my „flow-of-consciousness“ poetry (if I may call my inexpert use of the English language like that); unlike on some other albums, it’s recital can’t be found on record, however it’s printed in the little cover booklet…)
* * *
The breeze it sleeps
the bugs return
the child it weeps
the bushes burn
My love it soars
above the sun
the dragon roars
in fear we run
The end will now
begin to show
let‘s watch just how
the odd winds blow...