I've attended so many damn shows over the past several weeks that live music has become some sort of gross ritual, separate venues have bled into one sticky auditory sex club that I cannot pull myself together enough to keep out of. From flute-driven quivercore at DC9, protest singers in Baltimore, cavernous freakouts at Subterranean A, to John Maus in the fucking wilderness, I've had to pawn my roommate's electric razor and dumpster dive from my own employer to continue the habit. But, I'm not complaining; within this recent fertile patch of performances, I had the genuinely unique opportunity to witness Hans-Joachim Roedelius lay down some piano meditations on the incredibly unlikely stage of The Velvet Lounge. We've discussed Mr. Roedelius before, upon the reissue of his Self Portrait series, so no need to dive into his patent-pending invention of ambient music and his generous permission for others to call it their own. The real epiphany is that I thought this man was flat-out dead. Kicked the binary bucket. Bought the frequency farm. Gone to wherever synth-lords go to meet their monophonic maker. Nope, the geriatric German drone-generator is definitely alive, and he owns an iPhone. He sat on a cold cinder block for 45 languid minutes and busted out the dopest piano sonatas this side of the Rhine. Admittedly different from what I expected (exposed brain floating in a glass pod overseeing the proper integration of six patch bays being supported by nothing but mindpower), it became clear to me over the course of the brief set that Roedelius' musical signature remains completely intact. The heavily-treated oscillations may be absent, and the Moebius-supported space-drift of their Cluster collaboration is a thing of the past. But the heart of Roedelius' work was and remains to be a tribute to the pastoral quality of nature. All evidence suggests that he's no more than a fantastic space hippie with an effortlessly mature sense of melody. What we saw on this particular evening was a man at a piano, doing what he's always done, and with a gracefulness that could only come from knowingly handing off the reigns.
Don't watch the video below unless you want to fully absorb what I mean by "handing off the reigns."