Roedelius: Inlandish (Grönland)
Hans-Joachim Roedelius — the pianist who makes up half of Roedelius/Story — is 73 years old. A musician with such a long and storied past likely has a trick or two that would be lost on an impatient listener.
Having created a template for the more ambient side of krautrock with seminal band Cluster (among other bands/collectives), collaborated with the likes of Brian Eno, and contributed to numerous soundtracks, Roedelius is a studied and practiced master of the minimalist gesture.
Tim Story, meanwhile, has made quite a name for himself in a somewhat shorter time frame. Disenchanted with rock in the ’70s, and drawn to the ambient sounds of Cluster and the heady deconstruction of Can, Story began combining these ambient elements with classical influences like Béla Bartók and Claude Debussy to create something wholly alien yet deceptively unobtrusive.
If the whole of Roedelius/Story isn’t more than the sum of its parts, Inlandish is at least equal to that sum, an impressive feat. It might seem backhanded to call Inlandish meditative, but it’s a charge of which Roedelius/Story might have a hard time clearing themselves.
With Roedelius’ piano and keyboards offering the skeleton, and Story’s production and electronic manipulation providing the flesh (if one can call it that; the “flesh,” in this case, has all the substance of mist), they create a soundtrack to a Socratic dialogue, an existential debate in which all paths of argument lead to fecund silence.
Some stray beats may weave their way into the music, but they are never jarring enough to create more than a ripple on the music’s glasslike surface. Lazy ears would be inclined to dismiss this as new age, but this would be an error.
Rodelius’ spare, simple piano lines have more in common with Philip Glass, or a less archly iconoclastic John Cage, than with Scott Cossu or Yanni, and Story’s manipulations are too neoclassical and dissonant to write off as music for wine tastings (though both artists have suggested that wine was tasted during the course of recording).
Titles like “Ripple and Fade” and “House of Glances” might suggest comforting cerebral wallpaper, but they might also suggest quiet observations of mundane enigmas.
– Lyam White
Grönland Records: www.groenland.com/2006