Album review: Roedelius Schneider – Tiden

by Thomas Blake

Former kraut-prog overlord Hans Joachim Roedelius’s recent work has attained an uncharacteristic brevity. February’s Selected Studies – a collaboration with Lloyd Cole – was a darkly melodic and often beautiful mixture of Steve Reich and Claude Debussy. On Tiden he has simplified things further – the tracks are shorter and the melodies starker. He is joined this time round by Stefan Schneider, the brains behind palindromic German electro post-rockers To Rococo Rot, who provides much of the electronic backdrop to the record. These two have previous – they released an album, Stunden, in 2011.

roedelius-schneider-tiden-300x300Tiden picks up where Stunden left off, with Roedelius providing delicate, modernist piano motifs around which Schneider’s bottom-heavy, loopy electronics create a kind of cocoon. Roedelius’s spare melodies often resemble Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies, but the interplay of the two musicians reveals an improvisational quality, variety and musical depth that elevates many of these pieces above mere prettiness. Background hiss and icy flutters lend an eerie charm to Graden; Umstunden’s simple refrain grows and deepens alongside off-beat synth-percussion; the piano on Indie Woogie works with and against a droning throb; Toast is all warped electronics and Hohner Omen is built on a globular, lava-like bass line.

This is music that is unafraid of technology, but is also at pains to point out its humanity, even its earthiness – the audible creak of the pedal on Roedelius’s grand piano becomes the very point of closing track Pedal Piece. It acts as a kind of signature: a proof, if one were needed, of the authenticity and integrity the duo’s vision. And it is a fitting way to sign off an album that has been composed with the skill, imagination and attention to detail of a well-executed painting.

Tiden is released on Bureau B, July 8th 2013