Synthesist Harald Grosskopf
“Vast amounts of coffee and smokeable substances helped me overcome the technology-induced frustration,” Grosskopf writes in the record’s recent RVNG reissue.
“I usually began recording in the afternoon and worked through the following morning. I loved being musically independent, never interrupted by anyone, communicating with the equipment and myself.” The Ash Ra Tempel/Klaus Schulze sideman was so entranced by his work that he’d often fall asleep right next to his meager 12-channel mixer, one of many pieces of equipment that reminded Grosskopf of the advice he once received from Manuel GÃ¶ttsching: “Work with what you have, otherwise your dream will always stay a dream.” In the following exclusive feature, the Kraut-rock icon expands on his general album commentary with a track-by-track breakdown–streaming player and all–of the entire record.
, I was visiting a Buddhist temple in Berlin once a week to practice meditation. I associated the slow dance of precision and measured movements of Tai Chi with the closing piece on the album.
At first glance, there's little to suggest that former Cosmic Joker, Ash Ra Tempel drummer and Klaus Schulze collaborator Harald Grosslkopf's first solo album, 1980's Synthesist deserves a reissue.
With subsequent listens, what becomes evident is that the artists have very little wiggle room to improve upon the original.
Despite the innumerable layers of synths, Grosskopf's serpentine melodies are not the result of stumbled-upon noodling but are in fact expertly crafted, to where folks like Blondes and Bronze do best to get out of their way and just put a meaty beat behind the music.
I freely associated this peaceful piece of music inspired by B(uzz) Aldrin’s moonwalk with Baldrian–or Valerian in English–a substance that has a very calming effect.
The music of “1847 – Earth” is dark, underlined by the steady drumming.
Harald always considered himself a rhythmic accomplice to his numerous collaborators' lead, until prompted by some fellow musician friends to pursue a singular creative vision.
Armed with a Mini Moog and Revox reel-to-reel, Grosskopf set off for the West German countryside that fall and isolated himself in a home studio for almost two months to record Synthesist.
The temperamental analog synthesizer and sequencing technology created a long learning curve eventually resulting in a harmonious union of man and machine.
The human response undeniably colors the eight songs of Synthesist and aligns the album with some of the more melodic output of the Berlin School of Electronic Music.