jump to navigation

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Harald Grosskopf, Synthesist March 19, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

Yes, yes I will.

Over the last few weeks, bar the piece from Yourcousin, you’ll have seen music from the early 1980s in this slot. And why stop now when we’re on a roll?

So, for your pleasure, here’s Harald Grosskopf, or Großkopf. 1970s. Berlin School, played with Ash Ra Tempel. Drummer and keyboard player and is an integral though somewhat unsung part of the kosmische scene. Unsurprisingly given that connection he also worked with Klaus Schulze on the latters excellent Moondawn, which was given it’s own ‘This Weekend…’ some while back (and is credited with ‘electronics’).

I wasn’t aware of the Schulze connection when I first heard this solo album from Grosskopf, entitled Synthesist, from 1980 but it makes perfect sense. There’s the same undertow to the music, something that while perfectly of its time somehow has weathered the years vastly better than one might have any reason to expect.

But it’s also fair to say that unlike some [most] electronic tinged music from that period it has a certain sophistication which sets it apart. And whereas Schulze is slower and more considered Grosskopf’s work is speedier, perhaps a function of his being a drummer. And the bass is further down in the mix than might be expected while the sequencers and minimoog propel the material along.

Ignore, if you can, the cover, which is… ahem…of its time, right down to the clunky yellow and orange ‘neon’ inspired type and the photograph of Grosskopf covered in what appears to be silver paint.

Listen instead to the music. The faux guitar lines on “Emphasis” show its roots, so to speak (and are not a little Hawkwind like too), check out though the first track “So Weit, So Gut”, which has a surprisingly contemporary sound to it. Or the title track which has been remixed by the interesting Blondes outfit. Then there’s “Transcendental Overdrive” which is a bit more 70s, and no less interesting. As is “1847 – Earth”. Tai Ki, unfortunately not available on YouTube sounds for its first minute and a half like something New Order would have been working on a few years later. Trauma is more ambient with hollow bell like sounds in the background while B. Aldrian swells and surges across its five minutes only to fade out in arpeggiated notes.

For some this may in parts be a bit saccharine, but those sequencers and beats are frequently insistent, close to Krautrock, even if striking off for pastures new -no surprise there, and the melodic lines are just fine.

Grosskopf is still working away and the album was rereleased last month, with a strikingly less – er – striking cover – along with a bonus disc of remixes by a range of contemporary groups including Blondes and others.


So Weit, So Gut


Transcendental Overdrive

1847 – Earth


B. Aldrian


1. Mark P - March 19, 2011

Thanks for putting this up, WbS. It’s an interesting period piece, even if I don’t particularly like it.

This stuff, along with Schulze and similar period Tangerine Dream and the crap bits of Cluster, sits on the border of two types of music I love: early synthesizer/electronic music and Krautrock. And yet, when I listen to it I find it, quite frankly, a bit boring.

I think it’s the recurring thought that the experimentalism is heading in the “wrong” direction, towards ambient noodling and the dreaded “chill out zone”, that prevents me from getting much enjoyment out of it.

I do like “Emphasis” above though, and “Synthesist” would be much improved by a heavier drum sound.


2. WorldbyStorm - March 20, 2011

Yeah, it’s a tricky one, this sort of stuff can tip either way into noodling or can go somewhere else entirely. I’m not a fan of Tangerine Dream really, but I’d give a lot of Schulze’s stuff a free pass.

Ambient is tricky too. Can’t say I’m hugely interested in it in general, though some of the individual stuff is good and I’d definitely be more interested in the more shoegaze like stuff. I’ve an interesting book by a guy called Mark Prendergast whose Irish on Ambient and while he ropes a lot in to it I’d think 90% is of little or no interest to me. I hesitate to say this, but I think it’s the difference between liking krautrock like Neu, which has beats (and ones which work with either guitar or synths) and stuff which broadly speaking doesn’t.

But what I like about Grosskopf’s stuff is that it’s a lot less noodly. There’s a lot that can be done with this as a starting point for people who come after – and clearly a lot was done.

Interestingly re Synthesist and the drum sound Blondes remix seems to me to push it further back into the background.

By the way the remix album is cracking, Oneohtrix Point Never, Arp and a bunch of others are involved.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: