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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Kosmischer Läufer – The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972 – 83 February 9, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Well this is entertaining, Kosmischer Läufer, purportedly a series of electronic music developed in the 1970s for the East German Olympics teams by a young composer who was ‘infatuated’ with electronic music:

Self description of the project:
“In East Germany in the early 1970’s Martin Zeichnete worked as a sound editor for DEFA, (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft), the state-owned film studio. Like many young East Germans of the time he would listen furtively to West German radio at night and became infatuated with the Kosmische Musik or ‘Krautrock’ epitomised by the likes of Kraftwerk, Neu! and Cluster emerging from his neighbouring country. Martin, a keen runner, hit upon the idea of using the repetitive, motorik beats of this new music as a training aid for athletes. He thought it could benefit the mind as well as the body with the pulsing, hypnotic music bringing focus. A ‘borrowed’ prototype of Andreas Pavel’s Stereobelt showed Martin the technology to provide music on the move already existed and could easily be adapted for runners.

After sharing his concept with colleagues Martin was taken from his studio to East Berlin, quizzed by the authorities about his ideas and, fearing the worst, was surprised to find himself put to work by the Nationales Olympisches Komitee immediately. Installed in a cold Berlin studio with the few electronic instruments the state could supply, (Martin asked for a Moog but was refused), he began one of the strangest journeys in music. Known to the government as State Plan 14.84L, Martin and his fellow musicians informally called it ‘Projekt Kosmischer Läufer’ (Cosmic Runner).

For the next 11 years Martin would be spirited to Berlin to work on tracks with little notice. He created hours of music fusing traditional rock instruments with synthesizers, early drum computers, tape slicing and looping techniques he and his engineer formulated themselves. His output included tracks for running at various paces, warm up pieces, ‘ambient’ music to play in gyms during training and pieces for artistic gymnastic routines.”

Is that a fact? Almost certainly not:

This is widely believed to be an elaborate hoax with a lot of manufactured evidence of the existence of Martin Zeichnete. There were a lot of strange things happening in the GDR, but this story is highly unlikely.
The name “Martin Zeichnete” points toward Drew McFadyen as the master mind behind this, as “Zeichnete” in German language is the indicative form of the verb “zeichnen”. Zeichnen translated to english would be “drawing” or “to draw”. The indicative form of “drawing” is “drew”. Drew like in Drew McFadyen. The last name “Zeichnete” does not exist in Germany – there are about 800.000 surnames in the German history, but “Zeichnete” is not one of them.
Drew runs the label Unknown Capability Recordings that releases all of / and only the works of Kosmischer Läufer and he was also on stage presenting and performing some works of Martin Zeichnete during a tour with Yann Tiersen (these recordings were also published as Live In Graz). When asked in an interview Drew explained that “Martin Zeichnete” supposedly is not the real name of the artist, but a pseudonym as well as an injoke towards his new friend Drew McFadyen.

If the music wasn’t much good this would be at best an oddity, but the music is actually very good, more than a recreation of kosmiche. Below are a selection of tracks from across the four (count ‘em four) volumes (and a ‘live’ album which I have yet to hear).

Entertainingly some took this very seriously indeed when it first appeared and even a little after. And more.

Volume One Trailer…

Zeit zum Laufen 164 (1979)

Weltraumspaziergang (1978)

Für Seelenbinder (1975)


Für Kati (1983)

Morgenröte (1977)


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