Synthesist Harald Grosskopf

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Curious New Yorkers can catch Grosskopf performing Edwin Eugene Aldrin, a.k.a.

Buzz, the second astronaut on the Apollo 11 mission to sink his feet in moon soil on July 19, 1969.

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.

During the Frankfurt studio sessions that followed my isolated recording time in the countryside of West Germany, I had to come up with song titles for the album. For me, music as an abstract language is hard to consolidate into a few words.

“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 Göttsching: “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.Recorded in a friend's flat in Krefeld, Germany in the summer of 1979 with a Minimoog and a few other components, the drummer made a curious keyboard album that presaged many musical directions not only in the nascent new decade, but somehow thirty years on.The ambitious and oddball RVNG imprint originally tracked down Grosskopf to have him participate as part of their FRKWYS series (which to date has paired mutant musicmakers like Excepter to Foetus's JG Thirwell and Psychic Ills to Juan Atkins), only to have there not be an exact fit.Berlin, Germany, summer of 1979, Harald Grosskopf, then 30 years old, was at a personal and creative crossroads.His girlfriend just left him, and Ashra (Manuel Göttsching's "solo" project) was on temporary hiatus.The low octave vocal sample at the end of the piece was picked from a library music LP.The voice archive on the LP sounds like someone saying “1847” (the year) in German.I can’t recall what the voice is actually saying, but I associated the perceived year with the failed revolution against the feudalistic administrations over hunger, strife, and suffering in Germany, 1848.The music of “1847 – Earth” is dark, underlined by the steady drumming.


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