The communal aspects of Krautrock have ensured that most of the greatest output of that genre will always be perceived as acts of union, as beautiful collective statements. It is fitting, therefore, that it is upon the slender shoulders of Dieter Moebius that representing all of Krautrock for the SydArthur Festival has fallen. It is righteous indeed, for like so many of his immediate contemporaries, Moebius was a multi-tasking, multi-genre-splitting high achiever of the first order. He always chose his collaborators well: Tangerine Dream’s Conrad Schnitzler, Can’s Holger Czukay, Neu’s Michael Rother, legendary Krautrock producer Conny Plank and of course his Cluster colleague Hans-Joachim Roedelius. Aspirational in everything, Moebius even gave away his own art credits – never laying claim to some of those pop art classics we most adore: Harmonia’s debut and Cluster II included.
It was written by Werner Pieper, former manager of Amon Düül II, that Krautrockers – as the children of “Adolf Hitler’s footfolk” – were musicians who needed to create music so intense and cleansing that it absolved them all of their forefathers’ sins. This demand for freedom within their art was both righteous and deliberate: it should never be forgotten, for it is at the very heart of what constitutes “Krautrock”. And out of this need and demand, Krautrockers created their own medicines and meditations with which to sooth their tortured souls. How this music has endured. Its pop art ingredients being so all-pervasive – industrial sounds, urban traffic noise, western TV, the weather itself – has ensured that however visceral the genre became, it has by this time in the 21st century continued to serve the musical underground through the sheer powerdrive of its execution. Whether soft or hard, Krautrock is always extreme.
The incendiary collective power of Krautrock and those involved was achieved only at the expense of Europe’s sanity. For without Hitler’s World Fuck Up, there would never have been a need for future German youth to create such a vivid musical dance. Unless the world is enduring similar problems, we cannot therefore hope to witness artists of such calibre in the future.
Today on Day 14 of the SydArthur Festival, we pay homage to Grandmaster Moebius who passed on three years ago, leaving us with a huge trail of evident musical genius. Difficult though it is to pick one tune to represent M, let’s strike an obvious pose by lending an ear now to ‘Watussi’ – the cyclical, emblematic opening of Harmonia’s debut LP. Brimming over an foaming at the gils with inner beats, outer beats, static beats, pedestrian beats, ‘Watussi’ brilliantly sums up its three protagonists but most of all – for our purposes herein – showcases the impish Moebius at his foppish, glorious peak. But then again, who else in 70s Krautland would have dared portray himself as the co-habitee of his cohort, as did Moebius with Roedelius on the cover of ZUCKERZEIT? As Dennis Alcapone would say, “onwards ever, backwards never!” We love you, Moebius.