FMP/FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION - An Edition of Improvised Music 1989-2004


Bert Noglik


There are some sounds which, in themselves, are so appropriate, so delicately placed in space and intertwined in such a complicated manner, that one is almost afraid of causing them some kind of pain in using words to describe them. This unusual feeling creeps over me as I listen to the solo music of Hans Reichel. I can see myself journeying through personal sound-scapes, in a world of sound with its very own dimensions of depth. These stories and moods that Hans Reichel performs are not the kind that can be retold. Fantasy and reality lie in very close proximity. What takes place is peaceful and yet also spectacular, self-effacing and, at the same time, unheard of. It all hangs on the subtleties: Hans Reichel's sensitive approach to sound is anything else but complaisant. What seems at first familiar can in the next moment appear strange or quite astonishing. The thing that sparkles in this music is very real, and has not the least in common with the widely spread synthesizer-productions of sounds of questionable beauty. It is almost as if the world "Beauty" had been stripped of its figurative and deceptive associations. The so called "Art-Business" aesthetic is as far removed from Hans Reichel as the lure of the "Need to Shock" aesthetic. Also, his search for unused sounds does not follow an addiction to innovation just for the sake of being innovative, but - once again a word that has to be rid of its sentimental associations-the "feeling" for what he finds musically appropriate. This search necessitated persistent work in the building and the exploratory playing of the instrument as well as a subtle approach to the musical material.

Hans Reichel has never accepted the conventional idea of what a guitar should look or sound like. Since the beginning of the seventies he has busied himself with the alteration of guitars and construction of new types of instrument. Hans Reichel is an inventor of guitars, a man obsessed with sound, a wood "freak" and a musical constructor. His work disproves the theory that the "discovery" of strange sounds is the exclusive domain of the synthesizer specialists and the computer freaks. Indeed, the craftsman Hans Reichel is above all a musician: he has expanded the existing conception of the guitar not only in the construction and playing techniques, but also, and more importantly, in the discovery of new sounds.

"Coco Bolo Nights" works without electronic tricks or the usual overdubs. The percussive, multiple-voiced, orchestral, deep organ-pipe and! shrill flutelike tones are just as amazing as is Hans ReicheI's inclination to pay such close attention to individual sounds. The part which is too readily interpreted as a bent for meditation is nothing more than an unusual talent for hearing the sounds and then just allowing the notes unfold in space. The associations can be very different when listening to the pieces, which also vary considerably in style and structure (the titles 1-5 and 13-17 are incidentally mirror images of each other). There are suggestions of the metallophone in Balinese orchestras, of the playing of beIls or other instruments such as the sitar, koto, steel drums, harpsichord, spinet, barrel organ and even electronicalIy generated sounds. Indeed the music of Hans Reichel cannot be tracted to any strange or foreign source, and those sounds he gets from the instruments are nothing more than reflections of their own individuality. Also, the part that could be a reminder of the influence of non European musical culture does not spring from a conscious occupation with other concepts of sound, but Reichel's own experience of music. To follow one's senses should not be confused with naivety. The consistency with which Hans Reichel has developed his music has caused himself to occupy, against his own will, a special' position, or the role of an outsider. Certainly the freedom to improvise plays an important part in Reichel's music. His music defies one particular direction or even a particular stylistic approach. So one is left with the best and only possibility: to call the music after the name of the inventor and performer.

Hans Reichel, from Wuppertal, has taken his music all over the world- on several occasions and also for longer periods to Asia, and criss-crossing both the USA and Canada. Apart from solo concerts (since 1972), Hans Reichel has repeatedly looked for musical dialogues and from time to time has worked in larger ensembles. - The following episode actually took place in Japan: Hans Reichel discovered a piece of wood in a department store, that really fascinated him. A piece of wood with an extra coarse grain, and with colours varying from orange to red and brown to black. One of the knots even had the form of a badger's head (Hans Reichel is the inventor of the "Dachsophone" - Engl. "Badgerophone", a strange instrument). Hans Reichel acquired this rare piece of wood for a large sum of money, and he then brought it back to Europe. This wood is called "Colo Bolo', a tropical wood, and is known over here as Rio Palisander. it is wood from the Brasilian rain forests which are rapidIy being cut down and won't exist for very much longer. One of the guitars to be heard on this CD is made from this aforementioned piece of Coco Bolo.

There are so many ways of stretching strings over a piece of wood and calling it a "guitar". In defining something, one often loses the thing itself. "What ever Beauty is', Albrecht Dürer once said, "I have no idea". Words should not interfere with the playing. The music of Hans ReicheI. Sounds that glow in the night.

Translation: Paul Lytton

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