He drummed for a lot of folks in the 70s such as Ash Ra Tempel, Cosmic Jokers, Klaus Schulze and Wallentstein but in 1980 he stepped up to the front and, as the name suggests, hit them synths. Yet the drummer in him wouldn’t sleep and while the the cosmic space landscapes and pastoral sunsets he draws with the keys are certainly not radical by previous German standards, his unique light but firm rhythms on them propel them into a deeper realm touching almost upon deep house and blissful techno.
As with his friend Manuel Göttsching’s classic “E2-E4” album, this is one that gets more love from the Balearic/chill-out crowd than the krautrock heads. Its not hard to see why, nothing on this album would be out of place in both a late-night immersive ambient evebt or a beachside sunset session. There’s still some weirdness, “Trauma” wouldn’t be out of place to the sight of Peter Davison’s Doctor Who walking the barren desert beneath an alien sky while watched by inhuman eyes from behind the rocks. We’re a world away from the full on LSD-inspired madness of 70s krautrock but the beauty, futurism and motorik rhythms are still here.
The music is every bit as arresting as that classic cover of him covering in silver paint, except for the 40th anniversary edition on German label Bureau B they’ve changed the color to gold to celebrate the landmark. The Bureau B version is also expanded into a double album of remixes from German artists such as Harald’s regular collaborator Steve Baltes of Ashra, later day members of Tangerine Dream and Camera. They all keep rigidly to the spirit of the original album with tight rhythms, space age synth and a cosmic sense of restraint.
“Synthesist” is both a world away from his work as a Cosmic Courier and at the same time the logical continuation of it. In the modern world there are hundreds of cassettes and LPs releases of cosmic synth music but this is still the Grandfather of them all and the well from which the water flows. Drink it up straight from the source.