During those idyllic mid-seventies years when he shared with his Cluster and Harmonia bandmates a massive, medieval estate in Germany’s Weser Uplands, Hans-Joachim Roedelius spent many hours recording alone in his bedroom, with windows flung open to the breeze and the sounds of nature, setting the mood for his recording sessions. The results eventually became a series of intimate music productions known as the Selbstportrait (self-portrait) albums.
Though not officially labeled with the Selbstportrait moniker, Wenn der Südwind Weht (When the South Wind Blows) is the fourth in the series and stands as one of the best at capturing the mood of tranquility and contentedness Roedelius felt during this artistically prolific and personally fulfilling period.
On this album, Roedelius perfected his distinctive style of buoyant, gently pulsating music that sidesteps all labels and pigeonholes. Tags like krautrock, Berlin school, new age and ambient all wither away in the light of Roedelius’ inward and unique style of electronica. Roedelius’ music was not (and still is not–many years and many albums later) part of any particular movement or style, regardless of the loose associations he at times had with some of those aforementioned styles’ trailblazers. Roedelius music flows unassumingly from the heart and mind of only one man, and nowhere has it flowed more effortlessly and beautifully than on Wenn der Südwind Weht.
Subdued rhythms formed from gauzy, all-analog tones and sweet, simple melodies awaken memories and emotions, breeding nostalgia for the past, whether experienced or imagined. Though there are no words, Wenn der Südwind Weht is deeply personal music, not only for Roedelius himself, but for all who mentally surrender to the warm caresses of the south wind. One need not have ever joined Roedelius for a relaxing dip of one’s feet into a Mediterranean tide pool, nor must one have tagged along in gathering wild berries and mushrooms in the woods around the Forst estate to experience the emotions Roedelius conveys in the 10 pieces on this album. In his autobiography, Roedelius makes it clear that he considers himself a healer through his music. Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine the world still suffering all the same ills and injustices if everyone regularly spent 40 minutes imbibing the bliss that is Wenn der Südwind Weht.
Roedelius’ back catalog is a vast and rich source of innovative music that humbly defies easy categorization. Yet much of it is relatively accessible and congenial. Wenn der Südwind Weht is among the very best of this kind of work and should be considered essential listening for anyone with a heartbeat and a memory.