Dick’s Picks: Vintage slice of German synth-tronica from Harald Grosskopf….
Born in Germany shortly after World War II, Grosskopf like many others of his generation, was inspired to pick up an instrument once the Beatles hit big. After an early spell as drummer with beat group ‘The Stuntmen’, Grosskopf soon progressed; first playing with the then unknown Scorpions, thereafter short spells in the experimental Wallenstein and Manuel Gottsching’s acclaimed Ashra would hone his trade.
Fast forward to 1980 and he was ready to release music under his own name, ‘Synthesist’ was the result.
Grosskopf was obviously keen to highlight the ‘futuristic’ angle of his music, if the oh-so 21st century font doesn’t spell it out (quite literally) then the all over ‘silver’ body spray oughta, evidently, this was ‘pop’ Jim but not as we know it. To Grosskopf’s credit whilst the sleeve, from a 2017 perspective, may reek of the ’80s, the music itself is not so rooted in the past. Take album opener ‘So Weit, So Gut’, 5.24 of pulsing synths, arpeggiated washes and an all-round Ibiza 6am vibe….
Second track ‘B.Aldrain’ (starts at 5.25) is a moody synth still-life, with a distinct whiff of the Gary Numan’s about it. ‘Synthesist’ (starts at 15.00) is something else altogether, more synth arpeggios yes, but with an emotive solo across the top (I’m no vintage synth expert but I think it just might be an ARP?) – it’s a blissful ride and not difficult to see why the album has found favour amongst those of a Balearic disposition in recent years.
It’s not all blissed out ‘fun’ though, ‘Trauma’ (well what else?), comes on like the bastard offspring of Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk, all sonorous bass before high-pitched synth wails rudely interrupt and, in its final throes, the button marked ‘jungle atmosphere’ is pressed before a deep sonic growl closes the show – N-I-C-E!
You can find it here at the 29 minute mark.
Grosskopf has continued to record, with Discogs displaying a pretty impressive back catalogue, hipster US label Rvng Intl. reissued the ‘Synthesist’ album in 2011 with a bonus disc of contemporary remixes, this year German reissue imprint Bureau B. got in on the act with the reissue still available……..