Hans-Joachim Roedelius

Jardin Au Fou

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This is not the Roedelius album you would expect, and it does not mean anything bad; on the contrary. Hans-Joachim Roedelius' second solo album is so simple and pretty that it stands out from his vast oeuvre, a little like Asmus Tietchens' early Sky LPs were light years away from his later output (incidentally, Tietchens penned the liner notes for the 2009 reissue). Jardin au Fou ("Fool's Garden") consists in ten short pieces, almost like vignettes: very tuneful and dancing (even the slow-paced ones), humble too. The synthesizer opener, "Fou Fou," is a simple melody set to a bare-bone left-hand accompaniment. "Toujours" is a delicate piano piece -- you would never guess that the mastermind of Krautrock, the driving force behind the bands Cluster and Harmonia, is its composer and performer. The same applies to "Étoiles," a pretty music box-like tune that falls somewhere between Edgar Froese and early Jean-Michel Jarre. As for "Rue Fortune" (reprised in "Final"), its barrel organ-like motif could have been foretelling the advent of Sagor & Swing, with a hint of Krautrock in its repetitiveness. Taken as a whole, the album showcases Roedelius' versatility as a composer and virtuosity as a performer. It also features his introspective side, something that was new to his listeners back in 1979 and, even today, could be disregarded as new agey stuff. Yet, enough electro-pop artists have sailed that sea since to bestow a cult status on this album, whose influence has been pernicious over the years. The Japanese label Captain Trip reissued the LP on CD in 1998, adding three remixes ("Étoiles," "Le Jardin," and "Rue Fortune") and three brand new tracks that, if they have a more contemporary sound, still reflect the style and intent of the original set. The more global 2009 reissue from Bureau B also includes those bonus tracks.

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