New Sounds: Andreas Vollenweider


We have been patiently waiting for a new Andreas Vollenweider album for many years now. In September 2017 Andreas said; “I am so sorry to keep you waiting for such a looong time. But “no news really IS good news this time”! I am still working intensely on the many loose ends of a new project, which is bigger and more complex than anything I have ever done so far.” Perhaps we will get some new music in 2020? While waiting, why not take a trip down memory lane and read SPIN Magazine’s October 1985 interview with this one-of-a-kind artist?

It goes like this: 

“I don’t see myself as a musician,” confesses Andreas Vollenweider. The 32-year-old Swiss phenomenon, who makes his living playing a modified, electroacoustic harp, has released three albums and an EP in the United States, has sold more than 2 million records, and packs virtually every hall he plays. If he’s no musician, he certainly imitates one like a pro.

Speaking from his home in Zurich, Vollenweider (pronounced Fole’-en-vie-der) continues, “I see myself as being like a painter or a storyteller. I don’t like to see everything reduced to music. What I’m doing could just as easily be a book or film. I’m creating a kind of ‘invisible theater’ in the listener’s mind.”

Vollenweider talks like this quite a bit, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s heard his music. Using harp, piano, percussion from around the world, and vocals, he produces lush, almost symphonic musical tapestries—often inane, occasionally inspired—that simply can’t be pinned down. Neither classical, rock, nor jazz, his gentle mood music never actually goes anywhere and doesn’t really say anything. True to form, getting Vollenweider to come right out and objectify his music is almost impossible. “A lot of it is unconscious, and I’d like to keep it there,” he says.

Vollenweider spent most of the ’70s writing film scores, where his tendency toward soft, peaceful, easygoing music limited him. “I ended up doing only documentaries and nature films,” he recalls. “I wasn’t able to fill the needs for thrillers or other types of films.” He was then also part of a group called Poetry and Music, which recorded three albums of, well, poetry and music. Vollenweider played a variety of brass, string, and keyboard instruments at the time and began experimenting with the zither. That led him to the harp in the late ’70s. Having never studied the instrument formally, he developed his own techniques of plucking the strings and playing rhythmic passages on the harp’s lower strings. Once again, he’s characteristically vague when asked what attracted him to the harp. “I just grew into it. It had something to do with my personal development—it was the best instrument for what I was trying to express.”

Read the complete interview here.

(As always with SPIN Magazine; if the music is not punk or rock, angry and screaming, it will not receive any praise by them. That said, the interview itself is interesting because it shows how hard it is to label New Age music, 1985 and today).

Above picture – Source