Dieter Moebius isn’t so fatalistic that he thinks his upcoming Vancouver appearance will be his last. The electronic-music pioneer does claim, however, that he’s not as prolific nor as ready to tour as he once was.
“I’m trying to slow down, because I’ve had very, very many shows in the last four or five years,” he reports on the line from Spain, speaking English with a soft but noticeable Swiss-German accent. “And now I’m getting quieter, and quite old. I’m going to be 70 next year, so I just play when I think it’s a nice place to play.”
Given even more credence to the notion that the show will be a memorable one is the fact that it’s his sole North American performance this summer.
“The plan was that my wife and myself, we were dreaming of making a tour through Canada, and it’s only possible in summer, really, because it would be too cold,” Moebius says, adding that the couple will be wandering the Rockies in an RV once the concert is over. “So we decided to do it now, and then I said to myself, ‘Since I’m going to be in Vancouver, why not ask if they can’t fix a show for me?’ Since they would not have to pay for travel, it’s easier to do it. And that’s why I am only going to play Vancouver.”
It’s understandable that Moebius is looking to slow down. His discography lists almost 50 titles, as a solo artist and as a member of highly influential proto-electronica acts Cluster and Harmonia. His conversations and collaborations with Brian Eno helped define the ambient-music genre; Eno’s song “By This River’, from the still revelatory Before and After Science, was written with Moebius in the latter’s house on the banks of the Weser, in rural Germany. And his fondness for low-budget technology helped define a genre that didn’t exist when he first started running crude electronic organs through even cruder tape delays and filters.
Moebius isn’t maintaining his pace of yore, but he did recently find time to record an album’s worth of largely improvised material with members of the controversial band and new media collective Negativland; the finished project should be out this fall. And his most recent release, an intermittently abrasive duo with fellow electronic veteran Asmus Tietchens, finds him as puckishly provocative as ever.
“You could think Asmus is the crazier one, but on this record I’m the crazier one,” he says with a laugh. “I’m not so soft anymore. Instead of getting softer in my age, I’m getting rougher.”