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Pictures painted in music

The conceptual drone music of Hellmut Neidhardt.

Rational analysis, endless preparations and detailed plans – these formalistic aspects of musical performance mean nothing to Dortmund-based Drone-builder Hellmut Neidhardt. Instead, Neidhardt has manifested his romantic inclination for amplified guitar noise in a string of on-the-dime performances revealing both a deep love for dark poetry and atmospheric subtlety. Never a professional musician in need of pleasing an audience, he has chosen to make use of his complete creative independence to release exclusively when both time and music seemed right. The result is a discography spanning three distinct phases: A first as a member of [multer], a band project with Thomas K. Geiter and Mal Hoeschen, which lasted from their inception in 1998 to final full-length „Kopenhagener Deutung“ in 2003. A second, marked by a six-year release-hiatus, in which his N-alias, mainly through sampler contributions, nonetheless gradually grew from an experimental side-project into his main outlet. And his current period of more pronounced activity, involving a remarkably busy release schedule and an increased live presence. Already into his second decade as an artist, Neidhardt may finally have hit home.


Concepts and Coincidences: An N-Discography

picture - Concepts and Coincidences: An N-Discography

Concepts and Coincidences: An N-Discography

From Bergen to Gager.

„Back in 1998, I experienced a “by chance thing” for the second time: The piece which would later be named “Bergen: See“ and come to be used as the title track for my debut album was a multi-layered experiment, which I performed as a break in between Mal and me working on [multer] tracks at a rehearsal. When later listening to the recording that Mal did without telling me, I felt this to be, maybe for the first time, exactly the sort of sound that would be worth releasing as a solo-piece. To tell the whole truth, I have to admit that Mal added some electronics to the music ...


Part 5: Out into the open

picture - Part 5: Out into the open

Part 5: Out into the open

From silence to the sea.

And yet, almost imperceptibly, things are changing. By the mid-00's, the drone-genre is still far from being played on format radio. But it has somehow managed to exert an influence on many adjacent genres and created a field of mutually supportive scenes. In 2006, Canadian Aidan Baker, whose star has slowly risen through a seemingly absurdly prolific release schedule, publishes Oneiromancer on renowned Bremen-based imprint Die Stadt, followed-up by Exoskeleton Heart and Noise of Silence on leading metal labels Crucial Bliss and Hyperblasted the following year – first signs of communities converging, the underground rising to the surface and audiences, who would formerly have felt confused at the idea of ...


Part 4: Making landscapes sound

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Part 4: Making landscapes sound

From composition to sonic painting.

Bergen is a great example for how Neidhardt's music, although rooted in improvisation, is never without structure and conceptual foundations. During his gig at the Cafe Wendel in Berlin in April of 2010, for example, he would occasionally glance at a piece of paper carrying chord indications and notes, roughly delineating the outlines of a track. He was therefore, without slavishly adhering to a fixed „score“, effectively interpreting material from previous or upcoming LPs. The point has, however, never been to play without any kind of  preconceptions and to revel in low-fi purity - even though that is still part of his approach from time to time. Rather, it has ...


Part 3: Big things in the making

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Part 3: Big things in the making

From band constellations to solo excursions.

Rather than moving forward, however, things start getting difficult. Relations between Hoeschen and Pfeiffer deteriorate, with the former eventually leaving [multer] in disillusionment. Shortly after, he's back again, when Neidhardt and Geiter decide to sack Pfeiffer instead and voice their intention to continue with the original line-up. Although the struggle has wasted a lot of the original drive and energy, the two works resulting from the reunion, Schauzeichen and Kopenhagener Deutung, are generally considered their most proficient works to date, with especially the latter raking in favourable features in big publications. And yet, they also herald the at least temporary end of [multer] as a recording unit. Neidhardt's perspective on ...


Part 2: Chance encounters

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Part 2: Chance encounters

From embarrassment to potential breakthrough.

Looking back, the best part about [multer] for Neidhardt is not the idea of writing or re-writing history, but to simply be able to create something small, yet deeply meaningful:

    „The main highlight was the way we got things to work, just by ourselves. And with remarkable success. We simply felt right about it. There was a general feeling of positive energy. We need some visuals? Okay, let's just ask photographer Karsten Fähnrich. There's a festival we might be able to get into? Ok, let's send them a demo. And then, we'd actually join the festival and even earn some money we could re-  invest as funds in ...


Part 1: An obsessive urge to create

picture - Part 1: An obsessive urge to create

Part 1: An obsessive urge to create

From classical music to the epiphany of electric sound.

2011 has only just gotten off to a start, but the N headquarters are already a busy hive of activity. Throughout the past twenty four months, the project's mastermind Hellmut Neidhardt has unleashed a steady stream of music, including four new full-lengths, a remix-album and an EP, next to completing an extensive, two-legged European tour with his Belgian friend Dirk Serries. In the oasis of his Dortmund studio, Neidhardt has also worked on a plethora of highly diverse new material, which, if released, may well turn him into one of the more prolific artists on the scene over the next two years: There's an upcoming collaboration with tape-bending artist Jim ...