Dieter Feichtner 1943-1999
a poet of sound
It was in the hot summer of 1982 when I once again invited Dieter Feichtner to my house in Waldviertel to make recordings for a planned solo album. At that time he still had his caravan, which we parked in a meadow between a shed and an old, dilapidated skittle alley. (Consequently, he also began hearing nightly skittle matches from days long past). Dieter's instruments were set up in my studio room - in such a way that he couldn't see the rotating tape recording reels from his place at the keyboards. Such things always irritated him very much. It was an experiment and an adventure in every respect. Our general agreement was: no other musicians, no listeners, no usual studio work, just direct, blunt recordings.
At the beginning, everything went very sluggishly. Dieter doubted that he could get away from his stylistic imitations and would fall back into "playing ditties," as he put it. He searched for a wholly different approach. After days of torture and excessive evasion, I made the suggestion to forego any echo and other external effects and to look the pure, unflattering sounds of his electronic instrumentarium straight in the eye. The success was stunning: the first recording, later called "Fliegenpilz I" (a truly furious piece of music that continued to unfold out of nothing), set a development into motion that was to go on for over two decades and which immediately went beyond the scope of a simple recording. From then on, Dieter regarded it as his "opus," as his musical legacy that he bequeathed unto me right from the start.
Such recording sessions then took place at irregular intervals, however, always in the summer months: in 1982 in Irnfritz, in 1986 at my temporary domicile, the old school in Allentsgschwendt, and later at my estate in Rastenberg in 1988, 1989, 1993 and 1997. Dieter was given his own room. If it was warm enough, it was usually the Tatersall (a small, half-open hall that was earlier used for horses), in which he set up his whole electronic instrumentarium. Here he could play uninterruptedly at any time of the day or night and shout it out to the world. That was very important, because sealed off rooms, which are otherwise common in recording studios, were never his cup of tea and fixed working times went totally against the grain of his intuitive being.
In hindsight, it is amazing that such a thing was even possible.
In an urban setting we would have been bombarded with complaints, because Dieter liked to get the most out of his equipment and the whole valley echoed from it - often at midnight or at four in the morning.
The main output of his equipment was directly connected to the recording machine in my studio room, meaning Dieter was online 24 hours a day. My task was merely to start the recording, sometimes in the middle of the night, and to occasionally change the reels.
Once the volume setting was found, it remained unchanged the whole time, so that the whole dynamic range of his playing, from the intimate revocation to the full orchestral impact, was retained in the original recordings. We listened to these recordings from time to time and then decided very quickly what should be kept and what could be immediately erased.
I am still glad today that I could initially convince Dieter to forego any of the blessings of modern studio methods: no subsequent effects, no sound cosmetics, no overdubs and mixing - just 1:1 recordings with fixed settings. If we had approached the matter in a more sound engineering sense, we would now have a collection of more or less impressive, nostalgic sound documents.
Therefore, we have the authentic music that we can listen to through the speakers exactly as Dieter himself played them through the speakers at the moment of their conception!
In 1989, together with Dieter, I released a number of the recordings he had made up to then under the title EUPHORISMEN, in the form of a 2-CD subscription.
A breakthrough, in a trivial sense, it wasn't. Nevertheless, we could recover our costs and win over a new group of music lovers who were instantly convinced about the uniqueness of this music. Some in the large circle of Dieter's friends and acquaintances, however, behaved reserved to hostile. That wasn't the same Dieter they knew and honored, loved and also hated. Some of them didn't like these recordings, Dieter's other side. (Less sensitive people expressed it blatantly). Dieter himself commented on these circumstances, which couldn't have escaped him, if at all, in a very dry and unemotional way, devoid of resentments. The undertaking 'life's work' continued onwards without inconsequence and without any false considerations.
Today it is different: a young generation of sensually and stylistically open music lovers is currently rediscovering Dieter Feichtner. Dieter's admirable human aspects, like his feared uninhibited vitality, are today revealed through the titanic quality of his music, not the other way around. Some like to hear the countless anecdotes, even the terrible ones, but it is the music that stands in the foreground.
An important lesson was learned through the experience that such a musical giant could be denied media exposure for decades. It shames the crooked world view of artistic values that are at the mercy of the media, and rather warns us to seek the valuable things in life on our own, unperturbed by pushed trends and phony culture.
(translated by Brian Dorsey)