Born in 1950, Hans-Joachim Irmler began experimenting with sound-generating technology at a very early age. As a teenager, he built his first organ. In 1969, he moved to Hamburg, where he studied art and worked for television. There, he was drawn into a collective of musicians and filmmakers. Out of this loose group, a band crystallized which would become known as Faust – a band which subsequently became known to people with an interest in avantgarde music all around the world.
The band negotiated a contract with Polydor in 1971 in which they were granted their own studio and custom-built sound-processing equipment (unheard of for a “pop” or “rock group” at that time). On their eponymous debut in 1971 (pressed on clear vinyl and housed in a transparent cover), one can hear familiar sounds augmented with electronically generated and distorted ones, which made Faust into probably the most far-out album ever released on a major label. This musical and technological transmutation has become the leitmotiv of Irmler's aesthetic. He always worked with self-built or heavily customized equipment. Thus it is small wonder that when Faust folded in 1975 he started his own keyboard workshop.
But Faust never really stopped, there were always reunions – sometimes private, sometimes public. In 1994, he and two other core-members of Faust record Rien, the first album in 20 years,. It was produced by Jim O'Rourke and released on Jeff Hunt’s Table Of Elements, one of the prime labels for so-called post-rock in the 90s. Irmler went on to form his own label Klangbad in 1996, on which he published not only Faust, but also other bands, most of whom he recorded in the label’s own studio (including Custer, Dieter Moebius, Circle, Ectogram, Nightingales, Ole Lukkye, to name but a few) . In 2004, the studio relocated to the premises of a disused paper factory in the rural Swabian village Scheer. It contains all of Irmler’s equipment built over the last 30 years as well as new, computer-based recording tools.
Hans-Joachim Irmler © Manuel Wagner