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Berlin electronic music innovator Moebius dies

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Berlin electronic music innovator Moebius dies
Dieter Moebius performing with Cluster. Photo: Seth Tisue / Flickr Creative Commons.
08:27 CEST+02:00
The Swiss-German founder of Berlin experimental band Cluster and Krautrock supergroup Harmonia died on Monday, leaving behind a long legacy of musical innovation.

Dieter Moebius, a pioneer of electronic music whose art background led him to develop ambient soundscapes, died Monday. He was 71.

Michael Rother, his partner in the band Harmonia, announced Moebius's death on Facebook.

"He will be dearly missed by all of us," Rother said, without revealing a cause of death.

Born in Switzerland, Moebius studied art in Brussels and later in West Berlin, where he became part of the nascent "Krautrock" movement that brought heavy synthesization but minimalist arrangements to the rock era. 

Along with Harmonia, which was most active in the 1970s, Moebius formed half of the influential duo Cluster with Hans-Joachim Roedelius. Cluster performed until 2010.

On albums such as 1974's "Zuckerzeit" and 1976's "Sowiesoso," Cluster moved away from the more abrasive elements of the Krautrock electronic scene to pursue smooth, flowing textures that were gentler and often more melodic.

The genre became known as ambient, which went in a different direction than the dance music that now dominates electronica.

Ambient music reached a wider audience through the British artist Brian Eno, who was an active collaborator with Cluster.

Moebius described his artistic sense as coming from the chaos of Berlin in the 1960s, where he was more frequently on the street protesting against the establishment than taking classes.

As a child, he was exposed to classical music but said his mindset changed when he heard the rock 'n' roller Chuck Berry and later arthouse rockers The Velvet Underground.

In a 2012 interview, he said that Cluster's albums showed a constant development of the duo's thinking about music.

"Because we were autodidactic musicians, we got to learn more and more about doing it. That's normal, I think," he told the art magazine Frieze.

Cluster showed the influence of an art-school background with covers, which featured stark and simple images such as a bottle and a tube of toothpaste.

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