It’s a Friday afternoon in Berlin, just a day before Randweg will perform live for the first time at its Equisetales album launch, inside the city’s spectacular Katerholzig club next to the River Spree. Creative lead Andreas Ernst is huddled in a studio not too far from where Saturday’s performance will happen; a modest basement setup in the east district of Mitte, where he’s banging out details of the live show with his longtime collaborator David Baurmann.
They’ve been holed up in the basement together for extended stretches over the past few days. Ashtrays are overflowing, empty beer cans litter the ground. The genesis of Randweg’s approach revolves around Ernst’s creative use of his woodwind clarinet to extract all kinds of wonderful, electronically manipulated sounds; and so he stands with his instrument, connected to all manner of effects pads at his feet, which he often manipulates simply with a tap of his toes as he plays. Baurmann controls the Albeton setup, the percussion, and wields his own guitar.
Equisetales is the result of several years of exploration by Ernst, into how his classical clarinet training could be incorporated into an electronic music context. Early experiments saw him collaborating on releases with Ellen Allien and Ripperton, as well as memorably helping Der Dritte Raum revision their seminal Hale Bopp classic, with the 2008 clarinet-led Swing Bop, which he regularly helped the act recreate as part of its live entourage.
Ernst’s classical training in clarinet began at the age of 12, when he was growing up in Germany’s west. “I left Wuppertal at the age of 22, and until then I was receiving regular lessons, and playing in the orchestra and big band. I did enjoy playing the clarinet in these classical circumstances, and I always wanted to do my own music as well,” he says.
“At a certain point after I moved to Berlin though, when I discovered all the clubs and electronic music, I realised that I couldn’t play the instrument with the music that I liked. The sound of the clarinet didn’t really fit in the context of this music.”
Ernst’s career eventually saw him joining Berlin’s music media, on the marketing and sales side; a profession that was ideal for connecting him with the kind of artists and otherwise who would eventually encourage him to pick up his clarinet again. The next step though for bringing the clarinet into his own universe of sounds was some appropriate equipment.
“I eventually found this pickup system for the clarinet, which directly connects to the instrument and from there, feeds through to the FX units; and this opened the door for everything else. Over the years I collected a few that I like, and in the process I fell in love with playing again.”