Composer/inventor/sculptor/designer Hans Reichel, 1949 – 2011. Photo by Marc Eckardt.
Hans Reichel—the criminally under-appreciated German experimental guitarist—passed away in his hometown of Wuppertal yesterday at the age of 62, according to a West German newspaper. Virtually unknown on this side of the Atlantic, Reichel was a self-taught guitarist who may be best remembered for his radical homemade guitars and his invented instrument, the Daxophone.
Picking up music at an early age by teaching himself violin, Reichel (like just about everybody else) became enamored with rock music in the ‘60s, picked up a guitar and played in various blues-based groups before all but abandoning music to study graphic design (Reichel would go on to be a fairly well known typesetter). Reichel returned to music in the early ‘70s with his folky and unpretentious improvisational approach to the guitar differentiating him from the field of European improvisers at the time. His idiosyncratic take on the guitar drew the attention of legendary German avant-garde label, FMP, who would go on to release the majority of his work—much of which has never seen proper North American distribution. Reichel collaborated with a wide range of like-minded players, including cellist Tom Cora and guitarist Fred Frith.
Though he will never be a household name, Reichel’s contributions to the avant-garde are considerable and will be sorely missed by fans of forward-thinking music. Fare thee well, Hans.
It’s a huge and unexpected loss.
Thank you, Hans Reichel, for bringing so much joy, beauty and oddness into the world.
Click here to read previous Coilhouse coverage on Reichel’s wonderfully strange creation, the Daxophone.