Music Reviews from the Staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House


May 27, 2017
Wichlinghauser Blues & Bonobo - Hans Reichel

If you are reading this review, you already know of Hans Reichel (May 10, 1949 - November 22, 2011). You may have heard his self-made instrument, the daxophone, which, in the hands of a master (to our knowledge, there are only two: Reichel himself and Kazuhisa Uchihashi) could be manipulated to create the sounds of a tuba, a violin or a badger, among many others. The daxophone is high-lighted best on his two daxophone operettas, Shanghaied on Tor Road (FMP, CD 46, 1992, cd) and Yuxo (a|l|l, 003, 2002, cd).

You may have also heard his distinct style of improvisation made possible by a combination of his individual artistic aesthetic and the unique architecture of his self-made guitars, which encouraged such alternative techniques as behind-the-bridge playing. A highlight of this is the cd reissue The Death Of The Rare Bird Ymir/Bonobo Beach (FMP, CD 54 1993, cd), which collected most of the material from the two previously released lps (1979 & 1981) of the same names.

If you consider yourself more than a passing fan of Reichel's music, you may even have heard some of his playful duets, including Self Made (Ambiances Magnétiques, AM 192 CD, 2009, cd), with Ganesh Anandan, in which each plays instruments of their own construction.

But the odds are you have not heard Wichlinghauser Blues or Bonobo, Reichel's first two full length albums, which were originally released on vinyl by FMP of Berlin in 1973 and 1975 respectively. Unlike other Reichel albums on FMP which saw a reissue with the advent of the cd, Wichlinghauser Blues and Bonobo only this month see their first reissue, via the efforts of the curators of the Corbett vs. Dempsey label.

Reichel's first recorded music is both like and unlike his later work. His idiosyncratic sympathies for the guitar are evident as too are, at times, familiar, signature sounds he extracted from the instrument. However, there is also an experimentalism and an interplay with dissonance that is largely absent from later guitar albums. It is altogether appropriate that light is being shined on this music again.

Even if you have heard this music before, the reissue of Wichlinghauser Blues and Bonobo provides a happy occasion to listen to it again.

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Unnecessary Addendum:
The fondness of the Poison Pie Publishing House for the Music of Hans Reichel is well documented. A few examples include

  • Many of the fonts he designed are used in various illustrated books from the Poison Pie Publishing House. (The header at the top of this page presents "The Poison Pie Publishing House" in a rather cryptic font of Reichel's design in which each letter is represented by a daxophone stick.)
  • A music video for the song, Give Me Money from the daxophone operetta, Shanghaied on Tor Road (FMP, CD 46, 1992, cd, link).
  • A Requiem for Hans Reichel for theremin/daxophone/thumb piano/washing machine quartet.
  • An obituary for Hans Reichel from the Poison Pie Publishing House.
  • A home-made daxophone is shared with the students in the class, The Golden Age of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation, offered at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.