I know there is really no such thing as cyberpunk music. As (I think) someone famously said, “cyberpunk music is whatever kind of music a cyberpunk wants to listen to.” I couldn’t agree more. But thanks to Vangelis’ masterpiece score for the Blade Runner film, I will forever associate “Berlin school” music with cyberpunk. It’s burned into my brain. The moment I hear it, I am transported to some futuristic, neon-soaked, rainy city.
“Berlin school of electronic music” refers to the original inflow of Berlin-based musicians in the 70’s and early 80’s that were creating ambient electronic music with (usually) modular synthesizers. Artists like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze are among the most respected of these. And yes, I know Vangelis is from Greece. But he was still highly influential in this particular scene.
On September 5th, ambient artist Ombient along with Chuck van Zyl, did a live improvised set of Berlin school music. Ombient is the project of Mike Hunter, who is known for doing improvised synthesis sets across different genres of electronic music. Chuck van Zyl is best known as the radio DJ that hosts the Stars End radio show in the Philadelphia area on 88.5 WXPN. But van Zyl also creates music similar to that which he plays on his show.
What is interesting about this set is that Hunter and van Zyl have restricted themselves to the technology that would have been available to the 70’s-era Berlin school artists at the time they were creating their work. This gives the music a truly authentic Berlin school sound. And yes, this is the most cyberpunk sounding music to me. I’ve had this set on loop for a couple of weeks now.