In East Germany in the early 1970’s Martin Zeichnete worked as a sound editor for DEFA, (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft), the state-owned film studio. Like many young East Germans of the time he would listen furtively to West German radio at night and became infatuated with the Kosmische Musik or ‘Krautrock’ epitomised by the likes of Kraftwerk, Neu! and Cluster emerging from his neighbouring country. Martin, a keen runner, hit upon the idea of using the repetitive, motorik beats of this new music as a training aid for athletes. He thought it could benefit the mind as well as the body with the pulsing, hypnotic music bringing focus. A ‘borrowed’ prototype of Andreas Pavel’s Stereobelt showed Martin the technology to provide music on the move already existed and could easily be adapted for runners.
After sharing his concept with colleagues Martin was taken from his studio to East Berlin, quizzed by the authorities about his ideas and, fearing the worst, was surprised to find himself put to work by the Nationales Olympisches Komitee immediately. Installed in a cold Berlin studio with the few electronic instruments the state could supply, (Martin asked for a Moog but was refused), he began one of the strangest journeys in music. Known to the government as State Plan 14.84L, Martin and his fellow musicians informally called it ‘Projekt Kosmischer Läufer’ (Cosmic Runner).
For the next 11 years Martin would be spirited to Berlin to work on tracks with little notice. He created hours of music fusing traditional rock instruments with synthesizers, early drum computers, tape slicing and looping techniques he and his engineer formulated themselves. His output included tracks for running at various paces, warm up pieces, ‘ambient’ music to play in gyms during training and pieces for artistic gymnastic routines.
You can read a full interview with Martin Zeichnete about his work on Kosmischer Läufer HERE
- 1951 – Born Pesterwitz near Dresden.
- 1971 – Began work as a sound editor at the DEFA-Studio for Animation in Dresden.
- 1972 – Work on Projekt Kosmischer Läufer begins.
- 1973 – Studio musician for Amiga records. Played keyboard on recordings for Dean Reed AKA the ‘Red Elvis’.
- 1976 – Composes soundtrack for ‘Traum von der goldenen Zukunft’ (Dream Of The Golden Future), an animated film to promote East Berlin’s proposed bid to host the 1984 Summer Games. The bid fails to materialise and the project is abandoned.
- 1983 – Sent to Fernsehen der DDR (State Television) to write music for TV shows.
- Fired less than a year later, coincidently when ‘Kosmisher Läufer’ was shut down. Leaves the DDR. He will not return until after reunification.
- 2013 – Unknown Capability Recordings begin the release of the Zeichnete archive.
- 2015 – Unknown Capability Recordings join with Yann Tiersen to play Zeichnete’s music live for the first time.
- 2016 – An exhibition of Kosmischer Läufer equipment and ephemera is part of the Leith Late Arts Festival in Edinburgh.