Saturday, January 31, 2015

Brian Eno - 1978 - Ambient 1: Music For Airports

Brian Eno 
Ambient 1: Music For Airports

01. 1/1 (16:30)
02. 1/2 (8:55)
03. 2/1 (11:45)
04. 2/2 (12:20)

- Brian Eno / synthesizer, electric piano
- Robert Wyatt / piano
- Christina Fast / vocals
- Christine Gomez / vocals

"Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting." - Brain Eno
This album is usually accepted as the first real experiment with ambient music. It is simple, repetitive, nearly unnoticeable. At the same time it is groundbreaking, interesting, and it truly enhances whatever atmosphere (unless a turbulent one) it is introduced to. Eno took his idea for a new type of music, and revolutionized the world of atmospheric music. Eno had been building up to the idea of ambient music for a few years before creating this(starting with the Robert Fripp collaboration "No Pussy Footing"), and this is the first time it really comes out as a finished product. This is amongst the most important albums ever, as with any revolutionary piece (i.e. King Crimson's "In the Court Of The Crimson King", Miles Davis' "Bitches' Brew").

This album delivers exactly what it sets out to, perfect background music. It consists mainly of small repetitions of different piano lines or synth washes. All of which simple yet strikingly appropriate. Not much to be said about the style other than, this is the kind of music which would sound perfect in an airport to brighten moods, and calm nerves. It would make working more pleasant, and help take the edge out of stressful situations. Soothing and simple. Almost womb like.

The genius of this recording lies in its ability to be noticed without any registered effect on what you are doing. I can guarantee if you put it on while someone was doing something without letting them know they wouldn't register the music consciously at all but they would almost instantly improve their mood. Musically the album is very haunting and pretty, letting every note sit in completely and wonderfully. Although, it is not perfect.

Even though without doubt this recording was the realization of the ambient genre, it isn't its pinnacle. For example I find Bach to be the first person to realise listenable western music, but he's certainly did not reach the complexity and power of Stravinsky or the sheer genius of Mozart. The problem with this album is that even if you want it to be it is not engaging. Even if its not the purpose the perfect ambient album would need to be able to interest you if you sit in silence and just listen to the music. An example of this would be Mike Oldfield's "Songs Of A Distant Earth", which can interest you should you just listen to it and at the same time be background music. I'm still tormented with the 4 star rating, because it did invent the genre, and its pretty darn close to being the perfect ambient album. When it comes down the wire however, it is flawed.

The best track on the album is 2/1 which has the prettiest piano composition and combines the ideas in the first two tracks. Every track however (there is only 4) is perfectly suited to the album and there isn't a single weak point.

If one were a collector of every genre of music, this album is essential based on historical significance alone. This really is an excellent addition to any collection, and for fans of more electronic music you should go out and buy it post haste!

Brian Eno - 1977 - Before And After Science

Brian Eno
Before And After Science

01. No One Receiving (3:52)
02. Backwater (3:43)
03. Kurt's Rejoinder (2:55)
04. Energy Fools the Magician (2:04)
05. King's Lead Hat (3:56)
06. Here He Comes (5:38)
07. Julie With... (6:19)
08. By This River (3:03)
09. Through Hollow Lands (3:56)
10. Spider and I (4:10)

- Brian Eno / vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion, bass

Additional musicians:
- Paul Rudolph / bass, guitar
- Percy Jones / fretless bass
- Bill MacCormick / bass
- Brian Turrington / bass
- Phil Collins / drums
- Dave Mattacks / drums
- Jaki Liebezeit / drums
- Andy Fraser / drums
- Phil Manzanera / guitar
- Fred Frith / guitar
- Robert Fripp / guitar
- Hans-Joachim Roedelius / piano, electric piano
- Dieter Moebius / bass Fender piano
- Kurt Schwitters / voice
- Shirley Williams / timbales
- Rhett Davies / percussion

Brian Peter George St. John Le Baptiste De La Salle (aka Eno) embarked on a varied and adventurous solo career after he fell out with Bryan Ferry and left Roxy Music for greener pastures - and he found them, especially with this album. Eno has summoned the talents of lots of famous (at least in the prog world) musicians from Phil Collins to Fred Frith, and even some from the Krautrock scene. The result is just amazing - Side 1 of the record is the more 'pop' oriented side which kicks off with 'No-one Receiving', a funky, avante-pop number with Percy Jones' bubbling Bass playing and PhilCo on the drums, ex- Pink Fairies and Hawkwind's Paul Rudolph also plays Bass and Rhythm Guitar, and Eno creates unusual sounds throughout as only he can do and his voice is polite and enjoyable. 'Backwater' is a sort of boogie type track with Can's Jaki Liebezeit on drums and Rudolph again on Bass - a slightly weaker track. 'Kurt's Rejoinder' is a fast paced number with interesting Bass playing. 'Energy Fools the Magician' is an ambient textured song with Percy Jones' revolutionary Fretless Bass playing. Eno's choice of sounds are unique and original, always are. 'King's Lead Hat' (which actually is an anagram of Talking Heads, whose David Byrne worked with Eno on the percussive 'My Life in a Bush of Ghosts') is an up-tempo poppy song with that experimental edge. The tracks on side 2 veer towards ambient soundscapes and dreamy atmospheres, starting with the care-free, playful 'Here He Comes' which is simple and effective, catchy and mellow, no-one could dislike this track. Now for an all-time favourite Eno track 'Julie With...' a most beautiful, tranquil and serene tune with liquid Bass sounds, floaty keyboards, almost mournful guitar playing and Eno's mild-mannered vocals sung to perfection. Intoxicating. 'By This River' features Roedelius and Moebius (German duo Cluster) and is another soft tune, with a simple progression, beautiful lyrics..."you talk to me, as if from a distance, and I reply with impressions chosen from another time..." totally magic. "Through Hollow Lands' is ambient and mysterious, slow and blissful. Last track 'Spider and I' sounds almost symphonic with majestic poly- synth sounds and accessible melody. Worthy of note ; Shirley Williams, who is credited with Time and Brush Timbales is a pseudonym for Robert Wyatt

Brian Eno - 1975 - Discreet Music

Brian Eno 
Discreet Music

01. Discreet Music (31:34)
02. Three Variations on the Canon in D Major: Fullness of Wind (9:55)
03. Three Variations on the Canon in D Major: French Catalogues (5:19)
04. Three Variations on the Canon in D Major: Brutal Ardour (8:13)

- Brian Eno / synthesiser, keyboards, vocals

With time this minimalistic album has grown one of my greatest favourites, containing the most romantically beautiful ambient music I have yet heard. The A-side of the vinyl is built from delicate whispers of flute mellotrons and soothing synth tones, creating calm area of sound, where the sensation of time disappears. The randomness of loop effects used give interesting extra value to this flow of tones; Though this is more calculated and automated, the endresult sounds much more human and plesant than the organic soothing improvisation fro example from the King Crimson's "Moonchild" explorations. The B-side has three variations of Johann Pachelbel's Canon on D Major with chamber orchestra, whose adaptations have been enhanced with some additional synths. The random approach to these scores are interesting, as due simplicity of the scales the variations provide tonally pleasant sounds, which I would describe "surrealistic classical music". "Fullness of Wind" reduces speed constantly, and disappears to hazy void of beautifulness like "Im Abendrot" of Richard Strauss. The two other pieces have the notes duration interval broken down, and shimmer transcendental sweetness like a masterful abstract painting. If you like beautiful and classical music, I would recommend to allure yourslef with the charms of this wonderful album.

Brian Eno - 1975 - Another Green World

Brian Eno 
Another Green World

01. Sky Saw (3:25)
02. Over Fire Island (1:49)
03. St. Elmo's Fire (2:56)
04. In Dark Trees (2:29)
05. The Big Ship (3:01)
06. I'll Come Running (3:48)
07. Another Green World (1:28)
08. Sombre Reptiles (2:26)
09. Little Fishes (1:30)
10. Golden Hours (4:01)
11. Becalmed (3:56)
12. Zawinul/Lava (3:00)
13. Everything Merges With the Night (3:59)
14. Spirits Drifting (2:36)

- Brian Eno / organ, synthesizer, guitar, percussion, piano, keyboards, organ (Hammond), vocals, Farfisa organ, bass pedals, tapes
- John Cale / keyboards, viola
- Phil Collins / percussion, drums
- Robert Fripp / guitar
- Percy Jones / bass, Fretless bass
- Roderick Melvin / keyboards, Fender Rhodes
- Paul Rudolph / bass, guitar, guitar (bass), drums (snare)
- Brian Turrington / bass, piano, guitar (bass)

 Balancing the more structured sounds of his first two albums with tastes of the more texturally heavy ambient work to come, Eno's music is wonderfully vibrant on Another Green World. Showcasing his brilliance as both a quirky pop music maker and a craftsman of progressive electronic soundscapes and melodies it's hard not to be captivated by the near equilibrist qualities found here.
Being a monument of timbre variation, the first thing that really strikes you about the album is its colorfulness; a mainly electronic palette capable of reaching crystal clear ethereal notes as well as mysterious, low-end droning - and everything in between. It's remarkably hard to pinpoint a certain direction or any particular moods in the short songs. There are of course the pop ones, oddities marked by strong melodies and quirky, subdued percussion. Eno's somewhat flat and carefree vocals aids in making the dreamlike qualities stronger. Overall though, while far from directionless, the songs gladly drift off on their own accord in various studio acrobatics. Not in slow moving textures and minimal melodies like those you often encounter in electronic music, although shorter bits of that are also present, but instead anchored to tangible rhythm and melody, albeit in an often fragmented and transient way. There is a certain wistfulness to some of the music, but often with something playful and cheeky on top or underneath; just further proof of the strangely suspended atmosphere on Another Green World. Stylishly distanced, cold and yet alluring, controlled fieriness. It's not surprising that Eno collaborated with another artist with the same musical aesthetics; David Bowie during his Berlin era.

A typical compositional method is adding sharp, robotic sounds over a repeated and slightly varying series of distinct bass bursts and noodling s, with steady beat and enrichment from and underlying guitar or viola. There is seldom a clear lead instrument, but rather a holistic, layered approach where instruments come and go, but where no one really dominates. The buzzing and screeching noises produced by some of those synthesizers and organs are kind of hard to ignore though, but they're never really meant to be subtle either. It really is a melange of subtle and obvious, sharp and soft.

Being a mostly electronic album, you can't escape from the fact that atmosphere is key here. It's just not meant to be blazing guitar solos or other instrumental fireworks, but instead of the truly ethereal and cerebral albums of Tangerine Dream and others of that ilk (and even later Eno, to be fair) this a more musically engaging album, with meditative qualities that still manage to keep you on edge (or keep you awake for that matter!). The scope of the fourteen songs can change rather dramatically in terms of melody, ambiance and technique, but they all share one important ingredient; the detached, pseudo-academic presentation and experimentation. That, and layering. Add one there, remove it again, add it with another one, strip down to percussion and bass. It feels a bit calculated, a fact that has the potential to scare off some listeners.

Brian Eno - 1974 - Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)

Brian Eno
Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)

01. Burning Airlines Give You So Much More (3:15)
02. Back In Judy's Jungle (5:14)
03. The Fat Lady of Limbourg (5:05)
04. Mother Whale Eyeless (6:00)
05. The Great Pretender (5:10)
06. Third Uncle (5:01)
07. Put A Straw Under Baby (3:28)
08. The True Wheel (5:20)
09. China My China (5:45)
10. Taking Tiger Mountain (6:00)

- Brian Eno / vocals, electronics, guitar, keyboards
- Phil Manzanera / guitar
- Freddie Smith & Phil Collins / drums
- Brian Turrington / bass
- Robert Wyatt / percussion, backing vocals
- Polly Eltes / vocals (4)

Eno changed. This is a much slower album than Warm Jets, and it has a far greater emphasis on the kind of repetition that was shown in "On Some Faraway Beach" and would largely dominate (in a much more potent form) Eno's later work. However, this is a slowing down, not a full-blown foray into statics like what one would later find on Another Green World, and it doesn't always really work. Eno's melody-writing talent regularly shows itself, as does his unequalled mastery of the studio and the ability to make guitars, keyboards and other assorted tools come together perfectly (which helps explain why lots of people consider this his peak, and also explains why, despite the fact that I'll seemingly be complaining about this album a lot, I'm giving it a high rating), but the album also seriously drags in more than a couple of places; simply put, I can't really see how this album can justifiably run for more than 48 minutes.
The strongest example of what I mean by saying the album drags comes from the three track stretch of "The Fat Lady of Limbourg," "Mother Whale Eyeless" and "The Great Pretender." I consider all three of these to be good songs overall, yes, but that doesn't mean I like any of them in their entirety. "The Fat Lady of Limbourg" comes the closest to completely satisfying me, as a creepy, quasi-mournful number driven by a memorable repeated "that's what we're paid for" line, but five minutes of it just seems like overkill to me. The relatively upbeat portions of "Mother Whale Eyeless" are standard high quality Eno, but the upwards bit that he sings in other parts just sounds incredibly awkward to my ears; I can tell he's trying to be hypnotic with it, but I'm just not as impressed with this as I am with the efforts he'd start showing within a year. And as for "The Great Pretender," well, I'd more or less be fine with the whole track were it not for the last fifty seconds consisting of a single noise set on endless loop. Too bad, seeing as I like the vocals and atmosphere, even if the melody continues to elude my memory.

In any case, the biggest problem I have with these tracks comes not from their individual characteristics, but from the way that, collectively, they just seemingly slooooow the album to a craaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwl. For whatever reason, these tracks feed off each other in a way that makes them each sound way more sluggish than they do individually; for an artist like Eno, who showed such a knack in his prime for making albums greater than the sum of their tracks, it's disappointing to hear the opposite effect at work.

I'm not an enormous fan of the last two tracks either, though I do think they're both quite good. "China my China" is a song that I enjoy plenty while it's on, but even after a ton of listens, I still can't remember how it goes once it's done ... on the other hand, it deserves major, MAJOR props for probably being the only song in the world to feature a typewriter solo (!!!). The closing title track, then, is rather pretty and calming, making effective use of what's basically a two-note guitar melody. In other words, it's good; it's just not mindblowingly cathartic, which (justly or not) is the standard I've set for mellow Eno ballads. It would be a near-masterpiece by the standards of most bands, though

The other five tracks are pretty much great, and (as mentioned earlier) largely different from what one would have expected in the wake of Warm Jets. "Third Uncle" is a fantastic up-tempo paranoid rocker, with Manzanera strumming at a lightning-fast rate (and throwing in some awfully intense yet almost psychedelic overdubs) and Eno delivering his lines in a way that could almost be considered rapping (there's not really any pitch changes, after all). It comes closer than anything else here to the style of Warm Jets, but even then there's a stripped-down aggression that not even "Needles in the Camel's Eye" (which is much poppier than "Third Uncle") or "Baby's on Fire" could match.

The opening "Burning Airlines Give You So Much More" is a fabulous opener, with a playful theme that's instantly identifiable as a tweak on traditional Chinese note sequences and with a delightful vocal melody and lyrics about goodness knows what (not in a pretentious way, though). The following "Back in Judy's Jungle" ostensibly matches with the concept suggested by the album title, with lyrics that in places read like military orders and reports and a part that almost breaks into a war march (though this is simultaneously a waltz, strangely enough), but it too is tweaked through Dadaist rearrangments of lines into something that is completely unpredictable from start to finish.

Finally, on side two, we get a couple of other major highlights. "Put a Straw Under Baby" is a hilarious lullaby with infamous lines like, "There's a brain in the table, there's a heart in the chair, and they all live in Jesus; it's a family affair" and with great imitations of recorders from Eno's synths. It's also notable because, after "Back in Judy's Jungle," it's the first track to resurrect even a feel of China in the music, even if the lyrics have nothing to do with it. And finally, "The True Wheel" is a high-quality stomping Bowie-esque piano-rocker with big anthemic, "We Are The 801!" chants by a mini children's choir interspersed between Eno's warblings and spiced up by yet some more great minimalistic Manzanera guitar work (I swear, this man is getting dangerously close to cracking my Top 5 Guitarists list). And man, do I ever dig Eno's "We are the ..." vocal lines in what essentially works as an extended coda to the piece.

So in total, this is one heck of an inconsistent album, but the high points are so neat that I can't help but give this a very high grade. Eno would do better things, yes, but it's a significant step forward (after all, as great as Warm Jets was, it still largely tied in with Eno's Roxy Music past) and thus a near necessity for all decent musical historians. Just make sure that you get his other "big" albums first.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Brian Eno - 1973 - Here Come the Warm Jets

Brian Eno
Here Come the Warm Jets

01. Needles in the Camel's Eye (3:10)
02. The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch (3:05)
03. Baby's on Fire (5:18)
04. Cindy tells me (3:25)
05. Driving me backwards (5:11)
06. On Some Faraway Beach (4:36)
07. Blank Frank (3:35)
08. Dead Finks don't Talk (4:20)
09. Some of them are Old (5:11)
10. Here Come the Warm Jets (4:02)

- Brian Eno / vocals, keyboards, guitars, synthesizers, treatments
- Simon King / drums
- Nick Kool / keyboards
- Nick Judd / keyboards
- Andy Mackay / keyboards, saxophone
- Robert Fripp / guitar
- Phil Manzanera / guitar
- Paul Rudolph / guitar, bass
- Chris Spedding / guitar
- Busta Cherry Jones / bass
- Bill McCormick / bass
- John Wetton / bass
- Marty Simon / percussion
- Paul Thompson / percussion
- Lloyd Watson / slide guitar
- Sweetfeed / backing vocals
- Chris Thomas / bass

There has never been an artist more mystic (in the prog world, anyway) than Brian Eno. He has had many occupations that have influenced many musicians: he was the founding father of ambient music (though some might give him nosmall amount of flak for starting new age slop), a glam rocker, an expert at the synthesizer and many other strange electronic devices, a producer of hits for U2 and Talking Heads, an explorer of non-western musical themes and, as he was known to everyone who liked him, a "non-musician."

Mr. Eno was born in Woodbridge on May 15, 1948. His birth name was (deep breath...) Brian Peter George St. Jean le Baptiste de la Salle Eno. Growing up in the neighboring town of Suffolk (which was close to a American Air Force camp), he became fascinated by music when listening to doo wop and R&B on the Armed Forces radio stations. He later developed an interest towards avant-garde composers like John Cage and Terry Riley. In 1971, he became a member of the seminal rock band ROXY MUSIC. Eno joined them because he knew how to operate a certain synthesizer that none of the other members could. Some rock fans thought that he was gay because he wore makeup and women's clothing. His unusual appearance was offstaging the ROXY MUSIC frontman Bryan Ferry, who began to grow agitated as a result. After several fights with Ferry, Eno quit ROXY MUSIC to record some albums of his own sound.

The first album with Eno's name on it was 1973's "No Pussyfooting", an early ambient venture that he recorded with fellow EG Records recording artist Robert Fripp (most famous as the guitarist of KING CRIMSON). Most of the album was a Gibson Les Paul played by Fripp running through a tape-delay system. This new method would be dubbed "Frippertronics," a system that Fripp would later use in his solo career. (The sampling of sounds later set the stage for electronica and hip-hop.) Eno's first true solo album was 1973's "Here Come The Warm Jets", which managed to make the Top 30 in the UK. This time around, Eno had a glam rock sound that David Bowie and QUEEN had popularized. The album proved so critically popular that Eno (even though he was in poor health) decided to tour. The tour was cancelled shortly because of a collapsed lung.

In 1974, he released "Taking Tiger Mountain" (By Strategy), which was a similar collection of free form rock songs. Shortly after the album was
released, a serious car accident left Eno bedridden for several months. While in the hospital, a friend brought him an album of classical music. One channel of the stereo had failed completely, but because he was unable to get up and fix it, Eno heard some sounds in the sole working channel that made him very amazed. This experience was essentially the birth of ambient music. In fact, in 1975, Eno squeezed out TWO 100% instrumental ambient albums: Discreet Music, an independent release based mainly on Pachelbel's Canon in D Major; and "Evening Star", a second collaboration with Robert Fripp. Earlier, another rock album, "Another Green World", was released. Generally considered Eno's best album, this album had the sound scenario of "past meets the presents and predicts the future": many abstract pop/rock songs were paired beside some dense, instrumental minimalist compositions. The album featured several guest musicians, including Phil Collins and Robert Fripp.

Eno's last album of pop songs was 1977's "Before And After Science", the second chapter to "Another Green World". Afterwards, he focused his attention towards more innovative, ambient-sounding recordings (the purpose of the Ambient series, which featured Music For Airports, another "classic" of his). He did, however, get involved in some rock/pop ventures. He played on a trio of David Bowie albums recorded in and inspired by Europe (Low, Heroes and Lodger). He was also a part-time producer for "Talking Heads", whose leader David Byrne recorded with him the well-received "My Life In The Bush of Ghosts".

While leaving in the Southern Ontario region, he managed get his hands on a copy of an album by children's artist Raffi. Eno thought the sonics were so good that he wanted to work with the engineer, a Mr. Daniel Lanois. At that time, Daniel Lanois and his brother Bob owned and operated a basement recording studio where Raffi and Ian Tyson (among others) had recorded. The first album Eno recorded with Lanois was "Ambient 2: The Plateux of Mirror". The collaboration with Lanois would lead him to produce million-selling albums by Peter Gabriel (So) and U2 (The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby). Since the early 90's, Eno has mainly been releasing a series of unsuccessful independent albums, but occasionally is seen in public. He
co-produced by the successful "All That You Can't Leave Behind" by U2 and also gave a congratulatory speech (in sign language!) to Daniel Lanois's induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. In 2004, he reunited with Robert Fripp to do another ambient album called "The Equitorial Stars".

Brian Eno's first solo outing, 1973's self-produced HERE COME THE WARM JETS is an excellent album, for those who can appreciate inspired lunacy -- but it's nothing like his later ambient works, or the generally more serious and disciplined ANOTHER GREEN WORLD and BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE.
This recording is great fun, but it's certainly not for everyone. Along with the clever studio craft that would later make him perhaps the most sought-after producer in modern music, Eno shows a wicked sense of humour. If you have a hard time with "novelty" songs, and humour in music in general, be warned: silly songs like "The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" (try getting away with that title today!), "Driving Me Backwards," "Blank Frank" and "Dead Finks Don't Talk" may well drive you away from your speakers and toward the STOP button... but I welcome witty wackiness in music, especially when it's as well executed as this!

Yes, variety is good, and in addition to the prevailing madness, there is also sentiment, beauty, and just plain catchy, multi-layered pop pleasure to be found in plentitude on more restrained tracks like "Cindy Tells Me," the lush "On Some Faraway Beach," and the infectious instrumental title track.

The list of guest musicians is impressive: on board for maestro Eno's wild ride are Robert Fripp, John Wetton, Chris Spedding, Nick Judd, and Roxy Music members Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay, and Paul Thompson. (If you haven't heard Fripp's absolutely blistering solo on the essential, acerbic "Baby's on Fire," then you're missing out on one of the best things he's ever laid down outside the Crimson fold!)

Why do so many diverse artists, from Bowie to Ultravox to James to Paul Simon to U2 hire Brian Eno to work his magic on their albums? The answer can begin to be discerned here. Tasty stuff -- if you like it - and a very strong debut from one of the most important and influential figures in modern music.

Michael Hoenig - 1978 - Departure From The Northern Wasteland

Michael Hoenig 
Departure From The Northern Wasteland

01. Departure From The Northern Wasteland (20:53)
02. Hanging Garden Transfer (10:56)
03. Voices Of Where (6:19)
04. Sun And Moon (4:16)

- Michael Hoenig / synthesizers & electronics

Michael Hoenig is a German synth/electronic composer who started his career in the "cosmic" krautrock classic Agitation Free. He joined the band in 1971 thanks to Michael Gunter. Hoenig notably provided the electronic treatments, spacey and hypnosis synth sounds on "Malesch" (1972) and "second" (1973). His most important contribution in Agitation Free remains in "last" (live, 1974) for the monumental "beatific" electronics and rumbling drones. In march 1975, Hoenig was hired to replace Peter Baumann in Tangerine Dream for an Australian tour and BBC recorded London Royal Albert Hall concert. After his short appearance in Tangerine Dream, Hoenig released two solo albums: Departure From The Northern Wasteland (1978) and Xcept One (1987). Considered as a little classic the first one reveals strong connexions with Tangerine Dream's typical synth arpeggios and abstract atmospheres.
In parallel he worked for several movie soundtracks, including Deadly Encounter, Koyaaniswatsi, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Max Headroom, The Blob, and Dark Skies. He also composed the music for the computer game Baldur's Gate 2.

Let's go straight to the point: If you are fond of mid 70s Tangerine Dream, you will enjoy for sure this album. Departure From The Northern Wasteland is crafted in the same stone than Ricochet and Encore, minus the guitars. With this record, Michael Hoenig offers beautiful, contemplative and inspired electronic music dispatched in four pieces, mostly instrumental.

The title track is undoubtly the highlight of the disc. Perfectly sequenced, synthetizers' themes evolve slowly and superposing mellotron waves reveal magic and crystalline landscapes. The song fades away softly during its final part. The tune could have well figured on a Tangerine Dream release. The next track, Hanging Garden Transfer, displays a much faster, colder and more robotic sound. There are truely very trippy and catchy passages in it. Voices Of Where arrives as a surprise, as it features no rythm and hardly no sequencing at all, mainly mellotron and backing vocals. The tune is relaxing but is also the weakest of the album, as it tends to be repetitive by moments. This is easily catched up with the ending track, Sun And Moon, which brings the sequencer back. It is at first glance reminiscent of Ashra's New Age Of Earth. Then keyboards become more energic to offer a quite enchanting and spacey futuristic conclusion.

Not terrificly new but very inspired, Departure From The Northern Wasteland is quite similar to the albums from the classic Tangerine Dream line up with Baumann. It was released the same year the band tried to change their sound, to create something else. However, this album proves that Michael Hoenig can rank among the best electronic progressive german musicians. It's a pity he hadn't recorded more albums (the next one, Xcept One, is rather deceiving). Highly recommended to TD fans !

Leda - 1978 - Welcome To Joyland

Welcome To Joyland

01. Welcome to Joyland 3:56
02. Endless Race 3:46
03. White Clouds 4:48
04. Movin' On 3:04
05. City of Light 4:17
06. Space Ride 3:30
07. Caroussel 4:30
08. Future 3:28
09. Stardust 3:18

Hacoon Mail (Peter Baumann)
performer, writer
Cyril Claud
performer, writer

This record was written for Leda, by Peter Baumann under the alias 'Hacoon Mail'. The style is very similar to the albums recorded by Giorgio Moroder-Donna Summer at the time, or the underrated "Disco Machine" by Electronic System. The problem is that Leda is a very weak singer, actually she sings like me in the shower:) or something, and the last track sounds like a corny Eurovision entry.

Fortunately she is quiet during half of the record or more and Baumann steals the show, hinting to the technopop music made by himself in the 80s. The music is amazing, like futuristic-techno-cosmic-disco, it could have been a massive hit on the dancefloors (with a better singer), but its destiny was to become an obscure gem, which nowadays unfortunately and undeservedly is out of print.

Peter Baumann - 1983 - Strangers In The Night

Peter Baumann 
Strangers In The Night

01. Strangers in the Night
02. Metro Man
03. King of the Jungle
04. Be Mine
05. Time Machine
06. Taxi
07. Cash
08. Glass House
09. Ground Zero
10. Welcome

- Peter Baumann / synthesizers, keyboards

To modern ears this will sound quaint, but at the time it was innovative and interesting.  "Strangers in the Night" (Theme from the movie "A Man Could Get Killed") being of special note despite the heavy bass.  The album does not even just peter out leaving you asking what was that all about then?  Rather towards the end it gets more interesting so much so that you find yourself thinking is that it?  Great feeling of expectancy, especially with "Glass House".  A welcome slow tempo number that misses the criticism of being plodding  by a whisker!

Peter Baumann - 1981 - Repeat Repeat

Peter Baumann 
Repeat Repeat

01. Repeat Repeat (3:46)
02. Home Sweet (3:45)
03. Deccadance (3:04)
04. Realtimes (3:36)
05. M.A.N. Series Two (3:37)
06. Brain Damage (2:48)
07. Kinky Dinky (3:45)
08. Daytime Logic (2:52)
09. Playland Pleasure (3:26)
10. What Is Your Use? (3:32)

- Peter Baumann / synthesizer, keyboards, programming, vocals
- John Tropea / guitar (rhythm)
- Carsten Bohn Bandstand / drums, keyboards
- Lindsay Kay Brynan / vocals
- Michael Dawe / drums
- Ritchie Fliegler / guitar

 Peter Baumann flirts with the modern New Wave style on this record: actually, he sounds like many of the New Wave/Synth Pop bands of the early 80's. However, his tracks here are not really catchy and accessible: the compositions are well made and quite structured, but we feel a very typical German coldness, characterized by emotionless lead & backing vocals and straightforward repetitive keyboards & sequencers. This album is thus full of sequencers in the New Wave style of the 80's. There are many discrete sequenced keyboards sounds. There are also some good electric guitar notes. The album title is well chosen: "Repeat Repeat". Do not expect another Tangerine dream's "Ricochet" here! This record is DEFINITELY different from his previous "Romance 76" album. The best track is definitely "Playland Pleasure", being quite more catchy and addictive than the other ones: one even can recognize in it some elements inspired from the Tangerine Dream's "Stratosfear" album!!

Peter Baumann - 1979 - Trans Harmonic Nights

Peter Baumann 
Trans Harmonic Nights

01. This day (5:10)
02. White bench and black beach (5:30)
03. Chasing the dream (4:34)
04. Biking up the strand (2:26)
05. Phaseday (5:50)
06. Meridian Moorland (4:34)
07. The third Site (5:10)
08. Dance at dawn (4:02)

- Peter Baumann / synthesizers, keyboards
- Wolfgang Thierfeldt / drums
- W. Thierfeld / drums

On his second solo album, Baumann shows his cute sense for rhythm and playful melodies again. It still sounds very 1976 Tangerine Dream but at the same time it has learned a trick or two from the Kraftwerk synth pop sensibilities.

The opening This Day is a gentle piece that brings together Kraftwerk's minimalism, TD's melodious qualities and a hint of Schulze's lush textures. Also Chasing the Dream is a delightful and catchy tune. The next piece of note is Meridian Moorland which could have come right off TD's Stratosfear. The Third Site is the best track here, similar to Kraftwerk's minimal techno again but with more melody. Name it Kraftwerk for beginners.

Peter Baumann - 1976 - Romance 76

Peter Baumann
Romance 76

01. Bicentennial Present (4.46)
02. Romance (6.02)
03. Phase By Phase (7.35)
04. Meadow Of Infinity, Part 1 (18.35 - including tracks 5 and 6)
05. The Glass Bridge
06. Meadow Of Infinity, Part 2

- Peter Baumann / all instruments (keyboards & electronic effects)
- Munich Philharmonic Orchestra (track 4)

 This is the first Peter Baumann release after Tangerine Dream, I think it reflects what he was adding to TD, the melodic lines and the sounds of the synth leads. The first side starts with Bicentennial Present that is really in the TD way of doing things but with a bigger melodic develop and clear simplicity, the second Romance it has a more catchy mood it runs with two sequenciers and adding the melody above passing from one sound to another really in the TD textures but more plain less obscure or mysterious than previous works, the last track of this side Phase By Phase is in the same line than the others two may be tents to a little climax and then it fades out. The production is excellent every thing sounds so net and clear, it's seems more individual rather than epic or for big audiences project, may be the reason why he left TD before several times, one of those Michel Hoering had replacement he for Australian Tour cause Peter was involuted in a trip to Nepal, and something of this you can notice in this album stepping way of the rock system and looking for more personal or spiritual resources. The second side of the album, I do have the vinyl that still sound great, it's goes more mystic the name of the two parts pice is Meadow of Infinity with a sort of interlude between call the Glass Bridge. The first part it goes slow all with Philharmonic sounds and little electronic and it's conducted by H Baumann that I think is the same Peter Baumann only with the H of Hans that it's his first name. Even that this side is darker than the first still it has same clarity in the arrangements, the second piece of this side speed up with the sounds of toms and voices above. Then still percusions and some strings and oboes to add tension that leads to a kind of climax. The percusions back very low mixing with electronic percusions and now the sounds goes mellow and electronic, till the voice chorus back and starts the second part of Meadow of Infinity with the sound of mellotron leading the rest and directing to a kind of if not epic but meaningful end. I do appreciate the effort of trying to exposure his personal vision of what music have to express, the beautie of the first melody The love feelling of the second that may be don't have it's place when you play with a band, the warm of the analogical synths. I think this album it's better than most of the TD of the eighties, reflects serenity but not in a easy way, and have all the character of that era (combination of instruments and ideas) that made now classical and unique.

Klaus Schulze - 1980 - Live

Klaus Schulze 

101. Bellistique (21:20)
102. Sense (51:00)

201. Heart (30:53)
202. Dymagic (29:21)
203. Le Mans Au Premier (17:56)

- Klaus Schulze / keyboards

Guest musicians:
- Harald Grosskopf / drums on disc 1, track 2
- Arthur Brown / voice on disc 2, track 2

Ok, I think I don't share the other reviews, for me LIVE is one amazing photograph of SCHULZE in the seventies.

The first track, Bellistique starts with synthesizers and drum patterns, that come up stronger and stronger until the piece changes into something quieter and darker. Very good starter.

The second track, Sense, is a masterpiece of the Berlin School od Electronics, yes, the intervals of the main sequence don't change during the piece, but the secuence itself changes a lot in terms of intensity, volume, key, etc, creating lots of different soundscapes. The drums amplify the effect. The soloing is intense, it doesn't give you rest at all, it keeps going in time and in terms of melody it doesn't end, so it is like touching a wound that hurts and not realising the finger, truly great.

The third track, Heart, starts very slowly, a bass pulse is there, almost inaudible, then a lead synth is there without identifying when it started. The track changes in something more rhythmic with synth and drum sequences. Good track.

The fourth track, Dymagic, is not what I like the most from SCHULZE, but I recognize it has that experimental edge.

I have the vinyl (with poster) and last CD editions of this album. The vinyl has some scratches here and there, but the sound is better. The bad thing is that the tracks are cut to fit the side of the vinyl. The CD has the complete tracks.

Klaus Schulze - 1980 - Dig It

Klaus Schulze 
Dig It

01. Death Of An Analogue (12:15)
02. Weird Caravan (5:03)
03. The Looper Isn't A Hooker (8:17)
04. Synthasy (22:56)

- Klaus Schulze / all instruments
- Fred Severloh / drums ("Death of an Analogue")

Before fading away into obscurity, Klaus Schulze had a few more great albums in him. Dig It is the first of those and a must-have for fans, especially in the re-issued 2005 version.

The opening Death of an Analogue is a hit and miss, the repetitive percussion does not have the qualities from similar Kraftwerk exploits and the track gets really tedious after less then 5 minutes. The easy solution is to start with Weird Caravan, a surprisingly catchy and up-beat song that was the first piece I appreciated on this album. The Looper Isn't A Hooker is even better. Both tracks announce a new flavour in Schulze's music, one that works more on complex rhythms then on melody.

Synthasy is another winner, it starts very experimentally, with an almost kraut-alike opening, halfway in we are deeply submersed in Schulze's lush sound textures. The music is less accessible then the works from the 70's but it is not less rewarding.

Based on these pieces, the album would be a solid 3 stars, but on the 2005 re-issue there is an extra track that adds a marvellous 30-minute soundscape. The booklet says it's from the Dig It period but it sounds like it could have come right from Mirage or X (especially Heinrich von Kleist comes to mind). The first part is very abstract, downright spooky and disquieting, the second part has more harmonious features such as big moog and synth choir sounds, the third part is very experimental and non-melodious again, but as you know, Schulze doesn't need melody to be amazing.

The 2005 re-issue also adds a DVD from a 1980 concert Linzer Stahksinfonie, I haven't looked more then once yet. There isn't much to see actually apart from Schulze in a particularly goofy mining suit, a very sweaty drummer with a stern moustache and typical 80's imagery effects. The sound is OK though and the music consists mainly of improvisations on X material. The Schulze costume makes it hard to take this grave music seriously, so it works better if you just listen and ignore the images!

Klaus Schulze - 1979 - Dune

Klaus Schulze 

01. Dune (29:52)
02. Shadows of Ignorance (26:32)
03. Le Mans (23:03) (bonus track)

- Klaus Schulze / electronic

Guest musicians:
- Wolfgang Tiepold / cello
- Arthur Brown / vocals

The eleventh album (in only seven years) by Germany's prolific synth pioneer probably couldn't help leaving many fans scratching their head, arriving as it did on the heels of his monumental twin LP "X". It was, and still is, a truly schizophrenic effort: one half instrumental, and typically brilliant, and the other half a curious change of pace featuring an unlikely collaboration with singer ARTHUR BROWN...yes, the same post- hippie pyromaniac from "The Crazy World of..."

And it's a concept album (of sorts) too, perhaps a signal that Schulze was trying to cash in his kosmische credentials and at least partially engage with mainstream musical trends of the late 1970s. The inspiration was Frank Herbert's popular sci-fi novel, a fixture on counterculture bookshelves during the '60s and '70s (I think because of all that perception-bending Arakeen spice). So was the erstwhile drummer for TANGERINE DREAM paying tribute to a kindred space-art epic, or was he merely hitching his keyboards to a pre-sold commodity?

It's a moot question, at first exposure. The title track (all of side one, on the original vinyl) is classic Klaus Schulze, building on the success of "X" with even more breathtaking sonic vistas, and again employing the talents of Wolfgang Tiepold on acoustic cello. It might seem an odd instrumental match-up, but the combination of Tiepold's melancholy bowing and Schulze's arsenal of electronic effects is strong enough to send a shiver down even the most unsympathetic spine.

Schulze was always a generous composer (or a very lazy editor), and this masterpiece is no exception, clocking in at seven seconds shy of a full half hour. An appropriately arid mood is set in the opening eight minutes of more or less free-form improvisation, before Tiepold's mournful cello melody slowly rises over the horizon. What follows is one of the more stunning evocations of a desert landscape, capturing the essence of its unforgiving beauty better than any piece of music since Maurice Jarre's 1962 soundtrack to "Lawrence of Arabia".

(I speak from some experience: in my vagabond youth I would listen to "Dune" while driving the lonely highways of central Nevada, and to this day the music still conjures vivid images of sagebrush-scented valleys, heat-distorted alkali salt pans, and semi- abandoned Comstock ghost towns caught in a state of arrested decay.)

On this one track Schulze almost redefines the meaning of Space Rock (which, in the Berlin school of electronic meditation, was never really rock anyway) by removing the music from its usual cosmic clichés. The sound here is more spacious than spacey, with an almost classical-symphonic grandeur, and yet still manages to generate surprising tension over its slowly unfolding thirty minute length. The first chord change, teasingly held back until near the 11:00 mark, is a particularly satisfying moment of high musical drama.

Too bad the balance of the album (i.e. side two: "Shadows of Ignorance") is such a flat- footed misstep, at least by comparison. Give Schulze credit for trying to break out of his comfortable ambient shell, but he wasn't the first of his class to fail in the same attempt: TANGERINE DREAM had already released "Cyclone" a year earlier, also with vocals, and with similar mixed results.

The Klaus Schulze/Arthur Brown variation wasn't as willfully commercial, and would hardly justify any accusations of a sell-out. But twenty-six (count 'em, twenty six!) minutes of ersatz poetry sung over a dance-floor sequencer beat can still be more than a little tedious, although this criticism comes with a disclaimer: I admit to dredging my memory of the song out of some very cold storage. Only the magnificent title track remains in my music library, saved on one side of a 60-minute audio cassette tape before the album itself was returned to the used LP trading block.

On later releases Schulze would beat a hasty retreat (again, not unlike TANGERINE DREAM) back to safer, all-instrumental territory. But in retrospect "Dune" marked the end of an era.

Klaus Schulze - 1978 - X

Klaus Schulze 

101. Friedrich Nietzsche (24:15)
102. Georg Trakl (2005 version) (26:04)
103. Frank Herbert (10:47)
104. Friedemann Bach (18:02)

201. Ludwig II. von Bayern (28:40)
202. Heinrich von Kleist (29:32)
203. Objet d'Louis (bonus track 2005) (21:32)

- Klaus Schulze / synthesizer, percussion, vocals, Mellotron, Tom-Tom, Sequencers, Arp Odyssey, Mini Moog, Polymoog, Korg synthesizer, Moog synthesizer, keyboards, cymbals, guitar
- Wolfgang Tiepold / cello
- Harold Grasskopf / drums & percussion

 Of all the Klaus Schulze albums I own, this one seems to be the most complete and the most concise of them. Sure the songs are still at herculean lengths and they have similar instrumentation as his previous efforts, but the addition of a drummer and a cello player really add some balance and some new dynamics to the mix. Of the seven tracks on the album spread out over two discs (this includes the bonus track put on the InsideOut reissue of the album), they all seem to have a consistent flow and a great sense of development, from sparse desolate atmospheric to tense and enigmatic synthesizer sections, a very wide range of emotions can be heard here. If you are to get one album by Schulze, X would be by far the best choice.

The first track is the 25 minute Friedrich Nietzsche. It begins with a choir that could easily be a mellotron, giving an epic and grandiose feeling. The drumming (by Harold Grasskopf) gives the piece a very down to earth feeling and helps keep the song on track even when it's at its most out there. Schulze in my opinion is benefited greatly from the addition of Grasskopf, because now his pieces feel more concise and to the point. The second track is the 26 minute Georg Trakl. It has a more atmopsheric feel than Friedrich, with some more expansive lead synthesizers and a nice underlying bass synthesizer beat. The drums are lush and they progressively become more and more involved in the song. It's an interesting track to say the least, but probably my least favorite on the album.Frank Herbert and Friedemann Bach are the two shortest pieces on the album, although they both still clock in at over 10 minutes. Herbert begins with a dissonant organ that becomes a droning and pulsating electronic beat with some underlying mellotron.

Bach begins with some underlying and bombastic percussion underneath some anxious synthesizer lines. Some interesting cello lines can also be heard in this track that spans a total of 17 minutes. Ludwig II von Bayern begins anxiously with some descending synthesizers and very haunting electronic noises and drones. Some superb orchestrations help create tension and a majestic atmosphere at the same time in this piece and in all, it's probably my favorite Schulze piece so far. Heinrich von Kleist is the last track of the official album, with Objet D'Louis being the bonus track. It begins with more anxious orchestral pieces and droning electronic noises, as well as a great underlying synthesizer progression. Throughout the 29 minutes of music, the piece evolves and regresses much like the shifting tide, reaching highs and lows but maintaining a constant flow. Objet D'Louis is the bonus track added on to the InsideOut reissue of the album. It's an even piece that reaches no real climax and yet doesn't fade off into obscurity. A good bonus, but it wasn't truly necessary.

In the end, X is the masterwork of Schulze, and may be one of the best electronic albums available. If you are in to minimalistic and atmospheric voyages of sound and emotion, than this album will definitely appeal to you. Although it's an ambitious and demanding listen, it's terribly rewarding in the end.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Klaus Schulze - 1977 - Mirage

Klaus Schulze 

01. Velvet Voyage (28:28)
- 1984 / Aeronef/ Eclipse / Evasion / Lucid Interspace / Destinati
02. Crystal Lake (29:15)
- Xylotones / Cromwaves / Willowdreams / Liquidmirrors / Springdanc
03. In Cosa Crede Chi Non Crede? (19:39) (bonus track)

- Klaus Schulze / all instruments

Klaus Schulze's seventh studio album has him going into uncharted territory in the electronic field. It's hard for me to write about this album because putting this album to words is very difficult. Here is an album that is completely unlike any other album I've listened to (besides other Schulze albums of this era) and here is an album that takes you on a voyage of the senses and an aural exploration of the inner workings of your mind (which are like many of his albums from this era). Schulze really seems to take his time on these albums and really elaborate and explore any musical theme he has to the fullest, and there lies the main problem with his album (in my opinion at least), is that at points you probably will feel bored. But besides that, it's ambient electronic music, what else would you expect?

The album opens with the 28 minute opus Velvet Voyage, which is essentially a voyage (pun intended) of electronic sounds and sparse instrumentation spaced brilliantly and performed at a rather leisurely pace. Slowly but surely layer upon layer of subtle keyboard is added. What I imagine when I listen to this song is being in some sort of desolate environment (like in the middle of the desert). It's the perfect mood and atmosphere and the keyboard soars and creates lush textures underneath to whining leads (which remind me a bit of Rick Wright's middle section in Echoes, only a bit more dramatic). The song goes through many different themes, tempos, moods, et cetera, but it all has one common thing, the atmopshere is tense and there are many moments of pure brilliance. However, that said, it does tend to drag, being it is 28 minutes long.

The second song of the album is the 29 minute Crystal Lake begins with an interesting bell sequence (with may be keyboard) that slowly becomes a bombastic and grandiose composition with layer upon layer of keyboards and sound effects slowly added on top to reach a glistening crescendo of synthesizers and droning (and sparse) bass synth notes. I'm quite fond of the middle section, in which the synthesizer lines have become fully realized and the bell sequence becomes the underlying theme over the synthesizer notes. And much like the opener, there are some certainly some sections that could have been cut out (not to mention some overly long sequences), but on the whole this is a fantastic track that really takes you on a second voyage.

As a bonus track for the reissue of this album, we are also treated with In Cosa Crede Chi Non Crede?, a near 20 minute track that further explores this type of atmosphere and sentiment. Beginning with a somewhat ominous organ motif, the piece evolves and reaches peaks and lows, but maintains an uneasy and desolate atmosphere. Schulze relies of some clicking percussions to keep an underlying beat underneath more anxious and lush orchestral sounding synthesizers. It's a nice addition to the album and really rounds off the cd on a high note.

Overall, Mirage may not be Klaus Schulze's best album (in my opinion at least), but it certainly is an interesting piece of work. His music is tough to describe, it is tough to put to words, but tehre is something about how his compositions seem to evolve and then regress, and then come to a crashing crescendo that reminds me somewhat of Post-Rock (although Schulze may be the farthest thing from Post-Rock). If you like lush atmospheric soundscapes in the vein of the more accessible Brian Eno works (Ambient 1 or Apollo), you'll find something to love with Klaus Schulze.

Klaus Schulze - 1977 - Body Love Volume 2

Klaus Schulze
Body Love Volume 2

01. Nowhere - Now Here (29:02)
02. Stardancer II (14:15)
03. Moogetique (13:15)
04. Buddy Laugh (23:15)

- Klaus Schulze / keyboards
- Harald Grosskopf / drums

 The leftovers from the Body Love soundtrack compiled together in this album which is slightly more compelling than its predecessor.

Body Love Vol. 2 is one of my favorite Klaus Schulze albums for its supremely progressive composition, beautiful cover art, and exceptionally dark atmosphere. As always, Schulze displays his mastery of electronic grandiosity and epic soundscapes.

"Nowhere - Now Here" is a great way to start off the album, featuring slow moody moog melodies and sifting waves before eventually settling into a rather downtempo groove backed by choral washes that border on medieval sounding. Things speed up significantly about half-way through, moving at an anxious pace to the end of the track which features an almost Mid-Eastern synth noodling section that maintains this track's dark and mysterious atmosphere. Of course much progression in packed into this track, which is very important to keep the listener's interest considering that it is nearly 30 minutes long.

"Stardancer II" is an apparent sequel to "Stardancer" that was on the previous album, and follows in the same darkened vein as the previous track on this Body Love Vol. 2. Very active and sincere sounding moog melodies take the forefront for the majority of this track while simple but light hi-hat and snare percussion propel throughout its duration, giving the impression of a building urgency that may result in eruption at any moment.

"Moogetique" is my favorite track here, and it's an absolute monster. This track is defined by deep, cosmic groans and muddy ambient drones that drift and consume for its whole duration - definitely the darkest epic on this album. Many listeners may think of this track as being too boring, but if it's given the time it deserves then the gloomy beauty will definitely shine through.

Body Love Vol. 2, when compared to its predecessor, is definitely the darker and more interesting of the two, but I do believe that they also do work very well together as a whole. A lot of the gloominess and disparate sounds of this album remind me of two famously dark Schulze albums Cyborg and Irrlicht, but here the profound dark mysteriousness is melded perfectly with his more classic-era sound.

Klaus Schulze - 1977 - Body Love

Klaus Schulze
Body Love

01. Stardancer (13:38)
02. Blanche (11:44)
03. P.T.O. ( 27:12)
04. Lasse Braun (22:26) Bonus Track

- Klaus Schulze / keyboards
- Harald Grosskopf / drums

 As per the usual Klaus Schulze standard, this is uber-dramatic Berlin school music at its most epic. But the soundtrack to love? Definitely not with the women I've known.

I've never seen the movie Body Love, though I'm sure I'd probably enjoy it considering that it's a pornographic film and I'm a college student; the two implicitly go hand in hand. Also, Schulze did this soundtrack for the film, which guarantees Body Love to be the most awkwardly and unintentionally nerdy pornographic film since Bikini Cavegirl.

Besides all of this, Body Love is a great album that fits in very well with the much loved classics of Schulze's classic era. The soaring synths that portray spacial travel and the propelling drumming is here just like in Moondawn and X, but here on the track "Stardancer" it seems that the percussion has been done much more tastefully and has worked its way more comfortably into Schulze's classic sound; for this I am grateful, because the percussion in the aforementioned albums were kind of overbearing for my taste.

"Blanche" is my favorite track on the album because of its depressing tone, and everyone knows I'm all about that. I'd have to rank this track as being among Schulze's most emotional (still sufficiently awkward for porn) and beautiful tracks and only clocks in at a manageable 12 minutes, and features a moody piano melody coupled with the classic and recognizable sounds of analog Berlin school synths. The atmosphere achieved on "Blanche" makes me think of lying in the moonlight on a beach on Neptune where lambent aurora paint the skyline (pretty good idea for a porn setting), and the sounds of the close and distant waves crashing onto the sand are easily distinguishable.

"P.T.O.", which I assume to stand for Pornographic Topographic Oceans among other more explicit things, bears the trademark Schulze epic track length (about 27 minutes). I'm kind of underwhelmed by this track mostly because this track is kind of a noisy "balls out" aggressive Berlin school track that doesn't really match up too well with the previous two emotional tracks, although on its own "P.T.O." is definitely a reputable classic track in Schulze's catalogue.

Being a fan of Schulze's work but having not listened to any of it in a long time, Body Love is definitely a great representation of his classic era with a great element of emotion that is probably only a bit stronger and more thought out on Mirage. But because of this album's manageable length and the strength of the material, I'd say that this would be as good a starting place for aspiring Schulze fans as any of his previous classics. Don't expect anything romantic though, because (and I promise this) no woman will ever be turned on by this brand of spacial exploration music, and if she says otherwise then she is lying and is probably a keeper.

Klaus Schulze - 1976 - Moondawn

Klaus Schulze

01. Floating (27:15)
02. Mindphaser (25:22)
03. Floating Sequence - Bonus (21:11)

- Klaus Schulze / ARP 2600/ARP Odyssey/Farfisa Professional organ/ Farfisa Syntorchestra/EMS Synthi A/Crumar keyboards/sequencer synthanorma 3-12 and The Big Moog
- Harold Grosskopf / drums

One of his best albums and his last great one. I don't think the majority of what he did after this comes close. Still good music just not as exciting as this one. The 1-2-3 knockout of Picture Music - Timewind - Moondawn is some of the best electronic music ever. For the first time Klaus uses the "big Moog" he bought from Florian Fricke(Popol Vuh) back in 1972/73. There is drumming here, but unlike Picture Music, Schulze is not behind the drumkit. Wallenstein drummer Harold Grosskopf does the job on both side-long epics.

I like how Schulze uses percussion as added texture to his music. Unlike Tangerine Dream, who usually just wanted the drummer to keep a beat when they used one. The drums are also pushed back in the mix so they never steal attention from the keyboards. I'm used to an older CD version which has about 30 seconds or so taken off the end of each piece. It was also re- mixed with some keyboard overdubs added.

"Floating" has The Lord's Prayer spoken in Latin or German at the beginning. I like the 'floating' voices you hear. The drumming starts off rather subdued. After 10 minutes a techno-before- techno beat appears. After 15 minutes there is some nice soloing on synth. 17 1/2 minutes there is some great drumming and another cool synth solo. Things get more intense before it starts to calm down at the end. "Mindphaser" begins with the sound of waves. Then a long ethereal section. It gets louder and more intense. I love when the drums come in about halfway thru with the organ; this part reminds me of Pink Floyd for some reason. Love the synth solo that starts before 14 minutes. Near the end there is lots of bubbling sequencers. At 24 1/2 minutes the drumming stops and we are left with ethereal soundscapes.

The drumming and organ gives this album a more organic feel. I rarely like albums which are 100% synthetic. It's nice to add some non-electric or non-electronic instruments to spice things up. One of Schulze's best albums and a good introduction to his work too. Just don't expect lots of drums on his other albums.

Klaus Schulze - 1975 - Timewind

Klaus Schulze

01. Bayreuth Return (30:32)
02. Wahnfried 1883 (28:38)
03. Echoes Of Time (38:42) Bonus track
04. Solar Wind (12:35) Bonus track
05. Windy Times (04:57) Bonus track

- Klaus Schulze / all instruments

With Timewind, Klaus comes as close to perfection as he will ever, as his music has now reached perfection after still searching itself in Blackdance. As usual Klaus handles every instrument himself and the album clocked almost one hour, which was unheard of for a single vinyl disc back then.Adding to the perfection of this electronic space/cosmic rock music is the awesome Dali-esque artwork on this superb gatefold, where the innerfold's illustration is even more spectacular than the outerfold.

The beauty of this music is that (as with previous albums), it was recorded live on a 2-track Revox as a master machine. The opening track Bayreuth is named after the street where Edgar Froese and Schulze had their "studio" (actually an ex-barbershop store), and it is an epic and plunges you into a dreamland where vestal virgins abound to your feet as the music becomes the drug that gets you hooked. Klaus is pursuing the exploration of the Moog's possibilities with this album, but Timewind is absolutely not experimental, IMHO. Both composition are so well written and arranged that despite the still new and groundbreaking soundscape developed by Klaus and TD, it is completely accessible to a wide public and it is sufficiently romantic to be used as cuddling music without the proghead having to put up with these insufferable female-aimed love songs.

Wannfried is filling the flipside, but remains sonically close to its companion track. I think Klaus decided that a bit of humour was needed on this album and he chose to dedicate the album to Wagner, which of course is hilarious as the pompous and bombastic classical composer is completely at odds with the low-key floating and aerial electronic music Klaus was known for at that time. Anyway, Wannfried is at least as good as Bayreuth is.

This already fantastic album lasting almost one hour - this was much appreciated by fans to have to change the next vinyl side in more or less half an hour rather than stopping his girlfriend fondling every quarter an hour or so ? this type of music was quite suited for get involved deeper. But in the second half of the 00's, Klaus remastered and repackaged his early discography, and this album comes with three tracks to fill a second disc. Three tracks (only), but an almost 39 minutes Echoes Of Time track, that seems to be an evolution of the music Bayreuth. Ditto for the 12-mins+ Solar Wind, another (shorter) version of Bayreuth. However the shorter Windy Times is sonically fairly different, louder and more abrupt, than both the original album and the other bonus tracks, but it is a remake of the the album theme recorded in 2000. Not only that, but the album came out in a mini-Lp format on the Japanese label Arcangelo and this version is most likely the definitive version of this masterpiece of Kosmische muziek.

astoundingly serene music.

Klaus Schulze - 1975 - Picture Music

Klaus Schulze
Picture Music

01. Totem (23:34)
02. Mental Door (23:03)
03. C'est Pas La Même Chose (33:00) (bonus track)

- Klaus Schulze / all instruments

Schulze's first true expression of his classic sequencer style (Blackdance was a step toward it, but it still relied heavily on the organ and Mellotron tones of his first two albums), and easily worthy of the attention given his more popular subsequent releases. The sound is stripped down from the shadowy haze of before, but the reduced instrumentation never sounds inadequate; Schulze's talent for atmosphere is as clear on this album as ever. And the music itself, even at this early stage, is some of his most engaging work ever.

The first side, "Totem", is absolute brilliance. There are only about three or so melodic lines playing at any given point - and on the monophonic synthesizers of the day, no chords to speak of - but they're executed masterfully. The main voice is a drippy, echoing tone that sounds about twenty years ahead of its time, the kind of sound that you'd expect from Autechre or Aphex Twin in the mid-'90s (!), picking out a dark, jagged theme that matches it perfectly, with muted moans and whistles ominously backing it. Analyzed and written out, it comes off as somewhat sparse, but the tones are chosen and mixed to maximum effect - the music's atmosphere is disproportionately vast, bringing up images of the lightless life at the floor of an ocean trench, or maybe astronauts at the edge of their life support against the black void of deep space. It is structured, building into fullness, then rising into a heavy climax before trailing off in a weary coda, but that atmosphere is never compromised by these developments. It's funny that Schulze would wait until now to call his work "picture music", given that impressions and images had always been his main focus, but the phrase is hardly undeserved.

After "Totem", "Mental Door" is a bit of a letdown, but it's still great. It's Schulze jamming against himself, blazing Moog lines fighting manic drumming (his first recorded performance on the kit since Electronic Meditation and sounding none too friendly after being pent up for five years), and this works for and against the album. For, because this kind of energy is always welcome, especially as a counterpoint to the hanging menace of the first side, but against, because after emerging from its foggy introduction, it abandons any hint of atmosphere in favor of that energy, which is disappointing coming from a musician like Schulze. (He'd eventually get both together for X's "Friedrich Nietzsche" and "Frank Herbert", putting this song's one-sidedness into further perspective.) But what Schulze does here he does to the fullest, never once letting up for the entire jam, and never forgetting to keep things varied and interesting. (His coolest trick is to punctuate it every once in a while with a sustained keyboard note while bashing out a straight rhythm on the cymbals; the effect is a bit like the appearances of the little electric piano motif in Miles Davis's "Spanish Key", but aggressive instead of amiable.) When the end eventually comes, it releases the jam's mounting tension in a final cymbal crash and high note (tragically not quite synchronized, but I don't see how Schulze could have fixed that in a tape edit without bringing the rest of the ending out of sync) before settling into a relaxed, fulfilled coda, closing out the album.

It's understandable that Picture Music has something of a low profile among Schulze albums, lacking Timewind's lushness or X's scale (or even the cult appeal of Irrlicht and Cyborg), and generally denied its rightful historical significance in favor of Blackdance ever since the chronology was resolved, but it'll always be a favorite of mine. Hopefully, someday, people will give it its due.

Klaus Schulze - 1974 - Blackdance

Klaus Schulze 

01. Waves of Changes (17:50)
02. Some Velvet Phasing (8:30)
03. Voices of Syn (22:30)
04. Foreplay (10:33)
05. Synthies Have (no) Balls? (14:41)

- Klaus Schulze / synthesizer, organ, piano, percussion, phase-trumpet, 12 string acoustic guitar
- Ernst Siemon / bass, voice on "Voices of Syn"

This often overlooked early gem by electronic music pioneer Klaus Schulze was eclipsed too soon by the international success of "Timewind" in 1975, and after more than thirty years still suffers unfair comparisons to the later album (even in the new "Blackdance" CD booklet). Which is a shame, because there's more to this album besides the eerie Salvador Dali-inspired surrealism of its cover art, again by Swiss designer Urs Amann.

"Blackdance" was Schulze's third solo effort (not his fourth, as some fans believe: see the FAQ page of his official web site for clarification), but it represents a milestone of sorts as his first album to use actual synthesizers. And the music departs from other electronic soundscapes of the period by employing some gorgeous acoustic 12-string guitar, played by Schulze himself, and (briefly) borrowing the operatic baritone of Ernst Walter Siemon, recorded years earlier while the singer was rehearsing some Verdi.

The album also has more rhythmic zip than expected, providing a not unwelcome change of pace after the somber industrial drones of "Irrlicht" and "Cyborg". There's a surprising array of (again, acoustic) percussion, likewise all played by Schulze, who keep in mind began his musical career as a drummer, first for the embryonic TANGERINE DREAM, and later in ASH RA TEMPLE.

It's true there isn't much variation or development over the length of each track, and Schulze was certainly fond of longer tracks, wasn't he? And all the various shakers and tablas are played with enough metronomic precision to be easily mistaken for programmed electronics. But the album is, after all, titled "Blackdance", not "Black Contemplation", and the sometimes relentless grooves (20+ minutes long in "Voices of Syn") actually anticipate by more than two decades the hypnotic techno-trances of the next millennium.

By itself, the 1974 album probably deserves no more than three solid stars. Certainly there's far richer music in Schulze's back catalogue. But the 2007 Revisited Records CD reissue supplements the original disc with top-notch packaging (photos, essays), and a pair of bonus tracks.

The two extra tracks were recorded in (possibly) 1976, and belatedly given the somewhat dismissive titles "Foreplay" and (I kid you not) "Synthies Have (No) Balls?" Both actually work in tandem, beginning with what sounds like the ominous whine of an air raid siren. It's an appropriate introduction to the 25+ minute blitzkrieg that eventually follows: a frontal assault of mechanized Krautrock mayhem, not unlike a sneak attack by a panzer tank at full throttle, with Schulze furiously working his drum kit.

The composer himself recalls nothing about the music, probably recorded on the spur of a now long-forgotten moment and never meant for commercial release. But together they add a satisfying coda to the otherworldly raga of the preceding tracks, ending an album too long disregarded (even by its author) with an unexpected and very loud bang.