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.

Klaus Schulze - 1973 - Cyborg

Klaus Schulze 

01. Synphära (22:48)
02. Conphära (25:51)
03. Chromengel (23:49)
04. Neuronengesang (24:43)
05. But Beautiful (50:55) Bonus track

- Klaus Schulze / all instruments

Schulze's beginnings are both fascinating and original, but they are a difficult listen. At that time the electronic equipment was very primitive and the resulting sound is very desolate and dark. The subtle soundscapes that he created from Timewind onwards are still a few years ahead.

While difficult and unusual, the music isn't inaccessible. And it's certainly not deliberately weird or artsy. Schulze is one of the most uncomplicated, modest and genuine artist you are likely to run into and he always shied away from any form of posing, artsy pretence of intellectualism. Still, it might frighten people away because this music has let go of two familiar musical components in our Western musical tradition: there's no repetition and no rhythm. The music flows seemingly purposeless through slowly changing chords and fluid soundscapes, refraining from repeated melodies that you can hum along with, nor is there any beat or pulse that will get your feet tapping. No, another mindset will be needed, one that can do without melodic repetition, one that can be thrilled by the abstract and suggestive power of this music.

Other similar works are Cluster's debut, Schulze's Irrlicht and Tangerine Dream's Zeit. Within that pool, Cyborg is the most accomplished for me. I would be completely at loss argument why though. The music is almost tuneless, there are organs, synths and sounds like flutes and violins that come flowing in and out. But all chord and tone changes remain unrepeated, making it impossible to discern anything we could call a melody. It's just sound, organically progressing chords, tuneless pulses, effects and atmosphere. Loads of atmosphere.

The ambience evoked is one of nightmares, paranoia, fear. Each of the 4 pieces builds its own unique sound world. While mostly stunning, some pieces drag on a bit too long for me. The opener is most compelling in its first 10 minutes but loses tension afterwards. The album closer by contrast takes quite a while to get going and works best in its second half. The best piece of all is Conphära. The pulse that Schulze creates here is hypnotizing and the sound is very lush and dreamy. I'd say it's Schulze's first 5 star moment.

If you want classic harmonious structures, this album might leave you completely cold. But if you want to give you melodic concepts a little shake then this album comes highly recommended.

Klaus Schulze - 1972 - Irrlicht

Klaus Schulze 

01. Satz Ebene (23:23)
02. Satz Gewitter (5:40)
03. Satz Exil Sils Maria (21:26)

- Klaus Schulze / all instruments

& Colloquium Musica Orchestra

The title of KLAUS SCHULZE's 1972 debut album translates, perversely, as "Will o' the Wisp", an ironic tag for some of the purest, most powerful noise ever recorded.

SCHULZE was of course a founding member of both TANGERINE DREAM and ASH RA TEMPLE, a Krautrock drummer in those days but with higher aspirations. So he traded his drum kit for a small roomful of primitive synthesizers, and proceeded to wage war on the more polite strain of meditative electronic music then coming into vogue.

Keep in mind this was during the age (at least in Germany) of the big cosmic drone: think of TD's "Zeit", recorded in the same year but sounding nowhere near as sophisticated as their ex-drummer's first solo effort. The album is subtitled "Quadraphonic Symphony for Orchestra and E-Machines", but SCHULZE was no RICK WAKEMAN (thank God), and his orchestra couldn't hope to compete against the sustained hum of his generators during the awe-inspiring 29-minute opening track. It goes way beyond the limits of a simple drone: this is ambient music for titans.

Imagine yourself attending a formal concert hall symphony. The woodwinds and strings are quietly tuning; the conductor is approaching the podium.when out of the ether some sort of otherworldly buzz gradually begins to overwhelm the auditorium, fading in and out, while the hapless musicians try in vain to play through it. That's the experience of "Ebene, Gewitter (Energyrise-Energycollaps)", before the track surrenders to a mind-bending, monster movie organ, played loud enough to scare away even the toughest headbanger, and about as far removed from New Age navel-gazing as synthetic music can get without threatening your sanity.

The remainder of the album (another 21+ minutes, very generous in its original vinyl format, but it needs to be heard on CD) is no less frightening, but on a much quieter level. "Exil Sils Maria" is music for contemplating the void, the soundtrack to an endless alien abyss recalling the cyclopean vistas of an H.P. Lovecraft cosmology.

These days, the popularity of serious electronic music is in direct proportion to its level of discernable melody: witness the very mixed reactions in this forum to the often amorphous, groundbreaking work of the earliest TANGERINE DREAM. Be forewarned, the 25-year old KLAUS SCHULZE was crossing the same sonic terra incognita, although his subsequent, sequencer-laced efforts were (not unlike the later TD) more easily accessible.

Final verdict: this is ideal Halloween music for misanthropes who hate trick-or-treaters. It's should be one of the cornerstones of any well-rounded electronic music library, but I wouldn't recommend the album to borderline manic-depressives for late night headphone relaxation.

KLAUS SCHULZE, one of the most illustrious exponents of the kraut-electronic musical current, was born on the 4th of August 1947, right in Berlin, the heart of the entire action. Before getting to know him as a master of electronic music, Schulze proved to be a skillful and talented young musician (with studies in modern composition at the Berlin University), hard to recognize (nowadays, perhaps) in the underground scene of the 60s. He first of all learned to play the guitar, starring afterwards in several bands as a bassist or a percussionist. His evolution in these ensembles can't be considered essential, still shows the consistency of moving up ahead: from the Düsseldorfian dance group Les Barones and cover-bands frenzied about Rolling Stones to the rock group Psy Free and, finally, to the moment when, from being invited by Edgar Froese to perform as a guest in his band, covering for the absence of the original drummer(I don't know if we're talking yet of Tangerine Dream, perhaps it actually concerns The Ones), he became a full, "registered" member of the group. TANGERINE DREAM's debut, though mainly a first solid album launched three years after the band (or the concept of it) started to form, is Electronic Meditation, the only one including Klaus Schulze. In a nebulous, experimental work, noisy and stoned, such as this one, the best thing we can notice is how Schulze adds flavor and intensity, through hallucinating percussion cliques, to a music that's anyway minimalistic, chaotic and instinctual.

Immediately after his singular appearence in Tangerine Dream (there's a mention about a similar guest appearence in AMON DÜÜL II, in a 1969 concert) - a specific moment turning out to be just as unique in TD's music - the next big step for Schulze is founding the band called ASH RA TEMPEL, together with two other young masters of that time, Manuel Göttsching and Hermut Enke. The boys bought equipment that was very similar to that used by Pink Floyd, a super-band for which the three had, apparently, a special affectio. The Ash Ra Tempel debut is however much more "drenched", being a stimulating example of kraut-rock, on the space, slow experimental, acid side. Many concerts follow afterwards. Schulze leaves though again after just one year, due to some disagreements about orienting towards blues, a style in whose popularity Schulze couldn't recognize himself. Although Ash Ra Tempel don't visibly slip towards that style which was desired by the other two founding musicians, it seems, anyway, that the album on which Schulze contributed is one of the band's best, if not actually the top one. Göttsching and Enke stick to Ash Ra Tempel for the next years, Schulze making a return only in 1973, in a "reunion album" called Join Inn, which is good, although perhaps arriving too late, after Seven Up, branded clearly by Göttsching, Enke and Timothy Leary, that's superior in every way. Instead, once stepping outside Ash Ra Tempel, Klaus Schulze is closer than ever to electronic music, which is exactly the next, "progressive" step, done by most "kraut-rockers", soloists or not. The electronic music of the renowned Berlin School (or, perhaps more broadly, of the German cult) flourishes powerfully, and Schulze is in the front line, subscribing to the current.

Many could imagine how the move from playing guitars, drums and bass towards using synthesizers and the pure electronic mechanics happened, so we shan't meditate at all over how Schulze created his universe of instruments and techniques (from the first synthesizer to the great Moog, up in 1974 or 1975), we can more likely cover the music itself. A first phase, composed of two albums that don't sound at all like initiating works but, on the contrary, unimaginably hard and minute, keep Schulze in the space-kraut-acid zone, much alike Tangerine Dream having quit their "underground expressionism" and bringing forth immediately cosmic, abyssal, electro-psychedelic and tensioned music. Schulze stays under contract with the Ohr label, releasing in 1972 Irrlicht, a drone album, tough and impersonal, experimental and processed at the same time. Bomb number 2 is dropped one year later - and we're talking about Cyborg - a monumental double-album, in which the same rough drone language has, this time, a more mechanical, robotic, metallic, somewhat lifeless, still intense and severely hallucinating sense. Out of personal experience, I can comment that the first album is a hostile one, the finale of the Satz:Ebene epic being a compressed apocalypse for the human ears, whilst Cyborg is even more of a challenge, given the force of four epics that exceed 20 minutes and adopt, separately, four expressions, rhythms and agressive atmospheres from the same machined and hard-hitting style.

Schulze eases on the drone style after these two works, although the same happened to many groups of the fresh electronic genre. The valences of the synth music are fully discovered, attenuating, as we could critically say, the old psycho-acid art. Schulze steps from Ohr and Brain to Island. Picture Music is announced in some places (including the official site) as the third album, dating 1974, while in other places (including...the official site!!) it is counted as the fourth, released in 1975. Nothing to comment if the first mentioned order is the good one, but in the spirit of evolution, Blackdance actually preserves some dark flavor, while Picture Music is mellow. In fact, this album has nothing special whatsoever, soaking a lot of expressionistic electronic sound with the repeatability that inspires reveries, hallucinations; worse, though, is that both of the album's epics come from the same material, which is really dull. Looking back (or forward?!) to Blackdance, here recitative vocals are introduced, an element sure to displease the electronic purists, though a lot less controversial than Cyclone by Tangerine Dream, four years later, or even unremarkable in comparison with, I should say, the total transcend into songs, regardless of styles, made by Ash Ra Tempel, when they introduced the famous Rosi. Anyway, though, Blackdance contains some savoring percussions, dark electronic "sequences", plus has a more special piece, called Voices Of Syn.

During this period, it can be mentioned that Schulze contributed, as a collaborator, in the works of other artists such as SERGIUS GOLOWIN, WALTER WEGMÜLLER and especially THE COSMIC JOKERS, aka the band that in a single year, and after a lot of LSD, came with a fabulous sequence of kraut-rock albums, easy to rate from incredible to miserable. Schulze's involvement in CODE III's sole album is a bit bigger, that brave experimental record having a bit of "electronic pattern" easily creditable to him. In 1975, Schulze's biography reminds us that he produced two albums of FAR EAST FAMILY BAND, a group which included KITARO, a much more simplistic and "aroma-therapeutic" future electronic soloist.

The year 1975 is, though, grand for Schulze's solo music, as much as it was a referential year for electronic by and large, composing Timewind, doubtlessly among his three fundamental creations. The album receives the French prize "Grand Prix International", in detriment of Edgar Froese's own nominated solo of that year, Epsilon In Malaysian Pale. Bayreuth Return and Wahnfried 1883 are unmistakably popular references and, most likely, any big Schulze fan can comment upon them on the spot. The sequencing is soft, hidden, glacial, much like how it sounds in Rubycon by the Tangs (and, off-topic, I often find enough similarities between that band's evolution and Schulze's own, inside the 1972-1975 years); meanwhile, the space-synth atmosphere utterly dominates, not at all fevered or dry, but in true ambient, ethereal forms. There's already a noticeable conceptual affectio for Wagner, a thing that's under no circumstances incidental. The impulse towards Nietzsche will arise soon enough too. If the first piece contains dynamics, the second side of the album is in a complete gassy state, gathering sounds, effects, impressions and "inner voices".

In 1976, Schulze releases Moondawn, following the same cosmic, synth-loaded style. He also releases the soundtrack for an erotic film called Body Love, a score that's not to be missed, especially for its sequence-loaded epic P.T.O., which sounds absolutely stunning. In this period, Schulze joines the big project led by Stomu YAMASH'TA, Steve Winwood and Michael Shreeve, Go, the album itself, plus a beautiful live, Go Live From Paris, being released that year.

1977 is again a year of reference, thanks to the second album of, most likely, the top three: Mirage, an album that's belissimo, and in which the synthesizing, sequential and ambient-marked electronic touches unbelievable expressions. After a non-vertebrate Velvet Voyage, aerial and yet sunken in an encumbered ambiance, Crystal Lake is of great interest, with a polyphonic sequence that brings more alike percussion - bells and xylophones - and leaves you breathless. Also in 1977, Schulze launched Body Love Vol.2, as good as the first one.

1978 is perhaps, in the view of the majority, the last major year for Schulze's electronic Berlin-school music, when he releases a conceptual (programmatic, I'd say) and ambitious X, considered an electro-symphonic work thanks to the adding of a string orchestra and through the seductive sound of the cello, mastered by Wolfgang TIEPOLD. Many memorable things in this third essential album, starting off directly with Friedrich Nietzsche, where the combination of sequences and percussion (played by Harald GROSSKOPF, member of ASHRA that time around) is tumultuous, continuing with the short Georg Trakl, where the repeated rhythm solely crowns the moment, then with Friedmann Bach and Heinrich von Kleist, dark-ambient pieces. Ludwig II von Bayern combines an elaborate ambient-symphonic start with a 10-minute long soft and "langsam" endless repetitive, variation-less vibrato (challenging as a listen, as it's perhaps just a tough moment to survive, or much more, such as a musical moment in which you have to look inside simplicity and stagnation and break their teasing spell). Anyway, at the end, in comes Grosskopf with the drums, making the finale a fantastic one.

Starting with Dune, from 1979, Schulze creates his own label, IC. The album itself, the only one that year, is beautiful, dark-ambient, matching up with the desert loneliness from Arrakis, but developing much more music-derived sentiments, through the weep of the cello (the same Tiepold playing it) on the first part ("side") and with Arthur BROWN's lyrics on the second one. The great Brown becomes a friend and a collaborator of Klaus Schulze even since 1977, though it results, from more selected recordings, that the two didn't approach a fantastically rich repertoire at all. Important remains the already mentioned Dune, as well as possibly Time Actor, the first album of the RICHARD WAHNFRIED set, a side-project launched by Schulze that's far from the glow of his "own products"(?!), still makes you look into certain collaborations with certain big names: Brown, Tiepold, Shrieve, Michael Garvens and...Santana, as rumored! Time Actor is, very likely, one of the two better albums released under Wahnfried.

In 1980 we finally get an official live, called just like that: ...Live..., the recordings from 1976, in Berlin, and 1979, in Amsterdam and France (later, during the 90s, Schulze & manager & co. will get back on their classic database of concert recordings, stretching from 1974 up in 1979-80, issuing them in huge box-sets). The music is fantastic, a piece to try being the mega-saurus Sense, that lasts 50 minutes and is charged with A-class sequences.

If the rhythms of this kind, from this live, sound suspiciously open towards a more commercial (or, anyway, light-dynamic) electronic, nothing compares to the upcoming pleiade of beats and synthes from the 80s, years in which many classic bands faint for good, a thing that Schulze can't be accused of, even if his music isn't as good as back in the old great days anymore. Dig It (1981) adventures with prejudice into electro-digital, registering only here and there a combo of ambiance and synth-pop. Trancefer (1982) makes us suffer with the same uninspired stagnation that, in the middle of a full career explosion, Picture Music presented, but it's generally more experimental and concentrated. Things arrive to Audentity (1983), a double album that means and secludes a lot, including an avant-garde piece called Sebastian Im Traum. Besides this, one more work, a soundtrack actually, titled Angst, is released in 1984, sounding diffuse and simple, but having a dark color, with a pop expression that's, after all, electronic.

We stop to mention two new Richard Wahnfried albums, the rock-oriented Tonwelle and the disastrous Megatone. Schulze also collaborates with RAINER BLOSS, coming with Drive Inn, Bloss being also mentioned in the live album that samples a tour in Poland from 1984, Dzekuje Poland, though not even to this day I don't get what's Bloss's big contribution, since the music that's played is by Schulze, and Schulze plays it. Released in 1984 are also Aphrica, reuniting the efforts of Schulze, Bloss and Ernst Fuchs, an excruciating miscarriage, plus Transfer Station Blue, an album oriented towards synths + guitars, done together with the Shrieve brothers, something reminding of Ashra and sounding nice 'n' easy.

Schulze can yet again be accused of having stepped too hard into electro-pop when he creates Inter*Face, in 1985, but his next work, Dreams, is remarkably profound, consenting to refined electronic programming and containing an eclectic-ambient epic. A fourth Richard Wahnfried, Miditation, finally sounds more like good Schulze music, going on ambient and old-stuff.

At the end of the 80s, Schulze launches a very interesting conceptual album with Andreas GROSSER, titled Babel, a 60 minutes epic in three big parts, given the concentrated, sequential repetition of the themes, plus releases his own 23th solo album, En=Trance, very consistent. Shockingly, he is a co-producer for Alphaville! This is a period of many interviews, retrospectives, limited edition samples and other diverse stuff. After disbranching of the independent labels IC and Inteam, a return to Brain is made.

The next decade debuts both awkwardly, with an annoying Miditerranean Pads, and very good actually, given a new studio/live combo, The Dresden Performance, which is a hard listen but also tells you a lot about Schulze's new idea of a style: I don't know if it's globally acknowledged as "sampling", but anyway that's how I always call it, because it brings out the collage of sounds, mixes, voices and effects of all sorts, all paving a full way of expression and artistic experiment, a heavy alternative to the banal "digi-sequencer" dynamics and to the so-simply melodic, New-Age or ambient music. Almost every album up until 1996 - Beyond Recall (1991), Royal Festival Hall Vol.1 & 2 (1992), The Dome Event (1993), Das Wagner Desaster (1994) and the massive In Blue (1995) (with Göttsching as a guest, playing guitars) - are "sampling" albums - launched by Virgin, except the last two, which are released udner XYV, a private label, I think. From my point of view, in a really retro or new-age-y decade, what Schulze has chosen for his music keeps in mind artistic, representative, sometimes weird and othertimes insinuating valences, even if it's not the best music to follow up with or understand.

Less valorous albums of this period are the Moulin de Daudet soundtrack, though miniaturist, the electro-opera Totentag, flawed in its depth, and especially the transpositions from Goes Classic, where Schulze really hits a low, achieving nothing by comprising the essence of classical music works in the shallow variety of keyboards, MIDIs, Moogs and others. All these three were released in 1994!

Since 1993, Schulze collaborates with PETE NAMLOOK, a modern exponent of the eclectic electronic music, creating the mega-project Dark Side Of The Moog, that stretches so far to 11 albums. This style of project-music belongs more to Namlook, yet Schulze perceptibly contributes in the music, although tasting forbidden stylistic fruits such as techno and environmental. The project is tangently programmatic by paraphrasing a lot of works by Pink Floyd, as the name of the project(=of the album titles) suggests itself.

A sense of daringness is manifested in this period with the release of two box-sets, each made out of 10 CDs filled with music till the very last minute! Silver Edition is a fastidious incursion in more "sampling" works of the 90s, meant more for an expert than for a novice, culminating with the biggest concept epic ever, Picasso geht spazieren, that overall sums 160 minutes; the Edition also offers, however, two sessions of Berlin electronic music, extracted from 1975-6 concerts, plus from older recordings, dating back to 1972. The third CD, Was War Vor Der Zeit, is superb, highlighting great music from the mid 70s. Two years later, in 1995, Historic Edition is released, very inspired in offering, this time, an incursion into the pure, self-referenced as Golden Age concerts and compositions.

Schulze's next stylistic mutation is also his most commercial, as he finally leans on trance-techno clear variations and on electric-infused music, alike "dub" and "dance" (sometimes). Are You Sequenced? is a pretentious, virtual-centric double-album, while Dosburg Online is surprisingly more acclaimed, though, in a true sense, weak. But anyhow, summing all the official albums, we've reached Schulze's 80th album!

Three Wahnfried albums from the 1994-1997 period don't rehabilitate the modest quality of the side-project, Trancellation being a dangerous lick of trance-dance, Trance Appeal being artistic, but lacking any..."appeal", so that only Drums 'n' Balls is, in a late hour, the good-rate fusion of trance, ambiance, new-age and mixes, sounding relaxing, typical, nice.

A third box-set, Jubilee Edition, is released in 1997, marking, indeed, 25 years of solo career with...25 albums, which cover everything! Sure, we can talk already about exaggerations, but the essential is that every Edition, in its own way, uncovers facts about how much music Schulze truly composed, in 25 years, even if sometimes relying purely on stereotypes and programmed sounds, from the beginning. The level of the schulzerian art isn't reduced, this way, to just concrete albums, but to music composed/recorded tirelessly, for all tastes, inspired in deep steps or born out of simple impulses and experimentall results.

The Trailer compilation, from 1999, is solid, but basically announces the launch of The Ultimate Edition, the compilation of all compilations and the box-set of box-sets, one year later, all the 45 albums from the previous three Edition being re-issued, the extra thing consisting of 5 new CDs, one of them offering "alternative versions" to the classics Friedrich Nietzsche and Georg Trakl from X, both longer than the original. An excellent recording, under any circumstance!

The taste for huge compilations doesn't stop here, but, true, tempers, when two new Editions of (just [sic!]) 10 CDs each, called Contemporary Works, bring color in Schulze's activity from 2000, respectively 2002. The difference is, however, that Schulze already thinks in terms of present music, offering a new millennium style, which can largely be described as modern ambient, trance and meditational.

In 2000, the ASH RA TEMPEL reunion takes place, with a live adn a studio being released (Gin Rosé + Friendship); it isn't at all surprising that Schulze and Göttsching agreed on adopting a modern-ambient largo language, because both worked on this style during the same contemporary period (Göttsching released Die Mulde). The live is of a good quality, while the studio can divide its listeners. They're, nonetheless, of the same caliber, no matter from what perspective you look upon them.

In modern tempo, Schulze plays his own live concerts too, releasing the double offer Live@KlangArt Vol.1 and Vol.2, music that's generally very good. A new studio, long awaited, is Moonlake, unfortunately it inspires an artistic coldness, affecting especially the marks of sophisticated, modern ambient and sequencing.

Major health issues push forward a hiatus, sort of, from 2004 to 2007, Schulze being even forced to stay away from the stage. A massive re-release of the previous official albums kicks off, under the Revisited Records SPV brand, a banal act, if the beauty of it wouldn't consist of original bonus tracks, taken out of the archives almost every time. Right now, almost all the official albums have been actualised, a thing that practically doubles the collection of old fans & experts or refreshes, effectively, the offer for those who are just discovering (or want to discover) this music. A bit more arguable, for me, is decomposing the previous Contemporary Works collections into individual albums (Vanity Of Sounds, The Crime Of Suspense, Virtual Outback, Ballett 1-4 so far), although the original box-sets were, indeed, all!, limited.

Klaus Schulze finally came back with new music though in 2007, releasing acclaimed Kontinuum, where the feeling of old 70s is precious, but there's also modern music, with more attention given to details and outlines, with more richness implemented in the essences and dynamics, making out of the album something worthy.

2008 was equally inciting, first off with the unexpected 11th Dark Side Of The Moog (done, of course and as always, together with Namlook). In addition to a random compilation (Muting The Noise), another round of re-release focuses this time on rearranging and offerring once more the valuable but expended materials from the Editions, in a cycle of compilations titled La Vie Electronique.

But even bigger and better than expected ended up to be the collaboration with singer Lisa GERRARD (ex-Dead Can Dance), whose primary result was Farscape, a double-album presentation from what both artists called a serie of long, valuable, ad-lib improvisations, with a primarily mutual and ultimately surreal level of artistic expression. The album resorts to a languid ambient enclosure. What's truly grand about this collaboration is the follow-up (though not connected in any obvious way) Rheingold, foremost a testimony of Schulze's grand return to concerting (within the Lorelei summer festival), while assuredly an extremely-well received and incredible to hear electronic exposé, shrouded in the mysticism of the concept, and the deep aura and surround to which Schulze capably resumes, most of elegantly, preeminently. The more operatic, absorbing, impassioned and ensorcelled vocal poems done together with Gerrard represent themselves, almost beyond doubt, the real peak of the kind of matching artistry and vital essence that was sought after. This Lorelei concert was also released on DVD, Schulze's arguably first ever, completing the experience with a biographical story and interviews. The collaboration continues to this date, its fruits being apparently well savoured. Dzekuje Bardzo-Vielen Dank (2009), as a third release of this kind, is of the same ambitious caliber (if tad less profound and spot-on), highlighting two concerts in Poland and Germany. The touring fever itself hasn't yet gone cold - and the same can be said about Schulze's sparkling enthusiasm.