Klaus Schulze – Body Love

IMG_20150922_192104 Popol Vuh soundtracked Herzog’s best films, Can leant their sounds to both underground arthouse films and to gritty mainstream thrillers but only Klaus Schulze, as far as we know, went and did the soundtrack to a pornographic movie. I do not mean something a little bit saucy or racy but a genuine, full-on hardcore porn film. Of course, it was not really in the same vein as modern, production line pornography. This was for Lassse Braun who fancied himself a skilled film-maker, an artist and a sexual revolutionary. He even went as far as to show this film, also called “Body Love”, at the Cannes Film Festival. Braun later claimed to have quit the industry in disgust at what he saw as its commercialisation and turned instead to sexology, anthropology and erotic fiction. However, if you take a look at “Body Love” it is just an old porn film, whatever the philosophy behind, just one with an unusual soundtrack.

The most unusual thing about the “Body Love” soundtrack is that Schulze seems to make no compromise or alteration to his sound for the medium. This really feels like a straight up electronic cosmic Klaus Schulze album. If you were played it and told it was a soundtrack to something, your first guess would probably be a sci-fi film. First track “Stardancer” in particular sounds like the sound of a rocket launch. Harald Großkopf provides some nice wild drums but Jesus they are low in the mix sometimes, especially on “P.T.O”! Schulze’s keys are hypnotic and psychedelic with some suitably epic use of that choral mellotron thing he bought off Florian Fricke.  “Blanche” is more serene and beautiful with some gentle piano in amongst the swirling electronic pulses and ghostly synths.

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Whatever your views on porn, Schulze has in no way compromised his artistic vision on this release, staying true to his classic sound and producing an album with as many nods to baroque classical as it does to the Berlin-school of electronics. Its energy and pace make it one of those records that lay down the foundations for dance music just as much as any of his peers.

The original edition has lots of images from the film (though nothing more risqué than some bare breasts) but was swiftly replaced by the more subtle version you see in this review. For the CD reissue a fourth bonus track was included, from the same recording sessions and also used in the film. It was simply titled “Lasse Braun” and at over twenty two minute it drastically changes the size and pace of the album. For at least half of it is discrete and ambient and then it builds up into something quite wild and intense.

Is this an album you’d pop on in the bedroom? Perhaps. It’s not an obvious choice but it could not do any harm unless you were just trying to sleep. Is it an album you’d pop on in the living room to listen to with friends? The original vinyl version is but the extended running time of the CD version makes it a bit hard going for the casual listener. Still, “Body Love” is a classic piece of German 70s electronica that has aged beautifully.
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Cosmic Jokers – Planeten Sit-In

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The criminally under-rated Cosmic Jokers project is often the subject of scorn and derision, perhaps because of their more jam-based structure as opposed to the song forms of many of their contemporaries. Perhaps it is because of the ambiguous legality of it all and the seeming lack of awareness of the participants owing to the producers handing out mind-altering drugs in heavy supply.

None the less, “Planeten Sit-In” remains a wild piece of space-rock. Klaus Shculze wigging the electronics for all their worth whilst members of Wallenstein rock out with Ash Ra Tempel whilst in higher states of mind. The resulting jams may not showcase the artists at their most proficient but they certainly show them at their wildest and most primal. Tribal drums, spooky electronics, deep bass and weird acapellas. Schulzian electronics regularly loom high in the mix and there is an even a moment of piano towards the end of “Loving Frequencies” that makes me think of Brian Eno with Cluster.

The track listing could be considered a bit misleading with none of the “tracks” being very long and are all segued. Unless you are listening on CD or computer files whilst watching the track display change, you would not know that “Raumschiff Galaxy Startlet” had ended and “The Planet Of Communication” (itself only 47 seconds) had begun. Oh, and that segues right into the 35 second “Electronenzirkus”. Perhaps the different song titles are used to mark out the different sources. Knowing the methods of uber-kosmik producer Rolf Ulrich-Kaiser, this album will be a psychedelic Frankenstein’s monster stitched together from different jam parts. The only pause is for the end of side one which concludes with the aforementioned “Loving Frequencies”

Over to side two and “Electronic News” is nothing short of an amazing trip, like Stockhausen at a rave, all weird dark electronics hanging out with throbbing pulses that mulch the mind. It yields to the ritualistic rock of “Intergalactic Radio Guri Broadcasting”. Someone is singing far away from the microphone and quite clearly off their face in a major way. The rhythm starts to evolve into a groove and with Schulze on electronic overdrive it verges on proto-disco/techno. A brief 41 second all electronic interlude gives way to “Interstellar Rock: Kosmische Musik” which is the sort of psychedelic space drone rock you’d associate with someone like White Hills.

Another 46 second Schulzian interval and we are onto the climactic “Der Planet Des Stemenmadchens” which at over 8 minutes is far and away the longest song on here. Primal rock rhythms reminiscent of Cromagnon and plenty of Schulzey electronic wiggins. It goes all sci-fi, like an instrumental version of The White Noise. The odd thing is the track very slowly fades away, melting the record out rather than going out with a bang. It leaves the listener a little underwhelmed at the end of listening which may in part account for the albums lukewarm reputation but whimpering climax aside, this is a great album.
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Klaus Schulze – X

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Klaus Schulze’s gift to himself to celebrate his tenth release is a 16-page-libretto included in this double-abum. Time for Klaus to look back on his career so far: from the early days in various groups to his adventures as a solo-performer. The cool pictures showing him as part of the early incarnation of Tangerine Dream or playing drums for Ash Ra Temple are already worth buying the record. But it is also a strange and egocentric move to release a record so decidedly self-historicising.

The compositions on the record are named after philosophers, poets and other historical personalities who may or may not have inspired Klaus Schulzes music. This is another self-assured if not megalomaniac statement: Naming a song “Friedrich Nietzsche” is like saying: “Well – yeah, Nietzsche, quite a character!” It’s hilarious! Nigel Tufnel for electronic musicians!
SAM_0765In respect to this not-so-thoughtful (but funny) conceptual approach it’s no surprise to learn that the accompanying liner notes to “X” written by Schulze and KD Mueller are not very lucid when it comes to aesthetic strategies or conceptual ideas behind the music – because at the end of the day there are none! Or at least: none of that – besides a longer quote from Schulze that his music’s based on emotions and the very moment it is performed in – is articulated in the linernotes: Schulze is just writing in a “been-here-done-that”-style on his so far career, while KD Mueller’s piece is just pseudo-intellectual bullshit.
SAM_0764It’s as simple as that and there’s nothing wrong with it: the music’s a result of Klaus Schulze’s personality, his ability to monitor/operate his synthesizers and the emotional state he’s in during a recording-session. The rest is left to post-production – and all the references delivered with the music are mostly ornamental.

But – like I said – there’s nothing wrong with this somewhat sentimental method as long as the results are as good as they are on “X”. Leaving the random, self-historicising blurb aside there are six pieces of electronic music, classic Berlin-School-Style. Some tracks feature Harald Großkopf on drums (which is something that I’m not very keen on), some feature symphonic arrangements and a more romantic touch (“Ludwig II. Von Bayern”), so there’s plenty to discover and Klaus Schulze is showing a broad palette of styles using about ten different synthesizers to which he dedicates the record:”Dieses Werk ist meinen ach so geliebten Synthesizern gewidmet” („This opus is dedicted to my oh so beloved synthesizers“).

So, giving the conceptual side of the record a second thought: Maybe “X” is a good (if not the best in terms of musical variety) record to start listening to Klaus Schulze if you never heard a single note of his music before. It’s sort of a beginners-guide – guided by the man himself (some nonsense included if you can read/understand the German language liner notes).
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review by Holger Adam

 

Klaus Schulze – Irrlicht

I first found this record for 50p in a wicker basket in a pub, built 1610, up on the desolate Pennines in Winter. With a start like that, how could I go wrong? Well, apart from accidentally buying a reissue years later for £12, oh the shame. Anyway, this is Mr.Schulz’s debut solo album and rather than the synthesiser overdoses he is famed for, it is electronic drones and treated orchestra sounds.

There is a widely circulated and unsubstantiated story circulating on the internet that this is Klaus’ vision of how Tangerine Dream’s “Zeit” should have been and this lead to his departure from Tangerine Dream and the rivalry lead to the two albums both being released in August 1972. That’s a great legend but Schulz had actually left Tangerine Dream back in 1970 and had been playing in Ash Ra Tempel inbetween, whilst Tangerine Dream had already made the “Alpha Centauri” album since they lost their Klaus.

The real legend is the music itself. “Irrlicht” (German for Will O’The Wisp) contains simply some of the best electronic sounds ever recorded. Mr.Schulze makes his equipment produce a deep, dramatic, humming buzz that somehow resonates right down to the very bottom of your soul. It sounds utterly unlike any sound you would imagine on this earth. It sounds like machinery humming from beyond the doors of perception. It sounds like reality is melting on your turntable.

What is fascinating about “Irrlicht” (and what caused me to pluck it from the wicker basket, having never heard of Mr.Schulze) was the subtitle of “Quadrophonische Symphonie Für Orchester une E-Maschinen”. Now, while I would never claim my German was particularly good, I could work out what that meant: orchestra and electronics in Quadrophonic sound. Well, I don’t have a quadrophonic sound set-up but those sort of LPs seem to acclimatise themselves nicely to a home cinema surround sound set up.

So, amidst the mind- melting electronics mentioned previously is an orchestra. Yet, thanks to Mr.Schulze, they sound like they are playing in our world but being recorded from another dimension through a crack in reality. The sound comes in and out among the electronics in a haunting manner before being completely subsumed.  Then it goes through a mad, phantom of the electric organ-style overload peaking heavily in intensity.

Then it suddenly goes down a couple of gears and slowly fades away, in what I presume to be the second part, in a whirl of sounds, subtle strings and what sounds like someone knocking on your ceiling. Its accompanied by occasional, ominous crashes of sound and lasts a short while until you get to the end of side 1.

Side 2 is all one track “Exils Sils Maria” and shuns the intensity of the first part for a strange, ghostly echoing landscape of sound. There is no detectable orchestration, though it may well be there in a deeply manipulated form. Perhaps closer to the first couple of Cluster albums than anything else in the Schulze oeuvre, it features waves and waves of echoing, distorted sound.

It carries on for over twenty one deeply imaginative minutes, conjuring images in the listeners mind of deep space, wasteland dawns, machines whispering at night and the emptiness of infinity. It could make an evocative soundtrack to many, many things but stood on its own as a piece of music is the only way to experience it and live the movie in your mind.

“Irrlicht” is a timeless piece of work made using methods superior to most modern electronic recording techniques. While it may not contain tunes your postman could whistle, it has enough presence and power to submerge the listener in another world. What more could you ask for?

Sergius Golowin – Lord Krishna Von Goloka

Another classic slice of R.U.K. madness here as he gets a Czech new age guru to step up to the microphone and talk about Krishna. I always imagined it’s one of those albums probably best appreciated by the non-German speaker and German friends tell me they try to shut out the words and focus on the music. That seems easy enough to me because there is a whole lot to love here about the music.

You get Klaus Schulze doing keyboards and things (including drums), Wallenstein’s rhythm section multi-tasking,  Bernd Witthüser on acoustic guitar, Walter Westrupp on everything and Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser on the controls – how could it fail? The chemistry between the line-up, forgive the accidental pun, is catalytic. Whilst Witthüser and Westrupp lend an air of psychedelic folk whimsy, Klaus Schulze could not be less of a hippy if he tried. Whether he is conjuring up cosmic electronics or smashing away at the percussion, he does it with an almost aggressive energy.  Add to this the presence of the Wallenstein members, coming from a more traditional rock band, and for all the mystical talk on the top of it, this is not soporific new age music.

The first track “Die Reigen” (which means The Dance) starts off with what sounds like an organ in a great cathedral on another plain filtering through infinity to us. The acoustic guitars begin tentatively and then something starts that sounds like Schulze playing the “choir organ” mellotron he got off Popol Vuh’s Florian Fricke. It’s not long though before they are off.

They keep up a galloping, breakneck intensity for everything from the piano to the acoustic guitar.  Even the piano sounds to be getting a hammering. Heck even the flute playing is a bit manic. Glowing words just hang thick in the air, spoken softly with authority. Although he’s clearly just a passenger on the musicians trip, his is not an unpleasant presence and has a nice speaking voice.  Even during the minimalist midway breakdown (it is a 19 minute song), there is still an urgent, rattling percussion for most of it until the final breakaway into silence.

“Die Weiße Alm” is a (relatively) shorter track to finish the first side and, unlike the other two, credited as being written by just Golowin and Jürgen Dollase  as opposed to the whole gang.  Dollase’s acoustic guitar predominates but there is a nice, subtle electronic background, which is why the writing credit seems a little puzzling. It seems especially puzzling, as it sounds like a lost track from Witthüser and Westrupp’s “Trips Und Traume” album. The track is presumably a celebration of Golowin’s Swiss base as while ‘Weiße’ means white (as any beer aficionado knows), an Alm is a very specific term for seasonal mountain pasture in the alps.

All of side two is given over to “Die Hoch-Zeit”. The most common use of that title is for a wedding but the dash in the middle suggests that we should perhaps be taking a more literal, older translation of the words:  “High Celebration”. It seems a more apt wording because things get really more way out there on this one.

It somehow sneaks gently in at full tilt with furious guitar strumming, punked-out drumming and whispered madness from the Golowinmeister. It’s one of those rare songs that sounds different every time you play it thanks to the intricate, layered mix. It is impossible to focus on all the song at once so the listener creates a new mix with their attention every time they hear the song

The R.U.K. lays down some heavy effect production on old Sergius’ vocals, reverberating and manipulating them. Someone hammers away at a piano in the most heroically wild manner, like the LSD march of the Valkyries. The percussion and drumming hits a perfect storm. It’s a psychedelic cacophony. Then it all slows down to flicker away in an echo of gentler strumming, weird drones, whispers and flute. I have a Dolby Pro Logic surround sound hi-fi and when I play this LP through it, the surround effect is better than any modern album or even movie. RUK was way ahead of his time.

It’s a wild ending to an album that somehow encapsulates both a primal strength and a cosmic peace to it. I have seen it referred to on the internet as ambient but only a complete chump would call it that. Yet, you would be just as stupid to dismiss it as hippy whimsy. This is the real deal, a fantastic session that hits higher levels without indulgence or nonsense, except possibly for those who can understand what old Sergius Golowin is saying. Just try to ignore the fact that it looks like he’s doing a shit in a field on the cover.