When you are in pain, time has the capacity for slowing to a torturous crawl.
Such was the lot of your correspondent this week, as one of the Vinyl Connection bicuspids decided it was sick and tired of meekly sitting between ripping canine and grinding molar and transformed, Jekyll and Hyde-like, into a small white tower extruding agony. Exaggeration, you say? Then, my friend, you’ve never had toothache. Count yourself fortunate. Floss and brush assiduously. Make an appointment for a dental check up tomorrow. But for now, sit back—preferably with a stiff drink—as I unfold a tale of horror, darkness, and codeine.
Having committed to help an old friend move his substantial vinyl collection between properties down in the south-eastern suburbs, I took paracetamol for a nasty head cold and saddled up for a long day. We got through a hot, sweaty Sunday reasonably OK, though I was absolutely knackered by the time I staggered home. After a shower and much-needed nap, I felt a bit better, but noticed a tenderness in one of my teeth, one that has caused problems previously. As I’m a jaw grinder from way back, I put it down to that… but during the evening, far from receding, the pain increased, relentless as the creeping tide.
As this particular white horse was well-known to my long-suffering dentist—he first worked on it back when the Oasis debut was all-conquering—the need for professional input was obvious. Let’s fast-motion through the next part: Visit Dentist -> inconclusive x-ray -> start antibiotics -> increase analgesics -> moan and groan a lot -> assess Clash options (“Should I stay or should I go”) -> resolve on the latter.
Ms Connection (she’s my International Woman of the Year, you know) took the day off to drive me back to Malvern. But the tooth did not give up its place in the team willingly. In fact it was an all-in wrestling match between Doctor Phang and the stubborn bicuspid that lasted more than 20 minutes before the chap in the white coat, panting slightly, dismembered and removed his opponent from the ring. Clenching (lightly) a cotton wad over the wound, we started for home.
More stop-motion: Driving home, the new car died -> Ms C ordered an Uber to take me home -> arriving at Chez Connection, I began to feel quite unwell, shaking like an ancient washing machine on fast spin cycle -> suspecting this was not good, rang Ms C.
This process culminated in the arrival at my bedside of Ms Connection and three female Paramedics almost simultaneously. It was like being in a very bossy harem, but I was in no state to enjoy the attention as the team ascertained I had a serious fever; in all likelihood a tooth related infection.
“Keep doing what you’re doing,” they advised.
Shaking and sweating and feeling utterly shit? Yep, I can do that.
So that’s what I did, while the amazing Ms Connection fixed everything else.
As the fever began to reduce, pain reappeared from the haze and I again noticed how stretchy time is. It redacted my life to working out the periods between alternating doses of paracetamol/codeine and ibuprofen. How sensitive I became to the jaw twinge indicating the return of Captain Throb; the clock became a parsimonious dealer in relief.
The arc of healing slowly bottomed out and began to ascend. Couldn’t read, couldn’t think straight, couldn’t concentrate on anything more complicated than part two of the Hunger Games. Yet, amazingly, thoughts of records danced in my brain.
How many records called Time are there? ELO had one, I thought; then there was a rock musical in the mid-80s by Dave Clarke. Oh, and didn’t Fleetwood Mac do Time in the 90s? Don’t have any of those. What about album titles beginning with the word Time? There must be a few of those in the Vinyl Connection collection.
Quite a few, then. There has to be a post in this. Better take panadeine and narrow it down.
Got it! I’ll write about all the albums entitled Time Something located alphabetically between SCHO and SCHU. All praise the Gods of Vinyl for an operative filing system.
1979 was a busy year for Klaus Schulze. The German synthesiser pioneer released Dune—the eleventh album in his already substantial catalogue—and began working on a parallel project called Richard Wahnfried. The idea of this ‘band’ was to enlist a shifting cast of guest musicians to present more commercial-sounding electronic based music.
The first album is called Time Actor and includes vocalist Arthur Brown (of sixties “Fire” fame) along with Vincent Crane (of Crazy World of Arthur Brown “Fire”fame and, of course, Atomic Rooster) plus Santana alumnus Michael Shrieve (credited with ‘Rhythmical advice’, whatever that is).
The name Richard Wahnfried was created by Schulze based on his love of Wagner; he borrowed the composer’s given name and paired it with the name of Wagner’s villa in Bayreuth. Surely that would appeal to the rock/pop youth market? History does not suggest massive sales ensued, yet the project did produce some interesting attempts at merging electronics with rock structures in a way that remained idiosyncratic (the songs are scarcely 3 minute radio ditties) and progressive.
How you feel about this first outing of Richard Wahnfried will depend a lot on how you respond to the melodramatic vocals of the inimitable Arthur Brown. Dramatic, ranting, imploring, intoning, declaiming; Brown is in great voice and as long as you are not expecting Tangerine Dream, it works reasonably well. It would need to: most of the pieces are vocal-based and there are a lot of lyrics.
Although released at the tail end of the seventies, there is a distinct 80s sheen to the synth sounds; the tones are bright, the attack sharp, the decay brief. Drums sound synthesised to me—perhaps advice was all Michael Shrieve contributed. That’s a pity, as the sound is somewhat dated by the percussion textures.
In sum, one for dedicated Klaus Schulze fans (and not the place to start if you are new to his oeuvre), for those who love the eccentricities of Arthur Brown, or someone deeply into early progresive-electro-rock.
Eberhard Schoener is a composer, arranger, conductor and musician of great breadth and scope. Classically trained in Germany, he has written everything from opera to electronica, dabbled in World Music as early as 1975, and worked with Jon Lord of Deep Purple (orchestrating Sarabande) and two-thirds of The Police. Intriguing, yes?
The album we’re focussing on today is his 1981 LP, Time Square. Unfortunately it is not one of his best. The album seems to be an attempt to continue the work Schoener did with Sting and Andy Summer but without either of those artists involved. It ends up as a kind of damp experimental pseudo-rock that never quite finds a home.
What I enjoyed most was the composer’s use of texture. Sax over marimba, for instance, in “The nine lives of a cat”, a song sung by Clare Torry (she of Floyd’s “The great gig in the sky”). The synth and electronic percussion in “Gramercy Park Hotel” is cool, too, even if vocalist George Beck does seem to be channelling Sting with throat-straining enthusiasm. Elsewhere, the combination of almost operatic vocals and sparse electronics in “Take the zoom” works well, but sounds like it belongs on a different album. The atmospheric instrumental title track was probably my favourite.
Is it too much diversity that leaves Time Square lacking cohesion? Hard to say, as for all the creative textures and innovative accompaniments the album remains just a bit, um, square. Another day, we’ll return to Herr Schoener’s catalogue to do justice to the really interesting records he’s made.
Robert Schroeder is a German electronic musician who released his first album in the same year Richard Wahnfried began. Time Waves (1987) was his eighth album and showcases his ability to combine rhythmic momentum with synthesiser melodies in a way that is engaging and often hummable, without ever stretching the listener.
Opener “The turn of a dream” is a good example. A brief catchy melodic hook leads into a secondary theme that is lush and romantic. Kind of muscular, Teutonic Enya.
After a gentle interlude, the beat is back with “Waveshape”, a pulsing, Numanesque piece that even boasts some (surely tongue-in-cheek) Yello style vocal incursions: Wave shape, Oh Yeah!
Centrepiece of the album is the eighteen minute “The Message”. This continuous piece is really a suite in several parts. Like all of Schroeder’s compositions here, there is lots of variety and enough tonal diversity that you forgive the sometimes icky eighties synth sounds. Remember that breathy calliope voice? It is in evidence here but not so much that you turn off. Parts of “The Message” evoked Jean-Michel Jarre in a very positive way; perhaps this could be his restless younger brother.
If you want to experiment beyond Jean-Michel Jarre and like any 80s Tangerine Dream you’ve stumbled across, then Time Waves would be likely to please. Used in conjunction with codeine-based analgesics and a glass of wine, it might even ameliorate toothache.