TEN FROM 77 – 3 / ELECTRONIC – 2

Continuing (and concluding) a rather indulgent journey through albums released in 1977 broadly falling into the ‘electronic’ category. Having covered 10 – 6, here are the Top 5.

5  Jürgen Karg — Elektronische Mythen

Herr Karg played bass with jazz experimentalist Wolfgang Dauner on a (semi-) legendary 1969 recording. Eight years later he released his only solo album, an austere electronic work that evokes Stockhausen and early Klaus Schulze. Apparently he had been experimenting with synthesised sounds for several years, and Elektronische Mythen (Electronic Myths) was the result. Containing two side-long pieces of pure electronic music, it is an album of edits, reversals, pulses and eerily spacious noise. Stare at the cover photo, it will give you an idea of what to expect; skeletal fragments of chilly, controlled introspection. Not for neophyte electronic explorers.

4  Klaus Schulze — Body Love

It is almost certain more people have listened to the soundtrack of seventies porn film Body Love than have actually viewed it. Reason? The wonderful synthesiser music composed by the prolific Klaus Schulze to accompany the on-screen naughtiness. This is one of the quintessential analogue synth LPs: full of whooshes and swooshes, swirls and whirls, pulses and pan-galactic surges. Opener ‘Stardancer’ has all of this plus an angelic chorus, while ‘Blanche’ opens with plaintive piano. Truly, this sounds much more like a melodic Lust In Space than a European flesh flick. Yet the vintage (then state-of-the-art) keyboards inject a warmth and organic flow that manages to make Body Love a rather sexy LP. Unlike the film producers, Schulze even released a soundtrack sequel. So take off your hat and coat, and anything else that encumbers you, and r e l a x. You know what I mean.

3  Cluster & Eno — Cluster & Eno

Shimmering electronics and plangent piano; an air of misty reverie pierced with echoed sighs; a German experimental duo and a British non-musician. This collaboration between Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius (Cluster) with Brian Eno is a mesmerising—almost magic—trip into atmospheres both nostalgic and timeless. Touches of percussion and even some sitar add an immediacy and humanity to these pensive soundscapes. This album would make a fine entry point for the Cluster-curious. Just lovely.

2  Heldon — Interface

Without doubt one of the most singular and challenging hybrid electronic outfits of all time, Heldon’s albums are as far from Jean-Michel Jarre as it is possible to get in our current universe. A smash-up of Richard Pinhas’ dirty Frippian guitar (and electronics), Patrick Gauthier’s icy synths and the industrial guerrilla drumming of Francois Auger, Interface is New Age music for a world of alienation and simmering chaos. So still quite relevant, then. French speakers might manage a lop-sided Gallic grin at the dark humour of the song titles (‘The green flying saucer’, ‘Return of the flying saucer’, ‘Son of the flying saucer (green)’), but for the rest of us, this is a toboggan ride over the moguls of Mordor. Like the cover image, this is music both disturbing and oddly captivating.

1  Kraftwerk — Trans-Europe Express

The ultimate case for electronic music embracing romanticism, Trans-Europe Express is (often) my favourite Kraftwerk album and perhaps their most immediately accessible. The title suite—beginning with the opening ‘Europe endless’ then continuing on side two—evokes a train journey across the history and elegance (or decadence) of Western Europe. Rhythms gently rock and roll with the movement of a plush first-class railway compartment… Kraftwerk’s proto-dancefloor beats are only hinted at here. There are memorable, hummable melodies and a couple of thoughtful songs about authenticity and image (despite ‘singing’ being a somewhat loose word for how Hütter and Schneider deliver the words). If you can have lush minimalism, then TEE is it. If you can find space for just one Kraftwerk ticket in your collection (which would be a scandal, really), then this is it. Well ahead of schedule in 1977 and still taking passengers on a wonderful ride.

*

23 comments

  1. […] Update: The sequel post is here! […]

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  2. The good news: I shall avoid scandal, by eventually hearing at least 3 Kraftwerk recordings.
    The equally good if not better news: thanks to this post, I now know which one I’ll be starting with!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent news all round, Geoff! And a fine place to start.
      The three in The Book are terrific, but really the whole string from Autobahn to Computer World could claim a place. Hope you enjoy TEE when you listen.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know a few names here, Bruce! Only one I’m awfy familiar with is Kraftwerk, but from what you’ve written (and looks of the cover), I want to get to know that Heldon album!

    You can be sure the 9 albums I haven’t heard have been duly noted for further exploration at some point down the line.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your ‘notes’ must be quite extensive, J. And expensive too, I’d expect. This is a whole other genre of music, really, that owes little to ‘rawk’. A celestial ocean for those who take the plunge!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I have a wee note pad that’s filled with stuff that’s caught my interest at one point or another. I dare say I’ll never get to much of it, but Spotify and YouTube can come in handy.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Always sensible to try before you buy!

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        2. I like to think I’m a sensible man…

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Absolutely. Anyone who can not only see the Death Star in a glass refraction but have the presence of mind to take a photo, AND post it for his equally sensible friends to enjoy, has my vote for SMOTY*.

          (Sensible Man Of The Year)

          Liked by 1 person

  4. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    Heh, heh. I forwarded this to my good music friend/mentor Anthony last night because I knew he’d love it, and he did. We had this whole text exchange on it, weird. That last photo there, the Dusseldorf HBF, is brill…I have some mid-70s Kraftwerk bootleg thing on a warped kind of tape sounding thing that’s super, how those keyboard sounds come through. They have their singular thing don’t they. Not sure if you know this, but the band The Fall is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve gotten it out of my system mostly, but I like the fact they were fans of Kraftwerk (and Can, etc.). And they bring that into their own music, too. I’ll go back and savor these posts. I was thinking, it’s coming on summer there for you! Funny, how different – and I wonder at how the season inspires you differently than it does us, here. As it’s all closing down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Delighted that the post triggered some entertaining communication between you and a friend. Kraftwerk are a band who deserve their iconic status, for sure. Even on a dodgy tape.
      The Fall I know, of course, but am not overly familiar with. One of a substantial list where ‘further research is required’.
      Yes, we are in Spring. And a dank, overcast one it is too. Bah! Still, a scorching summer is predicted. Meanwhile, enjoy your gold-reds and mulled wine Bill.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. pinklightsabre · · Reply

        Dude looking forward to the day we get to put our feet up and drop the needle on some dank shit.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Same question as Electronic 1. I know a few of these albums from your takes. I am going to give them a spin just shake up my listening and add some new/old sounds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. …And from part zwei, the Cluster & Eno is an album of rare beauty while Heldon are absolutely worth pursuing for their unique dystopian vision. I don’t mention Kraftwerk as I assume you already have some (if not all) of their work, being a fellow of taste both broad and deep.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m an Eno guy but fell by the wayside with a lot of his work. So this is all very cool. “Broad and deep” Hmmmm. Like using “sensible” to describe CB. Yeah I get into the Kraftwerk vibe. All good stuff Bruce. A kick in the arse for some new listening.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Luv ya attitude, dude.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. May take a dose of Eno this week.
    Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Somehow missed this. Sorry!

      Hope the Eno did the trick with the gastric reflux.

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  7. I’m working backwards to catch up after my hols, so I really should have gone to Part1 first. I couldn’t agree more with you about the Cluster/Eno and Kraftwerk – where’s the picture from? is it a gatefold from the re-release?

    I can’t tell you how much I love the cover of ‘Interface’, it’s amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a stunning cover, isn’t it?
      The Kraftwerk pic (and the feature image) are from the booklet included in the vinyl reissue of a couple of years ago. Clearly they have a well organised archive!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Organised Germans?! Damn them for subverting all those racial stereotypes.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. […] will know of my love of this 1977 album. Sadly, it is not well served by this performance. While the recording of the pieces is fine—a […]

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