KLAUS ENCOUNTERS | THE FINAL FRONTIER

Continuing (and completing) Vinyl Connection’s homage to German synthesiser great Klaus Schulze. 

The Cosmic Couriers — Sci-Fi Party  [1974]

In the first half of 1973, producer Rolf Ulrich Kaiser organised a series of jams with a number of the major musicians in the emerging psychedelic/electronic space rock scene. There were recorded (without the musicians’ explicit permission, nor even knowledge) and released on a series of album in 1974 and 1976.

Sci-Fi Party gives a sense of what the music is like; rambling tripped out jams that ebb and flow as the acid-captains do their chemically assisted thing, later to be hammered into some kind of shape in post-production. Mind-expanding, in the right mood.

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Stomu Yamastha’s Go — Go  [1976]

Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamashta recruited some talented friends for his much-lauded “Go” project. Steve Winwood handles all the vocals (superbly), Al Di Meola adds virtuoso guitar and keyboards/synths are provided by Herr Schulze. Yamashta’s compositions are strong and the playing is uniformly excellent. Plus there is the wonderful cover art by cinema legend Saul Bass.

Go is one of the great unsung highlights of 1970s progressive rock.

*

Body Love / Body Love Volume 2  [1977]

Composed (or rather, improvised) for a 1970s porn film, Schulze’s music for Body Love is some of his best long-form electronic music and an almost quintessential example of the analogue synthesist’s art. Highly recommended if you love velvet washes, snow-bright swoops and jumping bean pulses. Here ends a very brief review of two five-star albums.

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Richard Wahnfried — “Tonwelle”  [1981]

When I first listened to Richard Wahnfried, a Klaus Schulze side project, I was not impressed. It seemed like the flowing electronic music I loved was beaten up by beats and vandalised by vocals. Coming back to Tonwelle after a considerable time, I found myself enjoying it a great deal more than anticipated. 

With Michael Schrieve, Santana’s original drummer, and the Ashra/Ash Ra Tempel guitarist Manuel Göttschiing in the mix, it is like an updated Cosmic Couriers album. Michael Garvens’ vocals are a few notches less dramatic than those provided by Arthur Brown for 1979’s Dune, while Göttschiing sparkles. A psychedelically infused, booster powered surf on Schulze’s sound wave (Tonwelle). 

*

Pete Namlook & Klaus Schulze — Dark Side Of The Moog Volumes 1-4  [2016]

The Dark Side Of The Moog project is described by the Allmusic Guide as a “meeting of ’70s space hero Klaus Schulze and his ’90s inheritor Pete Namlook”, and certainly there is an audible melding of styles. 

What is enjoyable about this series—eleven CDs plus bonus discs across three boxed sets; Schulze does nothing by halves—is the sonic variety arising from the collaboration. It updates the KS sound to embrace Nineties electronica with a few come hither winks towards EDM, meaning that fans of traditional analogue 70s electronic music might turn up their noses but digital migrants may well find much to enjoy. Incidentally, although the track titles are playful references to Pink Floyd songs, there is absolutely no musical connection.

One of the reasons this tribute post took so long was that I became immersed in the first four discs of the series and spent pleasurable hours getting to know them a little better. As I type, “Three Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn” is pulsing along in the background.

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Moonlake  [2005]

Although many of Schulze’s compositions are very long—the opening cut on Moonlake is 30 minutes—there are often distinct movements within them. “Artemis in Jubileo’ (track 2) begins with an Eastern trance feel but later morphs into something quite grand and majestic. Often there are changes of pace, driven by the addition (or removal) of drum machine lines; other times it is acoustic percussion that adds spice, such as the tablas on the opening piece of this album. I guess the point I’m laboriously making is that there is much more variety in the music of Klaus Schulze than might be imagined. This is an audibly 21st Century album I’ve come to really enjoy.

*

The aptly named La Vie Electronique series had Schulze and his team plundering the archives yet again. Again? Absolutely. His tape library must be enormous. Most of the CD re-issues include generous bonus tracks, many of which appeared on huge boxed sets released earlier. This series, roughly chronological, consists of fifteen volumes, each comprising three CDs over seventy minutes long. Then there is the final five disc volume to tie up any loose ends.

Promising myself I’d sample a couple and then stop, I opted for the earlier years. The analogue machines make the sounds I am drawn to. Let’s see how I did…

And there are definitely not two further volumes in the mail. Really. Would I lie to you?

*

Given the masses of material already released, you would imagine that we have reached the end of his amazing journey. Herr Schulze has, after all, gone to join the great Voltage-Controlled Oscillator in the sky. But no. In the period leading up to his death, Klaus, ever the workaholic, put the finishing touches on a new album that revisits one of his favourite themes: Dune.

Frank Herbert’s magnificent science fiction novel, published in 1965 and recently re-energised by Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film, has been an inspiration for many musicians, Klaus Schulze in particular. More particulars can be found here. And, in July 2022, a new album of KS electronic wizardry will be released. It is called Deus Arrakis. There being some three dozen Klaus Schulze entries in the Vinyl Connection data base, naturally I won’t be ordering it. 

3 comments

  1. Oh how I wish this was another long weekend. Mention of the Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn had me making a note to revisit your fine post touching on Wind in the Willows. Music wise, eSanta Klaus might get a run, mood depending.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So, you like this guy?

    I suspect the Cosmic Couriers one is the one that would fit best with me, but that’s a terrible LP cover!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Klaus is just this guy, you know? But I’m obsessive. End of story.

      The three Cosmic Couriers LPs are great. And the other two have better covers!

      Liked by 1 person

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