Friday, 15 April 2011

I Am Lost In Space With Conrad Schnitzler

‘It's not enough that an artist creates some nice art, but an artist should create his own individual mythology - the way he lives and the art he creates should be a unity and something unique.’ – C.N.

Pass me that conical hat with the ‘D’ on it ‘cause I’ve only just discovered the music of Conrad Schnitzler – you may laugh (or shrug and say ‘Who?) but, you know, the ocean of sound is vast and in its depths lurk many treasures. Now, Con may be the equivalent of a blue whale to some, by which I mean so big as to be impossible to ignore, but to me he has appeared as a strange, fantastical thing akin to those transparent fish seen only by remote-controlled subs...the ones that dangle a glowing appendage as bait (I don’t think I made that up). The bait for me regarding Con was the new M=Minimal vinyl rerelease of his 1978 album, ‘Ballet Statique’. I think CN’s name was buried way back in my subconscious mind, but anyway, this release prompted me to don my diving gear (that’s enough of the deep sea analogy) and explore.
   As you (know-all) are probably aware, he co-founded Tangerine Dream before quickly jumping ship for the Kluster project and so on through four decades. At some point he went completely maverick by only making cassettes and then CDRs. He’s recorded all kinds of music, much of which I’ve yet to hear, but he was a student of Joseph Beuys in the 60s and that should give you a clue as to his orientation. That said, a lot of his music is not ‘uneasy’ ‘art’ sound. Much of it is way ahead of every electronic modern record you’ve heard, but then, we can’t help when we were born, can we? If all modern machine-music-makers worried about not being original they’d never bother...which may be no bad thing...I wouldn’t mind only having the originals to listen to, but then, they were all influenced by someone, and so it goes...
   I may have drunk too much coffee at this point, whilst ‘Krautrock’ from ‘Rot’ (1973) bleeps, gurgles, blips, bounces and, yes, kicks it way out of the speakers – it’s a trip, a magnificent template for all cosmic mechanical music – and it’s making me wonder if he left Tangerine Dream because they were too damn...soft? Straight? Predictable? Not exploratory enough and destined to become a byword for hippy tripiness rather than real progression? I dunno.
   ‘Ballet Statique’ is a good place to start. It’s a ‘minimalist’, beautifully arranged work, which does not suffer from the paucity of ideas which plagues a lot of so-called ‘minimalist techno’. It’s not fair to compare him to Robert Hood, though, so I won’t. Perhaps you know what I mean, but then, if you understood everything I said you’d be me (as Miles once said). The album can act as a portal, if you like, into the CS universe, wherein I guarantee you will become blissfully free of Earthly concerns and drift, not without experiencing sonic eruptions, through Con’s vast space, an intriguing place to explore.

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