Klaus Schulze turns 60

A pioneer of the electronic frontier officially hits old age.

It may not have sounded like it much in the last 15 or so years, but Klaus Schulze was part of the original genesis of Echoes. The albums he recorded in the 1970s and early 80s reside at the core of music experiences for myself and the central Echoes staff of Kimberly Haas and Jeff Towne. Albums like Moondawn, Timewind and X, and many more provided the soundtrack for many an imaginary movie during those years. There was something about the pulsing sequencers, free-form, note bending Moog solos, and spiraling, Escher-like architecture that spoke of a world outside of conventional rock or classical music. I remember synthesist Mark Shreeve of Redshift describing Mirage as if it had “formed out of thin air, untouched by human hands.” Klaus’s music had that transcendental power, as if it came from somewhere beyond this plane of existence.

Of course, Klaus was very much human, a garrulous guy with a corny sense of humor full of bad puns and capable of making human mistakes. In the 1980s, as psychedelics gave way to cocaine, Klaus became addicted and it affected his music badly and even he admitted that alcohol and drugs made his music heavier and more turgid. Many of us began drifting away even as Schulze began churning out more and more music. There was the archival 10 CD Silver Edition in 1993, followed by the 10 CD Historic Edition in 1995 and the 25-disc box, Jubilee Edition. Schulze seemed intent on releasing every squiggle, bleep and fart he’d ever committed to disc. To his credit, he also continued to explore with form and technology, heading into experimental directions while his contemporaries desperately tried to sell out. But many of those experiments failed to spark the same interest as his early, groundbreaking works. Many of us became inured to his music and subsequent box sets and albums have gone unnoted by many formerly stalwart fans. That’s why you haven’t heard Klaus as much on Echoes as you have his acolytes like Steve Roach, Mark Shreeve, Robert Rich and Ian Boddy. That, and the fact that he still insists on creating opuses of 20, 30 and more minutes that just don’t work on the radio and are kind of unfair to the six other artists we could play in that period of time. (Are you listening Steve Roach?) But it should be said that Klaus Schulze, nor Steve Roach, is composing music with radio airplay in mind.

In recent months, I’ve found myself returning to Klaus Schulze like a parishioner who has left the flock. Most all of his catalog is being re-released – much of it for the first time ever in the U.S. – in deluxe, nicely packaged editions. Despite failing to remaster the material for contemporary audio standards, Klaus’s music still holds up and the mystery and spectacle of Moondawn, Picture Music and Audentity still remains. Even recent materiel like Moonlake have glimmers of the old glory. He has a new album coming out called Kontinuum
Later in the fall, we’ll be revisiting Klaus Schulze, who turns 60 on August 4, and Tangerine Dream, who turn 40 this year, with both new and archival interviews.

In the meantime, I’m curious.
Did you know about Klaus Schulze?
Were you an early follower who drifted away like me?
Or are you one of those people who is saturated in Jubilee, Silver and Ultimate Editions?

Body Love

(((( John Diliberto ))))

Comment posted by
at 7/28/2007 7:36:52 PM

Count me as one who LOVES and still loves the earlier work of Klaus Schulze. My favorite album remains Timewind, a timeless classic. But the other 4 that John Deliberto lists as essential as indeed terrific as well. Looking forward to Echoes’ interviews with Schulze and with Tangerine Dream later this year. Meanwhile, happy 60th Klaus!

Comment posted by
at 9/29/2007 4:06:38 PM

My first experience with “spacemusic” (what is now commonly referred to as “ambient” music) was with a Hearts of Space broadcast I heard in 1982 (or ‘83) where they played Eno’s “Music For Airports”. As much as a paradigm shift/revelation that was for me, nothing prepared me for my discovery of what the German musicians were doing just several years prior. I first discovered Tangerine Dream and then Klaus’ music in the mid-to-late ’80s, when I was in high school. For someone who was raised on the Beatles and Beethoven, this was a real shock to my system, but in the healthiest way. This (especially TD’s “Phaedra” and Klaus’ “X”) was the music I had heard all my life in the deepest recesses of my subconscious, creative escapism of the highest level. For me, “Heinrich Von Kleist” (from “X) is one of the most perfect pieces of music ever written/recorded, and I still think to this day that it’s Klaus’ masterwork.

The Revisited reissues are what I’ve been waiting for for years. The “Cyborg” reissue in particular is exceptional–the bonus track “But Beautiful” is one of his greatest concert performances and is truly mind-blowing to listen to!

Comment posted by
at 8/16/2007 9:20:19 PM

I was a 16r old looking for new sounds and then I discovered KS with Audentity. I love that old stuff. it blew my mind back inthe 1980’s. As many have done I have come back to his earlier work and I think it stands up

Comment posted by
at 8/10/2007 11:55:52 AM

Until now I’ve only known one other person who’s even heard of KS let alone bought his albums. When I first listened to “Dune” back in the late 70’s, I was hooked. I collected every single KS album through the early 80’s when I got saturated by his prolific output. “Body Love” and “Timewind” are the ones I still play once in a while. Thanks to Echos, I’ve discovered many new artists who are influenced by KS.

Comment posted by
at 8/5/2007 5:49:56 PM

I was introduced to Shulze’s music by way of the band he left – Tangerine Dream. Though I preferred the music of Tangerine Dream (which is more a function of the synergy of three sonic sculptors, than any one philosophy), Shulze is a giant of the Berlin school. He stands tall amongst the likes of Froese, Franke and Baumann

Comment posted by
at 8/6/2007 11:49:29 PM

I never really gave up on Klaus, thought there are certain albums that I may NEVER play again, as each time I “give them another shot” they are disappointing, and sometimes cringingly so. I confess to being one of the “buy everything the guy does” fans, and I own pre-ordered autographed/numbered copies of the “Edition” collections. I always buy his music to support him, and with the hope that the next release will be more magic. It HAS been worth the wait – Kontinuum is a splendid album that I have played over and over since it arrived. This makes up for MANY mediocre recordings IMHO.

It does somewhat annoy me that I am expected to buy ALL his albums AGAIN in order to get the “Bonus Tracks”. I bought them all on vinyl. I bought them all on CD. I bought the compilations. I paid quite a bit for some of the “import only” recordings. Now I am supposed to buy yet another copy of every album? OUCH!

BTW: I know I bought at least a couple of his albums from you, John, when you were selling records on the Penn campus in the late 70s on 40th Street.

I also clearly recall listening to an interview you did with Klaus many years ago in which he mentioned working with Al DiMeola on the “Go” project, and how he thought “it was like Al was getting paid per note per minute” and how nervous Al’s guitar technique made him – them speaking of Phil Mananera playing a couple notes with lots of echo and how wonderful it was…

Okay – flashback over…

Thanks for carrying the torch for so long and doing such a good job of it.


Comment posted by
at 8/2/2007 12:49:02 AM

I remember buying moondawn and picture music at Rather Ripped Records in Berkeley California in 1976 and then Stomu Yamashta Go (1976)Go Live and the Body Love releases the next year at Odyssey Records along with Electronic Meditations (TD). Then I lost touch
I still enjoy his work
Larry Buchalter
Berkeley California

Comment posted by
at 8/2/2007 12:54:37 AM

Have you heard the work he did with Namlook? The ten releases he did with Namlook offer some brilliant work that I think showcases all of Klaus’ talents but with a different heavier sound. Very, very deep and brilliant.

Thanks, JG.

Comment posted by
at 8/2/2007 2:19:35 PM

Rather Ripped Records. That brings back a lot of memories. A haven for progressive rock and imports in Berkeley in the 70s and 80s. And I’m assuming this is the same Larry Buchalter who was one of the DJs lighting the way on KALX in Berkeley during that time.

Comment posted by
at 7/30/2007 5:49:16 PM

I consider myself an early follower of KS too, although I ‘discovered’ Klaus a bit later than his classic 70s period — during the early 80s, while listening to early (pre-syndicated) Hearts of Space broadcasts on KPFA-FM Berkeley. Never really “drifted away” from his music completely, but I stopped collecting *everything* he released around 1990 — so much of it starting sounding the same to me.

That said, I still have several latter-day KS albums, including the box sets Contemporary Works I and II, the Historic Edition, and the Jubilee Edition. Of these, the 25-CD Jubilee Edition is the one I’m least interested in — there’s just *so* much there, and the live segments in particular sound like glorified bootleg recordings. Even though I don’t listen to Jubilee much anymore, I just can’t bear the thought of selling it off on eBay or elsewhere. I guess that makes me a die-hard fan (?).

Regarding the new Klaus Schulze CD ‘Kontinuum’, I think it’s some of his finest music in many years. The opening track “Sequenzer” is one that I think you would like and would want to play on ECHOES. Yes, I know his music is long and not ideally suited for radio play…but feel free to truncate it! At HOS, we use the ole Pro Tools knife to slice, dice, and reconstruct pieces as we see fit. ;-) Seriously, I think you will like “Kontinuum” very much.

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