Wednesday, June 5, 2024 – Klaus Schulze’s Blackdance at 50

An electronic Pioneer's Album at 50, Klaus Schulze's Blackdance

On the next Echoes we celebrate Klaus Schulze‘s Blackdance.   Klaus Schulze is a legendary German electronic artist and a primary influence for musicians like Steve Roach, Ian Boddy, Mark Shreeve, and almost everyone on the Groove label, and more. Born in 1947, Klaus learned piano and guitar in his youth before switching to drums and launching the psychedelic band Psy-Free in Berlin. That led to him joining the first incarnation of Tangerine Dream and playing on their debut Electronic Meditation in 1970. He left Tangerine Dream to join Ash Ra Tempel and played on their eponymous debut in 1971. But then he dropped Ash Ra and the drums for keyboards and launched his solo career with Irrlicht  (Will-O-the-Wisp) using only a distorted organ and a lo-fi recording of an orchestra. It was, along with Tangerine Dream’s Zeit, the beginning of drone zone music. He followed that up with the double album, Cyborg, this time adding a VCS3 synthesizer. But it was his album, Blackdance, that paved the way for music that would mark his long and prolific career. There is some disagreement as to its actual release date in Schulze’s biography with Picture Music often cited as it’s predecessor. That was actually the first album I heard by Klaus. But in terms of sound, Blackdance seems clearly to precede Picture Music. Whatever the sequence,  the album had the sound of mystery about it from the Urs Armann surreal artwork to the music which used organ, synthesizer and a little acoustic guitar. One track, “Voices of Syn”, predated the gothic voice phase in music with tenor Ernst Walter Siemon’s. The other long track, “Way of Changes” was more dynamic with Schulze improvising over a rudimentary drum machine that may have just been part of his organ. It’s the beginning of his move out of the drone zone and into a more dynamic, rhythmic space. We’re going to hear that track which goes for 17 minutes, short by Klaus Schulze standards.  You won’t need dancing shoes for Klaus Schulze’s Blackdance at 50 on the next Echoes from PRX.

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