Klaus Schulze—

Released 1976 on Brain
The Seth Man, May 2022ce
“This recording opened another door I wanted to go through since years...the rock music. Now it's done and I can go on...to open another door...”
-Klaus Schulze, February 1976

The French tour that Schulze embarked upon in support of his sixth album, MOONDAWN was billed as ‘a farewell to Pop-music’ and was probably meant more as a commentary on contemporary music than that of his own. Especially as MOONDAWN was comprised of two extended electronic pieces that sought to flush the cosmos with an eternal spray of synthesized sounds and sequencers for approximately 25 minutes in length. (In fact, no one could rightly conclude that its contents were remotely pop music, except perhaps for extraterrestrial beings or earthlings with an affinity for Dr. Fiorella Terenzi’s MUSIC FROM THE GALAXIES.)

Apparently, getting back to the Rock was on Schulze’s schedule so he contacted ex-Wallenstein and Cosmic Jokers drummer Harald Grosskopf for backing as well as incorporating another new sound element purchased just prior to Christmas, 1975: a four-panel Moog modular synthesizer courtesy of Popol Vuh’s visionary, Florian Fricke. Stored unused for years in a smoke-free environment, in a month’s time that would all change for Schulze had already incorporated its use into recordings for what would become MOONDAWN. A series of photos of Schulze taken during just prior to this period by photographer Giudo Harari portray him at the controls in a veritable cockpit: surrounded on three sides by his already mammoth electronic arsenal comprised of an ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey, EMS Synthi-A, Farfisa Professional Organ, Farfisa Syntorchester, several Crumar keyboards and the Sequenzer Synthanorma 3-12. It’s such a colossal stack of equipment that most of it doesn’t fit in most of the shots (even the fish-eyed lensed ones) but it was to become larger still when the Big Moog from Fricke was added to Schulze’s battery of electronic keyboards and devices.

The opening automatonic voicings at the onset of “Floating” are not Teutonic instructions from military space command but strangely enough: an Arabic recitation of “The Lord's Prayer.” (Used for its gravity rather than a socio-political critique, it fits into the ongoing characteristic of Schulze’s musical nature of adding textures to a main piece, overdubbing a recording of an orchestra backward upon a menacing minor key drone, or even cutting off a track abruptly off -- some of the many dynamic curveballs Schulze would employ within his technique of music making.) “Floating” is somewhat of a misnomer for the electronic monomania about to commence is an inexorable tidal wave of tunnel vision streamlined by stitched, sequenced clusters that bore through time with streamlined accuracy into pulsations and synthetic, rhythmic generations as twittering machinery resound and scatter. The repetitions of the sequencers against glacial synthesizer washes continue with their building cyclical momentum until the rolling drums of Grosskopf edge in and make themselves known, playing the spatial corners behind the main rhythmic agitations while Schulze continues to embellish with a variety of synthesised overlays. A light, two-fingered melody enters then explores the ever-circling reaches of the sequenced square which has just expanded from a three dimensional cube and now into a revolving tesseract encircled by galactic clouds of drumming and further synthesised Schulze-ian trademarks of twittering sprays, modulated sonic bursts and with overnight scattered showers until morning until the entrance of the gigantic Moog tsunami (at the 24:22 mark) makes all time and space shudder at their parameters and it’s worth it for this segment alone to play “Floating” on repeat for days in order to anticipate the culmination of the piece with a wide swath of Moog swamping everything in its wake. (How different a beast the same Moog synthesizer was in the hands of Schulze in comparison to its previous incarnation as the main instrument of Florian Fricke on AFFENSTUNDE and IN DEN GÄRTEN PHARAOS, a perfect pair of albums expressing the ebb and flow of humanity and consciousness.)

“Mindphaser” opens with a feeling far more relaxed and spaced out than the previous side. It alights on the edge of somnambulism until a startling break of swooping white noise sweeps all the quietude into a corner and suddenly, it’s the main theme from “Echoes” with Harald Grosskopf’s Masonic drumming against prominent Moog synthesizer overlays. Soon, everything begins to agitate wildly with Grosskopf increasing in speed and Schulze going for broke on the Moog, spraying twittery halos, elongated runs, cross rhythms, explosions, and the most silvery of piercing Moog signals thrown against a panoply of electronic runs, accents, and punctured equilibrium so that by song’s end, while things fly fast and furious while accordioning into near chaos, all is kept skillfully positioned by Schulze into a staggeringly complex procession that, for all its hectic rush, always ends too soon.

Note: In 1991, MOONDAWN first appeared on CD (Brain in Germany; Thunderbolt/Magnum in the UK) in a severely altered form. Due to the then-unmanageable amount of tape hiss on the master tape used, Schulze quickly remedied the situation by altering the sonic program entirely with overdubbing vast amounts of mellotron and additional reverb. Both tracks were also faded out several minutes early in order to conceal the ever-increasing tape hiss present, especially on the extended fadeout in “Floating.”