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Adelbert Von Deyen - Atmosphere CD (album) cover

ATMOSPHERE

Adelbert Von Deyen

 

Progressive Electronic

3.75 | 15 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars So what if Adelbert Von Deyen spent much of his early career imitating the deep-space electronic drones of KLAUS SCHULZE: at least he was borrowing from a master. And by his third album he was willing to vary the formula somewhat, enlisting a real drummer (the colorfully named Zabba Lindner) to help beef up his otherwise ethereal soundscapes.

The problem with Von Deyen (real name Adelbert Kraak, and how's that for aristocratic pretense?) was that he was always one step behind the electronic trendsetters of the time. By 1980, Klaus Schulze had already retired his analog keyboards for his album "Dig It" (Dig It, as in Digital); TANGERINE DREAM had reinvented themselves in the stripped down, listener friendly "Tangram"; and rock music in general was still recovering from the convulsive aftershocks of Punk and New Wave. Faced with a brave new world like that, what's a suddenly redundant hippie supposed to do?

Well, to begin with, he can add a little rhythmic zip to his interstellar meditations. The album opener "Time Machine" does exactly that, with Von Deyen layering his usual pastel synths over a throbbing backbeat not far removed from the monochrome pulse of NEU! "Silverrain" then slows the tempo down to a one-chord waltz, but adds some unexpected washes of electric guitar, another welcome change in direction, in this case creating a sterling slice of German Space Rock with all the rich texture of a Black Forest gateau.

For many years these two tracks were the only remnants of the album still in my music library, preserved onto good old-fashioned analog cassette tape before yet another of my typically shortsighted vinyl purges. (In all fairness, both are likewise the only cuts off the album selected by Von Deyen himself for his 1992 career retrospective "Sunset" CD.) A quarter-century later I was finally able to revisit the rest of the album, about which I recalled very little except a lack of any further rhythmic interest, not unlike what I also dimly remember from the other two Von Deyen LPs that passed quickly through my record collection (hopefully that says more about my failing memory than about any shortcomings to the music itself).

As it turns out, I was right. The balance of the album, divided into the eight-part, aptly titled "Atmosphere", is built mostly around the sort of blissful, nondescript New Age noodling into which electronic music would morph during the 1980's (take a quick glance at the suitably cosmic sub-titles: "Voices of Infinity", "Crystal Clouds", and so forth).

But the album plays better today on compact disc than it did when first released on vinyl, thanks in part to its analog synth nostalgia value. It's too bad Von Deyen didn't follow through on the promise of the album's first ten exhilarating minutes, and never really forged a distinct identity for himself (he apparently also copied Klaus Schulze's stationary design, much to the amusement and/or irritation of his role model). But is that any reason to file him away as a mere footnote in music history?

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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