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Klaus Schulze - Cyborg CD (album) cover

CYBORG

Klaus Schulze

 

Progressive Electronic

3.75 | 96 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars ...a review of the 2006 re-mastered CD.

Klaus Schulze's sophomore solo effort, released in the stone age of electronic music (circa 1973), takes the same mind-bending sound of his 1972 debut "Irrlicht" and spreads it out over two discs, without (thankfully) diluting the impact of the album, as forceful and demanding now as it must have seemed when new.

The music was a refinement of Schulze's early, pre-synthesized experiments combining primitive electronics with pre-recorded orchestral tapes. Nothing new was added to the accomplishment of "Irrlicht" (hence the conservative 3-star rating). But when heard front to back in a single sitting it remains an epic journey of truly "kosmische" proportions-as much as Schulze bristles at the term in his notes for this CD re-issue. Maybe he shouldn't have titled the album after such a ripe sci-fi cliché, or commissioned the suitably spacey Urs Amann artwork (sadly demoted here to the CD booklet, replaced on the album cover itself by an unflattering portrait of Schulze himself, standing slack-jawed and possibly stoned in front of a laser-light display pattern).

Regardless of the presentation, this is not music for the fainthearted, in particular the throbbing subsonic juggernaut of "Conphära" (which when played loud enough can wreck your head as well as your headphones). The orchestra here, and on the more passive but no less disturbing "Chromengel", sounds not unlike a cheap mellotron, over which Schulze adds layers of industrial-strength drones and twittering electronics.

The production quality throughout is remarkable for such a simple home recording. Schulze continued to work wonders using just an organ, a VCS3 sound manipulator (not a keyboard instrument, but a small cabinet of knobs and dials), and a Revox tape machine. Keep in mind he still had his day job at the time, employed as a mailman for Deutsche Bunderspost in Berlin. And the album was, as always, very generous, stretching the limits of vinyl technology with almost 25 minutes of music per album side.

The same generosity has now been extended to the Revisited Record CD re-issues of Schulze's back catalogue, filled to the digital brim with bonus tracks and accompanied by extensive notes, photos, and essays. For "Cyborg", the four original album tracks have also been restored to their correct sequence and titles (previous CD editions apparently goofed in that respect). And half of the second LP was pushed over to Disc One, making room for the long bonus track: a live performance recorded in 1977, from Schulze's Golden Age of classic albums like "Moondawn" and "Mirage".

This is quintessential Klaus Schulze: an almost hour-long improvisation building from calm symphonic ambience to agitated sequenced frenzy and back again, revealing how he liked to structure his longer compositions. The relatively sophisticated late '70s synth patches don't quite match the abyssal mood of the "Cyborg" album itself, but consider it an olive branch of sorts, extended to fearless listeners for surviving the entire 97-minute challenge of the original double-disc.

Bottom line: Schulze's second album is an improvement on but not an advancement over his first. Nevertheless, it's a prime slice of early Klaus Schulze at his most avant-garde and inscrutable, although it should definitely be avoided late at night or while contemplating existential thoughts of mortality.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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