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Klaus Schulze - Mirage CD (album) cover

MIRAGE

Klaus Schulze

 

Progressive Electronic

4.26 | 191 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
5 stars In the hierarchy of a solo career spanning nearly 40 years (so far), this 1977 effort stands alongside his earlier "Timewind" as maybe the most acclaimed and influential album ever released by electronic music guru Klaus Schulze. And even today, after decades of changes in musical taste and technology, it holds up remarkably well as a model of early electronic impressionism.

At the time, Schulze's fortune and reputation had already been assured by the international success of "Timewind" two years earlier. For proof you only need to scan his subsequent album covers, typically replacing the Dali-esque surrealism of Swiss artist Urs Amman with sleeve-filling portraits of Schulze himself. Or consider his vastly expanded arsenal of equipment, all of it proudly itemized inside the original gatefold cover (and, when reproduced for the 2005 CD booklet, filling an entire page in very small typeface).

The new album was, needless to say, another major leap forward in sophistication from the primitive organ and tape experiments of his embryonic, post-TANGERINE DREAM career. But in the typically chatty notes for the 2005 CD re-issue Schulze admits he planned it as a throwback to the more opaque soundscapes of his earliest recordings ("Irrlicht", "Cyborg"), dispensing with the live drum work that had energized his more contemporary "Moondawn" and "Body Love" albums.

You can perhaps hear the realization of that aim in the opening, icy abstractions of "Velvet Voyage", the first of two side-long (on vinyl) compositions here, clocking in at a typically generous 28+ minutes long. The layers of overlapping, atmospheric synthesizers recall some of PINK FLOYD's spacier digressions, in particular the cosmic seagull-and-surf effects from the song "Echoes", on their 1971 "Meddle" album.

But Schulze doesn't eliminate the beat entirely, allowing a more organic electronic pulse to gradually surface in the otherwise somber waves of sound. And the lively "Xylotones" intro to the 29+ minute "Crystal Lake" sounds very much like a more uncompromising version of the opening motif in MIKE OLDFIELD's celebrated "Tubular Bells" (on the original vinyl I always assumed "Crystal Lake" to be the first track of the album, and maybe it should have been).

"Mirage" could have become, like some of Schulze's earliest work ("Cyborg" immediately springs to mind), an exercise in bleak, synthetic detachment. Instead, the album was probably his richest and warmest to date, despite being subtitled 'eine elektronische winterlandschaft' and recorded in what must have been a mood of emotional uncertainty (the album is dedicated to Schulze's then-dying brother). And in the years since then it continues to inspire a generation of New Age electronic rip-offs, from copy-cat artists who maybe should have been listening more attentively thirty years ago.

Consumer postscript:

As usual, the Revisited Records CD re-issue is handsomely packaged, with essays and photos and a complimentary bonus track, in this case the oddly-titled 20-minute mood piece "In Cosa Crede Chi Non Crede (rough translation: "The Same or Not the Same". Blame Schulze's manager for such a disposable non-sequitur). The additional track was recorded six months prior to the album itself for the soundtrack to an unidentified Dutch film, but in retrospect it was clearly a rough draft of the same music, and thus provides a fitting epilogue to the album proper.

Neu!mann | 5/5 |

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