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Klaus Schulze - Mirage CD (album) cover

MIRAGE

Klaus Schulze

 

Progressive Electronic

4.29 | 278 ratings

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patrickq
5 stars Mirage is comprised of two similar and complimentary tracks, "Velvet Voyage" and "Crystal Lake."

The first twelve minutes of "Velvet Voyage is a series of synthesizer-pad chords whose durations generally decrease and whose tones grow more complex. A lonely lead synth plays an occasional note as the dissonance slowly increases. A sequencer fades in during the thirteenth minute, partially obscuring the chords and white noise. Eventually a lead synth moves toward the surface as the presence of the now-established sequence can be maintained even though it has moved back in the mix. Twenty minutes in, the lead synth has become more insistent, its notes having become shorter. This state continues for several minutes as the sequence gradually regains its place in the mix, then fades as the end of the track approaches. Soon the listener is left with synth pads and noise, which degrade over the last half-minute. It's only in the last two minutes of "Velvet Voyage" that the changes happen quickly enough to be obvious.

"Crystal Lake" begins with a sequencer pattern similar to the one in "Velvet Voyage." In fact, I get the sense that "Crystal Lake" is like experiencing the same phenomenon as "Velvet Voyage," but from an entirely different vantage. At 4:37, the sequence shifts to a higher key. This happens again at 5:10 and 5:28. Most of this time Schulze is improvising on a lead synth which follows the key changes. At 5:57 the sequencer returns to a prior state, where it stays until it fades slowly during the song's thirteenth minute. Around ten minutes later, it fades back in and eventually disappears into the cacophony of the song's last half-minute. The middle section of "Crystal Lake" is a darkly ethereal "dry ice" movement that suggests shapes moving under the moonlit ice of the titular body of water.

The bonus track on the recent remasters, "Cosa Crede Chi Non Crede?" is a variation of part of "Velvet Voyage." It extends the album by almost twenty minutes, further strengthening the sense of cohesiveness across the album

Mirage is the most elemental of Schulze's three 1977 releases. Despite its relative lack of variation - - the same essential ideas are restated, revised, and recapitulated on the same instruments for fifty-eight minutes, not counting the bonus track - - it is also the strongest of the three. It creates and sustains an ostensible serenity that's vaguely unsettling. It wasn't a surprise to find out that Schulze created this work as his brother was dying. It is not a feel-good album, but it certainly isn't nightmarish. In a sense, it seems to represent a stark acceptance of death.

It also wasn't surprising to discover that Schulze subtitled the album An Electronic Winter Landscape. It's a cold album, both emotionally and sonically.

But it's a great album. With Picture Music and X, Mirage is one of Schulze's best. There are no weak passages on Mirage. Each section seems well-placed, each transition sensible. In addition to the high quality of the composition, the sound is also superb. In short: a highly recommended album, and a masterpiece of progressive-electronic music.

patrickq | 5/5 |

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