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Klaus Schulze - Live CD (album) cover

LIVE

Klaus Schulze

 

Progressive Electronic

3.11 | 27 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
2 stars The first (of many) live recordings from synthesizer guru KLAUS SCHULZE should have been the capstone to a pioneering decade, celebrating nearly ten influential years of groundbreaking electronic meditation. But the haphazard selection of performances and often sloppy organization makes the two-CD set resemble instead an obligatory catalogue filler more than a crowning achievement of any sort.

The four long tracks succeed in providing a valuable snapshot of exactly where the artist was at the end of the 1970s. But, similar to the likewise double-disc live package "Encore", released a few years earlier by his compatriots in TANGERINE DREAM, there's a suggestion that the once cutting-edge Berlin School of electronic music was falling into bad habits, with all those synthetic ragas and endless pre-programmed sequencer arpeggios fast becoming another kosmische cliché.

Disc One begins strongly in the 21-minute "Bellistique", reversing the usual template by opening at full swing and only later devolving into an extended ambient soundscape. (I read somewhere it was actually the finale to an evening's performance, and maybe should have likewise been positioned here at the end of the disc.)

But the rot begins to set in during the nearly one-hour long "Sense", at least after a compelling introduction: twelve minutes of classic KS, arguably the highlight of either disc (and apparently missing from the original, abbreviated LP version). The foreground improvisations are typically fluid throughout the slowly unfolding 51-minutes of the track, and old friend Harald Großkopf's drumming gives the music a sharp dynamic edge. But the too simplistic four-note sequencer pattern is plodding, at best, and continues with little variation for longer than forty (!) minutes. The occasional chord change is included to give it at least a semblance of variety, but the final effect is more numbing than hypnotic, and the applause at the end sounds a little perfunctory. Maybe the crowd was simply exhausted by that point.

Then there's a noticeable dip in the sound quality on Disc Two, at around the 12-minute mark of "Heart", the first of two half-hour long jams filling the second set. The ethereal introductory soundscapes will sound familiar to veteran fans, recalling the evocative "Heinrich von Kleist", from Schulze's 1978 studio epic "X". But I'm convinced the latter two-thirds of the track are from another, later gig entirely, and together with "Dymagic" sounds like a bootleg audience recording (a very decent one, I should add, the quality of which does nothing to impair the experience).

Arthur Brown (yes, the God of Hellfire himself) is the guest star of this last excerpt, fresh from his controversial appearance on Schulze's then current 1979 studio album "Dune". KS was always looking for novel ways to galvanize his electronic soundscapes, using borrowed orchestral tapes, real drumming, and unexpected vocal accompaniment (recently collaborating with ex-DEAD CAN DANCE singer Lisa Gerrard). Brown's performance here isn't nearly as irritating as it was on "Dune" (which, admittedly, I haven't heard for several decades: only the magnificent title track of that album survives in my music library). At times he almost seems to have a Klaus Blaquiz / MAGMA vibe going, adding a unique spin to what otherwise would have been a fairly routine space jam.

And this last track, too, shows evidence of tampering: notice the brutal edit just beyond the 26-minute mark, clearly an attempt to bring artificial resolution to a performance that couldn't be shoehorned in its entirety onto one side of vinyl. (A quick digression apropos both tracks featured on Disc Two: you can always tell when Schulze is growing bored with his own noodling, by the arbitrary shift upward in tempo.)

Klaus Schulze would release numerous concert recordings over the next thirty years (and counting). But it's a shame his more influential, analog years aren't better represented (outside the occasional expensive boxed CD set) beyond this often compelling but occasionally slapdash release.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |

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