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Klaus Schulze - Kontinuum CD (album) cover

KONTINUUM

Klaus Schulze

 

Progressive Electronic

3.86 | 54 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This is the album I'm sure a lot of people, myself included, expected to hear from Klaus Schulze in 1979, after his monumental double-disc, career peak album "X". Instead, the veteran synth-wizard threw his fans a curve-ball, collaborating with singer Arthur Brown for the "Dune" album, and afterward dulling his cutting-edge style by embracing the brave new, dumbed-down world of digital technology in the 1980's.

Fast forward three decades, past a lot of sub-standard efforts showing the once-influential electronic music pioneer more or less treading water. I wouldn't say this '07 album completely recaptures the zeitgeist of the 1970's (an impossible aim anyway: those days are long gone). But for the most part it displays all the subtlety and sensitivity missing from too much of Schulze's contemporary output, recalling the Golden Age sound of albums like "Mirage" and "Body Love" without trying to mimic them.

The awkwardly-titled "Sequenzer (from 70 to 07)" opens three long, interlocked tracks of drifting, pulsating soundscapes. Like the album title itself, the name of this opening cut suggests a linear path from Schulze's early analog masterpieces, but after so many lean years it's actually a retrograde broad jump worthy of Jesse Owens. The conspicuous lack of electronic percussion is a particular bonus, allowing the music to find its own rhythm without any artificial help.

Unlike the work of other students in the so-called Berlin School of keyboard noodling, the music here isn't hamstrung by a lazy reliance on unimaginative programming. It's all the little details between the sequencer patterns that make the piece so hypnotic: rising to the foreground, fading and overlapping, and finally drifting into the 20-minute "Euro Caravan", a more dynamic workout (after the slow, ominous build-up), with sampled near-eastern singing and a stronger rhythmic core.

The more than one-half hour long "Thor" doesn't quite summon the expected thunder of its namesake deity. But it does achieve a pleasant, trance-like repetition, despite the arbitrary end to its lively, somewhat too long middle sequence, with almost ten minutes of surplus ambience still pending.

In all, a welcome return to excellence. But I have to wonder if the album works as well as it does only because our critical yardstick has shrunk in recent years. Maybe it's worth remembering that Schulze was approaching his 60th birthday when this album hit the streets, so: not too shabby an effort for a sexagenarian survivor of the kosmische revolution.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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