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Klaus Schulze - Blackdance CD (album) cover


Klaus Schulze


Progressive Electronic

3.44 | 144 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars Up until fairly recently, I'd had immense problems getting into Klaus Schulze. Although owning many of his albums, it would always be starting with the widely praised `Timewind' that I would dig out to listen to. No matter how many times I tried, I always found it so light and uninteresting. I didn't like the fizzy sound effects and keyboard sounds, and the whole album would drift over me leaving no impression at all. At the suggestion of fellow Archives members Guldbamsen and Tom Ozric, I decided to try another of his albums. Going by the impact that `Blackdance' has had, clearly for me I'd started on the wrong album with `Timewind'.

`Blackdance' seems to be a hugely divisive and controversial Schulze album, with some listeners loving it and others truly despising it. Some find it a rare blemish in his golden run of 70's albums, even considering it a failed experiment by the artist. I can see why many listeners seem to find this album tedious, mundane and plodding, because I do too. I just don't find those as being negative aspects of the music. When I first heard it, I didn't know what to make of it. I don't think I actually liked it, but I found it hugely fascinating. On that first listen, it made far more of an impression on me than endless replays of `Timewind' ever managed. I remember even freezing up, lost in the eerie and unpleasant music coming from the speakers. There's not many albums that make me feel like they completely change the temperature in the room, but this was one. Since then I've truly given myself over to the album, and in many ways it has come to haunt and torment me. Yet I find it's edgy darkness and isolation somewhat comforting. It has also disturbingly become something of a favourite of mine to play at work, a moody and ponderous soundtrack to the quieter moments in my life.

The opening 17 minute `Waves Of Changes' is a very unmelodic and relentless piece, initially built around cold, buzzing and shimmering synths that wrap around a tense acoustic 12 string guitar pattern. It grows more frantic as a menacing beat and ethnic percussion blur with distorted organ and moog. This track is very dramatic, even threatening, with lots of tension and a hypnotic air that reminds me of a spacier and more mysterious version of the Vangelis album `The Dragon'. It feels like you're stuck in a dream, being chased over and over by an unknown danger. You sense a perceived threat, and your instinct is to run.

The freeform and intangible `Some Velvet Phasing' is a somber synthscape full of alien waves of glacial keys fading in and out. Entirely devoid of any percussive elements or beats, it's a vague, morphing and very abstract electronic piece that floats around in you in quite an unsettling manner. It's a very depressing piece that is oppressive and suffocating, making me feel so much isolation and unhappiness. Frequently sad, even depressing, and altogether consuming.

The side long `Voices Of Syn' is a sprawling gothic-tinged and morbid electronic ocean. Beginning with haunting wordless moaning vocals, you listen closely trying to work out what language the vocals are in, or make out proper words, but it's an impossible task. It's like catching something out of the corner of your eye, then turning to look only to find nothing there. You listen closely trying to make sense of the vocals, but they're so vague and alien, with the operatic male voice solemn and mournful - the true wailing of a soul in torment. It's backed by a heavily treated spectral organ that just enhances the funereal and other-wordly tone of the piece. Pounding monotonous beats enter about 6 minutes in, and they push down hard on the listener. They blend with the out-of-tune ghostly treated organ and icy synths that seem to last an eternity before ending on a whirlwind of harsh and morose electronic noise. Time ceases to hold any meaning when you become lost in this track. It's one long nightmarish and repetitive drone to drown in.

I find the bleak painting on the front cover particularly disturbing and unpleasant. There's something very cold and hallucinatory about the alien figures and desolate desert landscape that compliments the music perfectly. It's especially commanding on the LP version.

`Blackdance' is impossibly dark, immersive, abstract space music. Even if it leaves me feeling drained and dejected, I love connecting with the album so personally and deeply, that it makes you truly feel alive. If you respond to it favorably, it's the sort of album to spend your whole life discovering and surrounding yourself with. This album has also helped me get into other Schulze albums in the way that `Timewind' never could.

Alternatively creeping and comforting, a stunning and maddening work of dark art, `Blackdance' is the type of music wonderful endless nightmares are made of.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |


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