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Harald Grosskopf - Synthesist CD (album) cover


Harald Grosskopf

Progressive Electronic

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Thanks to one thing he's best at and two artists he collaborated with in a major way, Harald Grosskopf is one of the fine percussionists in the classic length and impact of electronic music - and the first to ever combine dubs between rhythms and synthesizers, as a soloist drummer and in his solo music, from what the bio here points out with precision. His spirit would effortlessly be the mask of a musician that's representative to the German electro-rock movement, if only we wouldn't cautiously prefer not to rise him up such subjective scales. In the same way, we would name him very easily one of the fantastic drummers and percussionists of the classic decade, if only the entire vast period of kraut, electro-kraut then finally electro rock wouldn't be absolutely rich in icons and excellent musicians, including drummers and rhythmicists (plus, Grosskopf didn't impressively appear in many bands of the early years). So let's just mention his prime work with Ashra, after Gottsching changed quite consistently his solo band sounds (meaning Blackouts onwards), plus with Klaus Schulze/Wahnfried, friend, fine collaborator and (this time) grand master in the electronic music course. On a personal note, but also by some of his solo music, Grosskopf seems and in the end is an enjoyable and crafted musician, open-minded at least to when drumming and the fusion of electronic dynamics can have their idle succulence.

Starting his solo small achievements up in 1980, somewhat synchronized with Ashra's final days of continuity but not with Schulze's new ideas of electronic digital music - with percussions mit dabei -, Grosskopf solves rather simplistically the problem of electronic/keyboard music-playing. Simple become the albums as well, meanwhile a dose of playfulness and an acing in sequencing/synthesizing the right stuff (the right buttons) make up the real qualities in his music. Grosskopf does make music as an individual artist, at least in albums such as this Synthesist, but also follows the strict principles that, mostly, were handled by Ashra to a point. Synthesist's narrow edge is that it lacks originality, yet it finds an almost natural freshness, sticking to light-synth music and even dowsing the drum-bomb that could easily make up a heat, nonetheless creating a gentle, successful, admirably essential and recommended work; mainly for altruists listeners, but eventually for soft-boiled critics and great fans of this sort of fusion as well.

Synthesist also rhymes with sequential here on, where Grosskopf's powerful pleasure goes deep into dynamic, fizzing electronic compositions, the combination of fairy melodies, cycling keyboard sounds and (last but not least) the percussion infusion being probably dubbed over several rehearsals and synchronized recordings. The taste of these tracks flows exactly like Ashra's un-sensational, but intense and cheerful glimpses (a la Correlations or a bit of un-fluesy Belle Alliance). The soil for this style is nowhere near rich, but it's no pop or grease either, Grosskopf preferring at any time an ambitious and curios dance over fine art or complex looping. On some moment, the drumming is convincingly superior, alternating upwards to some Nietzsche fast taps, or downwards to a split end of lite-disco. The contrast is set by focusing entirely on keyboards and organs (B. Adrian, Trauma), the result being nothing but ambient, lofty and un-smashing, but yet again enjoyable and un-superficial. There's a weak spot in the album, down precisely the last two tracks, which slip deeply and unforgettably into pop-electric/new-age simple hopping music (a la Baumann and other 80s minor soloists).

For how nice it sounds and how ideal it's worked, Synthesist is probably Grosskopf's finest and is a real treat above a normal session of synth-sequence music. With drums (and a small post-prog feeling).

Report this review (#161390)
Posted Saturday, February 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars A lot of times, mixing acoustic percussion with electronic music can sound very unnatural or very forced. Sometimes the ethereality of the music doesn't sound good with the heavy-handed beats of a typical rock drummer. Harald Grosskopf apparently had realized this.

Acoustic percussion is featured on nearly every track on Synthesist, and it never reaches the artificial emotionless playing style like on Schulze's Moondawn or Tangerine Dream's Cyclone, but is instead played lightly and comfortably throughout. Instead of pulling away from the music as an individual instrument, it is integrated into the experience to create a cohesive whole. He knows exactly how to hit the drums as to not overpower the dreaminess of the music, and he never seems to feel the need to show off.

Grosskopf previously played with Manuel Gottsching and Cosmic Jokers, among others, and their style of music has rubbed off on him in a very obvious way. Much like Gottsching's Ashra album New Age of Earth, this album has a dreamy and warm atmosphere that rides everywhere between complete ambience and explosive density. The cosmic dreaminess and relatively fast-paced synth sequencing is unmistakably Ashra-inspired, but in a much broader scope, Synthesist sounds like a somewhat stronger Berlin school + percussion album (better than most), but also the compositions are much more compact than the usual nearly twenty minute standard. Ranging between three and eight minutes, this album is very digestible and rather accessible, and the pace that the album follows is a very comfortable racy tempo with three nearly-ambient slow movements to maintain diversity.

Synthesist is a direct precursor to the sound that Zombi explore now in the 21st century, and fans of that band will most likely greatly enjoy this solo debut statement by Grosskopf. Anyone who enjoys Ashra should find this album to sound very familiar.

Report this review (#630032)
Posted Saturday, February 11, 2012 | Review Permalink

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