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IRRLICHT

Klaus Schulze

Progressive Electronic


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soundsweird
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars First off, a word of warning: skip track one. Actually, start at track two, then scan back about a minute or two, since there's a segue between the tracks. You'll get all you need to hear of track one, which is basically a simplistic (LOUD) organ solo fed through effects. Track two has some wonderfully spacy effects, and is over before you know it. Track three is a long floater that predates Eno's ambient stuff by several years (to be fair, it's not really that similar to Eno's stuff, but it works as a reference point). This is an early effort, so the sound quality is a bit inferior. Not a great album, but different from other KS albums. Since his albums tend to sound alike, that's a plus.

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Send comments to soundsweird (BETA) | Report this review (#34793)
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The title of KLAUS SCHULZE's 1972 debut album translates, perversely, as "Will o' the Wisp", an ironic tag for some of the purest, most powerful noise ever recorded.

SCHULZE was of course a founding member of both TANGERINE DREAM and ASH RA TEMPLE, a Krautrock drummer in those days but with higher aspirations. So he traded his drum kit for a small roomful of primitive synthesizers, and proceeded to wage war on the more polite strain of meditative electronic music then coming into vogue.

Keep in mind this was during the age (at least in Germany) of the big cosmic drone: think of TD's "Zeit", recorded in the same year but sounding nowhere near as sophisticated as their ex-drummer's first solo effort. The album is subtitled "Quadraphonic Symphony for Orchestra and E-Machines", but SCHULZE was no RICK WAKEMAN (thank God), and his orchestra couldn't hope to compete against the sustained hum of his generators during the awe-inspiring 29-minute opening track. It goes way beyond the limits of a simple drone: this is ambient music for titans.

Imagine yourself attending a formal concert hall symphony. The woodwinds and strings are quietly tuning; the conductor is approaching the podium.when out of the ether some sort of otherworldly buzz gradually begins to overwhelm the auditorium, fading in and out, while the hapless musicians try in vain to play through it. That's the experience of "Ebene, Gewitter (Energyrise-Energycollaps)", before the track surrenders to a mind-bending, monster movie organ, played loud enough to scare away even the toughest headbanger, and about as far removed from New Age navel-gazing as synthetic music can get without threatening your sanity.

The remainder of the album (another 21+ minutes, very generous in its original vinyl format, but it needs to be heard on CD) is no less frightening, but on a much quieter level. "Exil Sils Maria" is music for contemplating the void, the soundtrack to an endless alien abyss recalling the cyclopean vistas of an H.P. Lovecraft cosmology.

These days, the popularity of serious electronic music is in direct proportion to its level of discernable melody: witness the very mixed reactions in this forum to the often amorphous, groundbreaking work of the earliest TANGERINE DREAM. Be forewarned, the 25-year old KLAUS SCHULZE was crossing the same sonic terra incognita, although his subsequent, sequencer-laced efforts were (not unlike the later TD) more easily accessible.

Final verdict: this is ideal Halloween music for misanthropes who hate trick-or-treaters. It's should be one of the cornerstones of any well-rounded electronic music library, but I wouldn't recommend the album to borderline manic-depressives for late night headphone relaxation.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#34794)
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Content Development & Krautrock Team
5 stars This album features fascinating and very cosmic sounds obtained by impressive organ works. The material used here is reduced to its minimum but very efficient. The first track represents the highest point of the album. It introduces us in a total abstracted world full of mysteries with its almost never-ending spiral, which finally stop in apotheose and madness. With no electronic pulse and rhythms, just with a gloomy and distorted atmosphere this record can easily haunt and hypnotize the listener. A great mention to the string orchestra arrengements parts (cosmic, spheric orchestra in the distance) and to the surrounded series of hallucinatory continuous sound forms...A very physical experience!

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Send comments to philippe (BETA) | Report this review (#34796)
Posted Thursday, June 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
remdug@voila.
4 stars The title "irrlicht" - in english "will-o'-the-wisp" - describes very well the content of this album.

This album throw the listener straight into another world. I won't describe the full instrumentation, but its essentially based on a quadriphony using organ, VCS-3 & Moog III synths. No drums, although Klaus Schulze is a drummer... But it's not a lack. It's quite an arythmic music, very minimalist, but with an attentive ear, it's a real discovery, a trip in another world, maybe the travel of your mind once you're dead... It seems to me that the organ represents the track whose listener shouldn't deviate. everything else is the unknown life around that path. And this all along the album. The first part walks us through a desolate landscape, with strange noises around, that could be somthing like spirits. That part suits well with the sleeve picture. The second part, the shorter one, brings us into an underground world, let us walk, or fly, through different gate, which close noisily behind us, with spirits around, who are the guides or the guards, and who protect us from the hostile creatures of which we hear the heavy breathing near. The last part happens in a vast area, less dangerous, where we travel, almost in peace, during twenty minutes.

The complete album releases a heavy, glaucous, misty atmosphere. It's obviously not a funny work, and you can't listen to it at any time. it's an introspection music to be carefully listened to. It's forme the best album of Klaus Schulze.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#35474)
Posted Tuesday, June 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is still not a proper electronic album, it's made with treated electric organs and mixed with orchestral recordings. Irrlicht is an essential album, one of the most haunting ones made in that early period of German instrumental/electronic music. The most similar albums are Tangerine Dream's Alpha Centauri, from 1971, and Zeit, from 1972, but these are more relaxed then Irrlicht. Irrlicht is raw, mighty and oppressive. Even if you don't like it, Irrlicht has big historical value.

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Send comments to jobim (BETA) | Report this review (#46844)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
infandous@exc
3 stars The most interesting thing about this album is the presence of an orchestra. What could they have thought about all this electronic "noise" they were asked to play to? Must have been interesting for them. This album does not feature any synthesizers, which I think demonstrates just how far ahead of his time Klaus Schulze was. Certainly not an easy listen for those not fond of minimalism, it certainly sets the tone for following album, Cyborg. I am always surprised that I like Schulze music as much as I do, but it probably is a result of my enjoyment of Pink Floyds more formless excursions, such as the middle section of Echoes. Anyway, this is probably not the best place to start with Klaus, but certainly something you will want to get if you like his later works, to see where it all began.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#59898)
Posted Friday, December 09, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Ultimatly boring, yet somehow intriguing piece of electronic noise. Hardly any melodies present, just an ever increasing sonic vibe. Nice for once. An early excample of ambient music, but only for fans of Klaus really.

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Send comments to tuxon (BETA) | Report this review (#105234)
Posted Tuesday, January 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Debut solo album of Schulze is a pioneering work of ambient-noise "Kosmische Musik". It's pretty similar to the concurrent TANGERINE DREAM's period (Alpha-Zeit-Atem). It consists of long electronic pieces of noisy mood music that was to define the genre of electronic prog. It can be boring though, if you are not into this kind of music. It is very static, minimalist approach, very avant- garde for the period but ultimately not providing full listening joy. I would say, this album is mostly for the connossieres of the electronic/space music. If you like TD's "Zeit" you will probably like "Irrlicht" too. Alas, I am not the one.

PERSONAL RATING: 1,5/5

P.A. RATING: 2/5

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#146841)
Posted Thursday, October 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is the first solo album from Klause Schulze after leaving TANGERINE DREAM where he performed as a drummer on the "Electronic Meditation" record. Klause obviously had different aspirations then simply sitting behind a drum kit. He owned an organ that he modified so it wouldn't sound like a normal one. The amplifier he owned was broken so he had to hotwired it to make it work. It lasted only for this recording. He also owned a cassette recorder with a cheap microphone, which he used to record an orchestra rehearsing (with their permission) so he could then process their music through a series of filters in order that it would sound "strange". No synths were used on this album as Klause did not own one yet. He did though play some guitar, zither, percussion and use an echo machine.

Some wouldn't even call this music, after all there is no melody only soundscapes that float along slowly as they change, evolve, pulse, echo and hum. I do find this interesting though, especially when he brings the organ into play around the 10 minute mark of the first track. It's even louder after 15 minutes as the soundscape becomes haunting. For me the first track is the best one, and it's interesting listening to the orchestral sounds early that have been processed to death. Haha. The second song is divided into two sections. The first part "Energy Rise" features loud noises that come and go then build. While part two "Energy Collapses" is where it turns spacey. The final track is very spacey throughout and at times haunting.

If your a fan of the Electronic-Prog genre, then this really is a must have, and would easily be 4 stars for you i'm sure. I can appreciate it but find it difficult to enjoy all the way through. Having said that I know Klause is a true pioneer of this genre, and that makes this his first album very important. For me 3.5 stars. The cover art is pretty incredible too.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#184749)
Posted Saturday, October 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars What a good idea to have switched his drum kit for keyboards and synthesizers!

Needless to say that if you happen to be in "Tangerine Dream", you'll like this album very much. In terms of release date, "Irrlicht" saw the light at the same time as "Zeit", but this one is more accessible IMHHO.

"Zeit" was quite a hermetic (double) album which was quite like a hate - love affair. "Irrlicht" is more melodic, yet cold and dark. It holds richer sounds and offers a more diversified landscape. Like TD, dear friend Klaus was quite a pioneer in those remote days of electronic music (no wonder since he shared the bill on "Electronic Meditation", their first album).

This is particularly true during the moving and second half of "Ebene". A powerful and very long church organ passage illustrates this feeling: it is indeed a lovely part. As good as the same type of passages during "CTTE". The closing part is quite frenetic and the listener is submerged by an ocean of powerful keys. In one word: great!

But the whole of this album conveys the same feeling to me. It's like TD, I might be biased, I guess while I listen to such pure beauty. This album is essential for anyone who is into electronic music. The beautiful and ambient "Exil Sils Maria" is just a proof in the pudding. Simple, tranquil and superb. This album is not a masterpiece, but a solid four stars album.

If you don't have enough music; the remastered edition holds a bonus track of about twenty- four minutes. A nice gift for the fans. "Dungeon" is more upbeat than the rest of the original album, at least during its initial phase. After the intro, it is quite in line with "Irrlicht", although it was recorded later on (some sources mentioned 76, but this is not really clear). Anyway, it is a good bonus track which should please any electronic music freak.

It is only a pity that only ten commented reviews were posted before mine. Such a seminal album deserves much more interest on such a site as PA.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#230166)
Posted Wednesday, August 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Cyborg was one of those pleasant surprises since I'm not a huge fan of electronic music to begin with. After doing some research I've found out that Klaus had implemented same basic techniques on his debut album. It took me some time but eventually I've got a hold of Irrlicht.

It's true that this album is similar to the follow-up album Cyborg but in my opinion Irrlicht somehow manages to miss the mark. The two 20+ min tracks are very organic but they lack a lead that would take them to a higher level. The shorter Satz Gewitter feels more like an experiment and could easily be omitted from the bunch.

I'm quite aware of the fact that this was Klaus Schulzes debut so I'll cut him some slack, besides it didn't take him long to perfect his formula. What I'm basically saying is that if you're interested in this electronic pioneer's early career then you should probably start with Cyborg before checking out Irrlicht.

**** star songs: Satz Ebene (23:23) Satz Exil Sils Maria (21:26)

*** star songs: Satz Gewitter (5:40)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#259906)
Posted Friday, January 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Irrlicht is the debut full-length studio album by German progressive electronic music artist Klaus Schulze. Itīs his first release after leaving the drummerīs seat in Ash Ra Tempel. Irrlicht was released on the Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser and Peter Meisel led Ohr record label in August 1972. The album was recorded in April 1972. The original album contained three tracks while the 2006 CD re- release adds the 24 minute long bonus track Dungeon. Klaus Schulze adds some really funny anekdotes in the booklet to the re-release. Especially the story about Rolf-Ulrich Kaiserīs girlfriend Gille Lettmann bringing LSD trips to the studio on several occasions in those early seventies. Klaus Schulze says that they would play for hours and sometimes afterwards they couldnīt even remember who had played which instrument. But Klaus Schulze didnīt only experiments with drugs and Irrlicht is certainly proof of that. His innovative and adventurous approach to composing and playing music is admirable.

The songs on Irrlicht are ambient, minimalistic, droning sound experiments. Very repetitive and the few times thereīs anything resembling a melody or a progression of notes that could lead to thinking that now something memorable will appear the repetitive droning just goes on an on. There are next to no drums or percussion on the album as far as I can hear ( the booklet says that Klaus Schulze plays percussion so I guess itīs there somewhere) and the main instrument is organ. The instrumentation also include guitar, E-Machines ( Iīm not sure what that is) and Zither and in addition to those instruments Klaus Schulze also had the opportunity to record a rehearsal session with the Colloquium Musica Orchestra which he uses somewhere on the album ( played backwards according to the booklet).

The production is allright.

At the risk of being flamed by fans of Irrlicht I have to play with open cards and say that this album left me completely cold. But not only that. It left me frustrated and exhausted too. The 20 minute + songs just seem to go on and on forever without much happening ( and when something happens that new thing also goes on forever) and while this is undoubtedly a groundbreaking album from those early days of experimenting with sound, the album unfortunately ends up being just that: An experiment for the sake of experimenting. In other words art for artīs sake and as much as I respect innovative and adventurous artists the music of such artists has to give me at least some sort of satisfaction ( move me, challenge me...etc) and that is not the case with Irrlicht which feels unnecessarily longdrawn and patience testing for me. There are simply no redeeming qualities on this album that can warrant even a 2 star rating IMO, so this will be one of my very few 1 star ratings.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#269270)
Posted Tuesday, March 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars After a brief stint with both Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Temple, Schulze embarked on a prolific solo career in electronic music. It turned out to be the correct decision and, while handling a whole room full of synths and electronic equipment all by himself, he created some of the most stunning works in the electronic field ever. His early works, the first two in particular, are very different from his better known albums from the second half of the 70's. Just like Tangerine Dream he started with mesmerizing abstract music before he got to write the more popular sequence and moog dominated albums. Not everybody's gusto clearly.

Irrlicht is a fascinating but demanding listen. Just like the other early albums of the electronic kraut movement, there are no discernable melodies or rhythms to answer our constant and almost compulsive call for melody and movement in music. Depending on your dominating taste, it might be quite challenging to liberate yourself from this need for flashy action. I admit it also took me quite the effort (not to say years) to tune into this music. But ultimately, it is always rewarding to challenge your taste and be able to make sense of something that a few years earlier just appeared to be nonsensical.

The first 15 minutes of the album are simply marvellous. But from then on, the opening track Ebene, and it's sequel Gewitter, turn out to be too lengthy to maintain the tension. Exil Sils Maria is entirely different in sound, it uses heavily processed violin samples and other sounds instead of the organ that dominated the preceding chapters. The constant flow of almost atonal sound gives it a very heavy and depressing feel. The 2006 edition features a strong bonus track from a later period. Dungeon is an impressive piece with a one chord droning organ and improvised synths that Schulze didn't start using till '74 or even '75. It fits the atmosphere of Irrlicht perfectly.

If you ever get a feel for this kind of music, it will turn out to be a fascinating and oscillating trip. At its best moments, this is music in constant motion that never repeats itself and that will never give all of its mysteries away. Really, there's so much more to discover here then in the daily action music snack. 3.5 Irrlichter.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#273702)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars After brief but important sojourns with Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Temple and The Cosmic Jokers, drummer Klaus Schulze would go solo, discarding his drum-kit in favour of primitive, second-hand electronic equipment and kicking-off a long and successful career with this haunting 1972 slice of prime instrumental space-rock. Second only to 'Timewind' in the Klaus Schulze catalogue, 'Irrlicht' is a lovingly-composed and slowly unfurling album filled with an abundance of curious and ethereal soundscapes, as if Schulze is constructing the soundtrack to some strange, mystical sci-fi epic set on some far away planet hidden in the depths of space. Long, slow and about as un-commercial as you can get, 'Irrlicht' is certainly not for the faint-of-heart. Indeed, patience is the key to enjoying a Schulze album, and those out there willing to take the time and effort to explore 'Irrlicht' will find a rich tapestry of sounds that generate a plethora of emotions and feelings, ranging from cool, detached euphoria to quiet, slow-burning mystery as the music carefully ebbs and flows in an almost sensual manner. Fans of early Tangerine Dream, Cluster and Harmonia will find much to admire on 'Irrlicht', though, unlike Tangerine Dream's early material, 'Irrlicht' always remains melodic, eschewing the discordant noises and tribal drumming in favour of slow-burning, seemingly never-ending rhythms and pulses that keeps the listener waiting and wondering to see what will happen next. Enthralling from beginning to end, 'Irrlicht' is one of Schuze's finest albums and one of the most impressive and genuinely psychedelic space-rock albums from the era, rivalling the likes of Tangerine Dream's 'Alpha Centauri', Ash Ra Tempel's 'Join Inn' and Cluster's '71' album. Cosmic kids will get a real trip out of this. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#303687)
Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Out of all of Klaus Schulze's discography, Irrlicht is probably the most disturbing in tone. This album is very slow, very loud, and really quite creepy.

The album starts off incredibly slow with a powerful, droning buzzscape, but after the empty and dark atmosphere is clearly established, loud and echoing electronic organ takes the center- stage of "Satz Ebene". Besides establishing the atmosphere for the album, not much happens on the first track. Definitely powerful and beautiful, but perhaps a bit ambient and uneventful for some listeners.

The second track, "Satz Gewitter", is also the shortest, and its only real purpose is to serve as an intermission between the two main tracks, and is ambient and spacey with a few sudden electronic experimentation noises added in to get the point across that this barren and empty soundscape is not actually as empty as it may initially seem - slightly abrasive at first listen, but it's one of those tracks that you "get" after a while, if you know what I mean.

"Satz Exil Sils Maria" is continues on the same ambient buzzscape, full of airy/windy effects that come and go as time passes. This cold, dark, ambient setting sounds much like you'd expect the surface of Pluto to sound or feel.

All in all, this isn't a very eventful Klaus Schulze album. But, Mr. Schulze would soon enough move on to creating fuller, lusher soundscapes that were entirely captivating. Though Irrlicht is not one of Schulze best albums, I do enjoy it on occasion. It's not essential, but would make a great addition to any Klaus Schulze collection.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#438939)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Amazingly, this album doesn't contain any synthesisers - just electric organ, processed cello quartet sounds, and various instruments played by Schulze himself. A glacially slow, proto- ambient work, this is particularly recommended for fans of Tangerine Dream's Zeit, which it resembles closely, giving credence to the story that both albums were Schulze and Edgar Froese's individual interpretations of a musical idea they had come up with together. As with much of the ambient music which it would influence, this is something which is best left on in the background so that it can wash over you gradually rather than something you would listen to in a focused manner, but if you let it become the backdrop of your life then it's certainly an interesting experience.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#496303)
Posted Wednesday, August 03, 2011 | Review Permalink

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