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Klaus Schulze - Dune CD (album) cover

DUNE

Klaus Schulze

Progressive Electronic


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Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The eleventh album (in only seven years) by Germany's prolific synth pioneer probably couldn't help leaving many fans scratching their head, arriving as it did on the heels of his monumental twin LP "X". It was, and still is, a truly schizophrenic effort: one half instrumental, and typically brilliant, and the other half a curious change of pace featuring an unlikely collaboration with singer ARTHUR BROWN...yes, the same post- hippie pyromaniac from "The Crazy World of..."

And it's a concept album (of sorts) too, perhaps a signal that Schulze was trying to cash in his kosmische credentials and at least partially engage with mainstream musical trends of the late 1970s. The inspiration was Frank Herbert's popular sci-fi novel, a fixture on counterculture bookshelves during the '60s and '70s (I think because of all that perception-bending Arakeen spice). So was the erstwhile drummer for TANGERINE DREAM paying tribute to a kindred space-art epic, or was he merely hitching his keyboards to a pre-sold commodity?

It's a moot question, at first exposure. The title track (all of side one, on the original vinyl) is classic Klaus Schulze, building on the success of "X" with even more breathtaking sonic vistas, and again employing the talents of Wolfgang Tiepold on acoustic cello. It might seem an odd instrumental match-up, but the combination of Tiepold's melancholy bowing and Schulze's arsenal of electronic effects is strong enough to send a shiver down even the most unsympathetic spine.

Schulze was always a generous composer (or a very lazy editor), and this masterpiece is no exception, clocking in at seven seconds shy of a full half hour. An appropriately arid mood is set in the opening eight minutes of more or less free-form improvisation, before Tiepold's mournful cello melody slowly rises over the horizon. What follows is one of the more stunning evocations of a desert landscape, capturing the essence of its unforgiving beauty better than any piece of music since Maurice Jarre's 1962 soundtrack to "Lawrence of Arabia".

(I speak from some experience: in my vagabond youth I would listen to "Dune" while driving the lonely highways of central Nevada, and to this day the music still conjures vivid images of sagebrush-scented valleys, heat-distorted alkali salt pans, and semi- abandoned Comstock ghost towns caught in a state of arrested decay.)

On this one track Schulze almost redefines the meaning of Space Rock (which, in the Berlin school of electronic meditation, was never really rock anyway) by removing the music from its usual cosmic clichés. The sound here is more spacious than spacey, with an almost classical-symphonic grandeur, and yet still manages to generate surprising tension over its slowly unfolding thirty minute length. The first chord change, teasingly held back until near the 11:00 mark, is a particularly satisfying moment of high musical drama.

Too bad the balance of the album (i.e. side two: "Shadows of Ignorance") is such a flat- footed misstep, at least by comparison. Give Schulze credit for trying to break out of his comfortable ambient shell, but he wasn't the first of his class to fail in the same attempt: TANGERINE DREAM had already released "Cyclone" a year earlier, also with vocals, and with similar mixed results.

The Klaus Schulze/Arthur Brown variation wasn't as willfully commercial, and would hardly justify any accusations of a sell-out. But twenty-six (count 'em, twenty six!) minutes of ersatz poetry sung over a dance-floor sequencer beat can still be more than a little tedious, although this criticism comes with a disclaimer: I admit to dredging my memory of the song out of some very cold storage. Only the magnificent title track remains in my music library, saved on one side of a 60-minute audio cassette tape before the album itself was returned to the used LP trading block.

On later releases Schulze would beat a hasty retreat (again, not unlike TANGERINE DREAM) back to safer, all-instrumental territory. But in retrospect "Dune" marked the end of an era. Hereafter he would be a strictly digital artist, and continue his lonely electronic vigil in a spirit of sadly increasing redundancy.

A four-star first half, with a fans-only two-star remainder, equals a semi-solid three- star rating. But those first four stars can make it all worthwhile.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#36526)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Just a brief addendum to Michael Neumann's excellent review. Like him, I bought the original vinyl issue and listened to side 1 obsessively but scarcely bent an ear to side 2 after the first couple of listens. I recently picked the album up on CD and listened to the whole thing for the first time in 20 or so years and Arthur Brown's recitation of Schulze's slightly embarassing poetry only takes up a few minutes of side 2, although there is a vocoder sound running through most of the piece which may be the same vocal track heavily treated - anyway, the second half of the album was better than I remembered it, although still a disappointment after side 1. Worth picking up for the title track alone.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#36540)
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Content Development & Krautrock Team
3 stars A conceptual moody / highly atmospheric music in relation to the S.F novel "Dune" written by Frank Herbert. This album belongs to the last years of Schulze's instrumentalism in analog synth and others vintage keyboards. Consequently the keyboard instruments are similar to the electronic choir or the "fantomatic" orchestral sounds we can hear on the classic "X". The long epic self titled composition represents impressionistic, cold and deeply celestial electronic harmonies associated to cello parts. It creates a very efficient ambient atmosphere but the inspiration and variety are not in honour all the track long. Not as imaginative and as scary that the hypnotic sounds ever created by the man behind his machines. The second track combines an electronic / spacey pulse to cello delicate sounds and Arthur Brown's voice on recitations and vocals. Unfortunately, Arthur's Brown fantastic voice remains too discreet, perceptible in the distance. The last minutes of "Shadows of ignorance" are very tortured, accompanied by Arthur Brown's plaintive, very melancholic voice.

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Send comments to philippe (BETA) | Report this review (#39428)
Posted Thursday, July 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars With a catalouge as expansive as that of Klaus Schulze it's hard to pick out an individual album. Finding a favorite Schulze album is like finding a favorite track on an album of similarly strong tracks. Dune sticks out to me for two reasons. First of all, it deals with Frank Herbert's sci-fi/philisophical masterpiece (and the music here fits it well). Second of all, it has vocals. I'm not saying that vocal music is inherintly better than instrumental but their inclusion here gives these compositions a distinct flavor. The first track is Klaus Schulze by the numbers, spacey and atmospheric and dark but not overly memorable. The second track, vocals aside, is the stronger of the two with driving rhythms and melodies as dark and mysterious as the deserts of Arrakis. The vocals add more color and variety to the proceedings and add a hypnotic element to the music instead of giving the music distinction, not unlike Kraftwerk's late 70's music. Dune is still not unlike most Klaus Schulze albums: great while you're listening to it either to zone-out or two enjoy whilest indulging in substances, but not memorable after the moment.

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Send comments to gunmetalsky (BETA) | Report this review (#88185)
Posted Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
thellama73
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Another competent, if somewhat undistinguished, outing from Schulze. Dune sounds pretty much like the other work he was doing at the time: high quality, but without much variety. Side Two is where things get interesting, with a beautiful solo cello and the always unique vocals of the one and only Arthur Brown. The lyrics are not very good, but they are so low in the mix that you won't be bothered by them unless you strain your ears. The bonus track is a fragment of a live performance and sounds just that: fragmentary.

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Send comments to thellama73 (BETA) | Report this review (#118200)
Posted Thursday, April 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars First, I must say: I don't have the Remaster Edition album. The problem with this album is that for me, it ends somewhere over between the minutes 33 and 34... Almost sure. Let's see: we have two tracks. The first is a true avantgarde electronic/symphonic challenge. IMO, Schulze did a good movement bringing Wolfgang Tiepold on cello. Like he did on X with the small string orchestra; the mixture of symphonic/electronic did well again. It's a hard tones electronic symphony and it may be even a little suffocating for some parts of the audience. Not for me...honestly. Schulze did again a great job here. It fits to the book of Frank Herbert. The second track begins very gently, but unfortunately it becomes a poor rhythmic track, almost without an end. For me, I admit it's the most boooooooooring Schulze piece of composition ever!!! I could listened to it entirely only, I don't know, maybe 3 or 4 times, but very, very hard. The choose of the famous Arthur Brown didn't work here IMO. The good point is that the lyrics are quite interesting, but the way they are shown in the music is simply weak. I remembered Schulze doing this again on Dreams on the last track choosing an awful singer...I would recommend this album for the beauty of the first track only!

I will rate 5 stars on Dune and 1 star on Shadows of Ignorance. so....

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Send comments to Sachis (BETA) | Report this review (#168923)
Posted Monday, April 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is quite a strange work from Klaus.

None of his album so far have lead to such controversy (but the first TD with vocals was quite a shock as well).

The fantastic title track brings us back to the best of his oeuvre. A superb ode to the wilderness, the heavy sunshine, the deep and profound warmth of the desert. The sun is burning from all of places, but some excessively elegant passages allow the listener to breathe and survive.

"Dune" does surely belong to Klaus's great songs (but he has already released so many of them). It is another poignant masterpiece which is culminating after the first half. Klaus already brought in some cello in his previous "X" album and he is again surrounded by Triepold who is adding the same sort of phantasmagoria into the music. Nine out of ten is my rating for this compelling piece of art.

The second track almost opens as "Dune" ends, but the tone is more chaotic, less polished. Cello is going around and upbeat rhythms are taking the place. To be honest, the first part of this "difficult" track is excellent. A definite TD feel is invading the place (but this is not the first time that these two giants are playing in each other's garden).

It would have been quite adventurous to tell you that the vocal part with Arthur Brown is my favourite Schulze moment. At times, it reminds me of "Suicide" (the US new wave band). Although these ones are much less "suicidal" for sure. I understand it can hurt some deep Klaus fans (but I am also one of them).

The dance beat is of no help either: it is of course a serious challenge to listen to, but again I'm not too negative about it. Just that it is difficult to match with our standards (of old and devoted Klaus fans).

As a whole, I would say that this is good album. But after having hearid the title track, expectations were probably higher. This work was closing a formidable decade of great works. It will be difficult to equal such perfection for the next decade. But, we'll see?

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#240772)
Posted Monday, September 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Dune is an unexpected dip in the ever steady quality level that Klaus established in his career till that time. Especially so when compared to the masterpieces he released in 1977 and his excellent and widely praised 'X' from 1978.

The title track is still quite strong. It returns to the more abstract soundscapes of his beginnings, only this time with brighter and more dynamic sonic textures. But I can't say that the inspiration flows equally strong as it used to. The track fails to build up a tension that is compelling enough to entertain me for 30 minutes. It makes for good background music but hasn't yet fully captured my attention. But I'm quite new to this album and I expect this track will further grow on me.

The second track features vocals of Arthur Brown and is the real let-down. The idea is interesting enough and Arthur Brown is a great singer but the simple rhythmic sequence and the recitative vocals turn it into a very dreary experience.

In the 80's and all other decades since, Schulze has continued to create strong music, but the days when he couldn't hit a wrong note came to an end with this album. Interesting to see I'm the 9th reviewer in a row to give this album 3 stars. A most unusual unanimity!

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#274533)
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars For me Dune has a somewhat dual personality. It consists of two sidelong, distinctive pieces. While the title track is a 30-minute-long instrumental suite with basically no rhythm or melody, the second one is a long rhytmic, hypnotic vocal track with Arthur Brown as the vocalist. As for side A the piece has a lot of ambient sounds and textures by Mr Schulze and Wolfgang Tiepold on the cello. Think of something like Vangelis' Beaubourg album, but with more complex soundscapes. B side is a bit like Schulze's first Wahnfried album, Time Actor, but with more feeling to it.

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Send comments to LaserDave (BETA) | Report this review (#343002)
Posted Saturday, December 04, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Dune' - Klaus Schulze (6/10)

Klaus Schulze is a man whose music I have not always enjoyed, but at the very least, I've always considered him to be a man of great talent. This was enough reason for me to pick up a used copy of 'Dune' at discount. Being a major fan of the book by Frank Herbert, I was intrigued to see how Mr. Schulze would approach the subject matter, and bring the story of 'Dune' to music. Somewhat disappointingly, Klaus Schulze does little to distinguish this album from most of his other work. The longwinded, often minimalistic compositions are much the same that I have heard from the man's work I've heard so far. A couple of interesting surprises are enough to take 'Dune' from a blatant sense of deja-vu to a valid work in is own right.

Frank Herbert's 'Dune' was a space epic set on the desert planet of Arrakis, a wasteland made valuable only by a commodity called 'the spice'. Much of the plot takes place in the sprawling landscape of Arrakis; a setting that seems perfect for Klaus to mimic through his music. For such vast imagery as a desert, I would have thought that 'Dune' would have opened up with a typical electronic sequence that would likely flow throughout the rest of the composition. Instead, 'Dune' opens with some fairly percussive sounds, a jarring way to start off the album. Before too long however, 'Dune' settles into the typical spacey sound that I have come to expect from Klaus Schulze. Although the title track 'Dune' and its b-side 'Shadows Of Ignorance' are both incredibly long compositions, there are not too many ideas or themes floating between them. The music here is meant to dabble upon an idea until its absolutely exhausted. This is nothing new for 'Dune', as much of Schulze's music follows that formula.

Although 'Dune' first feels doomed to retrace steps that the man would cover again and again, the introduction of a cello into the music is a bold step that adds an entirely new element of warmth to the music. Although the sequencers may have felt empty on their own, the cello playing of Wolfgang Tiepold provides a steady lead and feeling of emotion to Schulze's composition that would have been lacking otherwise. 'Shadows Of Ignorance' builds upon the themes of the first, but adds an even more surprising musical element; vocals. Not just any vocals however, but the voice of Arthur Brown, the same man who helped pioneer the prog rock style. Instead of his aggressive voice that I first heard on 'The Crazy World Of...', his voice is more of a saddened croon here. It fits the mellow music quite well, although the lyrics that Brown sings feel only loosely connected with Herbert's 'Dune' universe. Klaus Schulze creates a very atmospheric journey here, but I get the feeling that, even with the cello and Arthur Brown's voice, this album lacks the unique identity I would need in order to call it a truly great work.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#609189)
Posted Friday, January 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
3 stars This album includes two massive tracks, roughly 30 and 26 minutes long. Inspired by the famous science fiction saga by Frank Herbert (appeared in 1965 or so), it features the cello of Wolfgang Tiepold and - only on the latter half of the second track - the vocals of Arthur Brown.

But these things (inspiration source, vocals) aren't making the album as special or different in Sculze's oeuvre as I was hoping. Being familiar to the novel surely helped to visualize the music and imagine the desert planet with its giant worms, but all in all it isn't notably more visualistic music than Schulze in general. For example the double album "X", inspired by men such as Nietzche and, surprise surprise, Frank Herbert, is more thought-provoking and has more sense of drama.

And for the vocals by the same prog legend who sang the manic hit 'Fire' and had the band Kingdom Come... where's the actual singing, one may ask. His voice enters around the ninth minute (before that there's been some synthetic and nearly unaudible voice in the background). He just reads the lyrics in a decent manner. He delivers the endless poem reading well, but his gorgeous vocal potential hasn't been put to use at all. And the rest of the track is really far too monotonous to excuse the 26 minutes. So, if you wanted to compare this album to Tangerine Dream's controversial Cyclone (featuring multi- instrumentalist Steve Jolliffe on rather freaky vocals also), forget it.

The lyrics are written by Schulze and they seem to deal with self-search and ideals of life, distanced quite a lot from any narrative levels. Which is not a bad thing of course, but some closer connection to the novel might have been more interesting.

The first track is slightly better as a whole. The cello is given a big role, almost equal to the synths. But despite some shifts in the level of intensity, the track has too little substance to need all the 30 minutes. To some extent it is a grower on the listener, as it at first sounds like the most boring sonic-experimental music of Vangelis (albums such as Beaubourg or Invisible Connection), having so little melody or rhythm, but it gets better than that. This album however is best left to use as background music, while reading some science fiction for example. I wouldn't dare to drive a car on a highway with this music, especially if I was tired.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#642005)
Posted Monday, February 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dune, the welknown desert planet, is the 11th studio album of Klaus Schulze; his latest work in the 70's dating in 1979. This record contains two major composition both clocking over 25 minutes. The first one is the titletrack Dune, whereby Schulze tries to set down his view about this lonely planet and the second one is a collaboration with psychedelic champion Arthur Brown called "Shadows of Ignorance". Wolfgang Tiepold collaborates on both composition with his Cello. He did already shown up on Klaus Schulze's previous release 'X'.

The titletrack is an abstract composition without repeating melodylines or drums and percussion. Schulze made me like this way of musical abstraction which is almost only found in the progressive electronics and/or film music. People who are not common with this kind of music almost always find it boring, like I did in first instance. But Klaus Schulze became a real eye opener for me in case of slowly progressive changing musical themes with or without a great amount of abstraction. It made me not only like the progressive electronics, but made me appreciate other artists (more) as well.

Dune begins with an theme which sounds like an advanced industrial, machinal society with a cold, but mystical atmosphere. The cello tunes in after some minutes and improves the lonely feelings, but expresses it in a beautifull way. The machinal sounds slowly dissappear and the theme becomes more mystical. The sound is quiet cold and expresses a harsh planet; my meaning of cold here is actually in a positive way. There are several changes in atmosphere, which I can almost not describe. In relation to some other works of Schulze like Timewind and Moondawn these changes are quiet big. No subtle - almost not hearable-, but real changes. The effect is a 30 minute instrumental story telling epic whereby the harshness and mystique of the advanced society of Dune play an essential role.

The second composition is a bit psychedelic, but a failed experiment with Arthur Brown on vocals. The vocals doesn't sound convincing and seems to be out of place. My main complain however is not the sang, but the drum computer which flattens the otherwise dynamic composition. Even Tiepold on cello cannot save this composition, although he is trying quiet hard to do so. This composition is quiet boring.

What we have here is a very good titletrack which will take most listeners to unearthy atmospheres and a booring second composition. The titletrack's duration is 30 minutes however and is for me essential Klaus Schulze; I prefer this aboth Mirage or Timewind and therefor I can legitimate a four star rating.

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Send comments to the philosopher (BETA) | Report this review (#889813)
Posted Tuesday, January 08, 2013 | Review Permalink

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