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Wolfgang Bock

Progressive Electronic

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Wolfgang Bock Cycles album cover
3.80 | 14 ratings | 5 reviews | 7% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side A
1. Cycles (18:49)

Side B:
1. Robsai Part 1
2. Robsai Part 2
3. Changes
4. Stop The World (17:56)

Line-up / Musicians

- Wolfgang Bock / All electronics and effects

Releases information

Telefunken LP

Thanks to philippe for the addition
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WOLFGANG BOCK Cycles ratings distribution

(14 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(64%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

WOLFGANG BOCK Cycles reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Guldbamsen
4 stars Berlin school electronics mimicking how ice crystals form

This is one of the first progressive electronic records I acquired. It was not entirely on purpose, meaning that I bought the album solely based on the rather beautiful cover - thinking it would be something psychedelic and fuzzy. Much to my surprise, I found a type of music that sounded completely different from what I´d tried before, and thinking about it now makes me realize just how lucky it(the music) was, that I didn´t just throw it away, or gift wrapped the bugger - turning it into one of those "funny" presents that nobody likes. It struck a chord with me however, right from the first spin, and maybe that has something to do with its persuasive nature, because unlike much of what you´ll find in these treacherous electronic waters, this album is indeed highly seductive and alluring.

Wolfgang Bock was a late comer to the Berliner School of electronics, and this his debut Cycles was released back in 1980, though luckily without any of the awful plastic traits of the time. Fans of the genre shouldn´t worry, because it certainly sounds as a sweet outing from around 76-77 - bringing with it that slick, soothing and floating texture to it. Cycles was also produced by Klaus Schulze, and this comes as little surprise when you first pop the album on. There are definite traces of Moondawn and Body Love, although Bock sounds far more melodious to these ears.

Cycles is actually a perfect description of this record, as the music within spins and revolves around itself in what seems like a small slice of eternity. What I find ingenious about it though, is that it never gets repetitive in any way. Take the title track, where everything is so simple and straightforward, that it almost hides these splish-splashes of a pseudo water based synth. Cycles is a piece that lays down the course of this album, and it does so with a firm and feminine touch, as if the tune had been nurtured and breastfed by HAL 9000´s secret lady lover. Through enormous quantities of synthesizer-laden eiderdown sculptures - the small two-stroke engine of the sequencer slowly bobs its gentle and slightly menacing rhythm, to what actually sounds as some euphoric northern winds guided into giant concrete tubes, that makes me think of a slightly skewed urban pan flute. Yep Bock could easily fool you into believing, that some of his best instruments are indeed wind based, and that his greatest, the colossal concrete pan flute, is blown by an ancient Nordic god of breezes. These are cold and desolate sounds though, but they still retain a remarkable beauty, and if sadness could speak - it would be through these chilling sweeps of wind.

I often think of the time this album was recorded in - those crazy 80s, hangover filled from the rather free nature of the preceding decade. -That plastic and yuppie like coating much of the mainstream music had taken on, and the move towards an easier listen for the audience. It suddenly became important to have videos and songs that you could dance to. Holding Cycles up against this rather colourless artefacts n´ money - sweet money culture, it suddenly takes on the form of music that both describes the yuppie madness and plastic world down to a t, but furthermore stands in opposition of what that meant. Through the coldness and darkness of this record, there´s beauty and yearning - almost screaming passion to be found, and when Bock from time to time releases his fury on either the synths or treated organs, he hits a similar vibe to that of Monsieur Wakeman on his classic organ break of Close to the Edge. The effect is somewhat different here, but it still acts as a sonic Cyclops standing up slowly and awe-inspiring in a massive crowd of people.

Now I have listened to a fair deal of electronic music in my life, and along with maybe Tangerine Dream´s Stratosfear, Cycles strikes me as a fantastic entrance to this bubbly universe. In addition to being highly melodious in its own way, either through choir mellotrons and dreamy synth soundscapes, this album also features drums. They´re sparse and to the point, but they work so well with the music they accompany. The second track, which is comprised of several parts - uses the drums in a completely different way, than what you hear on the title track, where things are streamlined and not entirely unlike those you´ll hear on a modern Zombi record, - no here on Robsai we get a wild tribal stomp-like section with deep bellowing toms all mixed up by what sounds like 2 or 3 different parts - all sown frantically together.

I´d say the only downside to this album, is a small nuisance - a petty mistake, but it still gets me a little frustrated every time I listen to it: There are some abrupt pauses during the middle section of the second track. They change the scope of the record, and those charming sonic cycles are suddenly broken - again and again, where the music fades out and into silence. It doesn´t work for me. I find this rather peculiar and close to a mind fart, because the music that follows is quite extraordinary - as we are treated to a sky-high reaching moog that swoops through the droning notes like some untamed majestic bird of prey headed for the outskirts of a sapphire blue horizon. Like I said, it is the sole negative thing about the record, but it´s still there, if only for those brief 30 seconds.

I recommend Cycles to fans of Klaus Schulze´s more melodic work, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and newcomers to the genre. This is a perfect way to start exploring what the progressive electronic world has to offer. It is breathtaking like skydiving without a parachute. 4.5 stars.

Review by colorofmoney91
4 stars Wolfgang Bock's debut album Cycles is a perfect representation of a more accessible Berlin school style electronic album. This album contains the floating analog synths and repetitive percussive loops that would be expected from music of this sort by the likes of obvious forerunners of this style, Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, but Cycles has a certain energetic attractiveness that fans of even more modern electronic music would be able to easily comprehend without finding the music boring and long-winded.

The first half of this album, containing the title track and a portion of "Robsai Part 1" rely on the aforementioned repetitive percussive loop that drives on as the floating synths create and explore the soundscape given. A wonderful and attention grabbing (long) introduction to this journey.

"Robsai Part 2" is an electronic organ type of interlude that is similar in sound to the organ- enhanced music of Klaus Schulze's fantastic album Cyborg. Very brooding yet ethereal, very dark yet uplifting. A fantastically moody, though short track. This leads into "Changes" which trades out the electronic percussion of the first movements of this album for organic and almost tribal sounding percussion as nearly imperialistic or royal sounding synth melodies fly above, but at the halfway point the track takes a turn for low-register, dark, brooding rumbling that morphs into choppy and forceful synth patterns.

The last movement, "Stop the World", starts off with gloomy but energetic synth loops exacerbated by steadily driving percussion as dark cascading synth melodies and solos take the forefront that make this track sound like an epic final battle scene of a horrific sci-fi film. The track eventually dies down into somber organ noodling that sounds similar to the electronic music portion of The Mars Volta's track "Asilos Magdalena" that floats atop airy and spacey ambient droning, until finally ending with the sounds of electronically manipulated church bells that fade off into the distance.

Even though Cycles by Wolfgang Bock is one of the lesser discussed albums, by a rarely discussed artist, I would feel very comfortable recommending this album to be one of the first if not the first Berlin School electronic album that someone unfamiliar with this genre should hear (ProgArchives collaborator Guldbamsen mentioned in his review that this was one of his first progressive electronic albums). Because of its perpetual energy and overall accessibility compared to other great albums of this genre, I think that Cycles is an important and standout album of this era even if it is mostly ignored.

Review by admireArt
3 stars Not all that glitters is gold!

By now I should have learned that every time I see an after 1975 prog/electronic project associated by reviewers with Tangerine Dream or Klaus Shulze (or even worse, the sterilized by now, "Berlin electronic" scene), that is what I should expect, some guy or band IMITATING either "Rubycon" or its evil twin "Ricochet" ( "Stratosfear's" electric guitar sections, are also easy prey for imitators). Which is amazing considering that these works are un-repeatable, even by TD themselves. Or on the other hand, pretentious imitations of TD'S honorific co-founder Klauz Schulze's self-made 70's electronic language.

Wolfgang Bock', 1980, "Cycles" , does not escape this condition. Even though a really promising start, its first song Cycles, which opens up in an instant, a myriad of musical possibilities, this guy plays it safe, and somehow forcible as it seems, he manages to sound like another of the zillion "RUBYCON"/"TIMEWIND" (both 1975) clones.

Dissapointing, taking into account, that there is recorded proof, that he could have sounded like himself, but he chose the easy way out.

Rating goes like "could have been himself, but he refused to do it" ***3 minus PA stars!

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Berlin School of vintage progressive-electronic music is almost always comprised of slow- paced, vague albums prizing atmosphere over focused melodic and approachable compositions, right? Not always, as latecomer German composer Wolfgang Bock's debut `Cycles' from 1980 chooses to attack with a power and force to dominate the more drifting, ambiguous works from his contemporaries of the time! Released after the boom-period of the style yet still produced by Klaus Schulze (who'd really moved on from this sort of electronic approach by this point), `Cycles' is frequently up-tempo and energetic in favour of delicate ambience and subtlety, whilst also adding several surprising symphonic-influenced elements as well - with mixed results!

The opener title track `Cycles' is dramatic and imposing, yet not overwhelmingly dark or hostile and with a constant breathless momentum. An ocean of unceasing and upfront broad layers of synths wash over cosmic effects swirling in and out, infernal Mellotron choirs cry out, and looping sequencer patterns take on a frantic fast-paced urgency. A relentless live drumbeat, bleeding synth veils and stormy electronic rumbles move into dreamier mysterious shimmers, with a gentle melancholic theme emerging in the final moments.

A regal treated organ theme announces the second side and two-part `Robsai' with grandiosity, a runaway maddening sequencer trickle unravelling around a stirring Mellotron choir, but it's a shame the piece fades out after barely two minutes and abruptly ends. More symphonic synth grandness prances amongst galloping live drums throughout the second part that perhaps wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Seventies Rick Wakeman album, but after an intrusive complete stop, a groaning synth drone ebbs and hums into life in `Changes' alongside a building sequencer pattern filled with potential, only to come crashing down with infuriating stop-start moments before ceasing altogether ? what a letdown! Thankfully the ten-minute `Stop the World' picks up the slack again with unravelling sequencer runs gurgling with intensity over loud whirring soloing synth cascades. Spectral organ and a returning Mellotron choir turns embracing and uplifting, almost acting as a similarly victorious finale as Pink Floyd's `A Saucerful of Secrets', but a drowsy distorted bell-toll closes the disc in a very discomforting manner.

It's not the deepest, most thoughtful or subtle of vintage electronic works, but `Cycles' always sounds terrific and addictive on the surface, a thick slab of cosmic sonic ear candy if you will! While some sections (more or less a majority of the second side) have a confused sense of identity and are made up of little fragmented ideas that had endless potential had they been developed further, the mix of symphonic themes, live and programmed beats and confident electronic excursions give the album an eclectic and exclusive sound, and Mellotron choirs have rarely sounded so full-bodied and impressive! If you're a fan of the Berlin School-style of vintage progressive-electronic music, you'll find plenty to interest you here, as well as a few unique (if questionable!) surprises along the way.

Four stars all the same...and let's hope for a nice CD reissue in the near future!

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Once again I have to agree with Guldbamsen's review, even the 4.5 star rating. This was Wolfgang Bock's debut released in 1980 and produced by Klaus Schulze. What makes this so good in my opinion are those incredible mellotron choirs but I love that he uses real drums too. Two different drummers per album side and I was especially pleased to see Heab Hobb behind the kit on side two as I have the album he's on released this same year from the band NANU URWERK. And the album cover is pretty cool too.

We start off with "Cycles" the side long opener close to 19 minutes in length. It opens with atmosphere that slowly builds as spacey synths sweep in and out. Nice. Some quiet pulsing sounds as well and check out those mellotron choirs starting before 3 minutes! The slow pulses stop around 5 1/2 minutes and the mellotron before that. Soon sequencers and other sounds arrive as the tempo picks up.

The mellotron choirs are back at 7 minutes. Drums join the sequencers before 7 1/2 minutes then the mellotron will step aside as the spacey synths continue with sequencers and drums. The sound changes around 12 minutes in as we get spacey sounds only coming and going then more electronics but this is laid back and sparse. Sequencers are back before 14 minutes along with spacey synths and they are all going full force at 15 minutes before it settles right back before 17 minutes to the end.

Side two starts with "Robsai(Part I)" and it begins with some majestic organ before electronics take over before a minute. The organ is back quickly along with mellotron choirs. So good. "Robsia(Part II" sounds nothing like the first part as spacey sounds build as the drums join in and they are energetic here. It's pretty much drums only after 2 1/2 minutes then a calm arrives as we get a dark atmosphere only. Man this is good. Sequencers then kick in before 4 minutes.

"Changes/ Stop The World" is the almost 11 minute closer. Drums and electronics to start as the synths cry out. The second part of this track takes over just after 7 minutes as the organ and spacey sounds along with mellotron choirs arrive. The mellotron choirs eventually dominate until it's pretty much all we hear after 8 1/2 minutes. Man is this what it sounds like to be in the presence of God? So majestic I can't believe it. Church bells before 10 minutes as the song winds down to the end.

A killer Electronic album that suits my tastes really well with all the mellotron choirs.

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