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Klaus Schulze

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Klaus Schulze Irrlicht album cover
3.59 | 203 ratings | 20 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Satz 1 - Ebene (1st Movement - Plain) (23:23)
2. Satz 2 - Gewitter (2nd Movement - Thunderstorm) (5:40)
3. Satz 3 - Exil Sils Maria (3rd Movement - Sils Maria exile) (21:26)

Total Time: 50:29

Bonus track on 2006 reissue:
4. Dungeon (24:00)

Line-up / Musicians

- Klaus Schulze / organ, guitar, zither, electronics, percussion, voice, producer

- Colloquium Musica Orchestra / violins, violas, cellos, double bass, horns, flutes & oboes

Releases information

Early organ drone experiments. Subtitled "Quadrophonische Symphonie für Orchester und E-Maschinen"

Artwork: Klaus Schulze

LP Ohr ‎- OMM 556.022 (1972, Germany)

CD Brain ‎- 833 127-2 (1986, Germany) New cover art
CD Revisited Rec. ‎- REV 046 (2006, Germany) With a bonus track from the early 70's

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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KLAUS SCHULZE Irrlicht ratings distribution

(203 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

KLAUS SCHULZE Irrlicht reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by soundsweird
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.
Review by Neu!mann
4 stars The title of Klaus Schulz'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 discernible 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.

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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!
Review by 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.


P.A. RATING: 2/5

Review by Mellotron Storm
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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
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.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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)

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Irrlicht is the debut full-length studio album by German progressive electronic music artist Klaus Schulze. It´s his first release after leaving the drummer´s 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 Kaiser´s 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 couldn´t even remember who had played which instrument. But Klaus Schulze didn´t 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 there´s 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 it´s there somewhere) and the main instrument is organ. The instrumentation also include guitar, E-Machines ( I´m 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 art´s 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.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by stefro
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
Review by colorofmoney91
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.

Review by Warthur
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.
Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars After briefly joining ranks with both Ash Ra Tempel and Tangerine Dream, KLAUS SCHULZE decided to trade in his drums for an organ and learned how to process the hell out of it until it sounded like the background music for a strange alien world far, far away in another galaxy. This Berlin native took the freak factor aspect in Krautrock and simply removed the rock part of the equation and ran away with the rest. IRRLICHT (which technically includes Quadrophonische Symphonie für Orchester und E-Maschinen behind it and means will-o'-the-wisp) is one of his early spacey drone albums that is more Musique concrète than his later more melodic concoctions. The album simply consists of strange manipulated organ sounds with other strange samplings of guitar, zither, voice, oboes, cellos etc.

This is one of the strangest albums out there as it truly sounds divorced from what many would deem "music." There are only subtle musical scales or chord progressions if they occur, no harmonies and just a parade of sounds that mostly stay in a single drone with flutterings of various effects thrown in at any given moment akin to the randomness of slowly drifting clouds in the sky taking new forms that come and go but only in non-repetitive fleeting tidbits of originality never to be duplicated again. Speaking of duplication, actually maybe there was. When SCHULZE left Tangerine Dream they couldn't decide who had the right to use this idea so it turns out they both did with TD releasing a similarly styled album on "Zeit."

This was a revolutionary time in electronic music where experiments with newly invented musical gear had hitherto never been created although the freaky Krautrock and psychedelic music of the late 60s and early 70s was hinting towards the desire to create soundscapes that utterly escape the gravitational force of the confinements of already established musical patterns. Although others had done so, no one had done it like this. This is slow-as-molasses music with musical arrangements clearly in the mix for the patient but I would imagine this to be too little pay off for many a rock fan.

I personally find this music to be stimulating and haunting, conjuring up images of what sound and "music" would be like if one were able to do a Matrix like trip into a Salvador Dali painting. Surreal and creepy, esoteric and icily beautiful. This is one that sets a mood and most likely will provide a demented background scene in a Halloween haunted house or S&M Dungeon but if you have the patience to actively instead of merely passively tune in then this one is rewarding on that level as well. Perhaps not an everyday album that you will finding yourself singing along with but certainly one that warrants a spin when the right mood and circumstances arise. A great start for a decades long career and ridiculously huge discography.

The 2006 remaster has a 24 minute bonus track called "Dungeon" which fits right in and indeed reminds me of going insane in a dungeon, sleeping naked on an ice cold stone cellar floor perhaps with chains around my limbs. Creepily brilliant stuff this is! Something must be wrong with me.

Review by patrickq
4 stars Irrlicht is Klaus Schulze's debut solo album; prior to this he was a member of Tangerine Dream for one album, their debut Electronic Meditation, then Ash Ra Tempel, also for one album, their self-titled debut. Prior to 1972, it appears that his primary role as a member of these and other bands had been that of the drummer, although he was also credited with "electronics" on Ash Ra Tempel.

Here, in his first of two pre-synthesizer albums, Schulze is uses studio electronics to heavily process an organ, a string ensemble, and other instruments. Much of the music, which is presented as two long pieces (over twenty minutes each) bookending a five-minute work, can be described as drones. The first longe piece, "1. Satz: Ebene," contains the most content identifiable as musical instrumentation, but it too is closer to sonic art than to any standard genre of music. "2. Satz: Gewitter (Energy Rise - Energy Collaps)" begins with organ chords upon which Schulze plays sounds so filtered I'm unsure of their sources; but soon the atmospheric organ is all that remains.

Of the three tracks, "3. Satz: Exil Sils Maria" is the most interesting, although superficially, it seems to be almost featureless. I listened to it for years without realizing that the entire 21-minute track is actually played backwards. Of course, upon closer inspection, it's not featureless at all.

Although there are a few passages, especially on "Gewitter," that seem to be experimentation for its own sake, Irrlicht is nonetheless a very good album and a very impressive debut.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Review #114! There are no synths on this one, for sure. But is that better? 'Irrlicht', Schulze's first studio album, is an artistic ambient album. All instrumental, minimal in sound variation, but powerful in instrumentation. Klaus Schulze uses an orchestra to elevate his sound and the a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2929696) | Posted by Boi_da_boi_124 | Thursday, June 1, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars During the second half of the 1960s Germany lived with a music scene heavily influenced by American and English references. The records came with labels indicating the positions obtained in the charts of those countries and this was enough to attract the attention of the general public.    I ... (read more)

Report this review (#2742102) | Posted by Glaessel | Saturday, May 7, 2022 | Review Permanlink

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. ... (read more)

Report this review (#105234) | Posted by tuxon | Tuesday, January 2, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 ahe ... (read more)

Report this review (#59898) | Posted by | Friday, December 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#46844) | Posted by jobim | Friday, September 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 dru ... (read more)

Report this review (#35474) | Posted by | Tuesday, June 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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