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Peter Frohmader - Nekropolis: Musik Aus Dem Schattenreich CD (album) cover


Peter Frohmader


Progressive Electronic

3.98 | 15 ratings

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4 stars Peter Frohmader was born in 1958 in Munich, Germany. While in his teen years, he witnessed a radical musical and cultural revolution in his motherland. Only around the age of 12, he would be listening to artists such as Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, and Ash Ra Tempel, which eventually led him to form his first bands - the avant-garde Alpha Centauri, Tangerine Dream-inspired Electronic Delusion as well as Kanaan, with stronger leanings towards a highly experimental branch jazz-rock. In 1979, he started a solo project Nekropolis, under which he recorded and self-released Musik Aus Dem Schattenreich, which was limited only to 500 copies. The record was pressed by Record Partner Hamburg.

Peter Frohmader's unique musical vision was, at least partly, a result of various experiences and influences he had come across. Besides inspiration from his countrymen, Klaus Schulze, Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream, Amon Düül II or Can, he admits to his Francophile leanings. "If I had to choose anyone to work with, it would be Art Zoyd, maybe even Christian Vander of Magma, Bernard Szajner - now there's a fine, a very underrated French synthesist. Not to mention Heldon, Richard Pinhas...", he confesses in an interview for The Wire magazine from 1995. Furthermore, he also drew influences from 20th century classical composers: "Early Darmstadt-era Stockhausen, Ligeti, Penderecki - very atmospheric music." These elements combined with forward-thinking Frohmader's creative, experimental nature contribute to what Musik Aus Dem Schattenreich came to be. And most surprisingly, as eclectic as they are, a good most of these ingredients can be heard on this album.

"Hölle Im Angesicht" opens side one, labeled "Hollenzyklus", with a high-pitched saturated guitar passage, which is quickly joined by a heavy-hitting rhythm section. With the very first notes the darkest auras are brought to mind, setting the right pace for the rest of the work by fueling the listener's imagination. The track quickly dons a very gloomy, unsettling character. The guitar part can still be heard in the background, but drums and bass guitar, laying down slowly progressing chords drenched in very a dark reverb timbre, have, by now, evidently taken the lead. "Fegefeuer" once again begins with high notes of a heavily distorted guitar, which is once again joined by heavy drums and a throbbing bass, which becomes a bit more prominent, playing what could be called a "melody" (although it does not fully resemble melody in the traditional sense of the word). Although the first two tracks are quite similar in length, construction, and their disquieting tonality, they might very well be interpreted as two alternative ways of making a one musical statement differently. "Unendliche Qual" opens with a rather simple bass riff, which is quickly joined by drums. The overall feel of the track is quite punchy. In fact, "Unendliche Qual" would lose its abstract, ambient climate, if it were not for the blurry, melodic, choir-like electronic accompaniment in the background. Suddenly, the beat disappears and the sinister, windy electronic voice slowly descends into the unknown. A very similar inflection accompanied by distant yowling opens "Krypta", the first piece that does not follow the heavy stylistic set by the previous tracks. From between the slow waves of the softly pulsating drone, there appear various industrial-sounding synthesizer effects, which, as if unwillingly, play somewhat of a very amorphous, tenuous melody.

A delicate hiss of wind is the first thing one will hear after flipping to side two, labeled "Nachtzyklus", or in other words at the beginning of the track "Mitternachtsmesse II." Somehow, the very hiss unnoticeably transforms into a one-tone drone surrounded by different sounds, which, although they are just small details, boost up the precarious atmosphere immensely. The appearance of the bass guitar is marked with a relatively simple groove it commences to play. At one point, drums slowly start to loom from behind the instrument's part, however, not starting anything of an inside revolution, as the groove slowly turns towards foggy, menacing sounds of drum cymbals and various effects played backwards. Next up, "Inquanok" begins with a static, machine-like synthesizer note, which, as the piece grows in its power, gets accompaniment from various swirling electronic and guitar noises and drums. As the overall texture becomes gradually denser, the sound suddenly lowers in its pitch and equally suddenly disappears. A deep, slowly evolving, melodic synthesizer passage, very much in the vein of some of Klaus Schulze's works, but darker, lays the foundation for "Ghul." Although very lazily, the piece starts to gain power and might, at the same time becoming more spacious and dynamically varied. Numerous dark, bell-like percussion effects soaked with a healthy dose of echo build up the tension since the very beginning of "Pagan." The tension is not resolved anyhow, which gives it a very symbolic, apocalyptic meaning, which can also be said - in retrospect - about the whole album.

With its eerie album art, Musik Aus Dem Shattenreich feels like an odyssey through the darkest nooks of what human brain is capable of creating. A diverse plethora of Peter Frohmader's influences is firmly reflected in the music of Nekropolis. The experimentation with alternative ways of playing an instrument, electronics, echoes, saturation, and exploring new sounds and noises as a whole turned out very successful, helping the visionary composer create musical tensions, disturbing atmospheres, and take the listener to places they would highly likely not want to find themselves in. Often, through his music, Frohmader even comes close to somewhat abusing the listener, playing with his emotions . Musik Aus Dem Shattenreich is an incredibly innovative, cutting-edge, moody album, which somehow did not enjoy enough of a success nor a great amount of appreciation. Nothing short of a masterpiece and a jewel of German music.

ALotOfBottle | 4/5 |


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