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Klaus Schulze - Blackdance CD (album) cover


Klaus Schulze


Progressive Electronic

3.44 | 144 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars Once KLAUS SCHULZE left Tangerine Dream after playing drums on the band's debut "Electronic Meditation," he set out to craft a solo career and there was no looking back. SCHULZE mastered the art of crafting some of the most innovative electronic techniques that paralleled his former band but sounded light years away. During the early years SCHULZE not only created some of the most unique progressive electronic sounds in all of Germany but also collaborated with other artists such as Ash Ra Tempel, Walter Wegmüller and unknowingly a major part of the Cosmic Jokers. The beauty of SCHULZE's works were that each forged its own way and crafted a distinct feel unlike any other artist or from his own previous albums. BLACKDANCE was also the first to be released in England on the Caroline, a Virgin label which opened his music to a much wider audience outside Germany.

The third album BLACKDANCE was released in 1974 but due to errors in the packaging about the date, the album was long thought to be the fourth album after the 1975 release "Picture Music" and has mistakenly been released as the fourth album in newer reissue series but it has nowadays been correctly been placed in its proper chronological order. The album featured new developments in SCHULZE's early sound that created a never-ending series of timbre gymnastics that ranged from relaxing to creepy and downright startling. While the debut "Irrlicht" featured an industrial coldness that was designed to alienate the listener and "Cyborg" followed in its footsteps, BLACKDANCE on the other hand took on a much more organic sound with not only non-synthesized instruments such as 12-string guitar and the bass vocals of Ernst Walter Siemon adding a more human touch. Congas and tabla also added more "authentic" percussive sounds.

The album was original released with only three lengthy tracks. "Ways Of Change" (17:50) and "Some Velvet Phasing" (8:30) composed the side A of the original vinyl album and the 22:30 "Voices of Syn" took up the entire B side. Subsequent CD remasters have included the unreleased tracks "Foreplay" and "Synthies Have (No) Balls?" which add an extra 24 minutes of creepy synth tones but are of a lesser quality for whatever reason. Progressive electronic music is actually quite difficult to gage and review as it's all so cerebral and the different approaches of the various albums will appeal to different music lovers for different reasons. While the first two albums were abstract and otherworldly, BLACKDANCE seems a lot more grounded. Perhaps due to the fact that SCHULZE switched to real synthesizer, real organs, piano and the extra touches of guitar and voice.

"Waves Of Changes" comes off exactly as the title portends, namely an oscillating series of synth sequences that slowly ratchet up the tension but then are caressed by the lushness of an acoustic guitar that strums on and on and on but after a few minutes the track becomes a percussive beast with tablas and congas breaking the synth swirls. The album immediately sets itself apart from the first two SCHULZE albums and this tracks is particularly energetic. SCHULZE has always stated that all musicians should learn how to play drums as it allows one to feel out the grooves and rhythms and this track with its percussive bombast alongside the rhythmic swirls and out buzzes makes it clear that progressive electronic music is indeed percussive. It's just that the percussion is usually implied rather than explicitly stated.

"Some Velvet Phasing" settles into a more familiar feel as a pure electronic synth sounds jet in and out of the audio zone as organs create creepy semi-musical scales that sort of create a hypnotic repetition and at a mere 8:30, the shortest track on the album. "Voices Of Syn" is my favorite track. It starts out with Ernst Walter Siemon singing operatic bass vocals in a liturgical chanting style while SCHULZE slowly ratchets up the oscillating waves of synth sounds that ultimately take over the dominate the pulsating soundscape that flows like a river into a sea of ambient foreverness. Siemon was an opera singer who was rehearsing at a studio in Berlin when Schulze was recording on Tangerine Dream's first album. The track carries the stream of consciousness with a constant drone leading the fluttering synth sounds that carry on for the side length run and slowly extinguish yet another lengthy album of cerebral contemplation and spaced out surreality.

BLACKDANCE is one of my favorite early KLAUS SCHULZE albums. Whereas many albums run a monotonous gamut no matter how interesting they may be, BLACKDANCE exhibits three distinct moods that find a much more varied wealth of tones, tempos, timbres and textures. The atmospheres are intense but the overall feel of the album is less intense due to the guitar, percussion and vocals on board. The organ droning adds the proper hypnotic surreality to the album while the other elements seemingly exist in a parallel universe and are merely bleeding over to this one. It's always interesting why certain albums by an artist catch on with the masses and others seem to go unnoticed. BLACKDANCE usually takes a backseat to the other albums that surround it but in my book, it's one of the most distinct and most interesting and the one i prefer to get lost in as opposed to the more popular "Mirage" or "X. As far as i'm concerned this one is absolutely brilliant and should rightfully be regarded as a classic.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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