Boomkat Product Review:
Cascading rhythmelodies from OG synth-o-naut and Kluster co-founder Conrad Schnitzler, reissued for first time in 15 years, and for the first time on vinyl.
Joseph Beuys student Conrad Schnitzler (1937-2011) was a key pioneer of synth music with his endeavours on early Tangerine Dream records from the late ‘60s, and later alongside Moebius and Roedelius in the first iteration of Kluster (later Cluster). By 1973 he was flying solo and spent the next decade improvising prototypes for techno and minimal electronic music that projected pulsating new paths beyond German traditional musics tainted by association with the past. However, with ‘Con ’84’ he altered that approach with some of his most composed music to date, challenging traditions of so-called “Ernste Musik”, or “serious music” with complex structures that subverted its notions of traditionalism.
The result is akin to court music for an alien emperor, all piquant pizzicato in flurried melodies ranging from fanfare pomp to quizzical call-and-response between ends of the keyboard. Most crucially, while it’s all clearly organised in his arrangements, you get the sense that it was made with a wry smirk on his mug as the pieces proceed with a mix of genuine timbral invention and ludicrousness that’s hard not to fall for. Po-faced it is not, instead offering an electronic paradigm full of a joy for the uniquely expressive voice of his machines, apparent from the mouth-watering timbral quiver and deliquescence of ‘X19 II’ thru the theatrical pomp of ’28.6.84’ to the horror theme arps of ‘X19’, with distinctive charms in the fleeting iridescence of ‘X18 I’ and the curdled chamber music lullaby of ‘X19 I’.