Revisiting the music of pioneering German composer Klaus Schulze (RIP), the “godfather of techno”, Ambient, German Experimental Psych Rock & More

On Tuesday April 26, the German composer and experimental electronic musician Klaus Schulze is dead, leaving a musical legacy as important as in the last half-century. Sacred “godfather of techno”, Pitchfork writingit was an integral part of both Krautrock (as German progressive rock of the 1970s was unflatteringly called) and the “Berlin School” of techno, and it “laid the foundations for ambient, IDM and many other sub-genres of contemporary electronic music.His relevance has never wavered.Although he is a legend among insiders, Schulze is not known in the wider popular culture.

He should be, and will be, says the Oscar-winning actor Dunes composer Hans Zimmer, who worked parts of Schulze’s 1978 composition “Frank Herbert” (below) into the score for the 2021 film. “Klaus Schulze’s music has never been more relevant than it is today today,” Zimmer said.

Shortly after, Schulz recorded a new album, Deus Arrakis, which is slated for release on June 10. “I needed more of that spice,” the 74-year-old composer said. (See above, sitting cross-legged, with blonde Prince Valiant ‘do, performing “For Barry Graves” live in Cologne in 1977.) played and played…”

Given Schulze’s stamina and influence, it can be confusing that he isn’t mentioned with familiar names like Brian Eno and Kraftwerk, or even hipper names like Karlheinz Stockhausen or Jean-Michel Jarre. This is partly because he rarely stayed with a sound long enough to be praised and didn’t care if anyone knew who he was. Although a founding member, as a percussionist, of Tangerine Dream, Schulze left after their debut in 1970, electronic meditation to form the group Ash Ra Tempel, which he also left after their stellar self-titled debuta psychedelic classic (although it occasionally returns over the decades) to shape and dissolve project after project, while regularly releasing albums under his own name.

Switching between bands was not unusual in the German music scene of the 1970s. Two of the founding members of Kraftwerk went their separate ways to form major post-punk influence NEU! (then divided for other projects); the list of current and former members of Tangerine Dream spans two score entries. Schulze’s “almost allergic reaction to the past,” writes Pitchfork, sets him apart. “The composer refused to release redesigns of his catalog, preferring to push forward and discover new sounds.” His experimentation began as a drummer in the 1960s for bands in Berlin, when he began “laying his guitar on the floor and playing it with unlikely objects such as metal tubes and copper plates”.

“His first solo outing was Irrlicht in 1972″, The Guardian Remarks, “a four-part composition that involved Schulze manipulating a broken organ, recordings of an orchestra, and an amplifier to create a towering wall of sound.” His next album, 1973 Cyborg, began using synthesizers, which continued through his run of 50 albums (including live albums and soundtracks) but never typed him. After Cyborg, rolling stone writing:

Schulze and his label mates formed the Krautrock supergroup Cosmic Jokers and their self-titled debut album. This collaboration came together in the most vital period of Schulze’s solo career, when the mid to late ’70s saw the release of electronic music classics like 1975’s Timewind, 1976’s Moondawn and “X ” from 1978.

The list of solo albums and collaborations goes on (including an all-Moog rendition of Pink Floyd titled Dark side of the Moog), accumulating in a list of must-have titles for those unfamiliar with Schulze’s work. “I hope I never get boring,” he said in 1997, and he meant it. “If an artist can no longer amaze people, that’s the end.”

Arrived at the end of his own life, after a long illness, Schulze has deigned to revisit a moment of his past. This propelled him into his final work. “At the end of this second private Dunes trip,” he said, “I realized: Deus Arrakis became another tribute to Frank Herbert and to this great gift of life in general.

Schulze lived and still lives in the music he inspired, performed and recorded. “There was still so much to write about him as a human and an artist,” a statement from his family concluded, “but he probably would have said by now: nuff said!… You know how he was: his music matters. , not his person. Or maybe it was because the two were inseparable. Listen to music from his upcoming and latest album, Deus Arrakisjust above.

Related content:

Pioneering electronic composer Karlheinz Stockhausen presents “Four Criteria of Electronic Music” and other lectures in English (1972)

The history of electronic music in 476 titles (1937-2001)

The History of Electronic Music, 1800-2015: A Free Web Project Catalogs the Theremin, Fairlight, and Other Instruments That Revolutionized Music

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him on @jdmagness

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