Phasing…

I used to spend a lot of time laying on the floor having some significantly deep thoughts. Some days I would actually solve the problems of the day in approximately 45 to 60 minutes without moving at all. Just laying there.

At times when I listen to music I first heard in my teen years I sometimes have brief flashes of some of those thoughts. They always seem to have resulted in some sort of utopian ideal. A sort of never ending enlightened toga party with grapes and chilled beverages.

I am often amazed at the amount of attention I must have brought to the music to have allowed my mind to wander that way. These days it’s hard to bring that amount of attention to the activity of listening. I occasionally try and get there again. Sometimes on an airplane about five hours in it happens and my thoughts flow with the music. More frequently I tend to find myself wondering in and out of attention and distraction.

Blackdance is allegedly Schulzes third album. Its a strange affair. Twelve string guitars meandering organs VCS3 synths and drums. The album sleeve adequately describes the otherworldliness of the music. I think throughout much of the eighties this scene was a recurring part of my dream life.

When I listen to this these days I get a feeling of possibility and hopefulness a sense that things can get better. It’s not in the music which is strange and wondering abs ethereal it’s more to do with me tapping into that thirteen year old self that plucked this out of the rack in the library and gave it a go.

“it’s late and I want to listen to Klaus…”

In my younger more Bohemian days as I would try and stay whatever course there was to stay I had a friend who’s couch I would seek out on occasion, especially if things were getting too heady in my world.

She would never lock me out and always had such lovely cooling towels to place on my fevered brow. I would sit there or lay there and drink tea and talk too much. Tea was always Earl Grey with lemon and in china tea cups with shortbread. The room was generally dimly lit, often with a turquoise scarf draped over the lamp.

At some point she would groan and mutter the immortal lines, “it’s late and I want to listen to Klaus…” Then she would turn off the lights, light the candles and make me lay very still on the floor. Usually I would at some point in the rhythmic, melodic world of Klaus Schulze fall asleep or at least quieten down enough to allow her to to rest.

In the morning there would be eggs and beans and toast, and a hug as I left for the next adventure.

There are some people who may be contemporary but appear to be wiser more worldly and with more grace than we are. In my kitchen cupboard there is a plain white china tea cup she gave me when we left for the USA, occasionally I take it down when my world has got too heady for me, put a cool cloth on my forehead and sip Earl Grey with lemon.

So whenever I play Klaus Schulze it is at night, and somewhere in my subconscious I get the lingering smell of patchouli, candle wax and henna and Earl Grey tea. There is the rustle of cotton skirts in the mix and the clink of a china tea cup on a saucer.

At some point as I sat here on the eve of December I had the thought, “it’s late and I want to listen to some Klaus…” so I did. This evening it was Cyborg.

Will-o-the-wisp…

In the bad old strange days we would lay on the floor after consuming some sort of organic vegan mash that we had concocted and attempt to stay as still as possible and listen to Irrlicht by Klaus Schulze. And this was in the days before vegan was hip. It was probably closer to vegetarian if I am honest, as who can give up cheese really? We would lay side by side in our baggy hemp clothing smelling of patchouli and incense and let the drone and waves wash over us. I had found the record in the classical section of the library and was drawn to the cover. I had no idea what to expect but the strange alien creature on the cover stood out in the classical section, I discovered as I looked it over  at checkout it had been misplaced and belonged with the other Schulze in the electronic music section. This was 1985 and for everyone else this was the year of Born in the USA, Hounds of Love and Brothers In Arms, for us it was the strange beauty of Irrlicht that dominated the year.

About halfway through the first week we bought a C120 cassette as that way we could get the whole album on one side, so we recorded the whole thing twice both sides of that strange ethereal music that was literally so dense it would pin you to the ground, turn your head inside out and have your ears leaking fluids into the carpet. The we took the record back to the library.

Several times friends came to our flat during this ritual and would attempt to understand the attraction. I was convinced that Klaus Schulze was a synthesizer genius ahead of everyone else. I would point this out and they would roll their eyes and ask to hear Eliminator instead. I would try and convince them to lay still on the floor and truly feel it and they insisted on going out for beer and a curry. Philistines all, although most of the time we went along as we could always come back and listen.

Our problem in deciphering the genius of Irrlicht was that the sleeve notes were in German and neither if us could read it. This was also in the days before the internet and we had no way of researching the album, we could have maybe used the library but I think we had given up reading books as bourgeoise at the time and only used it to enhance our musical diet. It was only in the last twenty years or so as computers became more common and the internet a real thing that I learned that no synthesizers were used making the album and this messed up album was made with a broken organ, a broken amp a cassette player and a recording of an orchestra rehearsal that had been manipulated beyond the bounds of reasonableness or sanity.

At some point that cassette went away, we drifted apart and I almost forgot about Irrlicht. However once it’s in your head that music is always going to come back and it did, first streamed and then one night as I scrolled through the ridiculously priced Schulze album I found someone in Germany selling a new one for nine dollars with free shipping. With a certain sense of doubt and faith in PayPals refund policy i bought it and waited almost a month for it to arrive. When it did I was so happy to see that same strange creature reclining on an alien landscape. In honor of the past I lay on the floor as the record played, this time it was the dog laying next to me and I swear I could smell patchouli and lentils and cumin.

Still Irrlicht is an album that will make you sit still and listen. It is completely engrossing and will demand your attention, the odd thing is that each time you play it you will be connecting with a different sound, passage our journey. It’s terrifying, beautiful captivating and disturbing and may be the strangest thing you will ever listen to. It requires attention and will reward that attention. It will however drive many others away screaming demanding that it never be played  again in their presence or even when they are nearby.

I am aware the sleeve that I first got and have searched out is not the original one, but it is the sleeve I connect with the album and if I had the original I would actually be disappointed. This is the picture that drew me to the record and the image I will always associate with it. I think it perfectly describes the strange beauty of the record.

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rhythmic…

I have no words to describe the joy this album has brought me today/this evening.

I always get lost trying to explain, however there are some albums that you lay down and put your head between the speakers and close your eyes and drift away.

Klaus Schulze was my entry into electronic music and I have never got past the enjoyment of listening to his works. Yes he has had some weirdly off putting periods but in general his work is rewarding challenging and listenable.

Sequencers, strange bleeps and those wonderful rhythms, first a drummer and then an electronic musician this has led to a different feel for the rhythmic elements of music that to my ears make it more listenable.

Anyway with no more words about it I am going to just drift away here on my second go around with this album.

Day 12, zero purchases.