Album Review: Conrad Schnitzler/Schneider TM : Con-struct

Conrad Schnitzler was a German experimental music pioneer. He founded Berlin’s legendary Zodiak Free Arts Lab, a subculture club, in 1967/68. He was also a member of Tangerine Dream, showing up on their debut record Electronic Meditation. He left Tangerine Dream and then formed Kluster with Roedelius and Moebius. Schnitzler recorded three albums with Kluster then ventured off to explore music on his own.

In 2011 Conrad Schnitzler died of stomach cancer, but he left behind a massive collection of music for the world. One of those was a series called Con-struct. Here’s what the Con-struct series entailed: Conrad Schnitzler liked to embark on daily excursions through the sonic diversity of his synthesizers. Finding exceptional sounds with great regularity, he preserved them for use in combination with each other in subsequent live performances. He thus amassed a vast sound archive of his discoveries over time. When Jens Strüver, the producer of the Con-Struct series, was granted access to this audio library at the outset of the 2010 decade, he came up with the idea of con-structing new compositions, not remixes, from the archived material. On completion of the first Con-Struct album, he decided to develop the concept into a series, with different electronic musicians invited into Schnitzler’s unique world of sound.

Recently Schneider TM, an electronic musician and former member of noise rock/pop bands Locust Fudge and Hip Young Things, was invited to rework some of Schnitzler’s Con-struct works, the results are on this new album Conrad Schnitzler/Schneider TM : Con-struct. It’s a dizzying mix of industrial noise with an organic feel, like an industrial album made with the sounds of blood flow and beating hearts.

Schneider TM, aka Dirk Dresselhaus, approached this project as if he was working with Schnitzler side by side in the studio. He would play Conrad’s sound files as if he was creating them live on his modular system and then run those files through his own system, manipulating them live in the studio. What you hear is essentially a posthumous collaboration between two generations of electronic sound pioneers. All you hear are Schnitzler’s musical thoughts and creations, though they’re being manipulated and reimagined through Dresselhaus’ world of musical boxes, circuits, and gadgets.

Tracks like “Doozer”, “Dabb”, and “Wollwachsalkohol” have the sound of some industrial soundtrack. There’s an organic quality to these pieces that could pass for wisps of air passing through nostrils only multiplied and layered, or a steady heartbeat being manipulated through modular technology to the point of becoming more of an idea than an actual entity. “Parabelflug” has a playful rhythmic quality to it. It pops and crackles before what sounds like blood flow through a vein joins the percussive feel. This track really harkens back to those first couple Kluster records, with a more modern electronic vibe. There’s a 23-minute finisher called “Wurmloch” that sounds like falling through space on a morphine drip. You slowly melt into the atmosphere as this piece inches by minute after minute.

Con-struct is a perfect way to remember a man of Conrad Schnitzler’s importance in the world experimental and avante garde electronic music. Schneider TM has done his name and work justice with reinterpretations and sonic “coloring in” if you will, of Schnitzler’s musical visions. This is a vast and dense journey, well worth taking if you think you’re up to it.

The album will be available 11/18/16.

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