Conrad Schnitzler - "Grün"
(Captain Trip Records CTCD-547)
From Aural Innovations #35 (January 2007)
Originally released on LP in 1980 as a limited edition of 250 copies, this astounding display of Schnitzler's genius for electronic composition is at last available again thanks to the foresight of Captain Trip. Ever reclusive and enigmatic, Schnitzler is nevertheless spoken of with due reverence and awe by devout acolytes of kraut rock. His groundbreaking series of "color" albums in the early to mid 70s (Schwarz, Röt, and Blau) firmly established him, along with Klaus Schulze, as one of the most innovative of Germany's post-Stockhausen electronic composers. Grün, recorded in 1975, is a continuation of Schnitzler's color sequence of albums and clearly demonstrates why he is considered one of the supreme masters of contemporary electronic music. The 32-minute "Der Reise und Seine Frau" ("The Voyager and His Wife") really shows just how far ahead of his peers Schnitzler was in the 70s. Firmly anchored by a hypnotic electronic percussion track that modulates dynamically in and out of the mix, Schnitzler adds oddly disturbing low-frequency drones and a simple though mesmerizing main melody line that hovers and weaves its way through the dense mechanized drumming like mercury through concrete. Tribal yet futuristic, "Der Reise…" sounds so fresh that you'd swear it was an extended drum 'n' bass track contemporary with Photek or Aphex Twin. "Bis die Blaue Blume Blüht" ("Till the Blue Flower Blooms") is wholly synthetic, its polymorphous waves of sound, filtered and processed, colliding like frenzied electrons in a particle accelerator. Even more trance-inducing than "Der Reise…" - though with a completely different tone and texture - "Bis die Blaue Blume Blüht" spirals through repeated motifs as if it were a piece of self-replicating DNA, almost literally creating a helix of ascending tonality. The overall effect is not unlike a Bach fugue or one of Satie's Gymnopédies, though Schnitzler's technique is less academic and far more organic in design and execution: music for watching extraterrestrial gardens germinate. Because Schnitzler originally intended "Bis die Blaue Blume Blüht" to be played at both 33 and 45 rpm on the initial LP release, the 45 version is also included as a bonus track. Grün is quite simply an amazing tour-de-force of the possibilities of the architecture of electronic sound and is a must for anyone interested in the development of electronica.
Reviewed by Charles Van de Kree