CONRAD SCHNITZLER/SCHNEIDER TM-CON-STRUCT.

CONRAD SCHNITZLER/SCHNEIDER TM-CON-STRUCT.

One of the most important and influential figures in German music was Conrad Schnitzler. He was a composer, concept artist and one the leading lights of Germany’s electronic music and avant-garde scenes. Conrad Schnitzler was also a musical pioneer, who created music that was innovative and often, way ahead of its time. That was throughout his long and illustrious career.

Having studied under Joseph Beuys, Conrad Schnitzler cofounded the legendary Zodiak Free Arts Lab in Berlin with Hans-Joachim Roedelius. For next the two years,  the Zodiak Free Arts Lab became one of Berlin’s cultural hubs. Artists and musicians made their way to  the Zodiak Free Arts Lab, seeking out like minded individuals. They found them.  This included Klaus Schulze, plus members of Can, Ash Ra Tempel, Agitation Free and Tangerine Dream, who Conrad Schnitzler joined in 1969.

By then, Tangerine Dream had become the Zodiak Free Arts Lab’s house band right up until its closure in March 169.  Regularly Tangerine Dream played five and six our sets of loud, improvised music. Often these sets ended with the band smashing their equipment up. Tangerine Dream it seemed, were making a statement. This they certainly did on their debut album.

Conrad Schnitzler joined Tangerine Dream just in time to play on their groundbreaking debut album Electronic Meditation in October 1969.  Tangerine Dream fused elements of avant-garde, electronic music, free jazz and rock. This proved popular with critics and cultural commentators.

Nine months later, Electronic Meditation released on Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser’s Ohr label. Critical acclaim accompanied the release of this future Krautrock classic. However, by the time Electronic Meditation was released Conrad Schnitzler had parted company with Tangerine Dream.

After leaving Tangerine Dream,  a new chapter in the career of Conrad Schnitzler began later in 1969.  He and Hans-Joachim Roedelius decided to form a new band, Kluster with Dieter Moebius. 

Kluster wasted no time in recording their debut album. To record their debut album, Kluster had managed to secure sponsorship from a local church. This would offset the cost hiring the Rhenus-Studio on 21st December 1969. That day, Kluster were joined by Christa Runge who added religious texts to Kluster 1. Just like Kluster 2, it was an ambitious improvised piece where Kluster combined avant-garde and experimental music.These tracks became Klopfzeichen, which was released in November 1970. By then, Kluster had recorded their sophomore album.

Just two months after recording their debut album, Kluster returned to the Rhenus-Studio on  February 23rd 1970 to record Zwei-Osterei. Just like Klopfzeichen, it was financed by a local church. Manfred Paethe added religious texts Electric Music and Text.  It became part of Zwei-Osterei, a fusion of avant-garde, experimental music and Krautrock. However, Kluster’s sophomore album wasn’t released until 1971. 

Later in 1971, Kluster performed what would be their swan-song. That night, the tapes were running and captured Kluster at their purest. There were no religious texts accompanying the two lengthy improvised pieces. They find Kluster’s music evolving towards the electronic sound that featured on later Cluster albums. That night, Kluster came of age musically, having saved the best until last. It was released in late 1971 as Schwarz. By then, Conrad Schnitzler was contemplating a solo career.

Conrad Schnitzler’s solo career began in 1973 would span four decades. During his long career, Conrad Schnitzler continued to  create ambitious and pioneering music and regularly played live.

For these live performances, Conrad Schnitzler spent time each day exploring the settings on his collections of synths. He was looking for new and exciting sounds that he could keep for his live performances. Gradually, the sonic explored had a vast collection of sounds. This continued to grow as Conrad Schnitzler added to his audio archive over his four decade solo career. It was a true labour of love that Conrad Schnitzler had continued to cultivate.

As a new decade dawned in 2010, Conrad Schnitzler was seventy-three. He was one of the grand old men of German music. However, he had lost none of his thirst for music. Still he made music and added to his private audio archive. It had been a lifetime’s work. Nobody had seen or heard Conrad Schnitzler’s audio archive. This would change later in 2010.

Conrad Schnitzler decided the time had come to grant access his vast and enviable audio archive. The problem was deciding to entrust with what had been four decade’s work. Eventually, Conrad Schnitzler decided to grant access to Jens Strüver, who was then head of the m=minimal label. 

For Jens Strüver this was a huge privilege. He was the first person to see and hear Conrad Schnitzler’s vast audio archive. The thing that struck him, was the sheer scale. Vast was an understatement. That was no surprise. This had been four decades work for Conrad Schnitzler. As he took in and explored the audio archive, Jens Strüver came up with the Con-Struct concept.

Soon, Jens Strüver’s was explaining his idea to Conrad Schnitzler. What Jens Strüver envisaged, was electronic musicians using the material from Conrad Schnitzler’s audio archive and constructing new material from it. The result would be new tracks, not remixes. Having explained the idea to Conrad Schnitzler, Jens Strüver awaited his response. When it came, the answer was yes. The Con-Struct series had been born.

For the first instalment in the Con-struct series, Jens Strüver teamed up with Christian Borngräbe. The two producers collaborated on eight new pieces of music that became Con-struct. 

When Con-struct was released, it was billed as a collaboration between Conrad Schnitzler and Borngräber and Strüver. It was released on M=minimal label on the 1st of August 2011. Three days later, tragedy struck. 

On August the 4th 2011, Conrad Schnitzler passed away,aged  was seventy-four. He had been suffering from stomach cancer. German music had lost a true musical pioneer, who had influenced and inspired several generations of musicians. 

This included the two men who had worked so hard on the first instalment in the Con-struct series, Jens Strüver and Christian Borngräbe. Just like many other musicians, they had been inspired by Conrad Schnitzler. So would future generations of musicians. Conrad Schnitzler had left behind a rich musical legacy.

Part of that musical legacy was Conrad Schnitzler’s vast audio archive. After the death of the man who had cultivated and curated the archive over four decades, Jens Strüver must have wondered what the future held for the Con-Struct series? 

Everything eventually became clear. Jens Strüver’s Con-Struct series would continue. Further instalments in the series were released with Conrad Schnitzler credited posthumously. Now that future was clear, work could begin on the second instalment in the series.

This time, it was Andreas Reihse that Jens Strüver brought onboard to work on the second instalment in the Con-Strut series. Once Andreas Reihse had completed eight new tracks, the M=minimal label scheduled the release for later in 2012. That was when the second volume in the Con-Struct series was released by Conrad Schnitzler and Andreas Reihse. Despite the critical acclaim that accompanied the release of Con-Struct, it would be three years before the series returned.

When it did, the Con-Struct series had a new home, the Hamburg based Bureau B label. Although the series had a new home, Jens Strüver was still the coordinator of the series. This time, he had brought onboard Kurt Dahlke, a.k.a. Pyrolator for the third instalment in the Con-Struct series. 

Just like the artist who had previously worked on the Con-Struct series, Jens Strüver guided Pyrolator through Conrad Schnitzler’s musical archive. Jens Strüver was the only man who had sorted through and listened to every piece of music. He had become the musical equivalent of tour guide, curator and historian. With his guidance, Pyrolator found the material for twelve new tracks. They were released later in 2015 as the third instalment in the Con-Struct series. The collaboration between Conrad Schnitzler and Pyrolator won over critics and cultural commentators. This was a good way to start this new chapter in the Con-Struct series.

It continued in late 2016, when Bureau B released the latest instalment in the Con-Struct series. This F time, it’s a collaboration between Conrad Schnitzler and Schneider TM. He’s a veteran of the German music scene.

Schneider TM’s career began in the late eighties. Back then, he was still Dirk Dresselhaus. He began playing and singing in indie, noise rock and pop bands in 1989. This included Locust Fudge and Hip Young Things. However, in 1997, Dirk Dresselhaus changed direction musically.

That was when Dirk Dresselhaus began to focus on electronic music. It was also when Schneider TM was born. This was the start of Schneider TM’s twenty year journey. 

Two years later in 1999, Schneider TM were supporting Pan Sonic on their European tour. When the tour arrived in Berlin, 

Ilpo Väisänen met Dirk Dresselhaus. Soon, the pair became friends and formed Angel. Since then, Angel have recorded five albums and collaborated on two other albums. Angel’s most recent album was Terra Null, which was released in 2014. However, each year, Ilpo Väisänen met Dirk Dresselhaus play in Berlin as Angel. It’s a celebration of when they first met nearly eighteen years ago.

Two years later, and Schneider TM was working on the latest instalment of the Con-Struct series. Seven tracks were recorded and mixed in Berlin between May and July 2016. They would become the fourth instalment in the Con-Struct series. It was released four months later, by Bureau B with Conrad Schnitzler and Schneider TM receiving equal billing. The musical archive that Conrad Schnitzler had curated for four decades had inspired a new album of music five years after his death. Even in death, Conrad Schnitzler was capable of playing his part in ambitious and innovative music.

Schneider TM explained how the project took shape. There was: “Conrad playing his pre-recorded sound-files or modular system and me dubbing and processing it live on the fly… almost as if it was a live-concert situation.” To do this, Schneider TM would make use of the latest musical technology. A DAW like Ableton Live Suite 9 and launchpads would allow to record his parts: “on the fly.” The result was the seven soundscapes that featured on Con-Struct.

Doozer opens Con-Struct. Urgent beeps and squeaks pulsate, as a myriad of crackling, metallic, cheeping sound are fired off. This brings to mind a retro computer game or a pinball machine. Other times, there’s a robotic sound. Midway through the soundscape, it’s stripped bare, and is then reconstructed.  Suddenly, the urgency returns and an array of futuristic, crackling and  metallic sounds flit in and out. Later, all that remains of the arrangement are a buzzes and beeps. They quickly give way to the next soundscape.

This is Dabb, where a rumbling sound resonates, reverberating in the distance. They take on a dubby, industrial sound. Soon, synths are added, to the myriad of buzzes, beeps, squeaks and crackles. There’s even a free jazz sound to this fusion of avant-garde, industrial and musique concrète. Washes of music surge, assail and surround the listener. Always they captivate and stimulate the imagination as they provide the soundtrack to a film that’s yet to be made.

Straight away, it sounds as if samples are being played backwards on Wollwachsalkohol. There’s also a sample of pizzicato strings in amongst the dark, lumbering soundscape. Grinding, squeaking and squealing sounds are added. They add an otherworldly sound. Still, the pizzicato strings are omnipresent and provide a contrast. However, the dark, lumbering, otherworldly and cinematic sound remains. Wollwachsalkohol sounds as if it belongs on the soundtrack to a 21st Century sci-fi or horror film.

A pitter, patter sound opens the minimalist sounding Parabelflug. It sounds as if water is dripping. Gradually, this quickens before an array of sounds are added. This includes percussion, ethereal harmonies and strings. Atop sits a myriad of vibrating, scratching and mesmeric sounds. Meanwhile, the backdrop veers between elegiac, thanks to the washes of ethereal harmonies, to eerie, chilling and cinematic. Later, beeps, squeaks, scratches and metallic sounds are added. They overpower the rest of the arrangement. Soon, only the pitter, patter and dripping sound remains. This bookends perfectly a truly compelling soundscape that’s full of subtleties and surprises. Its success is down to two me, Conrad Schnitzler and Schneider TM. Their contributions may be very different, but both play an equal part in the sound and success of the track

There’s an urgency as the mesmeric, robotic Inspektion, as it bursts into life. Drums and steel pans are joined by a grinding sound. This adds to the mesmeric, machinelike sound. Soon, it’s joined by an array of beeps and squeaks. Futuristic and cracking sounds join what sounds like an alternative orchestra. Especially when joined by lumbering drones and what sounds like robotic chatter. They’re part of a melodic, cinematic and later futuristic, sci-fi soundscape. Especially, when later, futuristic sounds dominate the soundscape, adding to the otherworldly sound.

As Wie geht die unfolds, Conrad Schnitzler and Schneider TM’s alternative orchestra provide an eerie and chilling soundtrack. It creeps and lumbers slowly along, its droning, ghostly and cinematic sound proving unsettling and chilling. 

Wurmloch closes the fourth instalment in the Con-Struct series. It’s a twenty-three minute epic. As the soundscape unfolds, it showcases a minimalist sound. Washes of synths join what sounds like gusts of wind and droning strings. Again, there’s eeriness to the soundscape. Especially as it sounds like something has landed. Washes of airy, bubbling, ethereal and droning synths are added. Then midway through the track, it returns to its earlier minimalist sound. Before long, Schneider TM begins ti reconstruct the track. Somethings sweeps down, hovers and takes off again. Adding to the eerie, cinematic sound are drones and dripping sounds. Later, a reverberating sound can be heard, as hovering, droning sounds reappear. So do sweeping strings, drones and celestial harmonies. Sometimes, they drift in and out, making the briefest of appearance. Other times, they play a starring role as the arrangement builds and an element of drama is added to this cinematic Magnus Opus. Conrad Schnitzler and Schneider TM it seme, have kept the best until last.

Just over five years after the death of Conrad Schnitzler, the fourth instalment in the Con-Struct series was released. This time, it was a collaboration between Conrad Schnitzler and Schneider TM. As collaborations go, it’s truly compelling and captivating. Another word that springs to mind is cinematic. 

Each of the seven soundscapes on Con-Struct have a cinematic sound that’s sure to set the listener’s imagination racing. Sometimes, the music is minimalist and understated, while other times, it’s elegiac and ethereal or eerie and chilling. Then the next track can be futuristic with a myriad of otherworldly, sci-fi sounds. Just like the other Conrad Schnitzler that Bureau B released during 2016, Con-Struct sounds as it’s Musik For Films. 

The sounds that Conrad Schnitzler collected and curated in his musical archive have been put to good use during the Con-Struct series. Especially, in the latest instalment in the Con-struct series, where Schneider TM dips into Conrad Schnitzler archives in search of sounds and inspiration. He found plenty of both. These sounds Conrad Schnitzler collected and curated over four decades. Schneider TM puts them to good use, in his collaboration with Conrad Schnitzler, as they construct the fourth and best instalment of the Con-Struct series,

CONRAD SCHNITZLER/SCHNEIDER TM-CON-STRUCT.

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