Conrad Schnitzler-Filmmusik 2.

On August the ‘4th’ 2011, German music was in mourning. The country had lost one of it’s most important and influential figures in modern music, Conrad Schnitzler. He had played a hugely important role in the development of German music over six decades. 

At the start of his career, Conrad Schnitzler had been a member of Tangerine Dream and then Kluster. However, in 1973 Conrad Schnitzler embarked upon a solo career. 

Over the next five decades, Conrad Schnitzler was a prolific recording artist. Each of his master tapes were stored in his own personal archive. By the time of Conrad Schnitzler’s death in 2011, his vast, sprawling archives featured the master tapes to several hundred recordings. The job of organising the master tapes fell to Conrad Schnitzler’s former musical partner Wolfgang Seidel.

He was appointed guardian of Conrad Schnitzler’s archive. This is a important role, and one Wolfgang Seidel has dedicated himself to. He realised the importance of the music within Conrad Schnitzler’s archive. This includes everything from the master tapes to albums, to recordings of concerts that were only ever committed to cassette. Some of the master tapes and cassettes  Wolfgang Seidel discovered, only featured the one track. The archive was proving to be a treasure trove. Especially when Wolfgang Seidel discovered long lost, hidden treasure.

Tucked away in Conrad Schnitzler’s archive were two tapes which were mysteriously marked Filmmusik 1975 A and Filmmusik 1975B. Wolfgang Seidel dusted these down, and looked at them. However, there was no other information with the tapes. Conrad Schnitzler hadn’t noted down if the tracks were meant to accompany a film or video. The tapes were turning into a mystery.

So Wolfgang Seidel setup the tape machine and began to listen to the music that featured on Filmmusik 1975A and Filmmusik 1975B. In an instant, Wolfgang Seidel was transported back to 1975, and  was listening to his old friend Conrad Schnitzler at his most accessible. Wolfgang Seidel realised that this was an important find. 

As guardian of Conrad Schnitzler’s archive, Wolfgang Seidel set about finding a label to release the music on the two tapes. He decided to approach the Hamburg based label Bureau B, about releasing some of the music. When they heard the tapes they agreed to release a compilation of Conrad Schnitzler’s long-lost music. This became Filmmuzik 1, which was released to critical acclaim in October 2016. Just four months later, and Filmmuzik 2 was released by Bureau B.

By then, more was known about the two mysterious tapes. They were thought to have been recorded in 1975 and 1980. That proved not to be the case. All the tracks were actually recorded in 1975 and should’ve been labelled 1975A and 1975B. However, there was an error when the music was transferred from the master tapes to a data carrier. The second tape was erroneously labeled 1980B. This only came to light after the release of Filmmusik 1. So did the title of one of the tracks.

None of the songs on the two tapes had song titles. So they were given numbers. One of the tracks was given the title 02/1980, which after the error would’ve become 02/1975 B. However, it transpired that song was actually entitled Gute Fahrt. 

This became apparent after Jin Kawa, the curator of the official Conrad Schnitzler website got in contact with Bureau B. He began recounting what had happened back in 2009.

In 20009, Jin Kawa had been looking through some films and listening to music before uploading it to the official Conrad Schnitzler website. That was when he first discovered a track entitled Gute Fahrt. Jin Kawa got in contact with Conrad Schnitzler to ask there were any similar recordings? Conrad Schnitzler sent Jin Kawa the rest of the tapes. Since then, these tracks haven’t been released. 

It’s a similar case with the six tracks on Filmmusik 2. The first five tracks on Filmmusik 2 were recorded in 1975. However, the other track, Lichtpunkte Jin Kawa recognised a track Conrad Schnitzler had written for a film in 1978. It’s a twenty-three minute epic that closes Filmmusik 2.

05/1975 B opens Filmmusik 2. From the distance, pulsating, almost tribal drums enter and are joined by a futuristic buzzing, beeping synth. It soars high above the arrangement, while the drums provide the pounding heartbeat. Conrad toys with the modulator and adds filters to the synths. This transforms the dry sound. Later he applies filters to the drums, as an eerie, otherworldly synth meanders menacingly along. Still, the drums encircle the arrangement, providing a contrast in this moderne sounding soundscape that was way ahead of its time in 1975. Forty-two years later, and that is still the case in 2017.

Gradually, the cinematic arrangement to 05/1975 A starts to build. A drone joins with crisp drums and a futuristic, space age synth. It conjures up pictures of a spaceship arriving from a distant galaxy. Meanwhile, there’s an urgency to the drums, as they try to escape from the myriad of beeps and squeaks are emitted from the synths. This sounds like an otherworldly language. Later, the tempo rises, and it sounds as if spaceship is taking off. Still, the drums are determined to escape and head for safety. Eventually, the drums head into distance and disappears. However, have they made their escape on a soundscape that features Conrad Schnitzler at his cinematic best?

As 12/1975 A unfolds, futuristic, space-age synths join with a myriad of metallic percussive sounds. Beeps, squeaks, cheeps and chirps join mesmeric and otherworldly sound as the drama builds over two captivating minutes.

There’s an urgency to the stabs of synths that open 14/1975. They’re joined by a drone which adds to the dramatic, urgency and cinematic sound. Soon, a twisted synth meanders across the arrangement. It’s joined by a chugging synth, that sounds as if it’s trying to replicate a tugboat. The other part of the soundscape has an atmospheric and Eastern sound. When this drops out, the soundscape chugs along, before reaching its eventual destination.

A distant drone draws nearer, what sounds like a helicopter hovers above the arrangement. Meanwhile, a melody is picked out on a lo-fi, vintage synth, adding a ruminative, but elegiac sound. As it plays, the drone is joined by a chattering, industrial sound that encircles the soundscape. Still, the ethereal, thoughtful melody is played slowly and deliberately. This is a contrast to the urgency of rest of the soundscape. Later, the synth becomes hesitant, spacious and wistful. There’s a sense of sadness that may provides a clue to what’s happening in the rest of a soundscape, as it veers between industrial to otherworldly. Always, though, it’s compelling.  

Closing Filmmusik 2 is Lichtepunkte Und Schwarze Zeichen, a near twenty-four minute soundscape written in 1978. Straight away, there’s a sense of urgency as drums gallop along and are joined by washes of otherworldly synths. Filters transform the soundscape and it takes on a futuristic sound. It’s akin to a journey on a seventies space shuttle. Suddenly and worryingly, the tempo drops and all that remains are the drums. Gradually, the soundscape rebuilds, with a drone providing an ominous backdrop to the clattering drums. They reverberate, skip and become mesmeric. Eventually, they struggle free and at last, make progress on their journey. Soon, it’s nearing its destination,  on what’s a cinematic and dramatic Magnus Opus from the late, great Conrad Schnitzler.

Over the six soundscapes on Filmmuzik 2, Conrad Schnitzler combines a myriad of disparate influences.This ranges from ambient, avant-garde, Berlin School and Krautrock to drone music electronica, experimental and industrial music. Usually, several genres are combined to create just the one captivating and cinematic soundscape. 

To create these soundscapes, Conrad Schnitzler deployed an array of keyboards, synths, drum machines, sound effects and found sounds. They’re Conrad Schnitzler’s sonic palette, which he put to good use throughout his long and illustrious career. That was the case on the music that became Filmmuzik 1, and now, Filmmuzik 2. 

Each of the six soundscapes on Filmmuzik 2 have a cinematic sound. They’re guaranteed to set the listener’s imagination racing. Suddenly, the listener is conjuring up scenarios to fit the music. Some of the soundscapes have a futuristic sound, as Conrad Schnitzler combines space-age and sci-fi sounds. It’s as if these tracks are part of lost sci-fi soundtrack. That’s just part of the story of Filmmuzik 2.

Often there’s an element of drama, as the soundscapes becomes dark, eerie, moody, ominous and otherworldly. Sometimes, there’s a mesmeric or hypnotic quality, while other times, the music becomes ethereal, elegiac or melodic. Other times, it’sruminative, urgent and wistful. Always, Filmmuzik 2 captivates and compels with music that’s cinematic and always is timeless.

That’s despite five of the soundscapes being recorded in 1975, while Lichtepunkte Und Schwarze Zeichen was recorded in 1978.  However, each of the soundscapes on Filmmuzik 2 have stood the test of time, and just like those on Filmmuzik 1 remain relevant today. The soundscapes on Filmmuzik 2 are also among the most accessible music that Conrad Schnitzler recorded during a long and illustrious five decade solo career.

That’s why Filmmuzik 2, just like Filmmuzik 1, is the perfect starting place for newcomers to the music of Conrad Schnitzler. Both albums are a gateway to the rest of Conrad Schnitzler’s back-catalogue. The Filmmuzik compilations will be the first step on a voyage of discovery through the discography of one of the important and influential figures in German music, Conrad Schnitzler.

His is no ordinary back-catalogue. Conrad Schnitzler’s back-catalogue is vast. He was a truly prolific solo artist and collaborator whose personal archive contains hundreds of recordings. This was where the tapes that contained the unreleased soundscapes that became Filmmusik 1 and Filmmusik 2 were discovered. Filmmusik 1 and Filmmusik 2 are the newest additions to Conrad Schnitzler’s illustrious discography, and are a reminder of a true musical pioneer at his creative zenith.

 Conrad Schnitzler-Filmmusik 2.


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