KLAUS SCHULZE-THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOOG YEARS.
Klaus Schulze-The Dark Side Of The Moog Years.
By 1994, Berlin School pioneer Klaus Schulze was a veteran of German music and had been making music for twenty-five years. His recording career began back in October 1969, when Klaus Schulze played on Tangerine Dream’s debut album Electronic Meditation.
Eight months later, Electronic Meditation was released by Ohr Records, in June 1970. It was an ambitious album of groundbreaking and genre-melting music that would later be regarded as Berlin School classic. Despite this, Electronic Meditation initially failed to find an audience. For Tangerine Dream this was a huge disappointment. Despite this, rhe group continued albeit without Klaus Schulze.
He left Tangerine Dream to cofound Ash Ra Temple with Hartmut Enke and Manuel Göttsching. The new group recorded their debut album on 11th March 1971. Three months later and Ash Ra Temple was released by Ohr Records in June 1971. It was an innovative fusion of progressive rock and ambient music that later, would be regarded as a Krautrock classic. However, when Ash Ra Temple was released it failed commercially. This resulted in Klaus Schulze embarking upon a solo career.
Just over a year later, in August 1972, Klaus Schulze released his debut album Irrlicht. Although it was a groundbreaking album, Irrlicht failed to find the audience it deserved. Irrlicht was ahead of its time and nowadays regarded as a Berlin School classic. So is the followup Cyborg, which was released in October 1973.
It was a familiar story when Cyborg was released. It was another album that was way ahead of its time and record buyers failed to understand the music or recognise its importance. Nowadays, it’s regarded as an that helped shape and define the Berlin School of electronic music.
Although Klaus Schulze’s first two solo albums had failed to find an audience he continued to release pioneering music. Gradually, Klaus Schulze’s music began to find a much wider and appreciative audience. That was the case throughout the rest of the seventies, eighties and right up until the early nineties. By then, Klaus Schulze was one of the most prolific German artists.
That had been the case throughout Klaus Schulze’s career. He often released two and sometimes three albums in a year. Then there were a myriad of collaborations and the albums Klaus Schulze released under his Richard Wahnfried moniker. However, one of the most productive years of Klaus Schulze’s career was 1993.
During 1993, Klaus Schulze released the live album The Dome Event and Silver Edition, a ten disc box set. Surely, this meant that Klaus Schulze was one of the most prolific European recording artists?
Despite his prolificacy, Klaus Schulze wasn’t about to rest on his laurels as 1994 dawned. He was already working on two solo album, two live albums, the Richard Wahnfried album Trancelation and was about to release a new collaboration with Pete Namlook, Dark Side Of The Moog.
Little did Klaus Schulze realise that the Dark Side Of The Moog project he was working on would become a long running and successful series. Eleven volumes of the Dark Side Of The Moog series were released between 1994 and 2008.
Initially, Klaus Schulze was reluctant to collaborate with Peter Kuhlmann a.k.a. Pete Namlook when he first approached him about potentially working on a project. Back then, Klaus Schulze was constantly busy working on a variety of projects. He had embraced both digital technology and sampling and since then, had been putting the new technology to good use. This had resulted in albums like Beyond Recall; The Royal Festival Hall Recordings and The Dome Event. Digital technology and sampling had opened up a new world of opportunities for Klaus Schulze, and he was keen to utilise this on further projects.
Most likely this would be solo albums but could be a collaboration with another artist. It would have to be the right artists though. Klaus Schulze wasn’t sure that Pete Namlook was the right person for him to collaborate with.
That was despite Klaus Schulze being aware of Pete Namlook’s music and the Fax +49-69/450464 record label he founded in 1992. Pete Namlook regarded the label as a vehicle to release: his own recordings; his collaborations with other musicians and albums by like-minded musicians. Since its formation in 1992, Fax quickly established a reputation for releasing ambitious and inventive music. This included some of the music Pete Namlook had released.
Over the years, Pete Namlook released music using a myriad of aliases. This included Air, who would release the sophomore album Air II in 1994. It featured Travelling Without Moving which featured eleven trips. Pete Namlook took the album to let Klaus Schulze hear. When he heard the spacey sound of Travelling Without Moving, he was won over by Pete Namlook’s music. So much so, that Klaus Schulze suggested that he and Pete Namlook collaborate on a project. That project would become The Dark Side Of The Moog.
The Dark Side Of The Moog Volumes 1-4.
Part 1-Wish You Were There.
Now that the Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook had agreed to collaborate on a project, they began working on what would be the as yet unnamed project’s debut album.
In later years, as musical technology improved, the men would exchange ideas for tracks via email. However, for what would be their debut album the men headed to the studio in September 1993. The two me wrote and recorded a total of ten tracks where laus Schulze and Pete Namlook put the latest in musical technology to good use. The result was a captivating album from the two musical pioneers.
The ten tracks which veered between understated, atmospheric and dreamy to pulsating, anthemic and dance-floor friendly. To create these tracks, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook had created elements of ambient, avant-garde, electronica and techno With the album complete, now Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook had to think of a name for their new musical vehicle.
After some thought, they came up with Dark Side Of The Moog. This wasn’t a homage to Pink Floyd. Instead, it was a reference to the man who invented an instrument that played an important part on Dark Side Of The Moog, Bob Moog. He had the Moog synths. However, Pink Floyd would provide some inspiration for Dark Side Of The Moog.
With the album complete, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook began trying to think of a title for the ten tracks. The two men were struggling. It was a problem that Klaus Schulze had encountered before. This was solved when they hit on the idea of picking a Pink Floyd title and changing it to something that didn’t exist. So Pink Floyd’s classic album Wish You Were Here became Wish You Were There. This became a tradition after recording each volume of Dark Side Of The Moog.
The first instalment in the Dark Side Of The Moog series was released by the Fax label on 17th October 1994. It was a limited edition of just 1,000 CDs. So successful was the album, that it was reissued in 1995. By then, Volume 2 had been released.
Part 2-A Saucerful Of Ambience.
Just a month after recording the first volume in the Dark Side Of The Moog series, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook returned to Sonic Studio in October 1993. They recorded twelve tracks that would become A Saucerful Of Ambience.
Just like Wish You Were There, the music on A Saucerful Of Ambience started off with an understated, atmospheric and ambient sound. Sometimes, there’s a lysergic sound to the spacious soundscapes. This is a result of ambient, avant-garde and electronica are being combined However, by A Saucerful of Ambience, Pt. 8 the mesmeric drumbeats have made an appearance and the music changes. Soon, it takes on a pumping, pulsating sound as techno makes an appearance on A Saucerful of Ambience, Pt. 9. This is only briefly. By A Saucerful of Ambience, Pt. 10 takes on a ruminative, pastoral and wistful sound, and this continues throughout the rest of A Saucerful Of Ambience.
A mere five months after the release of The Dark Side Of The Moog, The Dark Side Of The Moog II was released by Fax on 20th March 1995. Again, it was initially a limited edition of 1,000 CDs. However, four months later The Dark Side Of The Moog II would be released by the Ambient World label.
By then, the first instalment was a favourite among DJs who were playing chill out sets. This introduced Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook’s music to a wider audience, They would embrace The Dark Side Of The Moog II, which find its way into many a DJs’ box. So it was no surprise that a third volume in the The Dark Side Of The Moog was in the pipeline.
Part 3-Atom Heart Brother Part I-VI.
Following the success of the first two volumes of The Dark Side Of The Moog, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook returned to Sonic Studio, in Frankfurt in 1995. They wrote and recorded six further soundscapes. Drawing inspiration from Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother, they became Atom Heart Brother Part I-VI.
Later in 1995, the six tracks were released as The Dark Side Of The Moog III. Record buyers discovered that Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook had continued to reinvent their sound. While there were still elements of ambient, avant-garde and electronica, there was a move towards first abstract and then trance. This was a first. However, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook were determined that their music would never become predictable. Instead, it was a case of expect the unexpected as the Dark Side Of The Moog series continued.
Part 4-Three Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn.
What very few people expected was that Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook would bring onboard a third musician to work on the Dark Side Of The Moog series. That was what they did.
The man in question was American bassist, songwriter and producer Bill Laswell. He was another prolific artist, who had worked on literally, hundreds of recordings with musicians from all over the globe. Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook were the latest musicians he was about work with.
Bringing onboard Bill Laswell resulted in a change in the way the album was made. This time, the recording sessions took place three studios in two countries. Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook recorded their parts at Klanglabor Frankfurt, Moldau Musik Studio, Hamburg. Meanwhile, Bill Laswell recorded his parts at Greenpoint Studio in Brooklyn. Gradually, the nine parts in the Three Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn suite.
While Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook usually wrote every part of a suite, this time around, they only wrote four tracks. Bill Laswell contributed 1.1-13, 1.5 and 1.8. However, as usual, Pete Namlook took charge of producing what was a quite different album.
The nine parts of the Three Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn suite was a fusion of ambient, electronica, modern classical and techno. Just like previous instalments in the series, the music continued to evolve. It was an album that DJs would embrace and that would stand the test of time.
As 1996 dawned, The Dark Side Of The Moog IV was released by Fax on 12th February 1996 as a limited edition. Soon, The Dark Side Of The Moog IV had sold out. Four months later, The Dark Side Of The Moog IV released on CD by Ambient World on 10th June 1996. It continued the success story that was The Dark Side Of The Moog.
This was somewhat ironic, given Klaus Schulze’s reluctance to collaborate with Pete Namlook. Two years later, their project was enjoying critical and commercial success. Part of the success of The Dark Side Of The Moog series was how the music continued to evolve. The result was music that’s stood the test of time and gives the listener a taste of what’s to come in The Dark Side Of The Moog series.
The Dark Side Of The Moog Volumes 5-9
Part 5-Psychedelic Brunch.
Following the success of the reissue of The Dark Side Of The Moog Volumes 1-4 box set, MIG released The Dark Side Of The Moog Volumes 5-8. It continued a story that began in 1994. However, work on the sixth instalment in The Dark Side Of The Moog began later in 1996.
Just like The Dark Side Of The Moog Volumes 5, the recording sessions took place three studios, Klanglabor Frankfurt, Moldau Musik Studio, Hamburg and Greenpoint Studio in Brooklyn. Gradually, the eight parts in the Psychedelic Brunch suite. Six of them were penned by Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook. The exceptions were 1.3 and 1.7 which were written by Bill Laswell. He continued to make an important contribution to Dark Side Of The Moog series. So did the man who had inspired the name.
Having introduced the album, Bob Moog’s spoken vocal featured on 1.2. He played his part on what was another eclectic album. Everything from ambient, abstract and avant-garde rubbed shoulders with elements of the Berlin School, electronica, modern classical. It was a captivating combination and one of the finest instalments in the series.
The Dark Side Of The Moog V was released by Fax on the 9th of December 1996. It was now a much-anticipated series, that was a favourite of chill out DJs and record buyers. This would continue to be the case throughout The Dark Side Of The Moog series.
Part 6-The Final DAT.
Buyoed by the continuing success of The Dark Side Of The Moog series, the three members of The Dark Side Of The Moog began work on the next instalment in the series.
By then, technology had progressed sufficiently that Klaus Schulze, Pete Namlook and Bill Laswell were able to email each other parts that of tracks that they had been working on. No longer did each member of The Dark Side Of The Moog have to be in the same studio. They didn’t even have to be in the same country. Instead, the three members of The Dark Side Of The Moog used the same three studios as before.
Recording took place at Klanglabor Frankfurt, Moldau Musik Studio, Hamburg and Greenpoint Studio in Brooklyn. That was where The Final DAT was recorded. It was a six part genre-melting suite, Bill Laswell wrote Part I and Part IV. Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook wrote the rest of The Dark Side Of The Moog VI. As usual, it was produced by and was ready for release in autumn 1997.
On The Dark Side Of The Moog VI, elements of abstract ambient and avant-garde were combined Berlin School, electronica and trance. It was a captivating, imaginative and cinematic and genre-melting album. The music was understated, beautiful, ethereal and mesmeric as it took the listener on a musical journey. Just like previous volumes in the series, the music had a timeless quality. The three members of The Dark Side Of The Moog had surpassed their previous efforts.
It was no surprise that when the The Dark Side Of The Moog VI was released by Fax as a limited edition of 2,000 on the 29th of September 1997, that the album sold out. DJs and record buyers went in search of what was one of the most sought after releases. Incredibly, considering the success of the album and indeed the series, The Dark Side Of The Moog VI wasn’t rereleased until 2003. By then, three further instalments The Dark Side Of The Moog would’ve been released.
Part 7-Obscured By Klaus.
The first of this trio of releases was The Dark Side Of The Moog VII. It was a fifty minute, seven part suite entitled Obscured By Klaus. This time though, Bill Laswell wrote just Part 3 of the suite and recorded his parts in New York during the first half of 1998.
Meanwhile, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook recorded their part at Klanglabor in Frankfurt, Moldau Musik Studio, Hamburg and at Traben-Trarbach. During the recording sessions, the three members of The Dark Side Of The Moog emailed each other their parts. Gradually, the album came together and eventually, Obscured By Klaus was ready for release.
Obscured By Klaus was much more like the first three albums in The Dark Side Of The Moog series. Much of the album had an ambient sound, with the music veering between dreamy, ethereal and ruminative and understated. Later, the tempo increases as a pulsating bass synth plays a leading role as ambient and electronica meet techno. Soon, though, the ambient sound returns as The Dark Side Of The Moog revisit and reinvent their earlier elegiac sound. There’s even elements of modern classical music to what was The Dark Side Of The Moog’s finest hours.
The Dark Side Of The Moog VII was released on 23rd November 1998 by Fax. This time, Fax had released an extra 1,000 copies of the album making it a limited edition of 3,000. Still though, supply outstripped demand as DJs and record buyers sought copies of The Dark Side Of The Moog VII, which was Bill Laswell’s swan-song.
After recording four volumes in The Dark Side Of The Moog series, Bill Laswell decided to concentrate his efforts on other musical projects. This meant that The Dark Side Of The Moog returned to a due on The Dark Side Of The Moog VIII.
Part 8-Careful With The AKS, Peter.
After releasing four albums as a trio, The Dark Side Of The Moog returned to a duo for the The Dark Side Of The Moog VIII. It featured an eight part suite Careful With The AKS, Peter. This was a very different recording.
Unlike the previous Dark Side Of The Moog albums, the eight part suite Careful With The AKS, Peter wasn’t recorded in the studio. Instead, it was recorded live at the 23rd Jazz Festival Hamburg on 23rd April 1999. After the recording, Pete Namlook who had produced The Dark Side Of The Moog series, edited some parts of the recording. Only then was The Dark Side Of The Moog VII ready for release.
Later in 1999, Fax released The Dark Side Of The Moog VIII. It featured a performance that lasted nearly seventy-seven minutes. During that performance, The Dark Side Of The Moog switched between and combined elements of ambient with electronica and experimental with dub and drum ’n’ bass. The Dark Side Of The Moog VIII was an ambitious album. Especially since it had been recorded live. Despite using a myriad of complex equipment that could be temperamental when used live it was an almost flawless album and The Dark Side Of The Moog VIII was a success critically and commercially.
After eight volumes of The Dark Side Of The Moog series, it was still going strong. Partly, that was because Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook constantly sought to reinvent their music. This was something they would continue to do during future volumes in the series.
The Dark Side Of The Moog Volumes 9-11.
Part 9-Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Mother.
Three years passed before Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook returned with the ninth instalment in the The Dark Side Of The Moog series. This was the longest gap between albums. However, The Dark Side Of The Moog returned in 2002, with Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Mother, a six part suite.
It had been written and recorded at Pete Namlook’s Klanglabor Hödeshof studio during early 2002. Later that year, The Dark Side Of The Moog IX was released by Fax on 10th May 2002. Again, the album was a limited edition of 3,000. Just like previous albums, it was a popular album amongst DJs and record buyers.
They were won over by The Dark Side Of The Moog IX’s genre-melting sound. Elements of ambient music and avant-garde were combined with electronica and experimental music. The music ebbs and flows as subtleties and surprises unfold. Mostly, though, the six part suite glides effortlessly along showcasing an understated, dreamy, ethereal and melancholy sound. Just like previous albums, The Dark Side Of The Moog IX has a truly timeless sound. Despite three years away, The Dark Side Of The Moog’s music was still relevant.
Part 10-Astro Know Me Domina.
Following the success of The Dark Side Of The Moog IX, nothing was heard of group until 2005. During that period, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook were both busy on other projects. Eventually, they found time to record an album in early 2005.
This became The Dark Side Of The Moog X, which featured Astro Know Me Domina, a six part suite lasting fifty minutes. It had been written and recorded at Pete Namlook’s studio Klanglabor Hödeshof. Once The Dark Side Of The Moog X was completed, it was released in spring of 2005.
The Dark Side Of The Moog X was released as a limited edition by Fax on 15th March 2005. This time, only 2,000 copies of were released of an album which took ambient music as its starting point. Elements of Berlin School and electronica are added to the mix as an album of atmospheric soundscapes begins to unfold. They’re variously dark, dreamy, elegiac, melancholy moody and ruminative. Sometimes, a pulsating bass synth is added, as the tempo rises slightly. Mostly though, it’s a ambient describes The Dark Side Of The Moog X. It marked the welcome return of what this long running collaboration. Sadly, it was almost at an end.
Part 11-Astro Know Me Domina.
Another three years passed before The Dark Side Of The Moog XI was released. It featured a seven part musical suite, The Heart Of Our Nearest Star. Just like previous albums, it had been written and recorded at Pete Namllok’s Klanglabor Hödeshof studio during early 2008.
In the spring of 2008, The Dark Side Of The Moog XI was released by Fax on 15th April 2008. Again, the album was a limited edition of 2,000. However, this time, the album was a double album. This wasn’t because the music wouldn’t fit on one album. Instead, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook wanted The Dark Side Of The Moog XI to release both stereo and surround sound versions of this album.
It’s another genre-melting album where lements of abstract and ambient music combine with avant-garde, Berlin School and electronica as The Dark Side Of The Moog take the listener on their final journey.
For part of the journey drums provide the heartbeat and add a hypnotic backdrop. Meanwhile, the music veers between atmospheric to futuristic and dark and mesmeric. Later a glistening ambient sound begins to unfold. It’s variously dreamy, elegiac, thoughtful and wistful as the arrangement glides along; Later, the earlier sound returns before The Dark Side Of The Moog take their bow.
The Dark Side Of The Moog XI proved to be the final instalment in what had been a long-running and successful series. Four years later Pete Namlook passed away four years on 8th November 2012. That day, German music lost a true pioneer.
Proof of that are the eleven instalments in The Dark Side Of The Moog series. These eleven albums were released over a fourteen year period. During that period, the music on The Dark Side Of The Moog continued to evolve and ensured that music stayed relevant. That had been the case since the first instalment in the series.
That is no surprise. The Dark Side Of The Moog featured two musical pioneers, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook. For three albums, they were joined by Bill Laswell, Mostly, though, The Dark Side Of The Moog series was the brainchild of two pioneering musicians, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook.
They recorded eleven genre-melting albums over a fourteen year period. Each of these albums have stood the test of time. That is because constantly, Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook reinvented their music. While ambient music was usually the starting point, different ingredients were used throughout the series. This ranged from abstract and avant-garde to Berlin, electronica and experimental music. Other times, elements of drum ’n’ bass, psychedelia, rock and techno were added combined by Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook as they continued to push musical boundaries, The result was music that’s not only innovative, but influential and truly timeless.
That’s despite the first volume in The Dark Side Of The Moog being released back in 1994. However, the music has stood the test of time. Twenty-six years later and it sounds as if it could’ve been released yesterday. It’s a similar case with the music on each of the eleven volumes of Dark Side Of The Moog.
These timeless albums feature genre-melting music that is ambitious, innovative and even today, continues to influence a new generation of electronic musicians. That’s no surprise as Klaus Schulze is one of the giants of German music and has spent a lifetime creating groundbreaking music. So did his collaborator on the Dark Side Of The Moog series Pete Namlook. Sadly, he passed away in 2012 aged just fifty-one. However, the eleven critically acclaimed volumes of Dark Side Of The Moog are part of his musical legacy and a reminder of his long-running and successful partnership with the prolific musical pioneer Klaus Schulze.
Klaus Schulze-The Dark Side Of The Moog Years.