Conrad Schnitzler - Kollektion 05: Compiled by Thomas Fehlmann - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Conrad Schnitzler - Kollektion 05: Compiled by Thomas Fehlmann

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2015-08-03

Conrad Schnitzler died in 2011. An early member of Tangerine Dream and a founder of the band Kluster (which later morphed into Cluster), Schnitzler was a forefather to generations of ‘electronic’ musicians for whom experimentalism represented freedom, not commercial suicide. Musicians such as Brian Eno, Throbbing Gristle, David Bowie, Kraftwerk and Neu! were captivated by Schnitzler’s macroscopic vision of music as an artform. In 1968, Schnitzler and others, Hans-Joachim Roedelius among them, established the Zodiac Club, a project aimed at a multidisciplinary approach to music and other artforms, and which eventually became a huge influence on the krautrock scene.

Thomas Fehlmann, who curated Kollektion 5, came to Hamburg in 1976 with the intention of studying fine arts at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK) and attended a lecture given by Conrad Schnitzler demonstrating to the students how the “extended definition of art” established by Joseph Beuys could be applied to music. This was a watershed moment for Fehlman in his decision to choose music as his primary artform.

Kollektion 5 compiles music from a discrete period of Schnitzler’s life from the early 1980s known as the CON series of works. Kollektion 5 is not held out as a broad overview of Schnitzler’s work, or as a ‘mix’. Fehlmann seamlessly arranged the tracks into a unified whole, maintaining the integrity and flow of the original tracks. It shows because the tracks on Kollektion 5, never before heard in this sequence, follow a logical course, rather than being an exercise in discrepant free association. Not always easy listening, Schnitzler’s apparent sense of humour and playfulness brings relief to what otherwise might become a cold plate of electronic souffle.    

Another feature of Schnitzler’s ‘art’ is that is courses through many arteries of musical form, from ambient, to industrial, to minimalist techno. The meditative passages in ‘Contempora 11’ and ‘Contempora 9’ have that cross speaker swooshing effect, and metronomic repetition, the only comparison coming to mind being Pink Floyd’s ‘Time’. The minimalist teutonic monologue ‘Tanze in Regem’ is precursor (or at least kin) to Kraftwerk’s ‘Robots’ or ‘Autobahn’, and makes dancing in the rain seem more Tai Chi than dervish. 

‘Con 3.3’, famously issued as a limited release of one, which was retained by Schnitzler, is presented here as a percussive doorstop, before Kollektion 5 is flung open to the krautrock rhythms of ‘Conrad and Sohn 02’ with its contorted sounds and muffled vocals, sci-fi bleeps and sounds of shooting stars across universes, all cleverly subsumed within a solid motorik framework. On ‘Das Tier’ the clubby beats remind of the band, Yello but with tongue planted more firmly in cheek. Such humour is also cast in juxtapose on ‘Copocabana’ where tropicalia meets electronic minimalism.

A focussed snapshot in the history of electronic music. 

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