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CD Feature/ Steve Schroyder: "Klänge Bilder Welten"

img  Tobias

It is remarkable how Steve Schroyder has managed to reinvent himself over the years. In the early 70s, he was the so-called “freak” of Tangerine Dream, playing on their seminal “Apha Centauri” and “Zeit” albums, before joining Ash Ra Tempel and Tim Leary on“7 Up”. After that phase of heavy experimentation, he reverted to building organs and playing New Age music until the 1990s, when he turned into a figurehead of the acid and trance-scene – quite a change of mind for a musician, who at first laughed at the unmusical structures of the budding techno scene. This monumental re-release marks the phase just before he embarked on his journey into pounding four the floor beats and frenzied bass lines – and makes you realize that his back catalogue is very much ripe for discovery.

“Klänge Bilder Welten” is a document of good spirits, of decampment and of gladly returning to ones roots, while facing up to the new. At its core lies the theory of the cosmic octave, which Schroyder’s newly found friend Hans Cousto had familiarised him with and which is far from being as esoteric as its name suggests. Shortly put, Cousto has found a scientific way of translating the sound-qualities inherent to everything around us (even though they may be inaudible to the human ear) into the perceivable part of the spectrum – and of assigning them compositional value. Consequently, Schroyder is using the harmonic relationships as layed out by Cousto on the different pieces of the album, just like he used the architecural relations within the Cheop’s pyramid on “Sun”. If you’re interested, you can read all about it in the extensive liner notes of the booklet, which assigns a full page to each “scale”, as well as indicating the frequency of the tonic keynote (something which Steve would continue to do in his trance phase). If you’re not, you can just listen to the music, which is as diverse as you’d expect from a concept album about different moods stretching over two CDs and about 100 minutes. Each disc is split into a couple of shorter pieces and a lengthy one, with the twenty-three minute “Tide of Seasons” taking the cake. Apart from being the longest work, it is also the prize piece of the entire collection: Deep swelling bass vibrations in c flat fold in and out, increasing in depth and expanding beyond the space assigned to them by the speakers, touching the outer limits, then leading into an open middle section with airy flute breaths, before returning to the recumbent meditative slumber. The other material is more tangible and energetic, with Schroyder building glistening melodic arches over pulsating sequencer and drum patterns. The music is always to the point, but it does have time and space for a relaxed development, even in the more scatterbrained segments. Caught in between two important phases of his career, “Klänge Bilder Welten” catches Schroyder still enjoying the dreamy harmonies of his New Age period, the cosmic experiments of his early years as well as the driving drum beats of rock. Alltogether, it makes for a stimulating and individual sound, which bulges out in all directions and does not want to be contained.

Nor did Schroyder, who, shortly after, discovered the direct physical impact his music could have. With the continually progressing republications of his earlier albums, his interest to return to this style might be ignited. If he could manage to combine the experiences of his techno phase with his compositional skills, it’d definitely be something to look forward to.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Steve Schroyder
Homepage: Planetware Records

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