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CD Feature/ Steve Schroyder: "Klänge des Lebens"

img  Tobias

If we mentioned Steve’s relation to Tangerine Dream in past features about his music, then it was only for referential purposes: Schroyder was involved in the earliest outings of the groundbreaking sequencer band and part of the legendary line-up which released the “Zeit” milestone way back in 1972, but his own output has by now attained a status of its own, albeit in different scenes and on a different scale. This has become even clearer thanks to his direct involvement in the re-release of his entire backcatalogue, which has revealed a strong interest in genres and topics his former colleagues would not touch: Psychedelic Trance, Mysticism, New Age, Ambient, Drones and Rock. And then an album like “Klänge des Lebens” comes around and turns this impression upside down.

What Schroyder delivers on these four tracks spanning almost exactly an hour’s worth of music is the album fans of Tangerine Dream have been begging their heroes to release for years: All around the fifteen minute mark, the pieces are based on flowing grooves, warm synth washes, simple but deadly effective melodies and a lot of breathing space, allowing the listener’s own creativity to take over and fill in the gaps. Based on a different root tone, each work has a unique feel and mood of its own: From the charging enrgies of “Spin Red” and the chime chain pulsations of “Orange Moonshine” to the cool moonlit journey of “Blue Greens” and the enigmatic purity of “Pendulum and Bell”, the record floats through open caverns of continually changing ambiances. While there are no notes as to the equipment used on “Klänge des Lebens”, the organic and deep sonorities hint at a mix of contemporary synthesis with the good old vintage machines, which helped to manifest the composer’s fame. And yet, despite the ovious references, this is not just an easy retro-excercise. Much more than the sequencer patterns to be found on the mid-70s Tangerine Dream catalogue, Steve focusses on simple, mantra-like bass lines, sparse but haunting layers of cosmic effects, closely integrated concrete drum sounds, which always remain on a subliminal level, and gradual development of his themes. In fact, the only time he really allows the glowing and glistening sequencer runs in, he sounds more like some of the “intellegent” contemporary dance acts than the infamous “Berlin School”. And no matter how spacey “Orange Moonshine” may start off, it surely develops its own voice, with punctuated string pizzicatos and drum machine rolls lending a rougher edge to the action, before the music sinks into a hazy slumber in the final minutes. These subtle surprises turn the album into a work which suits itself equally to alert listening as to more ambient purposes or simply to allow your thoughts to drift and wander. Tangerine Dream may have been a conscious or unconscious starting point to “Klänge des Lebens”, but there is enough of Schroyder in every second of it to make one forget about these allusions.

So maybe it doesn’t turn the world upside down, but that doesn’t take anything away from the grand conclusion: Of all his releases which have found their way to my desc (and CD player, of course), this is the most cohesive, catchy, conclusive and concise one.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Steve Schroyder
Homepage: Planetware Records

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