The Winds of Time Can’t Erase This Klaus Schulze Opus

Jun 15th, 2015 | By | Category: Reviews, Turning Points

MI0001691877While Krautrock was more of a scene than a sound, one of the more dominant features of Krautrock is electronic experimentation. Nearly all the bands of this movement used electronic instruments: synthesizers, generators, effects, and other sorts of noise makers. The way each band used these sound generators varied greatly. Some used electronics to augment more traditional instruments by simply adding keyboards, mellotron, organs and synths to their songs. Others, still using traditional drums, guitars and bass, preferred to manipulate and process different electronic sounds and have those sounds drive the songs. And then there are those who used electronics exclusively to create their music. Klaus Schulze is one of the earlier pioneers of Krautrock to solely utilize electronics.

Klaus Schulze did not start out playing synthesizers, electronics, or even keyboards. Schulze was originally a drummer and guitarist. After playing in various cover bands, Schulze was invited by Edgar Froese to play percussion in his band, which would soon become Tangerine Dream. Schulze is featured on the band’s debut album Electronic Meditation. Soon after that album’s release, he left Tangerine Dream and formed Ash Ra Tempel. Schulze played percussion and some electronics on Ash Ra Tempel’s eponymous debut, but once again, left shortly thereafter to pursue a solo career.

Having struck out on his own, Schulze decided to abandon his drums and to work exclusively with electronics. By the time that Timewind was released, he had already recorded several albums utilizing electronic sound generators. Those previous albums all served as a learning curve and built up to the masterwork that is Timewind. At the time of its release in 1975, Timewind was one of many progressive electronic albums coming out of Germany. Kraftwerk had released Autobahn and Tangerine Dream Phaedra the year before. Both were important and influential works in German electronic music. Timewind perhaps was not as influential, but it is as strong as those albums and ought to be considered in the same light.

The album is made up of two songs: Side One’s “Bayreuth Return” clocks in at 30:32, while Side Two’s “Wahnfried 1883” runs 28:38. That makes a running time of 58:54 – nearly one hour of music, unheard of for a vinyl album at that time. “Bayreuth Return” opens with the sound of swirling winds shifting between channels. A sequenced bass pattern pulsates underneath the oscillating winds, providing movement as Schulze introduces a slight but simple melody. It ebbs and flows with a quiet majesty. There is a wistful and dreamy presence throughout the piece and it seeps into your body. Its sweeping soundscape holds a sublime beauty. It allows you to “turn off your mind, relax and float downstream,” as The Beatles advised, until, that is, the final moment when a jarring clash of white noise disrupts it all. I don’t know Schulze’s intention with this finale. It may be he just wanted to keep the listener from lulling off too far. Or, perhaps he simply wanted to remind the listener that it is time to flip over the album. I don’t know. I do find even now, knowing it is coming, it still never fails to jolt me — and I quite like that.

“Wahnfried 1883” begins with a more ghostly sound. Once more winds sweep from side to side. Synthesizers and organ provide a slowly emerging melody in a minor key, adding a melancholy feel to it all. Unlike “Bayreuth Return,” this track lacks the sequenced bass to drive it and opts to develop along sinuous melodic lines. The rising and falling melodies undulate across the tune aided by various oscillating and filtered frequencies. As a result it comes across as a less centered piece than the opening track and does not provide that meditative calm. Instead it’s shifting core keeps the listener slightly more on edge. The result is a more haunting though no less beautiful piece of music. The two tracks complement each other so well and the contrast makes the entire album such a successful and masterful piece.

Some of you may have noticed a connection between the track titles and the classical composer Richard Wagner. Bayreuth is the Bavarian town where Wagner had an opera house built. Wahnfried is the name of Wagner’s home built in Bayreuth and also where the composer was buried in 1883. I am not a classical music aficionado and can’t speak to what musical connections Schulze was making with Wagner. It may be Schulze is simply drawing attention to the Germaness of his approach to making music. In keeping with the pervasive approach of many of the Krautrock bands to create a new style of rock that was divorced from traditional American blues, Schulze could be signaling that separation. He would go on to record other albums titling songs after famous German personalities as well.

Timewind was Schulze’s fifth release as a solo artist but it represents his first fully realized work. Immediately following Timewind, he released two additionally exquisite works titled, Moondawn and Mirage. In the ensuing years through today he has continued to record and release compelling electronic music.

Details:

  • Artist: Klaus Schulze
  • Title: Timewind
  • Year of release: 1975
  • Year of first hearing by writer: 1975
  • Label of original release: Caroline
  • Format listened to: CD (Brain)
  • Track Listing
  • Purchase from Amazon: Timewind
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One Comment to “The Winds of Time Can’t Erase This Klaus Schulze Opus”

  1. John says:

    Thanks for the great article. I didn’t know he played for Ash Ra Temple. Its all getting me in a krautrock frame of mind to see Kraftwerk this fall when they come to Philadelphia.

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