- Krautrock’s early experimentation with electronics has always had a special relationship with the modern dancefloor. It has been a lineage with many branches, dating back to the early days of Chicago and Detroit listening to Kraftwerk, moving forward to the present day – producers are still plundering the ideas of the Teutonic pioneers in 2008. What’s more, many of the original Krautrockers are still releasing music – Conrad Schnitzler being a case in point. Not only has he re-activated Cluster, albeit with new members, but he continues to release music. Schnitzler has now clocked up over 400 releases in thirty years, of which some of the earliest have now been re-released on Japan’s seminal Captain Trip label.
Amongst his new solo works is this pair of four track 12-inches on Seattle’s Orac imprint which sees Schnitzler pairing his big 70s synth sound with a trio of techno producers. Each EP has one Schnitzler original and one remix per side, with Schnitzler also reworking his own material on the second disc. The project could easily have been a misplaced act of homage, but it is actually better than the sum of its parts, nestling harmoniously into Orac’s niche located somewhere between left field experimentation and the dancefloor.
Bruno Pronsato opens proceedings on the first disc with a deceptive track that initially seems to be the opening sequence of Ricardo Villalobos’ Fabric 36 set before cleverly morphing into its own form. Commencing airily with skittery snares, restless high hats and breathy vocals, the beat eventually solidifies into a propulsive groove underpinned by a malevolent ambient undertow.
Dandy Jack’s remix is more epic in length, but rather than unfold, it sticks lightheartedly to its motorik potential once it finds it. While the individual sounds are taught, they are eagerly splashed around with a great deal of mischievous charm. It’s smart and danceable without taking itself too seriously.
The two Schnitzler tracks on the first disc complete its overall cerebral air, especially compared to the physical intensity of the second disc. The short ‘00/380.10’ is the most incidental of all the original tracks and feels like a half finished idea cut from 70s analogue cloth. On the other hand, ‘00/346.04’ is a heady brew of Aphex Twin-like acid squelch and authentic psychedelic sound warping and wraps things off nicely.
The more energetic and physical intention of the second disc is instantly apparent with Schnitzler’s fast but beatless remix of his own original. It’s an amphetamine fuelled 70s ambient space adventure full of lasers, tension and big looming sets. The two Schnitzler originals here also have something of a spacey feel. ‘00/380.13’ jumps languidly up and down octaves between high and low pitched drones to create a dense feeling of drifting in high gravity, whereas ‘00/346.10’ is an elegant flight through chiming stars and deep base pulses.
The clear highlight of the set, however, is easily Thomas Fehlmann’s remix which somehow seems to mash all of Schnitzler’s material into one. Loosely divided into three parts, the first is dangerously trancey in a heavy, analogue way. The urgent, climaxing pitches are totally addictive and drift seemlessly into the second two parts which are no less heady, but more lush with melodic fluxes and motorik urgency. The middle section harks closely to Fehlmann’s Kompakt releases, while the last third races home through terrain that is bizzarely reminiscent of another krautrock group, Harmonia, as much as Schnitzler’s material. An absolute stomper.
If you had to pick one of these two, your money would be on the second for Fehlmann’s remix – the first disc will appeal more to minimal fans – but credit to the project as a whole –. Similarly, DJs might also frown at Schnitzler’s originals, but for those at home they’re an added bonus.
A1 Bruno Pronsato mix
B1 Dandy Jack and the Queen of Mars mix
A1 Conrad Schnitzler mix
B1 Thomas Fehlmann mix