…..and so it came to pass that after one weird and wonderful experimental album, another was sure to follow, (and from a label confident enough to issue a double album by this new artist l might add!!). The time is 1973 and as all important second album releases go this one does seem to tread a slightly different path to that of the previous years 'Wandering Light' of a debut album,'Irrlicht'. 'Cyborg' coming across as a more cohesive, measured set of pieces; its four movements having more to say as a whole than it does based upon the merits of it's individual tracks. On the equipment front things still remaining pretty spartan, all of the key work being confined to the modified organ of Schulze, (then again it's not what you've got, but what you do with it that counts!!). 'Cyborg' does however mark a technical milestone in the musical progression of the young Mr. Schulze as it is on this album that we first encounter the arrival of a synth in his recordings!!!
And speaking of recordings, the original 'Cyborg' master tapes used here for this reissue provide us with a recording of both considerable quality and clarity. Superb given their vintage, with little or no degradation in the quality of the tracks,( though we must allow for alittle tape hiss around the intro/ entro's of some of the pieces).
'Cyborg' is presented in the now regular reissue feature format of gatefolded card clip case together with numerous photos of Schulze from the era inserted throughout the included 16 page companion booklet,. On this occasion the front album cover sporting 'the hippy lost at the disco look' from Schulze…………another cruel victim of fashion, never mind. The introductory write up by Klaus for the album is startlingly down to earth concentrating on the album, the equipment and the events immediately surrounding the lifestyle and atmosphere of the time. Klaus also sighting his dislike at the time for the 'cosmic' musical tag attached to his music back then. Admittedly the music had to be referred to as something by the marketing powers that be for the music to sell and on that basis l think they achieved their goal. If the music of Cyborg doesn't leave us all in a deep space mode where then does it leave us?
Given the rudimentary nature of the equipment available to Schulze it seems surprising that 'Synphara',(22.45) opens up the set sounding so full bodied and dynamic. The piece centring on the organ as Klaus improvises away with just the right amount of synth work twittering around the mix so as not to detract too much from the main feature of the piece.
'Conphara',(25.44) struggles to match the fluid airy nature of the albums opener as Schulze reverts back to his old tricks of chopping around edited tape recordings of orchestra to great effect,( a musical method he appears to have mastered here). Amidst the steady electronic pulsations of synth these continuous edited slices of audio tape recordings sound for the world as if Schulze has managed to get his hands on a Mellotron for the recording, (maybe this was his intention?). Its uncanny how these taped edits sound so very much like that which was to come from Schulze in the years ahead.
'Chromengel', (23.45) has us getting all neo classical with high voltage synth acrobatics over a reverberant melancholy string section. All sounding decidedly dark and sombre, but at the same time typical of what Schulze would go on to produce with synths when in a more reflective mood, outstanding. The first twelve minutes of the piece are far from uplifting but completely captivating. Things move on and at the eighteen minute mark we get something new from Schulze, pure synthiness!!! It's wild and wacky and just what l think many a listener will revel in……..completely spaced out and dare l use Klaus's least favourite word 'cosmic'!!!(Sorry Klaus).
Onto the second CD of the set and we kick off with 'Neuronengesang' (24.39). This track see's a departure from the more experimental 'Irrlicht' sound into an arena where the synth is king and 'Cyborg' takes a swing towards a sound and structure that is not a million miles away from Tangerine Dreams 'Zeit' album as the tapes, organ and synth work come together in a perfect avant garde interplanetary montage, the synth really leading the way here in a very forthright manner. This piece has always reminded me of the 1984 movie 'The Terminator' with its future remembered sequences,( I'll have to get the soundtrack album at some point in time and check out this theory) as l believe that the musical foundations here and that of the soundtrack of a decade later are very similar. Abit more trivia for you – the Terminator movie was based on a book called, you guessed it, 'Cyborg'.
Back to the CD and here we have a lengthy track that is aggressive, oppressive, soulless and fantastically otherworldly - visionary stuff indeed – completely hostile and alien. Eighteen minutes in see's the track slip into electronic mayhem once more,(you analogue nuts out there will lap this up as we loose all sense of direction) the piece closing as Klaus pulls things back into shape in the closing two minutes.
The bonus track on this occasion having absolutely nothing to do with 'Cyborg' coming in the form of a 'live' recording of material from 1977, (that fact alone will have many immediately reach for their wallets l would imagine). It's an archive recording from 'St. Michael's' cathedral Brussels 17/09/77 with a monumental running time of over fifty minutes entitled 'But Beautiful'. What we have here is some primetime seventies Schulze as he promoted the 'Mirage' album released in spring that same year. The quality of the recording is very good indeed, but pales by comparison with the first rate 'Cyborg' tapes. There are several slight imperfections during the recording but l doubt very much that this will detract from the overall enjoyment of having this fantastic recording of the performance in your collection. Musically it is superb with so much going on,( obviously Klaus didn't sit still for long!!), the breadth and scope of the material produced here is again outstanding when you bare in mind that this is just one guy with afew prepared sequences 'flying by the seat of his pants'!!!
The set opens up with all kinds on modular weirdness tripping off, just think of the more epic choral sections of the 'X' album and you've got it. Within minutes we move over seamlessly into some of the undercurrents from the 'Mirage' album, a basic sequence arriving at the seven minute mark. Klaus improvises away as further augmentation arrives some eight minutes later and thing's are really moving along now. This mid tempo sequence now having found its feet, Klaus reaches for the Minimoog and some serious soloing gets underway. At the twenty minute mark he steps up the sequencer tempo and off we go again at helter skelter pace with more frenetic filtered twists and turns as he again turns up the tempo afew minutes later to breakneck speed, things getting truly wild as he spars with the sequencer. Musically we can't last too long at this speed, but yet again he cranks up the tempo as the soloing stops and the sequencer rattles off dramatically like a runaway train until at the half hour mark the wheels come off!!! Events gradually subsiding into a mid tempo electronic soup, brilliantly done. A light sequence emerges from the lull, this again is absolutely first class Schulze, l take my hat off to the man as he pulls everything together perfectly. Three quarters of an hour into the recording now and a steady swoosh of white noise takes us into the closing section with a hollow sounding synth lead and strings sounding not unlike the more sedate moments of 'Blackdance'. Another gentle brush of white noise bringing the set to its conclusion and the audience approve!!!! A flawless set and faultless performance. With a recording like this we can only get the merest hint of just how good the live event must have been.
So onto the reappraisal of the reissued 'Cyborg' package:- Well really its two completely different albums which to do justice too l'll have to look at separately. First there's the 'Cyborg' album, probably the most alien sounding album Schulze ever made. Its time to dig out your winter woollies with this one as its a cold cold sounding album which flows indistinctly from one movement to another lacking some of the ethereal warmth of it's predecessor settling for just the mildest touch of sonic light and darkness here and there. Considered by many as 'heavy going' it is a unique recording in that doesn't particularly conform to any of the usual Schulzian musical traits consisting obstensively of electronic modulation and synthetic drones in place of any true rhythmic structures; in that sense not unlike Tangerine Dreams experiments on the 'Zeit' album. Sadly l feel that it is the introduction of the synthesiser that partially stifles the genuine taped electro-acoustic idea's and treatments that were on going at the time this recording was started. It is that same said reliance upon the synth that gives the album its harsh electronic edge. That said, on 'Cyborg' we do see a definite shift from the purely experimental over to a more synth orientated album, so a positive move was made. Hearing the album again after all these years I've a new found respect for 'Cyborg' which again see's the Schulze progression to the forefront of the electronic world from that of the purely experimental, which in the cold light of day is not that far removed from the rest of Klaus's seventies work – Schulze didn't change, but the technology did. As for the bonus track – well l'd say that you' have a 'live' albums worth of material there, the content is superb and see's a very busy Mr Schulze on top form in the glory days of the seventies. It's a must have for sure, probably the best album that you never knew you didn't own!!! Does that make sense? (B22)
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