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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

KELLER & SCHÖNWÄLDER: Concerts (1998)

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

“This is some pretty good EM with sometimes too long musical acts that should please to fans of 70's Schulze style”

CD 1

1 Knust Part Two (28:56)

2 Knust Part Three (26:52)

3 Satzvey Castle Part One (20:17)

CD 2

1 Stammheim Part Two (73:09)

2 Satzvey Castle Part Two (6:38)

SynGate CD-R 2082

(2CD/DDL 155:52) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

Keller & Schönwälder is the fusion of melodious movements with hypnotic spirals. In solo, they are very good and together they are even better. Released in 1998, two after the debut of the duo, CONCERTS shows that the chemistry between the two friends was already at its peak. Originally released on Manikin Music, CONCERTS is reissued on SynGate Music. As a bonus, we are entitled to nearly 30 minutes of EM recorded in concert in 2006. A very original way to make us hear the evolution of this duo, unfortunately too little known, who likes to support its minimalist structures to better serve this complicity by connecting their approaches based on improvisation.

A gentle wind blows the first movements of Knust Part Two. A first long title that hooks onto some nervous chords. Quietly, these keys impose a rhythm that progresses on enveloping synths and that waltzes with grace in a cosmic universe. Detlef Keller and Mario Schönwälder exchange themselves solos with complicity on a tempo that becomes heavy and hypnotic. Always minimalism, the movement is developing on percussions that roll like balls on an extremely tense skin. A bit like Peter Baumann had elaborated on his first solo works, and Chris Franke on Poland. Drumming that get more human when they hammer a frenetic beat, whose lines sound a bit like Visage's Fade to Gray. This is some great Keller & Schönwälder who develops long structures that are conducive to both harmonious and romantic synth solos. The German duo puts our ears full to the rim on Knust Part Three opening with unruly notes that swirl and intertwine with echo effects to create a heavy and languid rhythm on an atmospheric background. This strange cosmic maelstrom wraps itself around a pulsating hypnotic line that is encircled by sulphurous synth solos with a sound so personal to the German duo. Chorus and well-balanced percussions deepen this already well-filled sound structure which ends in the tranquility of a sumptuously vaporous breath where the first keys come to find resource in a metallic atmosphere. Satzvey Castle Part One is part of the SynGate reissue. Its introduction envelops us in an ambience where we have the impression of entering a timeless sarcophagus with pulsations that scroll and dance nervously. A big sounding beacon spreads a hypnotic circular rhythm with some very techno influences, especially when the cymbals get in the dance with their ceaseless tsiit-tsiit and clatterings. Chords with dance influences control the primary rhythm while synths and their layers add a frenzied atmosphere. Supported, the rhythm progresses with percussions painted of metallized tonal breaths up until a synth with spectral fragrances take the orders to make us visit the corridors, and their atmospheres, of the Satzvey Castle. With such a title, Keller & Schönwälder shows a sharp wit that adapts to all situations in this ghostly musical journey where the synthesized waves become shadows and disguise themselves in beautiful melodies that hooked as much the sense of hearing than the feet.

Stammheim Part Two is the pièce de résistance of CONCERTS. This very long track of 73 minutes evolves in phases of rhythms versus ambiences and layers of intensity with synths drawing ambiospherical decors and stylists of superb harmonies. Hypnotic, the tempo is sweet and brilliantly seasoned by good percussions and soft, even nostalgic, synth solos. All along, we are seized by this immense minimalism sea where the duo vogues willingly on the breaths and harmonies that he creates. Choirs walk there and sing cosmic psalms with a timeless warmth. One would think to hear Klaus Schulze, so much it's brilliant. The tempo runs out of steam at the door of the 30 minutes with disordered chords that are lost in the depths of a spectral flute and its evasive, hesitant melody. Quietly we drift in an atmospheric phase where electronic percussions and sequences wear out their rhythmic visions in an abyssal approach. This part of Stammheim Part Two goes pretty well and like a phoenix the rhythmic movement is reforming to reach an infernal beat. The synths reach a nascent musical nirvana by mournful and sinuous breaths where the melodies extricate themselves from a choir buried in the abyss, as well as intense solos whose choreographies are reminiscent of the spiritual impulses of Klaus Schulze in Body Love. A bit long! But where to cut in this excellent musical moment? Full of sensuality, Satzvey Castle Part Two, goes down with harmony on choirs blown à la Schulze and a superb piano passage. Very different from the first part, it confirms the evolution of the duo towards more exponential spheres at the limits of current musical streams.

If you missed the first edition of CONCERTS on Manikin Records, here is a way to catch up with this version of SynGate, although Manikin's Bandcamp also offers it now in downloadable version without the Satzvey Castle portion. In short, with these new technologies, we can take back the presents of the past by the fingertips. It is some big EM with long, sometimes a little too much, evolutionary courses where the art of improvised music and the mastery of instruments converge in very good musical moments. The duo has the art of assembling unpredictable musical structures, which mesmerize and captivate with a superb game of percussion and solos as heartbreaking as delirious. And if you are a 70's Klaus Schulze lover, CONCERTS, as well as the majority of Keller & Schönwälder's early works, become a must.

Sylvain Lupari (August 17th, 2006) ***½**

Available at SynGate Bandcamp

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