top of page
  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

KELLER & SCHONWALDER: The Reason Why… Live At The Jodrell Bank (2000/2013)

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

There is not a single second of lost in The Reason Why… Live At The Jodrell Bank which, I do believe, is what we can call a timeless album

CD 1 (Live 2000)

1 Live at Jodrell Bank 45:22

a Mysterious Sounds (6:52)   b Space (10:22)  

c Firewalker (21:31)   d Shadows (6:35)  

2 Beyond the Sea 21:37  

3 Tempus Fugit 7:11

CD 2 (Live 2001)

4 Da Capo 31:24  

5 Tanz Der Elfen 22:24  

6 Chill Out 18:48

(CD-r 146:54) (V.F.)

(Typical Berlin School)

The first presence of Keller & Schönwälder at the famous evenings of EM held in Leicester's Jodrell Bank in England was described for a long time as the best performance from the German duet, and also as one of the most striking one within the framework of these evenings produced by Dave Law, one of England EM pioneers. Two albums came out of these live events: The Reason Why Part One (in 2000 on Manikin ¦ MRCD 7050) and The Reason Why Part Two (in 2001 on Manikin ¦ MRCD 7057). And as time passes by, they became out of printed for ages. Faithful to its habits to resuscitate the striking works in the history of contemporary EM, SynGate makes revive both albums under a double CD package entitled THE FREASON WHY…LIVE AT THE JODRELL BANK. A great initiative, because the MP3 version that Synth Music Direct, Dave Law's label, had put on sale in 2006 had left me a bitter taste. A taste now forgotten because THE FREASON WHY…LIVE AT THE JODRELL BANK is by far one of the most seducing works that Detlev Keller and Mario Schönwälder signed at the dawn of 2000's. Wee now find these albums in downloadable only at Manikin Bandcamp.

Originally divided into 5 parts, Live at Jodrell Bank begins this journey in time with synth waves floating among some NASA samplings. And it's not because it's ambient that it's deprived of interests. The intro floats with its double synth layers among intergalactic chirpings. Joined by a nice line of dreamy flute, the ballet of morphic lines spreads its aura of mysticism until the intro is diving into a phase of synths' dialect. And the heat floods the space with floating choirs which hum into sibyllin mists, ending thus the first 17 minutes of an intro that we didn't hear passed. You got to be used to these long evolving introduction from the German musicians. That's their signature! And the sequences arrive. Pressed they are by a very Tangerine Dream approach, the listener feels reliving the memories Encore with these plump keys which sparkle with resonances, they tumble down real fast from cosmos. The rhythm that they forge is weak. Sometimes wild, sometimes balanced and sometimes stationary, it fills our ears of an unknown ferocity while the breaths of symphonic synths and of the chthonian choirs drag us into the dark meanders of TD. Only the juicy keys, and those more limpid which dance with desperation, bring us back to the reality of Keller & Schönwälder. And there, the anger of the synths springs out with Babylonian mooings that some fluty winds try to calm, while that subtly Live at Jodrell Bank goes astray in the high spheres of Klaus Schulze. And this my friends, that's worth the purchase of the CD because the next minutes will be not only infernal, they will feed us of a stunning symbiosis between the differences of the big names of vintage EM; Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. To me, that is something that I never heard with such precision so far. The hot twisted solos spit an electronic dialect on a rhythm supported by these pulsing keys of which the parallel lines are never in concordance. And Live at Jodrell Bank to rage in a furious structure of rhythm for about 30 minutes. Wild and complex rhythm which increases by a notch to regular interval to finally return its sequences at around the 40th minute, where this powerful magic moment stops into some iridescent mists. Powerful, magical and absolutely delirious! It's in the confusion of fluty lines, dark and tenebrous layers of the organs that the ambient intro of Beyond the Sea, the 2nd encore of this concert, gets to our ears. Some furtive sequencer keys sculpture a curt rhythm which does Tango on a structure of rhythm crushed by the thunders. Keller and Schönwälder are kissing this hesitating rhythm with a panoply of lines in tones as much dark than harmonious with fluty lines and gloomy choirs which hum on delicate piano music scores. We feel that the concert coming to its end because the duet offers more quiet tracks, as to chase away the devils that poke the feet of the spectators always starved. Tempus Fugit closed this concert with a black and very ambient track where lines of cathedrals' old organs flood our ears. Playing on nuances and tones, the duet exploits the side dark of the organs with such a dexterity that will lead the fans to the exit. It was effectively a last encore.

Carillons ringing into seraphic winds open Da Capo. This track which had followed the powerful Live at Jodrell Bank proposes an intro of ambience with synth lines filled of cooings solos and other lines to orchestral perfumes which glance through these ringings of silvery prisms which little by little form a strange jerky rhythm. A skeletal rhythm in the colors of prism which gallops awkwardly beneath some striations a bit abstruse. A line of bass sequence binds itself to this rhythm. Making wave its keys it gives more depth and nuance to a rhythm which shines with its polyhedral glitter. The jingles of cymbals sing under the azure mists while that Keller's piano spreads a melody which will split up its beauty throughout Da Capo which continues its shopping of tones and percussions to offer a pure rhythm which skips and hiccups under the assaults of a synth and of its efficient solos, chthonian mists and seraphic pads. Recorded at a concert in Lüdenscheid, Tanz Der Elfen proposes a minimalist structure slightly comparable to Da Capo. The first part is very hypnotic with its chords which pile up into fast pas-de-deux, shaping a hopping rhythm which stores the adjacent pulsations. The harmonious envelope is fed by lines of synth with orchestral fragrances, fluty lines a bit breathless and gleaming arpeggios which sparkle here and there. It's fascinating to hear the track evolution which shows its nuances sparingly, fleshing out even more its imprint of hypnotism. And after a heavy foggy passage, the second part of Tanz Der Elfen assaults our eardrums with more precision in the sequencing which flows with more fluidity. The rhythm became then wilder; Tanz Der Elfen ends the shyness of synths and sequencers by diving into a universe of organic percussions, sequences and jingles of which the sound beauty is supported by a stubborn rhythm. A rhythm which pushes of its two bordering phases a pace bitten by a synth which makes breathless its jerked harmonies of bluish mists and which uncovers its twisted solos of which the appearances of hoarse voices sow a confusion deserving of a structure as well intelligent than interesting. This is a great track and I would have loved to hear the whole of it. Chill Out was played in concert at Kassel. As its naming indicates, it's a kind of relax track with a soft rhythm structured on sequences which pound with a cybernetic symmetry to which are added heavy pulsations which roam under synth lines multi layered in their harmonies, their singings and dialogues, their vampiric solos and their sibylline mists.

Can we make new out of old? It seems like yes. In spite of 12 years which separate this live performance of Keller & Schönwälder from all the typical works of minimalist Berlin School, where artists' tens, and very good believe me, have walked on the musical imprints of the Berlin duet, which influenced as much artists as TD and/or KS did, THE FREASON WHY…LIVE AT THE JODRELL BANK still breathes of its originality. There is not a single second of lost in this immense work which doesn't stop offering structures at which the fine variances amaze once they came after one to another. Then we say ourselves; hum ...what did I missed? And we listen again and we say ourselves; ha … brilliant! I imagine that's what a timeless work is. Inescapable!

Sylvain Lupari (June 2nd, 2013) ****½*

Available at Manikin Bandcamp

474 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page