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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

KLAUS SCHULZE: Dig It (1980)

“From analog to digital, Dig It marks the beginning of new era for EM, the New Berlin School”


1 Death of an Analogue 12:15  

2 Weird Caravan 5:03  

3 The Looper Isn't a Hooker 8:17  

4 Synthasy 22:56  

5 Esoteric Goody (Bonus Track) 28:21


6 Linzer Stahlsinfonie 62:22

Brain 811 632-2 (1980)

SPV 78832 DCD - REV 076

(CD/DVD 139:33) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School, EDM)

From analog to digital! To many aficionados of vintage EM, the arrival of digital synthesizers, sequencers and samplings sounded the knell of a music which in spite of its electronic soul showed a certain emotionalism depth. For Klaus Schulze, DIG IT marks the end of a long episode. The analogue is dead, so long live to digital technology! This reedition shows how far the German musician was ahead on his time. However, the first time I heard the slow rhythm of Death of an Analog (did you know the music was chosen for an Australian horror movie entitled Next of Kin?) floating on Fred Severloh's surgical percussions and on a text recited by a vocoder à la Kraftwerk, I received a cold shower. And the funky groove of Weird Caravan? How disappointed was I! We were so far from the rhythms and ambiences of Body Love, Mirage or X. But KS didn't gave us a clue with Heart, from the Live album? But back in that time, I was fascinated by the play of percussions and the silvered tones of the synths which weaved some latent earworms. And quietly DIG IT made its way in my discography some 2 or 3 years later. And then the oblivion... up until this new edition from Revisited Records showed up. A new mastered edition which comes with a very nice booklet explaining us the ins and outs of this album, which takes here quite a new dynamic sound, as well as 2 bonus track and including a superb DVD of a very artistic concert given within the framework of Ars Electronica in 1980. But let’s get back to the music and its era.

A delicate synth wave follows the jingle of cymbals, amplifying an expected measure which gets lost in the heavy strikings of percussions. Death of an Analog goes in our ears with this enchanting tone of the passive layers of a wandering synth. Fred Severloh hammers his drum skins with a symmetric movement that will be the rhythmic backbone of a title with a floating rhythm, while the other percussions fall like random strikings on a strangely tightened skin. The first 3 minutes of Death of an Analog are sublime. The hypnotic rhythm is trapped in the layers of synth which glides such as the soft night- flights in Body Love. But already we feel the musical envelope is different. The tones, like the rhythm, are calculated in a structure which repeals any kind of improvised impulses. The synth pads embrace the tears of a flock of melancholic violins when comes the vocoder. If at the beginning this passage of robot-like voices annoys, it eventually ends to merge into this surprising musical decoration fill by tones from another world of which the slow and hypnotic rhythm is skilfully coated by a synth fed of fine orchestral pads. The subtleties in the tempo hang on to the passion, whereas Severloh remains brilliant on percussions and that the first digital keys are falling near the 8th minute under the shape of fine crystalline chords which skip with their tones of a xylophone laid on an anvil. We cannot deny the bewitchment, like we cannot ignore our desire to hear again Schulze in an analog way. After this slow minimalism rhythm, Weird Caravan burst out on a funky groovy beat with a heavy and wave-like bass line which accompanies a keyboard with tones of an organ on an air of electronic gospel. Not wasting an idea of genius, the master unites both styles of Death of an Analog and Weird Caravan to mold the indefinite rhythm of The Looper Isn't a Hooker and its slow organ-smical undulations.

Synthasy is what is the closest of those long tortuous titles of Klaus Schulze's ancient world. The intro is ambient and filled by good dramatic effect with its synth layers as much orchestral than spectral which float in a digital world of The Phantom of the Opera where nice organ harmonies are taming around the scattered rollings of big symphonic bass drum. The ambiences become excited around the10th minute with this cacophonous approach that characterizes the long improvised approaches of Schulze. The synth frees good strata, as much musical than vocal, which shape a strange melody for claustrophobics while some voices are whispering in the shadow of our ears and the tempo is taking shape around organ pads and percussions which end to model a regular rhythm. It’s a vampiric rhythm which beats like a digital clock in the twilights of a hybrid universe where the analog still breathes with so many nice things to chant us and to charm us. It’s with surprise that I learnt that Esoteric Goody came from the DIG IT sessions! And yet the approach and the sound texture have nothing to do with the rhythms and ambiences of this 13th opus from KS. It’s a long non-rhythmic movement where we follow a spaceship propelled by metallic hoops in an absolutely floating universe which brings us near to the ambient and lifeless structures of a cosmic and dreamy Schulze. Those who like the sound effects of a world without borders will be magnetized by Esoteric Goody. This version of Revisited Records comes with DVD of Klaus Schulze's performance at the famous Ars Electronica in1980. This symphony for steel plant is simply puzzling. We see a Schulze in all of his magnificence, dressed of a worker's garment and surrounded with its new digital toys as well as his huge analog walls, displaying his musical architecture where all his styles are melting in a surprising industrial symphony. From an angelic din fed by somber pastoral waves, while passing by wild rhythms and tetanised ambiences, Linzer Stahlsinfonie embraces the phases of Klaus Schulze in an editing where the surreal decoration espouses psychedelic images, witness of a surprising duel between the analog heat and the digital coolness which gives a delirious musical feast in the axes of its paradoxes as ethereal as rhythmic.

From analog to digital, DIG IT marks the beginning of new era for EM. Its rhythms and harmonies paved the road to artists such as Robert Schroeder and Software (Mergener / Weisser) as well as this obscure label (Innovative Communication) that gave a new breath to a music which had sold its soul to New Age. It was the birth of New Berlin School …

Sylvain Lupari (August 3rd, 2012) *****

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