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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

KLAUS SCHULZE: Royal Festival Hall Vol.1 (1992)

I'm quite torn regarding RHF Vol. 1; too many sound samplings, but still some great beats, great harmonies and great music on board

1 Yen 44:32 2 Silence And Sequence 24:57 Virgin CDVE 916

(CD 69:29) (V.F.) (Orchestral EM)

Yep! This is a hard one to swallow. Here I am, talking about an album from Klaus Schulze that has never appealed me and this whatsoever how many times I tried it. The whole of the Royal Hall Festival event is at the antipode of the Berlin School style, even the new one, as such. It's a vast symphonic and a progressive sonic mass build up on a massive use of sound samplings. It's an audacious concert because Schulze presents here much more a vast musical collage than a music where the harmonies are in hiding to eventually hatch with all the subtle beauty that only Schulze is capable of developing with his so avant-gardist touch. But an open-minded is more than necessary. The Royal Festival event is the second part of a trilogy of concerts recorded during the 90's (the others being The Dome Event and The Dresden Performance) that the management of KS will put on records. So, ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL Vol. 1 is the first part of this concert played in London on September 10th in 1991. This concert is split in two volumes. Each are sold separately and includes one live track and some studio material recorded in Klaus' studio nearly one year later. The commercial pattern is similar to the one of The Dresden Performance, but the music is by far very different.

Klaus Schulze, the ex mandarin of the minimalism Berlin School movement, is now the monarch of this new Electronica based on a massive used of sound samplings. He is the new king of what we will be known as psy trance music. And it's the story of Schulze in the 90's. Long audacious concerts, and even more at the level of albums, where the German sounds wizard creates a perfect illusion of a philharmonic orchestra playing along childish choruses, fat opera voices mixed with camels' laments or goats' and whatever comes to his mind. Name it! All the inconceivable tones are floating and rushing into our ears in a motionless sonic pond which is growing brighter little by little and bits by bits on a hesitating, a pleasant and finally an extremely melodious rhythm, as only Schulze can mixed and build up in a sonic storm where we would look for the exit, so much it can be boring. But hey! We stay curious. And of course, after several efforts trying to understand it, we will end by liking this kind of beat charmed by great fluty tones, gorgeous chorus and some fine synth solos. This is a symphony of electronic tones in a jungle. Yen starts with a long introduction of noises. More than 7 minutes of sound effects, which is not that bad after all, before we can hear the first notes a fine harp piercing this massive sounds wall where fanciful percussions shine here and there. Slowly, the Schulze madness establishes its basis with a kind of Gregorian approach on a nervous and orchestral structure disrupted by impetuous, and annoying because there are too many, orchestral bursts. This whole madness rests on very fine and keyed synth percussions that the Master handles with his so typical skill. The structure goes from ambient to some floating and dreamy moods before flowing towards more brisk moments always peppered by violent orchestration outcomes and synth solos. This is Klaus of the 90's, so we have always sound samplings near a kind of delirium and nice fluty airs. Softer and more melodious than Ancient Ambience (RHF Vol. 2) with its Pan flute whistlings (is it me or I think a lot of Ennio Morricone here?) Yen remains not less unpredictable here, even if we have the strange impression that an illogical musical puzzle gets organized without passion but with the approach of a mad scientist of sonic particles. It took me time to find some interesting passages and to finally appreciated it. But you must know there is better music from Klaus Schulze to me than this era.

Recorded in his own studio a year later, Silence and Sequence is more structured, less improvised. And yet it's another strange piece of music. Winds, rain and thunder are building a kind of weird intro which has some scents of medieval with noises of horses, human voices and church bells which are roaming along some oddest and strangest other noises. Are we on water or on ground? We hear voices of African people being mixed with organic or animal or even aliens voices here. Little by little we enter into a long musical piece which has some scents of Vangelis (1492) all over its intro. And a long synth pad quietens the mood at the 4th minute point. This is paradisiacal! A line of bass is snoring in a soft pattern of moods which sneaks towards a fanciful jungle. We recognize this bass, those singing winds, the freaky noises and the vibes around it when the whole thing crashes down at the 11th minute spot with a sweet windy air which cuts out the mood with a kind of staccato movement which leads to a splendid pattern of percussions. Then a splendid electronic rhythm settles in with sequenced keys which rush in the back of others, creating so a superb jerky rhythmic pattern which ride madly like a horse on acid. Other percussions fall, developing the skeleton of Silence and Sequence in a more harmonious way, but just for few minutes before Klaus Schulze harpoons the whole thing and leads it towards his imaginary rhythmic and ambient scales. This is indeed a great track that I put not that far from the best moments of Miditerranean Pads.

Sylvain Lupari (July 1st, 2010) ***½**

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