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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

MARIO SCHÖNWÄLDER: Hypnotic Beats (1990)

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

There is a mountain of very interesting EM in this album which is a splendid, from start the end, highly inspired by the digitals years of Klaus Schulze

1 Moogazyn 21:49

2 A Dream, Merely A Dream 7:45

3 The Garden of Sanssouci 21:46

4 Niemandsland 4:32

5 Hypnotic Beats 20:57

6 White Tower 3:00

Manikin Music

(DDL 83:01) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School)

Long before Keller & Schönwälder, there was Mario Schönwälder. Before this success which made him known with Detlev Keller, he already had a great solo career which offered him a whole perspective on the possibilities of EM, leading him to set up the Manikin Records label. He was able to diversify the horizons of this label by becoming a leader in the field of research and design of EM instruments including the famous Memotron. We also owe to this label the many box-sets of Klaus Schulze and Ashra Temple in its catalog which offers nearly 200 of very selective titles today. A lover of the Berlin School, he is also known for his numerous collaborations with artists such as Thomas Fanger for the Analog Overdose series and Frank Rothe in the Filter-Kaffee series, in addition to prestigious artists like Bernd Kistenmacher, Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock and Harald Grosskopf, notably in this HYPNOTIC BEATS. The German musician has been working his way since the mid-80's. It was in 88 that his name became familiar with the album Musique Intemporel, a compilation album where two of his titles were found with such dominant artists at the time, like Bernd Kistenmacher and Rolf Trostel. His first solo album, The Eye of the Chameleon was released on Kistenmacher's label, Musique Intemporelle. HYPNOTIC BEATS is his second individual effort to be released on this label. Written between November 1989 and June 1990, it's steeped in the feelings of Berliners following the fall of the Berlin Wall. And the music was entirely conceived from synthesizers and digital percussion. Don't look for Amadou Delbasse Bokou playing the drums on the title-track, it's Harald Grosskopf.

The CDs were all sold and a second edition was released in 1992 on the newly innovated label Manikin Records. Again, the CDs were all sold, leaving only crumbs pulled from Napster at the time, before SynGate seized the rights in a revamped edition in April 2005. We note in this edition that Spirit of Love was removed. In addition, the wonderful The Garden of Sanssouci is completely re-edited in its true format of 21:46, compared to the 10:26 minutes of the original version. White Tower was added, as it was initially agreed. A nice puzzle for fans of the sympathetic Mario Schönwälder who have purchased this edition in order to collect the missing pieces. In terms of sounds, what is this edition worth? After having discussed it with the lucky ones who own both versions, the version of SynGate, remastered by Gerd Wienekamp of Rainbow Serpent, is more muffled, like if a bit subdued compared to that of Musique Intemporelle. I totally agree, even that I find the sonic range of the original version to be deeper with more power. This is important since the percussions play a preponderant role in this album. Now for the music ...

Moogazyn opens HYPNOTIC BEATS with light varied tones, such as percussions on bottom of bottles or a short Tibetan percussive symphony, which resonates in a static ambience topped with short synth layers floating between two tones to activate the bells of Tibet a little more. In the distance, a new form of percussion appears discreetly, initiating the minimalist rhythm of Moogazyn. The bassline is heavy and superbly sensual. It waddles with slow implosions, setting a slightly groovy Middle East tribal beat. Recorded in concert at the Verden Cathedral in September 1989, Moogazyn sums up in one piece the hypnotic depths of this album. It's a long track structured on a single sequence which is accompanied by solid percussions and a good bass line. Mario grafts pretty good melodic avenues and synth layers which modulate a luxuriant ambience and fleshed out by subtle variations. It's an immensely captivating, enveloping and possibly the most beautiful title from the founder of Manikin. At Dream, Merely A Dream is livelier, more energic with good sequences, a good core of percussions, good percussive effects and a bass line that is in symmetry with the sequences and percussions. The synth is nasal. It walks with ease and breathes a superb harmony that instantly hooks with its Middle East sound and the fragrances of Klaus Schulze's first digital movements, one of the major sources of inspiration for Mario Schönwälder. There is a slight snag towards the final, in both versions.