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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ROBERT SCHROEDER: Computer Voice (1984)

It's possibly the ideal album to discover the first period of Robert Schroeder

1 In Space 2:50

2 Computer Voice 4:20

3 In Orbit 6:11

4 Galaxie Cygnus-A (Part II) 5:40

5 Back to the Earth 4:37

6 Rotary Motion 5:39

7 Liberty Island 2:59

8 Galaxie Cygnus-A (Part V) 4:37

9 Eclipse 5:13

(CD 41:52) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School)

COMPUTER VOICE was conceived in the wake of the digitization of albums on Compact Disc and the remasterings of the early 1980's, in order to optimize the sound power of album transfers to CD and thus justify the end of vinyl. It's also a short retrospective where the synthesist from Aachen has chosen 4 tracks from his earlier albums Galaxy Cygnus-A (Galaxy Cygnus-A Parts II and V), Floating Music (Rotary Motion) and Mosaique (Computer Voice) to digitize and mix them with 4 other unreleased tracks from the same era. The result is an astonishing fusion of known, reworked, and unprecedented music in a contemporary vision where Robert Schroeder's digital approach appears better on CD than on vinyl. Robert offers us a 37-minute mosaic where more fluid rhythms and more powerful sounds embrace the more ethereal and cosmic approaches of the new titles; In Space, In Orbit, Back to Earth and Liberty Island. COMPUTER VOICE got a new sound-lift in 2009 with computer technology from Aachen studios which aims to increase the sound quality and precision without remixing the original work, like on Paradise. This new and improved version also includes a bonus title, Eclipse. Since its release in 1984, it's been part of this list of 50 albums to hang around with me all the time.

Like in some form of alien dialect, buzzing riffs open In Space. These riffs emit hoarse resonances from which emerge synth laments in the form of harmonic and dreamlike solos that are lost in a storm of static and parasitic elements, while the cackling of cosmic ducks begin to dance awkwardly until the opening of the title Computer Voice. Here, this flagship title from the Mosaique album takes on a whole new dimension with its digital sound. Shortened of nearly 8 minutes, this title has only the rhythm of its original version. A rhythm gradual starting with these hesitant chords from the finale of In Space which waddle and meet the electronic percussions portion of the most heterogeneous ones of the Schroeder universe. The synth harmonies are like the breaths of trumpeters in a Cosmic Funky Rock. Without warning, the rhythm switches to a much more delicate phase with luminous arpeggios ringing like these xylophonist notes during military parades. And bang! We fall into the static oblivion of In Orbit where electronic maracas, clicks, sound effects, guitar effects and keyboard riffs float between two spheres and crisscross among layers of synth as melodious as threatening which, at times, release lines of caramelized voices. In Orbit strolls around its musical axes with uncertain movements before landing in the Wah-Wah of Galaxy Cygnus-A (Part II)'s cosmic ducks. It's one of the most beautiful titles of RS. Here the melodious structure trembles in front of the heavy percussions, but the essence of this melodious spatial and musical incursion stays and remains of a superb intoxicating musicality, even if strongly digitalized.

Back to the Earth begins with blows on a fragile anvil struck with the regularity of a mesmerizing pendulum. A sequence leans on this ticking while another sequenced movement, more vicious and undulating, traces a heavy circular rhythm. Under the blow of this curt and sharp rhythm, Back to the Earth is invaded by dark and threatening symphonic synth surges while powerful strikes of metallic anvils redirect a rhythm which becomes random and forks under amazing synth solos. It's quite a superb piece of music that Schroeder puts in our ears (must not forget that we are in 1984). A powerful title which falls into the whirlwind of Rotary Motion and its chaotic rhythm, whose leaping structures stir under good strikes of electronic percussions and its percussive synthesized fury where the solos howl in an astonishing cohesion. Liberty Island is a brief ambient title where uncertain chords advance and resonate in a sidereal magnetism imbued with a seductive electronic fauna. It's a beautiful introduction that gives a whole new dimension to the superb Galaxy Cygnus-A (Part V) which, although amputated by almost half of its time, remains sublime with its minimalist approach whose delicate strikes alternate under remarkable twisted solos that rain in an atmosphere full of galactic sounds. Eclipse concludes this reissue of COMPUTER VOICE with a voluptuous approach where the rhythm sits on a bass line with round curves, discreet piano notes and fine percussions which structure a rhythm always cosmic but imbued with a more Lounge or Jazz, that Groovy. The synth is rather melancholy and drops beautiful alike Vangelis solos while the sound effects are always legion in this title which is really painted of Paradise and Floating Music's atmospheres.

COMPUTER VOICE is more than a retrospective. It's possibly the ideal album to discover the first period of Robert Schroeder and a brilliant amalgamation of known titles and just enough transformed to make them a bit unrecognizable in a new environment made up of titles which come brilliantly close to the originals. A kind of musical puzzle where rhythms, harmonies and ambiences get entangled in a perfect symbiosis that gives us the vague impression of hearing or discovering a new version of Galaxy Cygnus-A or an unreleased album from the Floating Music and Paradise's era. A must have!

Sylvain Lupari (August 26th, 2011) *****

Available at Robert Schroeder Webshop

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