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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ROBERT SCHROEDER: D.MO Vol.4: Harmonic Decadence (2017)

Updated: Mar 12, 2022

The music of Harmonic Decadence is as much magnificent as its tone which places the album in these years of Harmonic Ascendant

1 Harmonic Decadence Side-A 23:56 2 Harmonic Decadence Side-B 25:19 Spheric Records | SMCD 2037 

(CD 49:15) (V.F.) (Berlin School)

Robert Schroeder shook slightly the temples of EM in 1979 with the excellent Harmonic Ascendant. What the public did not know until today, but there were rumors at that time, was the story behind this album. The first recording of Robert Schroeder was in reality HARMONIC DECADENCE and was recorded in the same studios, Panne-Paulssen in Frankfurt in 1978. Its tone, too electronic, hasn't pleased at all the big bosses of IC/WEA. Schroeder thus returned to the same studios and worked on what was going to become the imprint of the musician from Aachen on the chessboard EM; Harmonic Ascendant. The recordings of HARMONIC DECADENCE were forgotten and then finally lost in time until Robert Schroeder begins to dig his memoirs and tapes in his vaults. The results of this search were going to be translated into a series entitled D.MO, for Demo. A series that was highly expected for the fans whose main idea was to restore the music in their origin tones and sounds without retouches. Except for D.MO Vol.4: HARMONIC DECADENCE which was remasterised in the spirit of that era. The peak of Harmonic Ascendant was without any doubt its very long and how much magnificent title-track. Future Passing By and The Day After X were two more avant-gardist titles with its lot of effects and a good use of the vocoder. It's mainly the fragrances of those 2 tracks which blow over the first track, while the second one inhales those of the wonderful Harmonic Ascendant. And in the end of the day, D.MO Vol.4: HARMONIC DECADENCE turns out to be a completely unexpected surprise that is going to please undoubtedly to the fans of Robert Schroeder's very beginning.

Floating layers, electronic effects and murmurs of vocoder arouse the curiosity of our ears and comfort a wait which was very high, considering the impact of Harmonic Ascendant in the history of modern EM. The sound aestheticism of Robert Schroeder is anchored well and truly in the harmonious descent of Harmonic Decadence A Side-A which sounds literally as in the modernist universe of the Face B in Harmonic Ascendant. The movement of the sequencer is more fluid here, being even situated between the movements of Future Passing By and The Day After X. Minimalist and very melodious, the rhythm is waving with its magnetizing effect while of all the pores of Harmonic Decadence A Side-A comes its lot of effects and murmurs from this synth which mix brilliantly its effects and solos. No doubt, we are in the lands of Harmonic Ascendant. Harmonic Decadence Side-B revisits its younger brother with an enhanced pace while surfing on the more livened up portion Harmonic Ascendant's title-track. The bouquet is very retro Berlin School with this clearly felt influence of Klaus Schulze on Robert Schroeder. The solos of synth are superb here, the effects are well measured and put an emphasis on the presence of the synth while the rhythm is as much animated as in la belle époque. Little by little this rhythm becomes breathless by the race of the sequences and lean on a slow structure which is very similar in The Day After X, effects in more.

I'm very surprised that the management of IC/WEA have snub HARMONIC DECADENCE, considering the crazy adventures of Klaus Schulze in Timewind, Moondawn and Body Love. The only difference between this HARMONIC DECADENCE and Harmonic Ascendant is the very romantic approach of its title-track. But no matter, the important is that the recordings of its predecessor was found, because my ears have devoured a splendid music here. If I always have a drawback regarding these archaeological digs of the pioneers of the art, any forms included, I welcome with enthusiast this brilliant recording lost in time. The music of D.MO Vol.4: HARMONIC DECADENCE is as much magnificent as its tone which places the album in these years where the imagination has opened the door to a universe of one thousand fantasies. This is what I call a must!

Sylvain Lupari (September 18th, 2017) ***** Available at Spheric Music and CD Baby

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