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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Robert Schroeder Harmonic Ascendant (1979)

“Harmonic Ascendant was like a breath of fresh air on the scene of EM at that time and amazed a lot of people by its fascinating minimalist approach”

1 Harmonic Ascendant 22:16   2 Future Passing By 9:19  3 The Day After X 11:41  IC ‎– KS 80 033 (CD 43:15) (Berlin School) (V.F.)

Klaus Schulze's old apprentice, Robert Schroeder was a victim of bad timing when he launches this all-time classic in EM; HARMONIC ASCENDANT. Whereas EM knew its first difficulties in Europe and while the breath of digital instruments gave a colder tonus to this wonderful musical art, Robert Schroeder released with a naive freshness a superb album which combined the moods of a sort of psychedelic electronic music tinted of a moving romanticism.

The whole thing starts when some notes of a soft guitar cross the reverberations of mislaid piano’s notes. Suddenly, everything stops! A light bluish mist is settling down and its smog is dispersing with the superbly nostalgic acoustic guitar of Udo Mattusch. So we are enthralled by this tone so clear which comes out of this delicate fusion of the piano and the acoustic guitar. A very ethereal synth wraps this inmost complicity which loses its piano in the mist a little bit farther. Alone, the guitar breaths in those misty mellotron pads while that Wolfgang Tiepold's cello embraces this long romantic track of its first bow rubblings. This is a purely wonderful moment the we have here. Like a soundtrack of a poignant movie, Tiepold strings eat our emotions of an ignored sensibility until here, while the first bites of Robert Schroeder's synth create the same charms. In a magnificent celestial movement, the guitar, the cello and the synth combine their strange lamentations which merge in a single appeal to the soul. At around the 9th minute Udo Mattusch's finds itself alone introducing the first sequences of Harmonic Ascendant. Harmonious, minimalism and hypnotic this sequenced movement is a road to perdition for the guitar and the foggy synth, leaving all the room to Tiepold’s sublime cello which plows a melodious path more and more accentuated by a firm sequencer, revealing a psychedelic-electronic passage of a melancholic cohesion and of a harmonious beauty.

On the other side of this truly and splendid masterpiece there are Future Passing By and The Day After X. Two tracks which are quite the opposite of Harmonic Ascendant with their electronic approaches and their strange moods. Future Passing By lets filter a vocoder which chews its words in an ambient universe. A universe which is waking up quietly on a synth painted of melodious prisms and on a sequencer which is waving lightly. Filled of choirs and of dark breezes, Future Passing By turns into a slow ethereal procession which fades out in its moods. The Day After X presents an intro which is rather similar to Future Passing By. In fact, a meshing could have been done between both extremities so much that is sounding like that. The intro is more ambient and is crossed by metallic streaks and some very metallic laments. A fine sequence is getting out of this strange industrial mood. Undulating and vaguely indistinct, this movement of the sequencer is substituting to this heterogeneous intro in order to forge a minimalism tempo which draws its harmonies on a superb synth filled of soft solos which get wrapped by foggy layers and so melting to these light modulation lines of the sequencer.

Produced by Klaus Schulze on his Innovative Communication label, HARMONIC ASCENDANT was like a breath of fresh air on the scene of EM at that time. Even if not as much sequenced or rhythmic as the major works of that era, it amazed a lot of people by its fascinating minimalist approach. It’s a superb album with 2 different sides of EM. The romantic mood of the title-track remains a masterpiece which has travelled through the ages. It’s strongly recommended for the fans of Klaus Schulze and to those who have this romantic flame in the soul.

Sylvain Lupari (March 31st, 2008) *****

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