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Friday, March 12, 2010
When people talk about the godfathers of techno and ambient music, the names Brian Eno and Kraftwerk come up frequently, but you could also make a strong case for German space-music pioneer Klaus Schulze. A musician with impeccable krautrock credentials, Schulze played drums for Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel in the early 1970s, before turning on to Moog synths and going solo. Influenced by the minimalism of Terry Riley and the drama of Richard Wagner, Schulze was an early embracer of the hypnotic potential of sequencers, and he released several stunning albums of beautiful, pulsing, cosmic electronica, including "Timewind" (1975), "Moondawn" (1976), and "Body Love" (1977), which was actually commissioned as a porno movie soundtrack. (You gotta love the '70s.) That was a move entirely in keeping with Schulze's philosophy, though. "One of the prejudices against electronic music is that it is not physical or sensual," he once commented. "For me, it is totally sensual."
He's been at it ever since, through creative highs and lows and a catalogue of over 60 albums. Despite electronic music being much more common now than in previous decades, all too much of it is some dude clicking a mouse, with the sounds rigidly chained to 4/4 loops. Schulze, who at age 62 will be making his first appearance ever (!!) in Japan at Tokyo Kokusai Forum Hall later this month, performs live on a vast array of vintage synths, including some refrigerator-size ones that look like they came off the Starship Enterprise. The music he draws forth from them retains a flowing, liquid quality that attests to its live, on the spot, improvisatory qualities. With its cascading melodies and massive ebb and surge of rhythms, it sounds like music that is, well, played, not just data-processed. I could say more, but I tend to agree with Schulze when he said: "Just look around at what kind of music needs plenty of explanation. General rule: The more words, the more unpleasant the music."
Klaus Schulze performs live at Tokyo Kokusai Forum Hall C on March 20 (from 2 p.m.) and March 21 (from 6 p.m.). Tickets cost ¥10,000 in advance and ¥11,000 on the day of the show, with cheap seats going for ¥4,500 and ¥5,000, respectively. Tickets are available from Ticket Pia and Disc Union Shinjuku (Progressive Rock). For more information, call Captain Trip Records at (03) 5355-5698, or visit www.captaintrip.co.jp/schulze/