Klaus Schulze – Bayreuth Return

This track is one half of Schulze’s 1975 release Timewind and while it’s certainly a wonderful example of Berlin School electronic experimentation, one look at Schulze’s discography highlights the difficulty of picking just one release. He performed on Tangerine Dream’s debut album Electronic Meditation as well as on the Lord Krishna Von Goloka release that I’ve also written about here in addition to releasing over 40 albums of his own beginning with Irrlicht.

Part of that extensive discography includes releases under another name, Richard Wahnfried which he described in the notes for Time Actor as a blending of avant garde music and hypercommercial muzak. This appropriation of commercial ambient music in service of avant garde forms influences many experimental musicians today, from manipulating cassette tapes originally designed for corporate outreach by groups like Good Willsmith to the long-form future mall music of Virtual Dream Plaza. Schulze and the artists in his milieu helped to expand the vocabulary of electronics in experimental music and, eventually, music more generally and in my opinion it’s hard to overstate their influence. Since it is getting more and more affordable for people to obtain synths thanks to software-based synth engines, those interested would do well to immerse themselves in the music of this period if they have not already, both because it is good to understand the history and because it’s a sonic treat.

Martin Zeichnete – Morgenröte

Martin Zeichnete was a sound editor with the state-owned East German film studio, the Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft, when he began hearing the cosmic sounds of Kraftwerk, Neu!, and Can drifting over the Berlin Wall and into his radio. An avid runner, he had the idea of utilizing this new electronic music as training music. After telling a few of his colleagues this idea, he was approached by two state agents and brought to an undisclosed location where they interrogated him for a few hours. To his surprise, they informed him that the project would begin immediately.

From 1972 until 1983 he and a group of other musicians recorded music for East German Olympians in a variety of events, from running to gymnastic floor routines. He also composed ambient music to be played in stadiums before events began. Athletes were some of the first people on the other side of the wall to get Walkmen, which they received specifically in conjunction with what Martin and his associates called Projekt Kosmischer Läufer or “Cosmic Runner.” Though the recordings were technically property of the state, he spirited as many as he could away but assumed the masters were destroyed in the chaos surrounding the fall of the Soviet Union. Luckily an engineer had saved many recordings, and they were released by Unknown Capability Recordings, with Volume 1 coming in 2013 and Volume 2 coming in March of 2014. They just announced that pre-order Volume 3 is available for pre-order. Volume 3 consists of more running tracks along with the soundtrack to an aborted animated film project designed to help an East German bid to host the Olympics. Unknown Capability also has a page with lots of other information about this awesome project, so check it out.