Schnitzler, Conrad - Conal 2001

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Submergence
Catalog Number: SUB053
Format: CD
Total Time: 59:44:00

Conrad Schnitzler is name that is no doubt familiar to listeners of electronic music, certainly due to his own work, but also from his association with the first incarnation of Tangerine Dream -- appearing on their first album Electronic Meditation -- and with Kluster, a trio formed with Roedelius and Moebius. This is my first exposure to his music. From the liner notes of this release, Schnitzler seems the type of person who prefers to let his music do the talking. And yet, he isn't necessarily making any of it for anyone but himself, though he is willing to share it with friends (and that is a certain category of people). But, in conforming to his implied wishes, we'll bypass commentary on the booklet and dive right in to the music.

Conal 2001 is a three track work, two-thirds of which was recorded and mixed last year, the final third dating from 1981 and mixed in 2000. Each piece is about 20 minutes long and is untitled. These are interesting sonicscapes -- not the easy-flowing synth stuff of modern Tangerine Dream, but a more abstract music. This isn't to say its all angular and avant-garde. I say that Schnitzler is letting his music do the talking and that is very much the case, but it is a language spoken not with words but images. It is arty and dramatic, but not over dramatized. Imagine if you will an arty science-fiction film, where instead of the easy thrill of dogfights and shootouts, we get a moody, character study of what life might be like in the future. It is more 2001: A Space Odyssey than Star Wars... or, if we kept it just to American director George Lucas - it is THX-1138 rather than Star Wars. Of course, much of this impression is given by the sound effects at play here that are rather hard to describe. Electronic twitterings and skitterings, gurgles and bubblings dominate while simmering beneath we hear floating washes and atmospheres. The landscapes that these pieces paint is teeming with life and activity -- not the desolate surfaces of Mars, but rather the hectic and busy surface of Earth, or even deeper, into the otherwise unseen activity of the microscopic world.

Overall, the mood is somber, yet at times quite cheerful. That is to say, serious without being morose, without being dark. Lighter hued tone colors are used for the most part, giving the music a very clean and clear feel. Even some of the harsher sonics, strongest in the third piece, have a certain crispness about them. Dark, warmer undertones appear towards the end of track one, suggesting something larger and perhaps a little menacing has entered our otherwise protected environment. But, rather than consuming, it becomes a part of the landscape, part of the microcosmic biosphere.

Deep bass tones herald the beginning of the second piece, pulsating like a heart with an extra beat. This steady rhythm persists even while the sonic effects above, dart about in seemingly random directions, like flies uncertain where to alight next. These give way to glissando-like sounds and a single pulse; the sensation is that of floating in a dark sea -- that area when no person has been before, where the atmospheric pressures are great that it's amazing that life exists, and yet it does.

In the third piece, the landscape we hear here is a digital forest, with electronic birds chirping and singing, the vibrations of the planet audible harmonics, the wind blowing the trees laser sharp and precise. It is a sanitized world, though not an entirely happy place. The downside view of too much technology, ironically composed on a great deal of technology, if the myriad of components and keyboards displayed on the back cover are anything to go by. I'll leave it for the "instrumentologists" to parse out what kind of equipment Schnitzler has used -- picture a bank of boxes with knobs and switches and plug-ins, patch-cords criss-crossing from this component to that. Oddly, the Rush lyric "all this machinery making modern music can still be open hearted" pops into my head, and realize that is very apt here, as the music itself is open and free, expressive.

The thing I love about these kind of sonic explorations is that it doesn't have to be about any one thing - that what you get from it may be visually different each time, the only constant being that you do get something from it each time. Eschewing titles helps towards this, as there is no predefined notion of what the artist was thinking, which still leaves you with just the music. And isn't that what it's about anyway?

A very interesting release that bears repeated listening to explore all the nuances of sound. No way for me to compare this with his other work, but if this isn't among his best, than that rest has to be pretty amazing.

[A recent visit to the Submergence site reveals that this title is now unavailable - ed. 12/30/09]

1 (18:55) / 2 (20:33) / 3 (20:56)

Conrad Schnitzler

Selected discography:
Tangerine Dream - Electronic Meditation (1970)
Kluster - Klopfzeichen (1970)
Kluster - Zwei-Osterei (1971)
Scharwz (aka Eruption) (1971)
Rot (1973)
Slowmotion (1973)
Blau (1974)
Work In Progress (1974)
The Red Cassette (1974)
The Black Cassette (1974)
Con (1978)
Auf Dem Schwarzen Kanal (ep) (1980)
Consequenz (with Wolfgang Seidel) (1980)
Die Wandelnde Klangwolke Aus Berlin (1980)
Contempora (1981)
Con 3 (1981)
Conrad & Sohn (with Gregor Schnitzler)(1981)
Conal (1981)
Control (1981)
Gelb (reissue of The Black Cassette as an LP) (1981)
Gr?n (1981)
Context (1981)
Convex (1981)
The Russians Are Coming (ep) (1981)
Container (1981)
Con 3.3.83 (1983)
Con '84 (1984)
Con '85 (1985)
Concert (1986)
Consequenz II (with Wolfgang Seidel) (1986)
Micon In Italia (with Michael Otto) (1986)
Face On Radio (with Wolfgang Hertz) (1986)
Con '86 (1986)
GenCon Productions (with Gen Ken Montgomery) (1986)
Conversion Day (1986)
Congratulacion (1987)
Contrasts (with Wolfgang Hertz) (1986)
Black Box 1987 (1986)
Contra-Terrene (1986)
Conditions Of The Gas Giant (1986)
ConGen: New Dramatic Electronic Music (with Gen Ken Montgomery) (1988)
CS 1 - CS 13: January 1988 - December 1988 (1988)
Concho (with Michael Chocholak) (1988)
GenCon Dramatic (GenCon Live) (with Gen Ken Montgomery) (1988)
Constellations (1988)
CS 89/1 - CS 89/12: January 1989 - December 1989 (1989)
The Cassette Concert (with Gen Ken Montgomery) (1989)
Kynak (Camma) (with Giancarlo Toniutti) (1990)
CS 90/1 - CS 90/12: January 1990 - December 1990 (1990)
Confidential Tapes (1990)
00/001 - 00/004: Confidential Tapes (1990)
Contempora 00/014 - 00/031 (1991)
Tolling Toggle (with Jorg Thomasius) (1992)
Tonart Eins (with Tonart) (1992)
Ballet Statique (reissue of Con) (1992)
Contempora 00/032 - 00/039 (1992)
Clock Face (with Jorg Thomasius) (1993)
Tonart Zwei (with Tonart) (1993)
Con Brio (1993)
Contempora 00/040 - 00/044 (1993)
Blue Glow (1994)
Con Repetizione (1994)
Contempora 00/045 - 00/053 (1994)
Charred Machinery (1995)
Electronegativity (1995)
00/106 (1996)
The Piano Works 1 (1996)
00/44 (1996)
Construction (1999)
00/071: Piano (1999)
00/063: Piano (1999)
Con/Solo/1 (1999)
00/121: Piano (1999)
00/139: Concert (1999)
Con/Solo/2 (1999)
Computer Jazz (1999)
The 88 Game (2000)
5.5.85 (Concert) (2000)
Conal 2001 (2001)
Acon (with Hans Joachim Roedelius) (2001)
Con '72 (2002)
Live Action 1997 (2003)
Gold (2003)
Contakt (2003)
Con '72 Part II (2004)
Mi.T.-Con 04 (with Michael Thomas Roe) (2005)
Moon Mummy (2006)
Zug (2006)
Aquatic Vine Music (with Michael Thomas Roe) (2006)
Conviction (2006)
Con 2+ (2006)
ElectroCon (2006)
Klavierhelm (2006)
Trigger Trilogy (2006)
Mic + Con 07 (with Michael Thomas Roe) (2007)
Kluster 2007 (with Michael Thomas Roe and Masato Ooyama) (2008)
Rare tracks 1979 - 1982 (with Remixes by Dompteur Mooner) (2008)
20070709 (with Bernhard Woestheinrich) (2008)
Kluster 2008: Three Olympic Cities Mix (with Michael Thomas Roe and Masato Ooyama) (2009)
Horror Odyssee (with Big Robot) (2009)

Genre: Electronic

Origin DE

Added: February 23rd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1520
Language: english


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