Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Robert Schroeder - Harmonic Ascendant

Schroeder is one of Krautrock's forgotten heroes, perhaps because he started releasing music towards the end of German electronica's first wave rather than near its beginning. Stylistically he is close to the Berlin school of ambient trance and psy-rock which includes Tangerine Dream, Ashra and Klaus Schulze among others, yet today he rarely rates a mention in such exalted company. Schroeder deserves better. His classic albums from the late 70's and early 80's compare favourably to the music of his peers. They are also blessed with the childlike curiosity of a musician who loves to custom-build his electronic instruments. Upon hearing his early demos Schulze called him a "contemporary romantic" and his music "naive and beautiful", taking the youngster under his wing and producing his first four albums.

The "naive" reference was no doubt meant only in spirit because Schroeder's lovely debut Harmonic Ascendant is the sound of an artist arriving already fully formed. His style proves less epic and more intimate than Schulze, a trait preserved on most of his subsequent releases. The 22-minute title track is like Mike Oldfield on a trip to Germany, combining an ensemble playing bright piano, acoustic guitar and cello with the celestial synths and chugging sequencers of vintage Berlin ambient. "Future Passing By" builds its repeated motif very slowly with odd vocoder mumblings skimming the surface, eventually swimming in an incredibly lush male choral sound. Although rich, the sound of Harmonic Ascendant is never overly dense, Schroeder perhaps learning something from the less successful outings of his more famous - Robert Schroeder

Robert Schroeder - Harmonic Ascendant -Excerpt- (1979)

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