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In rotation: Conrad Schnitzler's 'Ballet Statique'

October 14, 2011 |  6:04 am

A series in Sunday Calendar about what Times writers & contributors are listening to right now...

In rotation: Conrad Schnitzler's 'Ballet Statique'

Recently, music lost a technological pioneer who made huge strides in the mechanics of production and alternative distribution structures. Also, Apple's Steve Jobs passed away this month.

The German sound experimentalist Conrad Schnitzler died in August, and he left behind one of the most formidable catalogs in avant-garde electronic music. An early member of the essential Tangerine Dream, his work on the group's debut, “Electronic Meditation,” pulled from free jazz, found sounds and Stockhausen (his onetime teacher) to make an alternately violent, lulling and haunting environment — without which there would be no Brian Eno or Radiohead.

As a founding member of Kluster, his approach to culling and treating sound samples laid ground for noise music as a coherent genre, and his influence is imbued in every edgy rock band today in which a guitar sounds like anything but (fittingly, he revived Kluster with a new lineup in 2007 after three-decade dormancy). But his own solo work, often released in hyper-limited CD-R runs, is a testament to the possibilities of synthesis that remain at the knife's edge of relevance today. Listen to Schnitzler's “Underwater Church” — off 1978's “Ballet Statique,” reissued in April — and Chris Brown's “Look at Me Now” and you'll hear shards of the same squelching, retro-futurist DNA pinned to a drone that feels almost pagan. 

Conrad Schnitzler
“Ballet Statique”
M=Minimal Records

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