I approach Conrad Schnitzler from a strange tangent. I first heard of him nearly 30 years ago, not by following the music press, but by reading comic books. 30+ years ago my friend Tom recommended a series serialized in the pages of Heavy Metal; the “adult” comic mag. While I was always repelled by the magazine, I had to admit two things: Matt Howarth’s “Changes” series was very compelling stuff wildly at odds with the junior high caliber “adult fantasy*” of the magazine’s reputation. And two, Lou Stathis’ music review column was spot on writing!!
Howarth had a penchant for incorporating his favorite electronic musicians within the context of his freewheeling sci-fi/rock hybrid mindtrip fiction. Many of these were already known from my Record Cell, but Howarth held a particularly bright torch for the [West] German Sky Records label, and Conrad Schnitzler, who was continually in the stories he wrote. Dieter Meier and The Residents might guest in an issue from time to time, but Conny and his Klangman® was a constant presence. [klang-klang-klang…] I soon bought anything Howarth did for a dozen years. But only this month have I ever bought a Conrad Schnitzler album.
# 16 • Conrad Schnitzler: Consequenz GER CD RM 
- Fata Morgana
- Tape 5
- Lügen Haben Kurze Beine
- Nächte In Kreuzberg
- Wer Geht Da?
- Bonus 1 (Ohne Titel)
- Bonus 2 (Ohne Titel)
Conrad began his music career by emerging from the Tangerine Dream egg and leaving the nest after the first album. He then formed Kluster with Roedelius and Dieter Moebius. After three albums, he next left for a fecund solo career of deep electronics; releasing hundreds of albums until he died in 2011. This album was originally a self-released 1980 album that was impossibly hard to hear until Bureau B did the service of this reissue. The 2008 Japanese Captain Trip CD was another collectable, basically. Thanks to Bureau B for picking this up because it is fantastic and needs to be widely heard!
Conny’s partner on this album was Wolfgang Seidel, a.k.a. Wolf Sequenza. hence, the title. The electronics flow freely on this album but there are the occasional syndrum and even guitar [!] to add seasoning. All of the original album tracks are brief; three to five minutes in length. The compositions form miniatures rather than fully blown paintings, but all have the vitality of a quick, expressive sketch. “Fata Morgana” is built upon a metronomic pulse that doesn’t stop. Indeed, all of these tracks employ motorik beats to propel the listener forward.
Touchstones here are the work of the BBC Radiophonic workshop, and I have to admit, that much of what I hear on this album reminds me of other music I’m familiar with. “Tape 5” will stir memories of anyone who is familiar with Yello’s “Solid Pleasure;” an album absolutely contemporary with this one. Another project I’m very familiar with that reflects the likely influence of Schnitzler’s work here is the 1981 B.E.F. “Music For Stowaways” tape! “Rise of the East” in particular bears the stamp of Schnitzler’s work here.
“Humpf” is fairly redolent of primeval John Caprenter soundtrack work, particularly his “Dark Star” score. John was probably using similar synths and may have been conversant with Schnitzler. “MS-477” is an urgent slice of electro-punk that any fans of early Cab Volt or the Chris Carter solo cassette, “The Space Between” will relate to most strongly. The appearance of bass guitar on “Pendel” is shocking, and one must consider what Schnitzler might have done in a slightly more conventional context. I can see him being like the “element X” that Fripp brought to his Bowie work, but Schnitzler could have cared less for such things!
Yet, he does venture close to the edge of pop here. “Wer Ghet Da?” may have the liquid synths bubbling and shot through with high frequency squeals resembling birdsong, but there are underlying spy motif riffs that are just below the song’s surface. “Copacabana” bears no resemblance to the Manilow tune, but Yello’s “Downtown Samba” seems highly indebted to the song here. Yet they were each released in October of 1980, so perhaps this is a case of great minds thinking alike?
The bonus tracks added to the 2008 Captain Trip release are repeated here. The first of these is over ten minutes long, but it offers compelling filmmusik motifs appropriate for a heist film. The second is almost nine minutes and proffers a more abstract thrust. Though the length of the bonus tracks see them at odds with the more concise album cuts, the sonic vocabulary they use is similar enough not to draw too much attention to their differences. My first exposure to Conrad Schnitzler has me eager to hear more, and fortunately, that is not a problem. I still have a fat stack of Bureau B reissues yet to hear as we enter the midpoint of 30 Days: 30 Albums.
– 30 –
* …yes, breasts were depicted…Oh, but those were European breasts, they say…