30 Days: 30 Albums | Conrad Schnitzler – CON 3

30-days-30-albums-headerWell, it’s three days later and I’m puttin’ on the Schnitz’ again! I really enjoyed the first Conrad Schnitzler album I heard. How would this one fare?

Bureau B | GER | CD | 2012 | BB 122

Bureau B | GER | CD | 2012 | BB 122

# 12 • Conrad Schnitzler: CON 3 GER DLX RM CD [2012]

  1. Kohlen
  2. Nächte In Kreuzberg
  3. Hongkong
  4. Komm Mit Nach Berlin
  5. Wer Sind Wir Denn (Vocal Gilli & Gregor)
  6. Coca
  7. Seemannslied
  8. Das Tier
  9. Tanze Im Regen
  10. Con 3.1
  11. Con 3.2
  12. Con 3.3
  13. Con 3.4
  14. Seemannslied (Alternative Mix)
  15. Wer Sind Wir Denn (Alternative Mix)

“Kohlen” [“coal”] starts with a percolating synth rhythm, then liquid dripping synths [last heard on Kraftwerk’s “Man Machine”] join in with a stomping, methodical rhythm underpinning the whole thing. It actually comes as a shock when Schnitzler adds his stentorian vocals to the lurching, playful song. The whole thing has a fractured, extremely quirky pop air to it.

The next track, “Nächte In Kreuzberg” has the air of a Bill Nelson track, though no one would mistake Schnitzler for the Ex-Be-Bop guitarist. Like the first track, the composition is melodically static, and the song is very repetitious as it circles back onto itself without much in the way of melodic development. In this way, the music is related to Krautrock in that the song form, though almost “pop” in this case, still attain a trancelike aspect without the rhythms coming within a mile of the classic Klaus Dinger beat.

“Komm Mit Mach Berlin” features Schnitzler singing gently over the percolating sequencers while the beat is emphasized by nimble acoustic percussion interjecting at irregular intervals. The meter of Schnitzler’s singing strongly recalls that of David Byrne on Talking Heads’ “Stay Hungry!” The beat of “Wer Sind Wir Denn” [“Who Are We”] is a dip into electro-reggae [!] abetted by Schnitzler’s wife and a friend on the backing vocals, which sound like they were fun to record! Again, the trancelike-vibe is very repetitive with only a few dub dropouts to add an abrupt rhythmic shift every now and then.

The “hit single” here must have been “Coca” with its shimmering synths overlaid with some cool vibraphone. Schnitzler’s singing about “Coca Cola” on the face of it, and the track attains a dreamy jungle exotica vibe. “Seemanslied” reminds me of a dubbed out mix of “Reverse Lion” from Yello’s “Solid Pleasure.” The concluding “Tanze Im Regen” suggests another Yello track, the listing “Homer Hossa” from “Claro Que Si.”

The bonus tracks are all unreleased instrumentals or dub mixes of the LP cuts that accompanied this 2012 posthumous reissue on Bureau B. “Con 3.2” is particularly exciting with just single note piano repeating a figure over the acoustic percussion and claptrap forming a singularity of time in the way that only Krautrock can. The track could be 2:45 or 22:45 and the result would be the same: the cessation of time.

“Con 3.3” is largely acoustic percussion with tritone synth loops barely audible in the mix. A single, repeated piano chord adds anxiety as the track unfolds into itself with no melodic development at all. By the time you have heard that chord for the 12th time, you are aching for some melody to unfold that simply isn’t there.  Finally, “Con 3.4” adds a perky technopop addition to the album that almost attains whimsy. The distorted guitar is particularly nice contrast with the crystalline totality of it all. The closing dub mixes are pretty delicious, shorn as they are of Conny’s vocals and any pop pretense as the liquid synth glissandos work their effervescent magic.

I think I may have found my favorite Krautrock performer in Schnitzler. He’s not kosmisch and he’s grounded in a quirky perversity that owes more to the similarly warped pop minds of Eno and Boris Blank than to any spheric noodlers of the Berlin School. He favors work that is rhythmic and structured with little melodic development. There is a playful, if studiously so, character to his work on the two albums I have heard thus far that really engages me. The present of humanizing vocals on this album, redresses what I see as a weakness of listening to too much of this brand of music. The fact that Schnitzler was unceasingly productive with hundreds of releases [many were available only from him directly] means that I have a lot of potential listening to cram into the remainder of my life.

CONCLUSION: enjoy… a lot

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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