This is from the same period as IRRLICHT. If you’re into the recent trend of cassette ambient releases by Ducktails, Emeralds, Mark Mcguire, etc, then you need to hear this stuff, Ashra, Tangerine Dream, Edgar Froese, and Manuel Gottsching. The real deal. -Ian!
Klaus Schulze’s 1973 sophomore effort, the double-album Cyborg, finds the electronic music pioneer at his most deliberate, introspective and lengthy. Cyborg is a continuation of the style that Schulze began with his debut album, Irrlicht, but the music is even more experimental and ambient. The four long, slow, repetitive tracks are constructed mostly from organs and processed orchestral passages (not a mellotron, as one might initially suspect), although the synthesizer does make its first appearance on a Klaus Schulze record here in the form of the VCS-3. The liner notes indicate that Schulze called it his “twitter synth,” and he generally used it to produce sounds that are onamonapaeic of the nickname.
Cyborg is really an experience to be measured in its entirety rather than in terms of four distinct tracks, as the pieces themselves aren’t all that different and blend into each other. “Conphära” and “Chromengel” are heavier on the processed orchestral passages while “Synphära” and “Neuronengesang” are more synthetic and spacey, but I think of the album as a single, giant entity. Clear parallels to Cyborg are the earlier albums by Tangerine Dream, Zeit in particular. While I think that Schulze’s contemporaneous work is more “musical” than the early Tangerine Dream material and somewhat more rewarding of close attention, these distinctions are blurred in the case of Cyborg. Cyborg is all about atmosphere, and I find it more suitable as background music for reading or sleeping than for active listening. While Irrlicht was stylistically similar, it had qualities of dramatic tension that Schulze opted not to explore further here and thus I find the differences in character between the two albums to be significant.
Cyborg’s atmospheres can sometimes be quite interesting and the fact that it was recorded on a shoe-string budget makes it all the more admirable, considering the timbral creativity and cosmic scope. Nevertheless, some would call this Klaus Schulze’s most boring ’70s record and rather than dismiss such a claim as uninformed, I think that any objective observer would have to concede that nearly 100 minutes of ambient space music is probably a lot more than anybody other than a dedicated fan would want or need — especially if they already have Schulze’s superior debut album, Irrlicht. While I think that Cyborg is basically a good album, I would not recommend it to anyone who has not already heard and liked Irrlicht or related titles from the early-’70s German electronic scene.
Until recently, Cyborg had been out of print for a long time and was an expensive item in the used CD market. It was reissued in late 2006, so now is as good a time as any for seekers to pick it up. The reissue includes a 51-minute bonus track, “But Beautiful,” which was taken from an October 1977 concert performance in Brussels. The bonus track has little in common with the music from Cyborg, but I think it’s a very good piece and will appeal to those who like Schulze’s music from the later ’70s.
-Matt P., progreviews.com
Klaus Schulze-CYBORG (1973)