Klaus Schulze: Timewind
Heard Again

»It's 2015 and as many of you are already aware, this year see's the 40th anniversary of the quintessential Schulze album, 'Timewind'. Recorded in 1975, it's an album that genuinely has a bold statement to make and the one to which most fans gravitate when referring to that classic period in Schulze's 70's recording career.

So, why 'Timewind'? What is it about this album that makes it so special? After all there's nothing particularly groundbreaking about the recording, nothing startlingly hi-tech or advanced about it, some might even add that it lacks the dynamics of its predecessors. So, why this album?

'Timewind' was the recording that announced to the world that Klaus Schulze had arrived with this his first international release, relative album chart success, plus a piece of musical kudos in the form of the ‘Grand Prix du Disque International' award for the recording! 'Timewind' marked a watershed moment; doing for electronica what Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' had done for progressive rock two years earlier. It's true, the harshest of Schulze critics would now have to observe that here, 'something had happened' with the emergence of this thing we call electronic music and there was no going back. It's international success showing that through his music Klaus had a message for the mass populous – though what that message may or may not have been will always remain a mystery, (over to Mr. Schulze for an answer to that one. Undoubtedly Klaus's answer would always be that it is for the listener to find their own truth within his music).

Through continuous development in a time where musical form and technology tentatively walked hand in hand, 'Timewind' proved to be very much a melting pot of Schulze's ideas from his previous works, crystallised and beaten out into a super smooth album where everything became completely focused in this, his electronic elegy to Wagner. For me it nicely brings to a close that chapter best described as Schulze's formative years. A time that had seen pure low fidelity experimentation giving way to more deliberate musical structures; a shift from electro acoustic treatments over to the wider use of synthesisers. It would seem that by the mid seventies Schulze really had honed his interplanetary musical skills to an art form. Any lingering notions of psychedelia swept aside in favour of pure synthesis.

Though Klaus appeared to be adrift, meandering on fringe of an eclectic seventies progressive music scene, 'Timewind' would prove to be somewhat of a musical hammer blow. It was this album that would set him apart not only from his contemporaries, but all else too! Here he'd create a mood so complete that for years to come he would struggle to produce a studio recording to better it!

The sublimely grandiose 'Timewind' originally comprised just two long playing tracks which pushed everything to the limit, not only in compositional approach but also in terms of vinyl playing time. Unusual was the fact that the two extended pieces shared a similar A/B/A structure but appeared to have little else in common. Was 'Timewind' a musical master stroke or merely a self indulgent foray into the depths of what synthesiser technology afforded him?

The 2006 SPV reissue of ‘Timewind' is presented in a gate folded card clip case featuring all the original artwork from the album together with a 20 page booklet containing a very down to earth write up from Schulze about his recollections of the time and the making of the recording together with more insights from Klaus D Mueller on the last page. The reissue package now becoming a two disc affair – the original album making up the first CD, the second being made up of nearly an hour's worth of bonus material!

CD1 opens up with the glorious 'Bayreuth Return' (30.32). A gale force electronic wind is blowing as small twittering synths drift around in an off world dimension. You know this is all just for effect as a uniform sequence surges forward, propelling the piece onwards with an urgency and intensity that just takes over the entire track carrying the whole performance. At the six minute mark the sequencers seamlessly mutate into something a little different as Klaus pulls the rug out from under our feet leaving just the high tempo arpeggiation in freefall. The sonic panorama created seemingly matching the cover art with its bleak desert like emptiness. This then constitutes the main body of the track with a sense of eerie calm as two accented notes in the far distance come to us intermittently as more of a remote signal than any kind of theme. Switching register and key, Klaus fades the synths in and out of the mix. A steady blanket of organ string sounds fizz away sounding wonderfully thin and tinny acting as an excellent foil to the ongoing synth soloing and white noise effects that whistle through the mix. The last ten minutes see's the return of the thundering opening sequence, re-entering play like a freight train hammering down the track! This time around events don't build to a climax as is so often the case on previous Schulze album tracks; instead everything is given more pace by an increase in the intensity and depth of sequencer pattern changes as he quickly retraces his steps back through the piece until a final and rather sudden metallic crash terminates everything.

'Wahnfried 1883' (28.38) fills the rest of CD1. Like track 1 an ocean of white noise, twittering and gliding synth effects all serve to paint some kind of musical imagery which for the bulk of the piece shows no sign of any earthly connection. A broad sound bed of droning organ fills the stereo image as screaming synth solos fight to be heard above the tumultuous backdrop. This all culminating in a huge swathe of electronic instrument sound, (this synthesised wall of sound approach being revisited on the 'Mirage' album two years later). The track drifts on towards the halfway mark where you'll notice that the organ backdrop remains as intense as ever, but all else has switched to a more reflective mood. Something truly beautiful is being played out on the synths, but it is largely overshadowed by the scale and extent of the organ work. High register synth effects return sighting some kind of closure for the piece. The sprawling wash of both synths and organ finally being brought to their knees by massive resonant synth sweeps, Klaus further adding copious amounts of delay, bringing the original album to a most dramatic Wagnerian close, truly overpowering and absolutely brilliant!

Quickly onto CD2; a complete bonus disc of material. Three tracks, two of them also from 1975 which were basically rehearsals for the recording of 'Bayreuth Return'. Due to the rudimentary nature of Schulzes recording gear back in the mid seventies everything had to be done 'on the fly' in a single take, all synth tweaking and sequencer reprogramming was performed 'live', so a rehearsal of what was about to take shape was pretty much an essential part of the whole recording routine. The sizeable 'Echoes of Time' comes in at just under forty minutes. It has a completely different nine minute introduction to 'Bayreuth...' prior to the arrival of the familiar sounding sequences. For the rehearsal there are some slight differences in the mix and sounds used, but for me it lacks the real polish of the finished item. As rehearsal work goes, 'Echos of Time' is pretty amazing, purely by way of the fact that Klaus again turns in a flawless performance on a track that was never meant for release. The same can be said of the following track, ‘Solar Wind' (12.36). Again it's a short rehearsal piece for 'Bayreuth...' (not that you'd know that to listen to it), 50% of the track being made up of effects before moving onto some organ work which is totally detached from anything on the finished piece.

...and what of track three, ‘Windy Times'? This little five minuter was a previously released piece from the 'Essential Extracts' promotional CD for the 'Contemporary Works Vol 1' box set. Schulze regards the piece as a little homage to 'Timewind' recorded in 2000 on modern equipment. The sequencer leads the way, but if l told you it sounded like anything other than the slightly toned down version of the latter stages of 'Playmate in Paradise' from the ‘Moonlake' album l'd be lying. Does it sound like anything from 'Timewind'... not abit of it! An excellent little track though!

So there you have it, if you're looking for a musical experience that touches your sonic nirvana providing music that really does seem like it comes from another planet, 'Timewind' is the answer. It's a forty year old recording now that still doesn't sound like its dated that much at all! Love it or loathe it, this album was unique in its day, (and maybe it still is). An album recorded ahead of its time and out of its time in that there really was nothing else like it. Similarly, let us not forget Schulze's ‘Picture Music' album. Stylistically it could be said to have been somewhat of a preamble to ‘Timewind', but lacked a little of the electronic panache that was lavished with sheer abandon on this 75' recording. ‘Timewind' is an absolute classic for sure. Did it really need an extra disc of bonus cuts? Well as always they're nice to have around, but its disc number one in the set where it's all happening.

The borders of electronically produced music had just been extended into uncharted territory. Our perspective of what constituted electronic music was changed forever and the world had caught up with Mr Schulze.«
("Blue22", from The KS Circle no. 212, February 2015)

[Timewind - Main Page]