Sunday, August 10, 2008

Geeky music post

I recall buying my first album by Klaus Schulze some time around 1983. I found a copy of Trancefer at a music store and bought the LP on a moment of whimsy. It was an electronic music album featuring some gorgeous synth work of the likes I had never heard before. Later I came to understand that the sound featured some standard elements of Schulze's music. At the time, however, I was merely entranced. I went on to collect many more LPs and CDs of Schulze's music. I've only been really disappointed once or twice by the quality of his output. At the same time, I've realized that I'm the only person that I know who really digs his music. This despite the fact that the man has been a prolific producer of albums, has been mentioned by dozens of more popular artists as a major influence to electronic music, and did some major releases in the 90s with Peter Namlook and Bill Laswell. Indeed, AllMusic Guide gives a cursory overview of his biography, but doesn't mention much about the music itself which ranges from modulations of white noise (Cyborg) to ambient (Trancefer) to dance to classical and beyond. Wikipedia actually does a better job covering the works.

Similar to Schulze, a whimsical mood was upon me when I bought my first CD by Dead Can Dance. It was about 4 years after I bought Schulze's Trancefer that I picked up DCD's album Within the Realm of a Dying Sun. It was a fall day - September or October - and I saw the album at Dearborn Music. It had just been released and I was curious. The album was on 4AD and I tended to trust that label's output at the time. When I took it home and gave it a listen I was instantly hooked. Archie and I went on to listen to that album a lot. I bought their first 2 CDs within a week later. Of course, DCD went on to become considerably more popular that Klaus Schulze. Their last concert tour of North America (2005) sold out instantly. By contrast, I am not certain if Schulze has every played in North America. My appreciation of their music has not waned with their popularity at all. In fact, I think that they progressed over time, particularly Lisa Gerrard whose jaw dropping gorgeous vocals and amazing compositions have consistently left me awed.

So, imagine my geeky happiness when I found out this last week that Schulze and Gerrard have collaborated on a new album. It was released in July and it's called Farscape. Samples can be found on their MySpace Page. It's gorgeous and more in the ambient/classical vein and it makes me giddy to listen to it. Wikipedia has a short article on it as well. The album will be available in North America on August 26th, according to Amazon. Like most of Schulze's releases it will be available as an mp3 download as well.

Bonus Geek:
Here is a fundamental quality of music. Note names repeat because of a perceptual phenomenon that corresponds to the doubling and halving of frequencies. When we double or halve a frequency, we end up with a note that sounds remarkably similar to the one we started out with. This relationship, a frequency ratio of 2:1 or 1:2, is called the octave. It is so important that, in spite of the large differences that exist between musical cultures - between Indian, Balinese, European, Middle Eastern, Chinese, and do on - every culter we know of has the octave as the basis for its music, even if it has little else in common with other musical traditions.

Excerpt from Daniel Levitin's excellent book, This Is Your Brain on Music, which I was reading last night before bed. Emphasis is mine.


Anonymous said...

You should probably be listening to Echoes, which plays Klaus & Lisa together and seperately, though I didn't quite buy into their collaboration when i posted on the echoesblog with A Meeting of Icons: Klaus Schulze & Lisa Gerrard
Unlike you, I came to Klaus's Trancefer in sequence when it came out, but I still think it's one of his best.

B.D. said...

Thanks for the tip!