Klaus Schulze - Picture Music [MIG Records - 2016]Picture Music was the third studio album from this highly respected & inferential German electronic music composer and synth wiz. It originally appeared back in 1974, and is seen as one of his early classic albums. Here is a 2016 CD reissue of the album, which reprints the reissued pressing from 2006.
The reissue appears on the MIG label coming in a four panel digipak, which features the original albums artwork taking in Salvador Dali like surreal paintings. The release comes with a 16 page booklet- this takes in alternative album artwork, and pictures of Mr Schulze & his set-up, along with English & German texts talking about Mr Shulze work in general & the album itís self.
Like many of Mr Schulze early albums- Picture Book featured two length tracks, one on each side of the original vinyl release. For this reissue we get a lengthy bonus track from the same period, which clocks in at thirty three minutes- so the whole reissue runs at just shy of eight minutes.
For this release his set-up took in: A EMS VCS3 synthesizer, A ARP Odyssey synthesizer, A ARP 2600 synthesizer, A Farfisa Professional Duo organ, and drums, percussion.
First up we have the track "Totem"- this comes in at the 23.53 mark, and of the two original tracks itís one of the more set & fixed in itís structure; though no less compelling. After a fading in blend of swirling synth melody, which sounds both coral & spacey. We click into the tracks main setting- this brings together a constantly pulsing, chopping, and oscillating synth tone. With a moody ambient underbelly, that blends intimate vibe like notation with this sad swirling 'n' ebbing synth string melody. These elements are later topped with third layer of thicker & snaking synth craft, which follows the main melody theme. Only in its last few minutes do things pare back again, as the pulse endsÖand we get nice & moody church organ like climbs & descends.
Next up we have ďMental DoorĒ- this comes in shade shorter than the first track at 23.02 mark, but itís a lot more shifting in itís structure, and to my mind it fits the albums title better. The track opens with slow swirls, knocks, and ebbs of spacey electro textures. Fairly soon a sombre rising-yet-wondering organ & synth blend appear, these feel both moody, yet fairly lose & mysterious in their unfold. By around the five & half minute the organ/ synth melody has set a bit more, though itís still quite lose in itís feel, and to my ears it sounds quite Pink Floyd like, when they are more wondering & synth based. By the 8th minute a more forceful blend swirling pluses 'n' twittering synth tones have taken hold. At the 9th minute a quiet cymbal heavy percussive pattern has taken hold- at this point the track sounds like a meeting of speed-up Egyptian ritual music meets futuristic spy soundtrack( odd mix I know, but thatís what I get!). Over the top of this we get nice slices & swoons of synth noise, as the pace seems to get more rapid- now taking on an almost manic Russian dance meets demented 80ís pc race game soundtrack. By around the 17th minute the main synth starts to blur as itís speeds up, and just when you think there is no where else to go we drop back down to a blend of more regal & swooning synth textures, which are joined by a drum pattern that rather brought to mind late 1970ís Tangerine Dream- though fairly soon this comparison shifts as the percussive elements & synth noise go into moody free fall, as the haunting back melody still wavers & simmers on.
The third bonus track comes in the form of the thirty minutes of "C'est pas la mÍme chose". This feels fairly similar in structure to the first track, as it brings together a fairly set pulsing & chopping rhythmic synth tone, with an underbelly of simmer vibe textures & swooning synth string ambience. As a bonus itís ok, though it does tend to feel a little too lose & jam like at times, with Schulze feeling like heís just going through the motions here & there.
All in all this is another worthy chapter in MIG reissue series of classic Schulze albums, and well worth picking up if you are unfamiliar with this highly important & influential electronic artists. Roger Batty