The Gear of Klaus Schulze, German Digital Pioneer

Klaus Schulze, 1984. Picture (c) Klaus D. Mueller. Used with permission, all rights reserved.

As a member of seminal digital acts like Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, and the Cosmic Jokers, Klaus Schulze spent a lifetime working tirelessly to make a reputation for himself as one among most influential keyboard gamers of all time.

The German musician was a pivotal determine within the emergence of Krautrock within the Nineteen Seventies, happening to drop over 50 albums below his personal title. And as if that wasn’t sufficient, he additionally launched seven collaborative, extra commercial-sounding data below the alias Richard Wanfried between the years of 1979 and 1997.

Klaus Schulze performing dwell in Poland with Lifeless Can Dance’s Lisa Gerrard

Whereas Schulze is finest recognized for his heady knack for synthesis, he was a percussionist earlier than he was a keyboardist. He lower his enamel performing in quite a few native Berlin bands, together with one referred to as Psy Free. After assembly Edgar Froese on the short-lived, but iconic experimental music venue The Zodiak Free Arts Lab in West Berlin round 1969, Schulze began drumming for Tangerine Dream. He was behind the package on their debut LP Digital Meditation, however then left the act after a quick stint to assist discovered the proto-New Age jam band Ash Ra Tempel. (He would go on to rejoin Tangerine Dream for just a few reveals in 1973.)

Schulze laid down the drum tracks for that trio–alongside guitarist Manuel Göttsching and bassist Hartmut Enke–for only one document. After the discharge of their 1971 self-titled debut and a ton of reveals–in true Schulze style–he departed Ash Ra Tempel. (Nonetheless, he would proceed to collaborate with them in numerous capacities within the years to return.) This time, his motive for leaving was to give attention to launching a solo profession.

In 1972, he put out the primary album below his personal title, Irrlicht. Centered on imposing organ licks performed by a crappy amplifier, it was an bold, neo-baroque effort from the up-and-coming avant-garde presence. Within the decade to return, he churned out quite a few traditional data, together with 1976’s Moondawn, 1977’s Mirage, and 1978’s X.

Between the Nineteen Eighties and the 2020s, Schulze constructed up a seemingly-impenetrable catalog of releases, which have been united by a digitized, retrofuturistic aural palette. However whereas his output tended to be centered on leading edge analog atmospherics, he nonetheless typically included natural components into his work, like electrical guitars and human voices.

He even performed within the prog rock supergroup Go, alongside Stomu Yamashta, Al Di Meola, Steve Winwood, and Michael Shrieve. Extensively thought-about a grasp of the Moog, he all-but-invented the Berlin College–a taste of early kosmische musik that was a bit extra ethereal than the work of propulsive krautrock acts like Can and Neu!.

On April twenty sixth of this 12 months, Schulze tragically handed away on the age of 74. After a protracted battle with an unspecified sickness, he left behind a spouse and two sons. Nonetheless, regardless of his previous age and well being struggles, he nonetheless managed to announce yet one more album earlier than his loss of life: the LP Deus Arrakis, which was posthumously launched on June tenth.

It’s exhausting to think about the emergence of genres like ambient, IDM, or home with out Schulze’s contribution to the development of digital music. He was an avid innovator, who by no means hesitated to push the technological limits of his work. So, in honor of the legacy of “the godfather of techno,” we will have a look at the highly effective musical machines that formed his sound.

Klaus Schulze dwell on WDR Köln TV, 1977


The Moog was a vital part of Schulze’s formulation. Over the course of his profession, he cycled by quite a few devices from the Asheville, North Carolina-based synthesizer producer. For an instance of how essential these merchandise have been to his inventive course of, look no additional than his Pete Namlook collaborative albums The Darkish Aspect Of The Moog and The Darkish Aspect Of The Moog 2.

Schulze typically used a compact, 32 key Micromoog in his dwell setup, which was solely produced between the years of 1975 and 1979. The monophonic synthesizer was able to creating a variety of tones and textures. Within the above video, you’ll be able to hear Schulze lean on it so as to add arpeggiated washes of treble to a 1977 on-stage set.

On this similar video, he additionally performs a Polymoog, which was a hybrid polyphonic synthesizer–it dwelled in the identical vein as different well-liked pre-1980 organs and string machines. Its tastefully groovy presets made it effectively fitted to disco and ambient musicians.

One other one of many most important synths from the corporate he employed was the coveted Memorymoog. It was the final polyphonic synth to be produced by the corporate earlier than they declared chapter in 1987, and is known for its luscious, funky sound. However whereas it’s one of the crucial sought out synths round, it’s famously extra of a studio powerhouse than a road-ready workhorse.

Within the recording of this present, he shreds on the now-coveted, then-affordable Minimoog Mannequin D as effectively. This synth was one of many model’s first accessible releases.

He was additionally a fan of the corporate’s early Modular synthesizer—a “Massive Moog” that comprised of IIIp and a Sequencer Complement B enlargement cupboard, purchased in 1975 from Florian Fricke of Popol Vuh. A whole wall of his dwelling studio was devoted to the instrument, which he used to patch totally different sounds.

Different Synths

Schulze might have been often called the grasp of the Moog, however he was keen on different synthesizers as effectively. He was not often content material to play the identical instrument for lengthy, and so the checklist of keyboards that cycled by his studio is prolonged.

The primary synthesizer Schulze ever bought within the Nineteen Seventies was an EMS Synthi A, which grew to become a staple in each his dwell and recording setups for years to return. He liked the atmospheres that he might craft with its alluringly flawed oscillators. Due to its rickety nature, it was virtually not possible to duplicate the identical sound a number of occasions, and Schulze embraced this chaos.

Schulze was additionally keen on quite a few Roland merchandise. He included a Roland Tremendous JX-10 into his rig, which produced a bevy of sounds, ranging from wiry strings to blocky electrical pianos. He additionally used a Roland JD-800, which was a digital synthesizer recognized for its plethora of knobs and sliders. These options made it a robust device for patch enhancing and efficiency management.

On high of that, he used a Roland U-110 ROMpler module, which was the corporate’s first devoted pattern playback synth. He performed a Roland D-50, too, which was well-known for its subtractive synthesis, on board results, and joystick modulation. The sounds of a Roland Fantom G7/a> appeared on a few of his recordings as effectively.

And whereas Schulze definitely exhibited some favoritism in direction of Roland and Moog, he did personal synthesizers from quite a few different corporations. For a variety of sounds, he employed the dexterous Crumar GDS, which might produce something from plonky pseudo-xylophones to jagged soundscapes. He additionally used the Alesis A6 Andromeda, which was a 16 voice, 16 channel multitimberal piece of kit.

For bass sounds, he typically performed a Novation Bass Station II, whereas for keyboard sampling he tapped in a Sequential Circuits Prophet 2000. And for wubby basses, he ceaselessly referred to as upon the ARP 2800 Odyssey Rev 1. As a vocoder, he used the DSP chip-centric Alesis ION. Plus, he was sometimes noticed with a Korg MS2000.

Whereas this checklist of synths is certainly in depth, it barely even scratches the floor of merchandise that Schulze owned in his lifetime.

Schulze’s studio

Within the Nineteen Seventies, Schulze based his personal recording studio, referred to as Moldau Studio. It was nestled someplace deep in Germany’s Lüneberg Heide forest, and was pretty troublesome to seek out with out detailed instructions. Jam filled with synths and recording tools, it was a excessive tech playground for a musician who not often let himself get snug working with the identical gear for lengthy.

On the middle of the studio was a 36 channel Soundcraft 6000 mixing desk (he was recognized to make use of an Alesis 32 mixing console as effectively). He most popular bigger consoles, as a result of he loathed patching issues out and in of his mixers–this piece of drugs featured 92 inputs, so he might begin recording something virtually instantly.

Schulze used a Quasimidi Cyber 6 as his grasp keyboard for midi sequencing, which was a robust early device for DAW integration. In his youthful years, Schulze employed a Revox B77 tape recorder as his reel to reel. Nonetheless, afterward as soon as he had transitioned to digital manufacturing, he used an Apple Energy Mac G6 as his laptop, which was loaded with quite a few plugins and VSTs (Schulze used an Apple Powerbook in his dwell performances). He listened again by a pair of Occasion PS6 studio screens.

A few of the software program devices he used included Arturia’s Modular V Software program Synthesizer, Steinberg’s Voice Machine, and Spectrasonics’s Environment Dream Synth module. He additionally used Spectrasonics’s Stylus RMX and Native Devices’s Battery for drums. And, ever the reverb connoisseur, Schulze typically included Common Audio EMT 140 Traditional Plate Reverberator and Apple Logic House Designer plugins into his mixes.

This core digital workstation was boxed in by outboard tools, which Schulze known as the “Massive Wall.” This setup contained quite a few synths–six Quasimidi Rave-o-lution 309 grooveboxes, six Quasimidi Polymorph sequencer/synthesizers, and 4 Entry Virus synthesizers. The rack additionally featured a Doepfer MAQ 16/3 sequencer, and a mixer. Though few folks truly noticed this elaborate rig in individual, he did use it dwell at a 1997 live performance in Osnabrück, Germany. He had a grasp controller hooked as much as the entire synths in his studio, in order that his sprawl of keyboards was basically distant managed.

Schulze’s studio was packed to the brim with outboard tools, too. A few of these items of drugs included a TC Electronics M-One twin results processor, an Eventide H3500 Extremely-Harmonizer, (he additionally used an Eventide Harmonizer H939t), a Roland SRV-2000 MIDI digital reverb, and an Alesis CLX-440 limiter and compressor.

The area additionally featured a indifferent cabin for recording singers and acoustic devices.

Different devices

Schulze might have been finest recognized for his ahead pondering knack for digital instrumentation, however synths and outboard gear weren’t his solely instruments of the commerce.

He owned just a few guitars, together with the timeless Fender Stratocaster, a 1958 Hofner President Acoustic Archtop, and a Martin Normal Sequence D12-28 12-string. Typically he would play these guitars by pedals, just like the TC Digital Spark Booster and the TC Digital Stereo Refrain Flanger. He additionally laid down electrical basslines on a Hofner Verythin.

When Schulze wished to make use of an outboard drum machine, he ceaselessly programmed beats on the Alesis DM-10. It was a drum module, which has now developed to be its personal complete standalone digital package.

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