Review

Conrad Schnitzler

Paracon (The Paragon Session Outtakes 1978-1979)

Bureau B • 2021

In the tireless effort to put out-of-stock milestones from the 70s and 80s between avant-garde, ambient, Krautrock and New Wave back on the shelves again, Bureau B has also dedicated itself for a decade now to the extensive catalogue from electronic pioneer Conrad Schnitzler, who died in 2011. Schnitzler’s scope of experience was very different from that of his peers: born in 1937, he wandered through a Germany that lay in ruins as an eight-year-old. The background noise of war preoccupied him throughout his life, as did the sound impressions to which he was exposed as a machinist and stoker on ocean liners. At the end of the sixties, the Beuys student became a co-founder of the legendary Berlin underground club Zodiak and found his way to electronic music as an autodidact, also inspired by broadcasts from the WDR Studio for Electronic Music by Herbert Eimert and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Along with Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Möbius, he founded the formation Cluster and was briefly a member of Tangerine Dream. At the beginning of the 1980s, as a lecturer at Hamburg University for Fine Arts (HFBK) he influenced musicians such as Holger Hiller and Thomas Fehlmann (both: Palais Schaumburg, the latter: The Orb). His most important solo albums »Con«, »Consequenz« and »Con 3« were produced during this time. »Paracon (The Paragon Session Outtakes 1978-1979)« is the first release of ten tracks from this period that Schnitzler’s long-time close collaborator and confidant Wolfgang Seidel found in his archive. Recorded at Paragon Studio by Tangerine Dream member Peter Baumann, they impressively prove Schnitzler’s exceptional position: while forming a link between serious music and industrial, this music cannot be completely assigned to any genre. Rather, its proximity to visual art is indicative: these autonomous instrumental sound sculptures make Schnitzler’s concept of »free tones« literally tangible and fit seamlessly into the sequence of his central works.