Review

Conrad Schnitzler / Pyrolator

Con-Struct

Bureau B • 2015

When Ton Steine Scherben drummer Wolfgang Seidel turned up at the Boiler Room Berlin in January 2014, it was a strange sight. Not simply because the bespectacled proto-punk seemed to have fallen out of time alongside other acts like Lotic, Dasha Rush, These Hidden Hands and Mouse On Mars, but because he went on to deliver one of the strangest musical performances in Boiler Room history. Armed with a folder full of CD-R discs, he played a set that was received with incomprehension in many circles. And no wonder: Conrad Schnitzler, whose sounds Seidel let interact by using two CDJs, had composed the material for an orchestra composed of 1000 people who were supposed to play 1000 different tracks at the same time over 1000 cassette recorders. Something that is not exactly digestible, to say the least. But, then again, Schnitzler’s work never was. Nevertheless, the composer and performance artist, who died in 2011, is rightly considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. For music like the fragmented hyper-trap of Lotic or the tinkering orgies of Mouse On Mars, even the relatively straight techno designs of Dasha Rush or These Hidden Hands could not have existed without him. Not least because one day he handed two snooty young musicians from Dusseldorf their first synthesiser, which later became the inspiration for hip-hop, techno and many other forms of electronic music under the name of Kraftwerk. But because he haunted the shadows as an eternal founding figure for the widest variety of bands and artists, from the black metal band Mayhem to the early Neue Deutsche Welle (NDW). Pyrolator alias Kurt Dahlke, founder of the legendary Ata Tak label in Dusseldorf and member of the NDW band Der Plan, pays tribute to Schnitzler here as one of the contributors to the »Con-Struct« series from the Bureau B sub-label m=minimal by reassembling material from the composer’s extensive archive. Dahlke himself emphasises that he wanted to stress the techno character of Schnitzler’s oeuvre, and in the process himself decisively influences the original sounds he has chosen. The result is an album that is not always coherent and that brings out the multi-faceted complexity of Schnitzler’s sound cosmos. From ambient techno to massive steppers to trance finales, Dahlke builds many different bridges to genres that would certainly sound different without Schnitzler’s work. The fact that he himself intervenes is probably entirely in the spirit of Schnitzler – after all, he once wanted to group 1000 people into an interactive choir. Like Seidel’s Boiler Room performance, Dahlke’s posthumous »Con-Struct« is not only a beautiful homage but also a meaningful continuation of Schnitzler’s work.