Klaus Schulze - The KS Story (in English) - Part 4  

In the summer of '87 Klaus had started to produce the famous German pop group ALPHAVILLE. This happened by accident. Our friend Andreas Grosser who was a helping hand in every Berlin studio, took Klaus to Alphaville's studio, and it was revealed that the members are old fans of Klaus. One of them was disc jockey in a club in western Germany when Klaus gave a concert there, back in 1975.

Alphaville was in the midst of mixing a single track, and Klaus showed them some things. He was asked if he has time to help a bit more, and finally he became co-producer and worked sporadically in Alphaville's studio during the next 18 months. What came out was the LP "The Breathtaking Blue" with a great overall sound and mark, but with no single hit, which is a necessity in this pop music market. Anyway, I doubt if all synth players' combined CDs sell as much as this pop CD did, even it wasn't as successful as it should.

After many years of fruitless trying, in summer 1988 my contact to the media and radio of the other part of Germany finally looked rosy. Therefore, KS and I visited East Berlin - KS for the very first time in his life! - and Klaus gave a long interview to a friendly and serious radio man, who had his own little Electronic program. This interview was broadcast in many parts, until the state and the radio vanished for reasons beyond any music.

The next solo LP for Metronome, MIDITERRANEAN PADS, was delivered by Klaus in September 1989, but released only five months later, without an explanation for the delay from the company.

Because of my contact to the East German radio we were invited to do a concert at a wonderful open air place, built like a Greek amphitheatre, in the town of Dresden, in August 1989. The usual notorious custom problems behind (it was not allowed to carry computers to the East, said the West at this time! ...and the East feared everything that came from the evil West, except their money), we drove to Dresden, one day before the actual gig. The hotel in Dresden was more expensive than any comparable western hotel, but it was paid for us by the promoter (who, by the way, deducted several hundreds of Mark for the 'performance rights' society. Four years later I still asked for it, in vain. They are obliged to give it to the composer KS and to the publisher, me, but we both never saw a penny. Those gangsters!). In the early morning of the concert day I heard from my hotel bed the depressing sound of rain! Oh, shit. The day and the open-air concert is spoilt. So I thought. When I got up, and looked out of the window, I saw no rain?! Instead, it was a huge fountain in front of the hotel, that made this rainy noise. The whole day was wonderful, warm and sunny. We set up, we made friends, we had a wonderful time. Before KS' performance, three supporting groups played, including two East German groups. One of the acts played "à la KS", and I saw and heard the frenetic audience's reaction, then I knew: This is Schulze-audience. The East German trio POND did an announcement which included some moving words about the chance to be on the same stage with their hero, Klaus Schulze. This nearly made my cry. It's a pity that Klaus couldn't hear it; he was still in his hotel. Thanks, Wolfgang of POND.

Klaus as the main act begun very late, after 10 o'clock in the evening. He did a short announcement, and he even surprised me with that. He dedicated the two long pieces not only to the town of Dresden by calling them "Dresden 1" and "Dresden 2", but he will play these two pieces in the memory of two of his friends, he said, who both died quite recently under bad circumstances: Bernd Meyer (no musician), and Walter Bachauer. I'm still moved while I type that, some years later.

Useless to mention that the attentive audience loved and enjoyed what Klaus played. All 6800 of them. Because Klaus started so late, it was already close to midnight when "Dresden 2" was concluded. Some equipment stood backstage, and everybody who leaned on it, realized that the top surface was already pretty wet. The theatre was located in the midst of a huge park, and the moisture, as well as the nocturnal coolness became uncomfortable. Therefore: No encore. The audience hurried after this second piece of Klaus, to get off the cold and wet. In addition, and that was probably most people's main problem: they had to catch the last busses and trains (!), because they had come from all over the country. Later, someone from British Virgin Records who has never seen Dresden, wrote something about "police restrictions" which "imposed" KS to stop the concert. Nonsense! I wonder, again and again, why people in the record industry must say and write bullshit, when the plain truth is sensational enough. There were no restrictions, and I have not seen one policeman or any other official during our two days in Dresden.

Back in the hotel we met a handful of fans who came from all over Europe to see Klaus Schulze play at this wonderful place, after 4½ years of no concerts. One of the fans I took by surprise. When he introduced himself with his first name, I could tell immediately his second name and where he comes from. He wrote quite a few time before, and I did answer so often, I knew his name and address by heart.

The East German journalists in Dresden were more professional, more informed, more polite, and more civilized than the species we are used to know in the West. The East German writers see their job as their profession, the Westerners take their profession as just a job. One silly story from a concert, ages ago in (West-Germany's) Hamburg, comes to my mind. After the concert, the record company invited us and the press to a restaurant (most certainly a pizzeria). The blockhead from the notorious German BILD Zeitung asked us (yes, he really did!): How many Volts has your equipment? (I told the story already somewhere above.)

Or, if I think of all the silly and wrong information in a February '93 article in the British magazine 'Sound On Sound'... Or the concert announcement in a Cologne newspaper, that "Klaus Schulze sings meditative songs at 8 p.m... including a small picture with the words, again: "Klaus Schulze sings...". Or the reviewer who mentions a "Wurlitzer" he had heard during KS' playing, which was the same who grumbles about "the strange look" of the "young" (!) audience. Or the review about a concert which didn't happen (indeed!). Or, in May 1993, a German radio man - for 25 years he writes about the German rock scene - who got all KS info from me, in addition he interviewed KS in length, but then on the program he announced Klaus as an artist who performed his "extravagant rock operas in all big churches all over Australia and USA." Seriously! I have the tape!

The DRESDEN concert recordings were later released on two CDs, with some additional studio recordings.

Klaus Schulze 1989

After DRESDEN I got one of these many inquiries which ask us for help. This time it was a Californian musician and label owner, Walter Holland, who had the idea to do a sampler CD dedicated to Dalí. What he wrote to us, made sense, was respectful, and sounded honestly. These were three reasons to agree. By accident KS was without a binding record contract for some weeks, so he could do what became the track THE FACE OF MAE WEST on the sampler DALI: THE ENDLESS ENIGMA.

A propos California. I receive regularly many letters from fans and journalists. And from artists. Because I read them very consciously, answer to them, sometimes discuss matters, and this for over 20 years (meanwhile: over 30 years), I found out the following: Every country or area, and every type of person they all have their specialities. Everytime one such letter is written and sent by a Californian, it supports my image of the people living in that sunny American state: They seem to be all lunatics, with just one or two exceptions. As a result, I use the term "Californians" as a running gag, as a synonym for loonies. Not much to my surprise, many Americans from the other United States agree with me. The RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS even made a hit record "Californication".

June 1991 saw the release of Klaus Schulze's next CD: BEYOND RECALL. A suitable heading for this production, although KS didn't know when he chose this title, that it will be the last disc which also was available on vinyl, beyond recall (but who knows...)

At the beginning of 1991 we got the offer to give an open air concert outside the huge Cathedral in Cologne, as part of a kind of cultural festival; the same day saw two other "electronic" groups, among them ASHRA with old pals Manuel Goettsching and Harald Grosskopf.

Klaus Schulze 1991

It was not easy to deal with the promoter of that concert, he seemed to be not very interested in this event, in the artists, or their music. I found that so irritating, that I phoned another promoter whom I knew for a long time, and asked him about that man. He is "an asshole" - was the information that I got, and that fitted perfectly to my very own impression. I went with ASHRA to Cologne, KS came independently. I helped both, ASHRA as well as Klaus. During the last (main) act, which was KS, suddenly the Cologne stage people started to do a poor "Disco light show", flickering lights, on and off... - although I told them before not to do anything with the light. The promoter even asked some weeks before, what kind of light show we want, and I explained to him: No light "show" at all ! We want it simple, discreet, the way we do it for many many years, just two colours, and maybe one change during the whole concert. And now, during the concert, they tried to disturb KS and his music with this unnecessary and childish playing with the light. I rushed to the responsible guy, told him to stop that, and it stopped. Until... until a boss from the local radio (who recorded the act) cropped up from nowhere, and found maybe the atmosphere too inactive, who knows?... anyway, he told the poor stage crew to do something with the light. This flickering "show" started again. I had to shout that radio boss off the stage...

Only later I had to learn (from reviews in the local newspaper who had missed a good light show) that the whole event was indeed & long ago announced as "Sound and Light" event! Nobody had cared to tell us! And I even asked him before! What was my friend's specification for that promoter: ..."asshole"? Yes, he was one.

This concert was not only recorded and partly broadcast by the local radio, but it was also recorded by Klaus directly from the mixer onto his digital recorder. This over one hour long piece was later released under the title THE DOME EVENT as the third of a CD trilogy of concert recordings by Klaus Schulze. The other two CDs contain recordings from his solo concert in London, four month after the Cathedral gig.

For that London concert at the serious Royal Festival Hall we first wanted a supporting act, and I was thinking about the solo piano player Hans-Joachim Roedelius, who would fit musically perfectly. And I like him personally. But Roedelius had no support from any big record company, so we would have to pay Roedelius' fee and his other costs, which was finally too much, and I had to phone Hans-Joachim at his holidays' place to tell him: Sorry, good idea, but: no chance.

One month after our smooth London concert we went to Spain to do five concerts, that were very good paid, we travelled from town to town always by plane... I wonder why the promoter did it? Had he to get rid of some (black) money? In addition, he gave us what he called a "tour manager", who also got airplane tickets from town to town (which are not cheap). Because I used to be a tour manager myself (see the first part of this story), I can say, that this "tour manager" was everything, especially a well dressed man with some dainty pair of sunglasses, but he was no tour manager. We only saw him at the airports, anyway. He was no help at all - and we urgently needed help: No Spaniard speaks another language than Spanish (!) Not even French. Not even the employees at the wonderful and huge international concert halls where we played, speak one word of English, French, Italian, German. I wonder what they do when they have the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and every second musician ask for the toilet, the dressing rooms, the next phone, for some money change, for the way to the bar, for the promoter, for the light, and many many other technical necessities. Probably they are more clever than we and travel with their own interpreter? One of our own German roadies used to travel with theater groups, he said: He never experienced such non-professionalism with stage people as in Spain. KS said at the end of the last concert (where he was nearly killed by a falling light traverse, and I nearly killed the responsible drunk Spanish stagehand): "Russia can't be worse." (Izviníte -sorry- to all Russians. -kdm) The good side: The weather, the halls, 4 of the 5 local promoters, and last but not least: the audience, all were extraordinary.

One after another of the three "live" CDs were released by VIRGIN, more or less worldwide, and all three got great response. The reviews from all over the world, and the private letters from fans, were more than positive. Just one review was negative. Very rudely negative, so that -for the first time!- I didn't find it necessary to react.

Around this time, I stopped generally to react, trying to help, and writing letters to journalists or editors, to the same extent as before. I did that for many many years, I reacted on every article about Klaus, trying to correct and help, but - I fear - without much of a success. Most writer's interest in the music, their thinking and writing about it, is not as large as it should be. The same goes for the language and layout that they use sometimes, as well as for their knowledge or ideas about cultural things in general, not to mention their knowledge about the music business, the musical history, or any other music than their own beloved T.D., or KS, or Jarre, or whatever. I do excuse all this, if the journalist is 17 years of age, but I cannot tolerate this when he's a grown man. I stopped to write and offer help, to explain things... (There are exceptions!)

While the trilogy of ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL 1 & 2 and THE DOME EVENT made headlines, KS did not ate the bread of idleness. He cannot help, but his studio and his music are his daily life. He did some soundtrack music for the TV, and althought he was asked just for a few seconds, he did hours and hours of various music. In addition, he did some so-called classical music, he played no interpretation but the original compositions of people like Bach, Brahms, Bartók, Schubert, Smetana, Beethoven, Mozart, and others, completely synthetical with the computer. Further, he did the soundtrack for a French movie, LE MOULIN DE DAUDET, and he did film music for a German film, but the director couldn't pay the agreed sum, and KS got back his soundtrack tapes. Finally, Klaus did plenty of music without asking for a fee, for a therapy house to help alcoholics.

The contract with Virgin Records, although still valid for some more albums, was terminated by E.M.I. KS was not the only artist or employee, they had to get rid of, one way or another, when E.M.I. swallowed Richard Branson's beloved company. Most of Virgin's first class managers voluntarily left the boat, and half the Virgin employees were fired by big brother E.M.I.. KS' and other artists' contracts were probably too expensive for the mercenary spirit of E.M.I. After they got rid of that expensive but still binding contract with Klaus, they offered a new one, but for a much lower compensation.

The feeling of freedom to do what we want, is great for KS as well as for me. We can realize our 10 CD set idea, we can sell a soundtrack here, another there... No pressure to "do the next CD". We enjoy the fruits of so many years of work, knowing that we will go on, setting even more points of references, trying out new ideas...

16 September 1993. Klaus is proud about what he calls his "opera", and I have heard the final version some days ago. Maybe it's too early to give a fair opinion? There's neither a similarity to Monteverdi's "L'Orfeo" nor to Strauss' "Salome", or anything between (Mozart, Rossini, Wagner etc.). For Klaus, and for a first attempt in this new field it's okay. But I wonder if I'll listen to it a second time. Sorry, Klaus. I simply miss in TOTENTAG all what's positive in an oldfashioned opera: beautiful arias or duets, musical themes that come and are repeated, slowly generated characters, an identifiable form ... Instead, TOTENTAG is full with what I don't like with operas: the recitative and the parlandos. Also, I miss any stage picture, miss an image.

Maybe it's not enough to do some typical Schulze music, and add to that some studied operatic voices? "Form ohne Gehalt ist Kitsch, Gehalt ohne Form ist Dilettantismus." I don't know yet, what to think about TOTENTAG's Gehalt (substance), but I certaily miss the form. Maybe it's a good first try, and next time it will be better. KS also creates these things to learn for a better next time. Indeed, he told me how much he had learned during the work on this opera and with these singers. Which is one positive thing out of that. And, I add, he should see that he gets a better "form" next time. No one forces Klaus to call a thing "ABCDE" but if he calls a thing "ABCDE" it should have the form of "ABCDE". (PS: in 2003 KS had sent me three CD-Rs with a "new" opera from him. Gladly, it was not released).

November '93. Our SILVER EDITION is released. I got the 2000 sets with 20,000 CDs on the 2nd of November, and on the 4th and 5th we put the sets together and sent them out, to circa one thousand customers who kindly trusted us and sent their valuable money in advance.

SILVER EDITION is a collection of 10 CDs, with ten hours of new and hitherto not released music by KS, and two hours and a half with old concert recordings from 1975 to '77. As the very last "bonus" track on disc ten I included the collectors' item LAND from 1972 in a different, which is: longer version. We kept this LAND inclusion secretly in our advance promotion. (Everybody else is doing promotion the usual way: promising everything, but finally giving just half of it. I like to work the other way around.)

The overwhelming success for the set overtook me in early 1994. The reactions were fantastic (Thanks again, folks!). We had very good reviews before, and I remember the overwhelming letters and articles about the last three CDs, the ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL 1 and 2, as well as for THE DOME EVENT. But now, the ten CD set SILVER EDITION tops even this. One fan from Amsterdam whose opinion I regard normally very high, he compared KS to God "if" he "would believe in God". Thanks to the same almighty, this friend is able to express himself so good, it sounded not painful but just honest. SILVER EDITION is an artistic success. I'm proud of it. Of the idea, of my work. And I'm thankful to Klaus that he did let me do it my way, ...and, last but not least, that he did all that music! Of course there are always one or two who have to find little faults even in this wonderful set of 12½ hours of music, which musically is close to perfection. Their woeful mind, their illogical judgements, and a kind of personal fight, all this leads them to some kind of malicious innuendos about small things which they never see, hear or write about at other artists' records, but only with KS' albums. It's psychologically most interesting: They seem to see KS as a kind of private property?! As long as Klaus is doing what they want, it's okay. As soon as he's doing his own things (what KS is doing all the time. Only accidentally the two tastes meet), and it doesn't fit into one's scheme, he gets criticised. They rarely do it with a man like Vangelis or Jarre, maybe because they never had personal contact to these men. But KS "belongs" to them, they could actually touch or speak to him many times, they saw that KS is a normal human being like themselves, so they treat him like one of their buddies. They cannot imagine that KS is a friendly and polite man when he meets people, but that he lives in a different (musical) world. Doing music is his profession, with all periods of change, and he cares a lot about what he's doing musically. Music is his life, in opposition to the lifes of these writers, or part-time writers, or fans. For them it's just a nice hobby. They live mostly in the past, in their remembrances of youth, when they heard for the first time TIMEWIND or "X" or anything; but for KS only the present counts, and the future. Fans and writers have record collections, KS has his life.

Of course there are some things one could criticise about the music, or the packaging of the music, if one would have some more knowledge about musical, visual, grammatical or other things. Regrettable, rarely they have... With good authority they mostly pick the wrong matters, and miss the right ones.

There are a few who know, and who are able to express it, and there are others who - if they don't know something - keep quiet, because they can imagine that there is something they may not understand... I love and respect those, because they show love and respect to the care and the honest work of others. Thanks, guys.

The above is not a sponataneous today's idea. I read, study, help, write for, worry and reflect about many musical (E.M. and other) magazines and fanzines for over twenty years. Since some years, since the rise of all the many musically mediocre E.M. successors, the quality of the writing gets lower. Sometimes even the "journalist" makes his own electronic music, and gets good reviews from his collegue, who also does his own E.M. - In return, the first one writes positively about the latter... And both spit on the known, "famous" names. Yes, these things do happen. You want names? Check, for instance, the French fanzine CRYSTAL INFOS, or some American radio programmers...

As once said in an interview: It is most irritating for KS and for me, if a critic compares a hobby E.M. player with a master and inventor such as Klaus Schulze. This is even more the case, if open ears with some experience and knowledge can hear that the hobby music in question is badly produced, played boringly, and that he apparently copied from a copy of a copy of, say, PHAEDRA, or MOONDAWN.

This copying seems to be done in most cases unconsciously, in a kind of honest naïvity. When I speak to those players, they generally uncover a non-reflection of their doings, that I am not used from talks with true artists. I asked those hobby players some simple but basic questions, musically as well as in regard of their records, and they didn't know what I was talking about ("What vision do you have?" - "Me? Vision??"). No wonder that all their records and music look and sound the same. They don't know much about the music's past, and they don't think much about a visionary future. They lack fancyful imagination and courage. They rarely know something about musical theories, they often don't even know that a variety of these things does exist. The latter goes for most of the writers in fanzines as well ... 'Nuff said!

April 1995. Some months ago I produced another set, HISTORIC EDITION. It contains just old concert and studio recordings by Klaus. From the many old tapes that are stored in my sleeping room. I put those ten CDs together in November 1994. The guy that I chose as the record label for my Silver Edition, revealed to be not reliable. For the new ten CD set, HISTORIC EDITION, I asked Mario Schönwälder, if he wants to be the record label (and he said: yes, of course).

Now, many months later, I can gratefully say that taking Mario was a good decision. I mustn't explain him many things. He has some brain, has some experience in life, some good own ideas. He is used to do necessary office work. He is reliable. I can finally concentrate on producing the records. All the many things that I had to do in the past because of my former partner's intolerable slowness or dullness, became void. Mario is doing much more and he's doing it more precise and at the right moment. Which leads finally to fewer work for all of us. (Postscript: We have now the year 2000 and we had some more releases exclusively with Mario ...and my good opinion about him is still the same.)

The success of HISTORIC EDITION is as big as with SILVER EDITION. Even if many prefer the historic recordings to the newer titles from SILVER EDITION. The set is now nearly sold out, and until today I only got very positive reactions. Besides, it sold faster than the first set.

An interesting story in regard with HISTORIC EDITION: Many fans ask since years for the recording of the 1977 concert in Brussels' St. Michael's Cathedral. Although I have a professional tape with one track from that, and I have some cassettes with the recording of this good concert, sadly I had to realize that the original tape has distortion on it, and the cassettes are just too poor in sound. Therefore, I asked the Belgium radio that recorded this concert, if they have and can give us a tape copy. Yes, they said, but they asked for a lot of money and offered a rigid contract. Okay, I did this. Literally on the last hour, during the mastering of the 10 CDs in Hamburg, we got with a courier the DAT copy from Belgium. Sadly, one track had the same distortion as my original tape. The longer track was okay, except for a disturbing 50 Hertz noise during the soft part at the end. God bless Peter Harenberg in Hamburg who was able to remove the unwished 50 Hertz sound, and I could include this long title on Disc One of our HISTORIC EDITION. For this, I had to throw out already two prepared titles: one that I didn't like as much as the others; and one that KS didn't like. (PS: I included them in our next set: The Ultimate Edition)

KS was not present for the two days of mastering in Hamburg. He only was there for one or two hours, and then went back home, because his old mother had a heart attack, and he wanted to stay with her.

One year later, February 1996: Klaus' friendly mother celebrated her 73rd birthday. And Klaus had just rebuilt his studio and will start to work for a new solo CD...

Still in February 1996: I found a small piece of paper that says: Postscript for KS story. Hambühren: Harzer Käse in Bratpfanne + Lieblingsessen Spaghetti mit Tomatensosse. Nie abgewaschen! Means: During 1975/76, sometimes Klaus liked to fry a stinky German cheese - "Harzer" - in a pan!!! I couldn't stand it because the whole house stank for many hours. In addition, he never cleaned the dirty and sticky frying pan after this "meal".

Besides this odd preference by KS, our most loved food was spaghetti with tomato souce. If I think about the way we used to do them, and the way I am doing them now... oh my God - how could we eat that stuff then?

The KS story will go on...

Klaus Schulze with kdm 1996

© 1997 Klaus D. Mueller, Berlin

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