Klaus Schulze: Alternative Versions and Companion Pieces in Klaus Schulze's Music  

Alternative Versions and Companion Pieces in Klaus Schulze's Music

by David M. Cline (autumn 2000)

To use the term "alternative versions" when describing two similar pieces of KS music may be misleading. Typically, for rock and roll, an alternative version will differ from the original by a few measures or a few lyrics. In contrast, an alternative version (as I have defined it) of a classic piece of KS music may share a recognizable sequence or a repeated melody line with the original. Also, in most cases, the pieces I will compare share a similar structure. I have chosen to focus on studio recordings for this article, as I have previously discussed live recordings in a series of articles published in The KS Circle.

The first alternative version well known to fans comes not from the box sets, but on the two successive Body Love releases, Stardancer I and Stardancer II. The second release is very similar to the first in structure, sequences and melody, but the mix is much more clear so that the instrumentation is better heard. Harald Grosskopf's percussion and the solo mini-moog sound crisp and clean. It is no surprise that this version was chosen for inclusion on The Essential 72-93.

Three early tracks contain a near identical ten minute section of music: the last ten minutes of Dynamo (Historic Edition CD 7), the second section (Etude pour une fin du monde) of Die Kunst, hundert Jahre alt zu werden, (Jubilee Edition CD 10) and the second section of Cyborgs Traum, (Hasten Slowly, Jubilee Edition CD 7). This driving, insistent piece created with Teisco organ, drumset, and electronics sounds remarkably good, full of bass tones and organ charging ahead. I like it best in the setting of Die Kunst, with its long varied sections. In part 4 of Die Kunst, the Die Kultpumpe section, this same theme is reprised.

"Studies for Organ, Keyboard, and Drumset (Jubilee Edition CD 12) uses the same rhythm backing of bongos and drumset as Totem from Picture Music. The two pieces have a very different mood despite this shared element, as the first two thirds of Totem is more pressing than the gentler Studies for Organ, Keyboard, and Drumset. Compare them by synchronizing Studies at 1:00, and Totem at 9:00. The last six minutes of each track are similar, although different keyboard sounds are heard over the rhythm track. I prefer the version from Jubilee Edition.

Les jockeys camouflés (Jubilee Edition CD 10) is a portion of the rhythm backing for Ways of Changes from Blackdance. In Les jockeys camouflés, the EMS Synthi, bongos, and other percussion instruments sound not bad, highlighting KS' tasteful use of the early synthesizer. Ways of Changes is a more balanced piece, with haunting organ tones over the top of the rhythm track.

Supplement which appeared on the Manikin Records version of Moondawn is the backing tape from Mindphaser containing drums, organ, and synth sound effects: wave sounds, thunder sounds and EMS synthi embellishments. In this form, it was never intended for release. It is interesting to listen to this tape, but Mindphaser is of course more satisfying. Like with other examples discussed below, listening to a stripped down version allows the listener to focus on supporting instruments, and better understand their contribution to the overall sound. Comparing Mindphaser to Supplement gives the listener some idea of KS' method of constructing his mid-70s studio tracks. [That was my idea when I included it :-) -kdm]

As KDM writes in the notes to the Hitchcock Suite, ( Jubilee Edition CD 6) part three, the Karen Black (into) Barbara Harris section is a "very Velvet Voyage like track." The two are closely similar in structure and content: the grave abstract intro, KS whispers, mellotron choir, a bass line emerging well into the piece and a late entry sequence. Of course there are many differences. You hear more EMS synthi and mellotron choir in the shorter KB(into)BH. The metronome like sequence in both is identical, but is mixed down in Velvet Voyage giving room for the synth melody line, which is not heard in the KB(into)BH piece. Both tracks show KS' genius in combining abstract sounds into a meaningful and inspiring piece of music.

The track notes to The Ultimate Edition (CD 47) explain: Crazy Nietzsche is loosely based on Friedrich Nietzsche. But add another track to the list, as Gewitter (Historic Edition CD 4) contains parts from Crazy Nietzsche. All three tracks share elements: sequences, mellotron choir, effects, and several melody lines. Compared to Crazy, Friedrich Nietzsche is brighter, shorter, has more over the top melody lines and has a more driving or intense feeling. In contrast, the components of Crazy are introduced more gradually and extended longer. Crazy's third section, Wir Antipoden is the most similar to the better-known piece from "X". Crazy's most distinguishing feature is its extended ending where the sequence, mellotron, and melody lines fade to drums and effects, only to return prior to a peaceful fade to silence. Harald's brilliant drumming is better heard here with little distraction. Gewitter is yet another track that contains similar elements but more closely resembles Crazy. Gewitter begins with unique abstract sounds, but at 2:20, the third section of Crazy (Wir Antipoden) emerges, (compare to 16:00 of Crazy). Two minutes later, Gewitter fades to abstract sounds, but at 5:40 you can hear Crazy again, this time from the second section, Die Geburt der Tragödie, which continues until Gewitter ends.

Georg Trakl from "X", is essentially the first five and one-half minutes of Discover Trakl (Ultimate Edition CD 47). The longer piece has much more to offer the listener, and not just an extra 22 minutes. The shorter original lacks the yearning, searching quality of the Discover track. Indeed, the full impact of KS' music especially its rhythm and atmosphere take time to penetrate the subconscious of the listener. I am fascinated by the fact that KS chose to include the more challenging and emotional Heinrich von Kleist on "X", rather than the longer version of Trakl. Certainly no record company executive would have picked the abstract Kleist over the lighter and more melodic Discover Trakl. Judging from the number 2 ranking of Discover Trakl in the 2000 KS CIRCLE's reader's poll, and the absence of Heinrich von Kleist from the list, perhaps I am alone in my appreciation of the more abstract piece.

Get the Car, Harry (Ultimate Edition CD 42) is a simplified version of Friedemann Bach from "X" as they share the same sequence, drums, many effects and some themes. The original piece has a slightly faster tempo, but more importantly, it has the embellishment of the gipsy fiddler's violin. The violin transforms the original track into something more grand and unique. However, Get the Car, Harry brings attention to the carefully constructed backing: moody keyboards, many effects, and the juxtaposition of fine acoustic drumming contrasting the perpetual electronic sequence. Furthermore, I detect a few melody lines in Get the Car, Harry that I do not hear in Friedmann Bach (listen at 8:18). Get the Car, Harry stands well on its own.

Count Me In (Jubilee Edition CD 22) shares the main melody theme, and sequence with Tango-Saty from Audentity (compare the beginning of Tango to Count Me In at 1:47). Count Me In has a longer introduction, while Tango-Saty is slightly longer overall with several refrains of the main theme. I like both versions, but the original has the advantage of better production (cleaner sound).

Seltsam Statisch (Jubilee Edition CD 18) and AUDENTITY's Spielglocken make a fascinating A-B comparison. Although they share the same underlying rhythmic sequence, they start from very different perspectives, start Spielglocken ten seconds before Seltsam Statisch to compare them. Initially the two tracks have little in common. By three and one-half minutes into each, the backing track is almost identical. Spielglocken has the advantage of more keyboard lead lines and of course Wolfgang Tiepold's cello. Yet, "Seltsam Statisch" leaves little to be desired with its emphasis on the counterpoint between the percussive and melodic elements of the underlying sequence. Also, compare these tracks to the live version, Katowice on Dziekuje Poland.

From Drive Inn, Racing has the same sequencer/rhythm backing as used on Richard Wahnfried's Druck from Tonwelle, and Communiqué from Michael Shrieve's Transfer Station Blue. The syncopated rhythm is truly the best part of these tracks, with each having its unique features. [Therefore, the Druck rhythm has been stolen many times by others -kdm] Druck has the advantage of Manuel Göttsching's fine guitar work (as least I recognize it as Manuel). Without feedback to dramatize the finger work, Manuel plays with great rhythmic feeling, complementing perfectly KS' sequencer and Michael's percussion through the first half of Druck. For Communiqué, the absence of Manuel's guitar is compensated by more percussion, a slightly faster tempo, and bringing additional sequencer sounds to the front. Interestingly enough, the last five minutes of Druck contain what sounds like the same sequencer embellishments, making Druck the most complete and varied version. Racing is slightly slower, much shorter, and brings Michael Garvens' voice out front. I am sure that Garvens made an attempt to complement the rhythm with his "percussive" voice, but overall this track yields the least satisfying result. I also detect some unique or remixed keyboard sounds as well.

The title track from Drive Inn shares the piano melody from the Dream Theme section of Havlandet. The short soundtrack piece found on Historic Edition (CD 9), is slower than the Drive Inn track, and lacks the percussion and other keyboard accompaniment. However, it fits in well with the varied soundtrack melodies that surround it.

I am not the first to notice the similarity between Midiaction from Richard Wahnfried's Miditation, and the 8 minute longer piece, Ballet pour le Docteur Faustus, (Jubilee Edition CD 7). Midiaction is the fuller mix of the two. I would recommend starting the shorter piece 25 seconds into Docteur Faustus to compare them. They have similar abstract beginnings, but six minutes into Midiaction its unique sounds are apparent: cymbals, then drums, then bongo sounds round out the sequenced bass tones common to both tracks. Midiaction therefore contains more interesting textures and being shorter is more to the point. Docteur Faustus on the other hand yields an additional eight minutes of abstract sounds, echoed piano, and bass tones, plus a few sparse melody lines, adding up to a more dream like state. [Two more doublets were exchanged in The Ultimate Edition -kdm]

Unikat (Ultimate Edition CD 50) shares the same computer-programme as title track Miditerranean Pads. MP is longer and has the addition of male choir voices at its introduction, which return later in the piece. MP also has more prominent piano during its first half. The original and better-known piece is fuller and has more to offer. If anything, Unikat highlights the sound of the "Elfi Schulze" voice, which is the sound of Elfi's voice manipulated by KS' computer and keyboards.

The third section from Walk the Edge, We Saw It, It Was There, (Jubilee Edition CD 21) is the rhythmic main sequence from the beginning of Velvet System, from the album, En=Trance. The original version is fuller with drums, bursts of choral voices and other effects. Of course, Velvet System continues on after these first six minutes with an updated sequence and additional instrumentation making it the more enriching listening experience. Unfortunately, this fine rhythmic track gets overshadowed by the smoother and more popular Fm Delight. Another portion of Walk the Edge is heard elsewhere, the forth section, The Modern World, is almost identical to the first few minutes of the urging Highway from Drive Inn.

Goodwill, (Jubilee Edition CD 9) is a different mix of the shorter After Eleven from The Dome Event. Goodwill has a 30 second longer introduction including the sounds of a man running, people talking and cheering. The underlying sequence that begins two minutes into After Eleven is nearly identical to that of Goodwill, although the alternating pattern of urgent and contemplative sections differs. The interesting finding is the identical melody line from both tracks is processed differently. In After Eleven the sound is distinctly piano like, while in Goodwill it sounds like a plucked string instrument. Goodwill is extended over After Eleven by the addition of a three-minute strolling, whimsical section beginning at 8:15. Overall, I like the variety of Goodwill more, even though I think the piano sound in After Eleven enhances the melody line more than the string sound.

The Schulzendorf Groove (First Version) found on Ultimate Edition CD 50, was not the first version heard by the public. The first released was the long version on A Tribute To Klaus Schulze. The longer version has a nice, quiet, three-minute introduction, but otherwise sounds very much like the version heard on the Lone Tracks disc on the Ultimate Edition. I rather like the longer version, as the quiet introduction calms the listener for the rhythmic "groove" to come.

No doubt I have failed to mention all the pieces that could be defined as different "versions" in KS' music. The vast library of material released and the complex nature of the music make the task of identifying connections difficult. As a long time fan, I am always impressed with the "new" discoveries I make when I listen to "old" KS recordings. As always, revisiting old tracks is well worth the time spent.

This is another great article by our American member of "The KS Circle". Many Circle members were full of praise about David M. Cline's wonderful work. Check also David's other excellent discourses which are about Schulze's "live" releases and about LP vs. CD releases.


(From "The KS Circle" #50, Autumn 2000)