Conrad Schnitzler isn't a household name, and in many ways, I'd consider him an outsider artist. He was certainly never able to live large from the music he made and the ideas he developed, even though he had an enormous influence on lots of musicians and artists. I guess you could say that influencing your peers is one of the most important things you can do in the line of your work-certainly more than making money. Anyway you shouldn't have to worry about financial and bureaucratic stuff, it's boring and bad for your health. The saying all great art is made from suffering is complete bullshit.
Schnitzler who passed away this last August wasn't really young anymore, but anyway he should have lived much much longer-at least that's what I always think when an artist dies. On short notice he was told he doesn't have to live very long anymore, which is why he worked so hard to finish his last album.
It's no secret that Schnitzler's known for despising catchy melodies. The closest he ever came to making pop was in the early eighties when he released Auf dem schwarzen Kanal, which fit well to the whole punk and new wave thing in Germany at the time. But even that wasn't the same as other pop music of the era. You could hum to Los Niños Del Parque by Liaisons Dangereuses and you could hum to DAF, but you couldn't hum to Schnitzler. Still you wanted to listen to it again and again.
Schnitzler had an incredible archive of his music, I guess when he was working he always put something down on tape and then CD-R; he was also adamant about copying all of his old cassette tapes onto CD-R. The basic elements for his official productions. Most of these recordings-and there are hundreds, if not thousands-are a mix of various soundscapes and individual synth lines. And all of them, speaking of the ones I know, sound so like Schnitzler. But the real amazing thing was that he made these raw CD-Rs available to the public, with all these interesting little musical vignettes that sound sort of unfinished. You don't even really know what's on the CD before you buy them-they're usually not dated or explicitly labeled. The disc will have a title and a nice cover, but you don't exactly know if you're getting synth parts or drum parts or whatever.
He liked the idea of people gathering with these one-offs, mixing these various tracks together live, like a Schnitzler concert without the man himself. It makes sense when you consider that Schnitzler was a student of Josef Beuys and even when he preferred to work alone he was very into communication-related ideas of performance and recording.
Endtime is similar to Schnitzler's self-released CD-Rs in that at first glance you don't really see a larger narrative. However, the album which consists of 36 short tracks is made to be consumed as a whole, because the tracks do seamlessly float into each other. He finished the album four days before he died. However, the album is definitely not a bombastic epitaph, and it's not depressing or euphoric and especially it's not transcendental or religious in any sense. It's Conrad Schnitzler saying: Look, listen, that's me, and that was always me, ultimately, until the end.
Endtime retains the same sort of explorative character of Schnitzler's other releases-spectral synthesizer bursts and echoes flash across a sonic landscape, while Schnitzler's voice can occasionally be heard in a semi-robotic monotone, pitched down and cut-up. The music is typically unpredictable-you really have no idea what's coming next, even though the sounds are operating within a clear framework. Ultimately, it's experimental electronics at its most explorative-within a musical cosmos that Schnitzler created in his search for beauty besides the obvious beautiness.
Andreas Reihse, journalised by Alexander James Samuels for
About: Like a Stuntman - Yoy (Bureau-B)
Der Postmann klingelt länger als sonst. Er hat ein Gedicht dabei, das er mir vorlesen wird. Titel: «Like a Stuntman»
Symptoms of the ocular,
Ooze yeah ooze,
Y-o-y - er hat das letzte Wort gedehnt gesprochen, der Laut eines Tieres, einer Pflanze, eines Instrumentes; wir lauschen andächtig der verklingenden Strophe. Ein Herbstgedicht: eine Ode auf den Herbst.
Ich ziehe die Schallplatte aus der Hülle und lege sie auf. Rauschen. Ulkige Tänze.
Verblasste Bilder, zu früh aus der Polaroid gezogen, in den Wind gehalten verflogen, verzogen, mit Erde bedeckt, in Asche getaucht, durchs Wasser gegangen, im Fallen gefangen.
«My fellows say/ Relax/ Watch back» - Entspannen, beschauliche Rückschau? Auf gar keinen Fall! Die Stimme überschlägt sich: «O my God», den Karton mit der Knochensammlung und den Ascheneimer die Treppe runtergestolpert. Und ab damit in die Post und rüber in die andere Stadt, sollen die es doch wieder auseinanderfriemeln. So hat sich die Band entschieden, verteilt auf Frankfurt, auf Hamburg, so arbeitet sie. Entschleunigte Beschleunigung. Aber schön nervös bleiben, und aufgeregt jeden Tag in den Briefkasten gucken.
So hält die Weite, der mittlere Westen, die Küste und die Wüste Einzug in ihre Klangwelt. Sie wissen um die Schönheit der Oberfläche; so kommt das Schillern in ihre Musik. Darunter ein listiges Rascheln, ein Schwingen, das Lied mit Lied verbindet. Töne schweben hinter dem Wasser, über dem Boot, der Gesang schnappt über. Disharmonische Harmonien. Sanfte Brüche, vielleicht, aber kein Kaputtmachen, das überlässt man gerne den Anderen; ein entspannt poröses Dahingleiten.
Like A Stuntman. Gegründet 2001, in Frankfurt am Main. Bald danach zieht eine Hälfte der Band nach Hamburg. Das erste Album erscheint 2005 bei Highpoint Lowlife in England. 2009 dann, hochgelobt, «Original Bedouin Culture» auf Bureau-B. «Boy» nun ist ihre dritte Platte. In elf Jahren. Manche sagen: erst! Sie sagen: schon! Denn sie lassen sich nicht treiben. Sich zufrieden geben sie sich als Letztes: sie nehmen sich die Zeit, die es braucht, ein Album rund zu produzieren.
Man hört schon, wie auf dem Schreibtisch nach alten Zetteln gekramt wird, wie an Schubladen gerüttelt wird, doch jemand muss das Papier in den Recyclingcontainer getragen haben, jemand muss die Schlösser gewechselt haben; aber habt keine Angst, Ihr braucht das nicht, dreht die Platte nochmals um, öffnet Eure Ohren, haltet Euch an ihnen fest, und Bilder und Worte werden von alleine fliessen.
(Andreas Reise) für Like a Stuntman, Bureau-b, Juli 2011
Symptoms of the ocular / Yesterday euphoria / Dog show digest. Ooze yeah ooze / Hell, no sport / Boy campaign. Sentimental education / A decade or less / YOY
I slip the record out of its cover and put it on. Noise. Goofy dances. Washed-out pictures, pulled too soon from the Polaroid, held in the wind, faded, warped, covered with earth, immersed in ashes, swept through the water, caught in traps.
The singer sings: "My fellows say / Relax / Watch back". Relax? Take a contemplative look back? Absolutely not! The voice cracks: "Oh my God". The box containing a collection of bones and the ash bucket tumble down the stairs. Then it's off to the post office, over to the other city, lest it comes unraveled yet again. That's what the band decided, split between Frankfurt and Hamburg, and that's how it works. Decelerated acceleration. But stay nervous, and look excitedly in the mailbox every day.
This is how the vastness, the mid west, the coast and desert find their way into their world of sound. They understand the beauty of the surface - that's why their music is so iridescent. Amongst it is a crafty rustling, an oscillation, linking the songs. Sounds hover behind water, the vocal goes haywire. Discordant harmonies.
Like A Stuntman formed in 2001 in Frankfurt am Main. Half of the band moved to Hamburg soon thereafter. Their first album was released in 2005 on the English label Highpoint Lowlife. Then the highly praised "Original Bedouin Culture" came out on Bureau B in 2009. "YOY" is now their third record in eleven years. Some might say: Only? But they say: Already! Because they don't just drift along, they present themselves as something ultimate. They take the time that it takes to make an album round.
One can already predict the shuffling through desks for old notes and the tugging at drawers in search of the reference catalog. But someone must have carried the paper to the recycling bin, someone must have changed the locks. Don't worry, you don't need it. Turn the record over again and simply open your ears, hold you on to them, listen, and the images and words will flow by themselves.
(Andreas Reise) for Like a Stuntman, Bureau-b, translated by Alexander Paulick, July 2011
About: Borngräber & Strüver - Urlaub (m=minimal)
Andreas Reihse, journalised by Maximilian Dax for