1972, Music

Irrlicht (1972) by Klaus Schulze

Learning that this man is the former drummer of Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel sort of puts your expectations in a certain place and, at least for me, that turns out to the wrong place.

This is, for me, a unique and kind of staggeringly monumental recording. Not knowing enough about the history of electronic music, but knowing its early origins and the ’60s and ’70s sort of well, I don’t really know anything else like this. (Apparently Zeit by Tangerine Dream is similar.)

He takes an organ (apparently in poor shape) and an audio recording of an orchestra and creates… basically this crazy soundscape that lasts and lasts (though it’s ostensibly divided into three movements). (Also, apparently he does use a few other instruments though I barely hear anything else.) As I said, I know of nothing else like this up until this point; nothing so spacey (this is way spacier than space rock) and nothing this droney. If “drone” really is a genre as I’m told it is, this is probably the beginning of it.

This is very much a piece of important art but it’s absolutely not for everybody or even most people. Like ambient (of which this is a precursor, if not an early example) most people would probably rather have it on in the background, or not even listen to it, than actively listen to it.

But, in addition to its path-breaking quality, it’s clear to me there’s artistry here. Given the tools used (no electronic instruments) it’s rather incredible he was able to create this…well, 50 minute sonic painting, for lack of a better description.

Likely one of the most important records in the history of electronic music but I wouldn’t know.


  1. “1. Satz: Ebene” 23:23
  2. “2. Satz: Gewitter (energy rise—energy collaps)” 5:39
  3. “3. Satz: Exil Sils Maria” 21:25

“Satz” is German for movement, evidently.

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