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Big Robot featuring Conrad Schnitzler – Aquafit (Karisma Records/Sound Pollution)


1. Dyrenes Dronning
2. Coca Kohle
3. Psychic Joker
4. Aquafit
5. Dall
6. Gow
7. Dollgau Zugschlüss
8. Birds
9. Wild Mix
10. Back To The Beast


For me, curmudgeon that I am, the shining times from 1969 to 1975 were the peak period for progressive rock. After that, commercial ambitions and mainstream pressure blunted, some would say killed, imagination and experimentalism in rock music, especially within the progressive context. Yet there were still a few persons who continued to progress and experiment, ignoring the pressures of the music ‘industry’ and mainstream culture.

One of the more interesting lights in the darkness was Conrad Schnitzler. Schnitzler had been a voice for experiment in music since co-founding the Zodiak Free Arts Lab in (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zodiak_Free_Arts_Lab ) in late 1960s West Berlin, Germany. Schnitzler along the way also collaborated with those mainstays of electronic music, Tangerine Dream and Kluster/Cluster, in the early 1970s. And Conrad Schnitzler has stayed busy since, no matter the decade, consistently producing interesting music irrespective of ‘industry’ twitches and culture’s ever-changing winds.

It is always fun to get something to review that you know little about. Exposure to new experiences is good. So, when I was asked to review the new release by the musical collective Big Robot (http://www.myspace.com/ cosmicindustrial) of course I was interested. On the other hand, their involvement with one of Germany’s great experimental musicians, the aforementioned Conrad Schnitzler, certainly compelled my attention even further. This is no sleight on Big Robot; there are so many bands and projects about these days that it is beyond easy to get lost in the abundance of releases and overlook some great music….even music created with someone as noteworthy as Conrad Schnitzler.

Big Robot’s core musicians are Per Sjoberg and Ole Christensen, with assistance from Joakim Langeland and the irrepressible Conrad Schnitzler. Sjoberg and Christensen cite The Residents, Coil, Neu! And Kluster (the original formation of Cluster, with Conrad Schnitzler) as musical influences; names which certainly caught my immediate attention, Coil in particular. Coil at all times manifested that wayward and individual experimental aesthetic to me, whatever form it took, beginning with their amazing first release How to Destroy Angels to their (sadly) last The Ape of Naples (leaving aside archival releases). Big Robot clearly has good taste in influences! Needless to say, Big Robot has with their debut release, Aquafit, decided to create music conversant with sonic experimentalism past and present, informed by their personal vision. It is a vision both ear-catching and aesthetically stimulating.

The sound of Aquafit is simultaneously dark and charming, grabbing the listener’s attention with sounds both alluring and unexpected. The album begins with “Dyrenes Dronning”, an ambiently moody and vaguely industrial piece. Next comes the surprising synth-reggae of “Coca Kohle” and its humorous evocation of the artificial; a track strangely reminiscent of “The Sad Skinhead” by Faust, in tone and album placement. With “Psychic Joker” the Conrad Schnitzler influence beams in from the analogue planet of your choice. Great bubbling stuff without a song structure in sight, which is a compliment to all minds involved. On the title track there is a bit of Schnitzler/Residents-esque mutated voice and off-kilter synth warbling that gets stranger and more mysterious as it moves along.

On “Dall” the listener feels like they are moving through a thick analogue soup punctuated by the garbled undersea communications of various alien aquatic species. The album continues on like this, invoking and twisting the ambient and experimental into fascinating shapes and waveforms. By the time I got to the end of the album it felt as if I had travelled far and wide, to places where the familiar was but a distant dream. Musically, Aquafit compares quite nicely with such Conrad Schnitzler albums as Ballet Statique and Conrad & Sohn, as well as the more ambient and experimental side of Coil. There are even a few parts that almost evoke a hint of Klaus Schulze perhaps, circa his Body Love (1977) soundtracks.

Anyone who is fond of analogue sounds and non-traditional musical structures which fire the imagination, in ways that most bands seldom seem to do these days, should definitely seek this album out. For purchase info contact Karisma Records http://karismarecords.no/web/index.html or the Plastic Head online store http://www.plastichead.com/index.asp?cat=home.

Happy voyaging!




William Frederick II









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8. En av de bättre ”inom genren”
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