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Conrad Schnitzler & Pyrolator
Con-Struct Euan Andrews , July 16th, 2015 10:50

Towards the end of his life, Conrad Schnitzler opened up his sound archives to contemporary German musicians and producers for them to plunder and reformat, thereto mixing collaboration with tribute. The results were most prominently featured on the first two Construct releases featuring respectively Borngraber & Struver and Kreidler's Andreas Reihse. As implied by the title, the finished versions on these records were not remixes, but entirely new constructions utilising Schnitzler's raw sources. Three years on from the last Construct, four since Schnitzler's death at 74 years old, and with Bureau B also set to release a Thomas Fellmann compiled selection of Schnitzler recordings, the time has clearly been deemed right to resume operations.

The appropriation of ideas is seen as being slightly more respectable in avant-garde circles. Keeping alive important structures of thought which may otherwise dwindle and fade seems to be the reasoning here rather than blatantly maintaining release schedules. Yet I find myself listening to Con-Struct and wondering who has actually made this album? Who's in charge here? Despite his name featuring prominently, immediate scrutiny reveals little of Conrad Schnitzler in this music. This is a record comprised of chunky grid techno similar to Pyrolator's 2011 Neuland album. Very nice as well, but the fierce visceralness of Schnitzler's sounds, which always seemed to hover inscrutably around a potential total combustion point, have been streamlined into these 4-5 minute bundles. It's as if Pyrolator's Kurt Dahlke has sought to liberate Schnitzler through the rhythms of dance.

Often, listening to Schnitzler's solo material can be like warily examining a geiger counter as it plunges suddenly and sickeningly into the red. You can be on the receiving end of some serious sonic thuggery as Schnitzler, up to his death in 2011, clearly maintained the desire for provocation and subversion through pure aural assault that signified his earliest work as part of Kluster. Listen closely, however, and there are twisted dark veins running through the heart of Con-Struct straightened into accessible forms in such a way that the source material can feel uncomfortable and jarring. The opening rush of '389-8' feels like a sudden cooling breeze washing over you while you recline on a sun-dappled beach, but pay attention and there's a sinister clatter behind this gloss resembling multiple surveillance wiretaps being hung-up on your uneasy daydream.

'288-1' begins with a synthetic voice declaiming "love", but then plunges into groaning, seething dense thickets of turbulence. '289-1' bubbles along with nightride synth pulse and churning percussive rumbles and overall the general ambience of Con-Struct is that of space-age electronics attempting to achieve lunar orbit but being perpetually dragged into dark, dank techno underworlds. It sometimes feels as though Schnitzler's material and Pyrolator's working methods are engaged in battle with one another, the one trying to outwit and undermine the other with discomfiting effect. This comes across most notably on '316-16' wherein a full blast rave peak moment gets stuck in a perpetual loop for three and a half minutes. The build-up to a point of blissful detonation is fused in a boiling rut as the crest of a wave gorges and blossoms before feeding back upon itself without release or relief. It's one of many infuriating yet strangely pleasurable moments on this excellent album of music constructed from contrasts and contradictions.