It’s hardly breaking news that the experimental music scene in Germany in the 70’s was quite breath taking. Bands like Faust, Can, NEU!, Amon Duul (I and II) and Ash Ra Tempel all positivity fizz with creativity and are worthy headliners in this era. But as you begin to look deeper, more shadowy characters start to reveal themselves. One such freak – Conrad Schnitzler’s name first appears in Clusters’ earliest incarnation – Kluster, where the weirdness was turned up to ten, in albums like Klopfzechian, Zwei-Osterei and Eruption. He was also part of Tangerine Dreams’ first and by far their wildest album Electronic Meditation.
After these early recordings, Schnitzler continued to create and release music at a staggering rate without the standard wavering much from startlingly high. By the time he passed away in 2011, he’d released a vast amount of albums. Perhaps given that so much of his music is this good, material that was only recently discovered and labelled as outtakes, might not be anything to get too excited about. However, the Paracon (The Paragon Session Outtakes 1978 – 1979), recording in Peter Baumann’s studio, is another absolute masterpiece.
The 10 numbered pieces that comprise the sessions are staggering and instant, Paracon 1 rises out your speakers like an airship picking up alien radio broadcasts. Paracon 2 takes bubbling reflections and assembles them into weird dynamic rhythms. Paracon 3 delights in intercepted transmissions and Paracon 4 builds around stuttering ripples and pulses. In fact, the 43 minutes of music collected here, blur into an expanding suite of electronic forms that are dynamically rendered into exacting musical vectors.
Even when the delirium of Paracon 5 tumbles in, or the bassy oddness of Paracon 6 moves in, the experimenting never loses sight of its musical surface. Paracon 7 gets caught up in bizarre fluttering and hanging keys as things grow darker. If Paracon 8 had been re-ordered, there could be a disco beat but instead we have little more than buckled splinters chopped into a million dead ends. Paracon 9 tightens around a laser beam core and a clicking popping groove. The final track, Paracon 10, is a funfair viewed through some lysergic stain glass window…
Quite what the intention was in these tracks is not known, clearly disregarded at the time, but Schnitzler always had an ability to map his creative thoughts so succinctly despite having so many ideas. Around this time, he’d made and released albums including Con, Consequenz, Conrad & Sohn and Con 3 which all point to someone riding the crest of an electronic wave.
It’s clear that seeping out of all this music is a sense of the oddness of his earlier experiments, forced into a rhythmic grid that outlines future Detroit as much as Schnitzler’s hometown Düsseldorf. Paracon (The Paragon Session Outtakes 1978 – 1979) initially might be seen as little more than a missing piece for completists but it’s actually nothing short of a superb primer for anyone looking to find a foothold in his formidable but breath-taking discography.