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Picture Music


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  • Though recorded in August 1973 (shortly after Cyborg), Picture Music was not released until January 1975. The album contains two side-long mantras of electronic meditation, "Totem" and "Mental Door." The first begins with a quiet bubbling of bells (very similar to Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells") that is soon pushed into the subconscious by a series of percussive blips and synthetic splashes, accompanied soon after by occasional wisps of ghostly synthesizers. Not until the end of the piece do the percussive pinpricks relent, yielding to a wash of effects and the austere energy plasma sounds that marked Tangerine Dream's work from this period. The sum effect of "Totem" is frankly underwhelming -- both the improvised nature of the music and its limited sonic palette are likely to draw the fire of electronica's critics, although as a focal point of meditation the piece is not without merit. "Mental Door" is more agitated in tone, led by a sinister-sounding keyboard that ensnares the listener like a snake charmer. The frenzied drum playing that appears midway through is fairly impressive, but like Vangelis' Hypothesis, the music's avant-jazz overtones haven't aged especially well, and aren't exactly conducive to meditation (which would seem to be Klaus Schulze's main attraction). Picture Music is more percussive and limited in scope and effect than the work of Tangerine Dream, a vantage point from which many may be approaching Schulze's work. The album has been re-issued a number of time over the years (resulting in two different versions of cover art), including a digitally remastered compact disc available as a Dutch import. ~ Dave Connolly
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