Rest in Peace Klaus Wiese

Klaus Wiese RIP

I recently found out that German-based ambient musician Klaus Wiese passed away on January 27th.  From what I was able to gather, he passed away in his sleep at his girlfriend’s house at the age of  67 in Ulm, Germany.  Sad news indeed, but when it’s time to embark on a journey to the spirit world, that is the way to do it.  His legacy as an experimental composer will live on.

Wiese’s music fits into the minimalist ambient spectrum of experimental music.  Inspired by both Sufism and Mysticism, his works often take the form of dense, spiritual dronescapes; they’re peaceful, but they emit an open heaviness that allows the linkage of the earthbound listener’s own soul and the eternal heavens.  His solo discography is overwhelming – just one glance at his Discogs entry will have you reeling – but his collaborative work is also impressive.  In addition to appearing on two Popul Vuh releases (Hosianna Mantra & Seligpreisung), he has regularly worked with Al Gromer Khan, Mathias Grassow & Oöphoi.

I’m amazed by how similar a lot of contemporary works in the noise/new age/experimental scene sound to Klaus Wiese’s work.  Take the Emerald’s for instance, three young musicians at the top of their game, making super minimal drone music with mostly vintage synths.  You could probably take a Wiese track, run it through a filter and distortion pedal and you’d have something sounding very similar to the Emeralds.

I acquired a copy of Klaus Wiese’s Alhambra on cassette for the purpose of reviewing one of his works (you might notice that I only review releases I have a physical copy of).  I’m more familiar with his later work, so I chose something closer to the beginning stages of his solo work (not to mention, you can still buy it on cassette), a release from 1986.  I believe one of his regular collaborators, Mathias Grassow, is now operating the store on www.klaus-wiese.com.

Alhambra is a suiting title for the work.  Wikipedia translates it to “the red one” or the “red fortress” and describes it as “a palace and fortress complex of the Moorish rulers of Granada in southern Spain”.   It is a fortress.  Two deep drone works comprised of synthesized strings and voice, filtered vocals, reverberations, organ and mandolin make up the whole of the tape.  The first, The Violet Rose, is a slowly oscillating drone whose instrumentation hovers around a single note.  It is reminiscent of David Parsons’ Sounds of the Mothership, but seems to access another side of the spirit world, among the dense dark forests hidden in the shadows.   The other piece is titled The Moorish Princess.  It has a similar vibe, but with the addition of passionate female vocals in parts – remember, this is ’86 (this is some serious new f’ing age).  I highly recommend the purchase of this album.  It’s relaxing, meditative and emotional all wrapped into a nice new age package.  Did I mention that you can still purchase this on cassette?

I found some of his more recent music posted online – these two are pretty good: Perfume (2006) & Gnosis (2004)

Space, Myspace, and Jeff’s show on EVR

Space/Time

Annoying, but it must be done.  We’ve got a myspace setup… join us and stay connected to the spirit realm:  myspace.com/gifttapes

Podcasts are coming soon… but in the meantime, I highly recommend listening to Jeff Conklin’s show on EVR (East Village Radio) called Bring Out Your Dead.  The show focuses on the music of the Grateful Dead, but I’ve noticed it also includes new stuff from the new age tape world underground.  Its good reefer for the hover-flow space-mind jams necessary to keep the earth afloat.

Arthur C Clarke, Space Music & Descriptions

Books by Arthur C Clark

The Future is where Arthur C Clarke seemed to spend quite a bit of his time… both the future in his head and ultimately, in his books. He made quite a few predictions about the future with regard to science and technology, many of which came true. He was quite the visionary.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time travel these days and I was reminded of his book Rendezvous with Rama. It happens in the future. An abandoned alien starship that enters the solar system. The ship is explored by humans for a few weeks until it gets too close to the sun. Ultimately, the ship uses the power of the sun to shoot itself off into deep space. The book is mind-bending, mysterious, spiritual, totally sci-fi and pretty new age.

And that leads me to the idea of Space Music. Is this really a genre? Supposedly, this is a subcategory of New Age. Could be I guess, I don’t know.  I understand genre category names like New Age, Noise, Experimental, Minimal… They’re all pretty straight forward. Past that though, it gets a little dorkville – in my opinion. What I do like though, is good descriptions.

I’ve been ordering tapes lately. A bunch of them. Most of them are coming from small labels or small distributors of small labels. All of them are super limited edition (minus the David Parsons tape in the last entry). Sometimes I read about something and want a copy. Sometimes it’s word of mouth, sometimes i want a legit copy of something I’ve downloaded. Lately, I’ve been into reading descriptions of the tapes. You should check out tomentosa. I don’t know if these descriptions are written by the artists or by the dude that runs the place, but they’ve really been helping me find new stuff I like. Check out this one (via tomentosa):

Caboladies, waterslide mines

caboladies – waterslide mines – arbor – cass –6$ sold out

Kentucky’s Caboladies recreate the cosmic birth of droning stars. Dense, psychedelic synth compositions, building to the point of electro-ecstatic infinity. Sliding through the crystallized air, shining with beauty. Uplifting, transcendental spells stuck in the newness and awe of the atmosphere. The young trio have released stellar cdrs on Students Of Decay and Mountaain. Limited to 100 tapes with full color art and labels.

This tape is pretty good by the way, but you can probably tell from that description.  This is what I’m talking about.

And with that, I leave you with my favorite track from Hans-Joachim Roedelius‘ record Durch Die Wüste (the title track).  If there is such a thing as Space Music, this is probably a good example of it.
[audio:durch_die_wuste.mp3]