Conrad Schnitzler – Kollektion 05 (Bureau B, August 2015)

Those of us who have been following the love affair between Bureau B and a whole host of German maestros – Schntizler, but also Moebius, Dorau, and the extraordinary Tietchens – know to keep our ears peeled for what hovers at the next corner of the label’s production. Various legendary works of Schnitzler’s have been put out through Bureau B, but this record is compiled, and that’s important for two reasons: because Schnitzler’s oeuvre is gigantic and because the compiler is Thomas Fehlmann (Palais Schaumburg, The Orb). While Fehlmann – who was intellect-struck by Schnitzler at the tender age of 22 at a lecture – curates this collection with a certain sense of responsibility towards the neophyte, he also does so guided lovingly by his own sensibility, and delivers a very personal portrait of this endlessly productive maverick at the dawn of the 1980s.

Including only the canonical material relevant to him (“Das Tier”, “Fata Morgana”) and only some of the classically electroacoustic material (the majestic “Con 3.3”), Fehlmann incorporates the unexpected cinematic suggestions of “Conrad & Sohn 02”, delicate, twisted, video-gamey pieces like “21.8.86” and “Copacabana”, and some of the most diverse pieces from the Contempora series (check out the clean low beats of “Contempora 9” and the eerie pulses of “Contempora 13”). While remaining firmly in awe of Schnitzler’s sense of invention above and beyond Tangerine Dream, we also get a glimpse into his humour, into a less conceptual and more narrative oeuvre. We’re seduced, enveloped, but also winked at and sometimes invited to dance. This is an anthology that really works: it illuminates the dark corners of a massive catalogue and remains full of complexity, full of surprises and full of electric interest.