Conrad Schnitzler RIP

Schnitzler in costume on the streets of Linz, Austria, 1979. Photo courtesy Qbico.

Kluster, Tangerine Dream and Eruption member Conrad Schnitzler passed away last week from stomach cancer. His final work, 00/830, was made four days before he passed away.

Schnitzler was born in 1937 in Düsseldorf. He began making sound art at Düsseldorf Staatliche Kunstakademie, where he spent time studying with artist Joseph Beuys in 1961, when the latter was professor of 'monumental sculpture'.

Schnitzler's early performances took the form of art actions, including a specially constructed motorbike helmet with built in loudspeaker, so that the police could not move him on as he played his music in the city. He sold cassettes of what he was playing from a knapsack on his back, and spoke to people in a robot voice if he was approached.

Schnitzler became a steward of the Berlin Zodiak Free Arts Lab, which he founded in 1968. He became a member of Tangerine Dream through being a part of the improvisational group Geräusche. Schnitzler's role in Tangerine Dream he described as being "to break the rock music, to make it kaput", but as with most of his group projects, he found he didn't enjoy the group dynamics, and only appeared on the Tangerine Dream debut, 1970's Electronic Meditation. Following the album's release he left the group and formed Kluster with Moebius and Roedelius, and the group recorded three albums. After he left Kluster, the band softened their K to a C to become Cluster, and Schnitzler worked on solo material.

Under his own name Schnitzler released many records (there are 92 solo albums currently listed on Discogs), some self released, and also collaborated with a raft of other musicians including Michael Thomas Roe, Wolfgang Seidel, Borngräber & Strüver and others. He also composed for player pianos, starting in the 1990s.

Click here to read David Keenan's interview with Schnitzler from The Wire 267.

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