Peter Frohmader – Organic Still Life

Front Cover

Genre: Experimental Electronic, Krautrock, Berlin School

Mp3 Album Available on the Best Internet Retailers

Peter Frohmader biography

Born 9th May 1958 (Munich, Germany)

The multi-instrumentalist Peter Frohmader is the founder and leader of Nekropolis (heavy & dark electronic rock group launched in the late 70’s). Five major albums have been published under the name (Nekropolis, Nekropolis 2, Two Compositions Nekropolis Live & “Cultes des Goules” from 1979 – 1985).

More in the vein of krautrock dark experimentations (with tape manipulations and doom bass sequences), “musik aus dem schattenreich Nekropolis” was released under the same name (1978-79). Nekropolis and Peter Frohmader solo projects are considered as leading experiences in the appreciation of complex modern electronica. Their synthetic, electronic textures and obvious tastes for free jazz, avant-garde improvisations are linked to Heldon, Richard Pinhas, Magma.

Frohmader was first deeply influenced by the “cosmic” electronic wave of 70’s Berlin underground (Klaus Schulze and Ashra Tempel at the top). Found of paintings and drawings, his music also reproduces his mental, subconscious pictures and obsessions. He created his own laboratory “Nekropolis studio” in Munich.

His first soloing extended electronic manifestations were “Orakel/Tiefe” (1983) “Ritual” (1987). Published in 1990, “Macrocosm” ‘3rd Millennium’s Choice Vol. 1′ is considered as a little classic with its deep ambient and almost gothic synth ambiences. He is accompanied by Stephan Manus (on violin) who is also a guest musician in “Ritual” and “Orakel/Tiefe”. Released around the same period, “Eismeer” carries on Sci-Fi, menacing and creepy atmospheric synthesizers’ explorations.

“Cycle of Eternity” (1992) is a contemplative, spiritual journey throw electronic realms. Frohmader collaborated with Richard Pinhas (Heldon) in the massive and hypnotic “Fossile Culture” (1999). In his later works, Frohmader experiments accessible and floating ambient soundscapes closed to Brian Eno and late Cluster (Space Icon. 2002 : Transfiguration).

Höchste Zeit also, diesen Mißstand zu beenden. Und einen Mann vorzustellen, der – obwohl erst Jahrgang 1958 – bereits seit den späten 60ern unbeirrt an seiner künstlerischen Vision festhält. Um die näher zu erklären, muß man ins 18. Jahrhundert zurückgehen: Peter Frohmader sieht sich ganz in der Tradition der Romantik, die er – musikalisch wie visuell – mit modernsten Mitteln wiederbelebt.

Denn Frohmader ist nicht nur ein versierter Elektonik-Spezialist, der die meisten seiner Alben im hauseigenen “Nekropolis”- Studio nahezu im Alleingang eingespielt hat, sondern auch ein diplomierter Maler, der bevorzugt mit der Spritzpistole an seinen obskur-mystischen Werken arbeitet. Musikalisch gelang ihm bereits 1978 mit seinem ersten Album “Nekropolis – Musik aus dem Schattenreich” der Klassiker der Gothic-Musik. Ein Album übrigens, das seit kurzem endlich – passend zum 20jährigen Jubiläum des Meisterwerks – beim kleinen, aber feinen Münchner “Ohrwaschl”-Label auf CD erschienen ist. Nach Erscheinen des Albums war der legendäre Mystik- Maler H. R. Giger so begeistert, daß er Frohmader eine Zusammenarbeit vorschlug. Resultat war Frohmaders Soundtrack für Gigers Film “Second Celebration Of The Four”.

Plus eine Freundschaft des “magischen Duos”, die bis heute anhält. In den 80er Jahren hat Peter Frohmader Bass- Symphonien komponiert, makaberimaginäre Soundtracks, Ambient-Werke oder an Magma und Can angelehnte Groove-Nummern. In seinen Bildern ersetzte er immer wieder gerne die Spritzpistole durch einen simplen Bleistift. All das zu dem Zweck, seine Tagträume, Jenseitsgedanken und inneren Traumwelten möglichst adäquat darzustellen.

“Wobei”, sagt Frohmader, “ich in den letzten Jahren von der sogenannten ‘Angst-Musik’ wegwollte. Mein Anliegen heute ist, einen Begriff von Schönheit umzusetzen – weg von der Realität, hin zur klassischen Romantik. Dazu gehören natürlich auch die Abgründe im menschlichen Wesen. Romantik ist immer sehnsüchtig.”

Peter FROHMADER is one of the most innovative and fascinating composers of electronic music. Even in his first album (“Nekropolis – Musik aus dem Schattenreich” issued in 1978), this German bass player, guitar player and keyboardist could impose an astonishing musical style, developed in the Eighties on soundtracks, ambient tracks, symphonies.

Sometimes Influenced at first by MAGMA, his albums want to be an approach to Death and Nothingness. It is not a coincidence if heʼs considered one of the fathers of the Gothic movement ! Composed over a six-year period (1997-2002), “Eismeer” is finally issued in early 2003, on the Gazul label. The author himself describes this work as “…A musical expedition, the movements of a boat on the sea”. The polyrhythmic, the harmony and the dissonances create a meditative and dark atmosphere. This trip on an ice sea proves intense and made of an unusual musicality. Very carefully written and performed, this epic of Nothingness is a highlight of contemporary electronic music.

A major Krautrock keyboardist and part of the German and European electronic music scene, the Munich-based painter and artist Peter FROHMADER has also collaborated with the greatest. Respectively recorded in 1981 and 1982, “Nekropolis – Cultes des Goules” & “Nekropolis II” especially show his talents as a multi-instrumentalist.

This solo work is mainly about dark and highly experimental music, somewhere between HELDON, MAGMA & UNIVERS ZERO.

Big Robot & Conrad Schnitzler – Horror Odyssee

Horror Odyssee - Front

Genre: Industrial, Psychedelic, Electronic

Mp3 Album Available on the Best Internet Retailers

Big Robot

The only error possible to commit is living and operating under the misconception that such a thing as the possibilty of committing an error exists in the first place.

We are guided by NO restricting theories, NO harmonic boundaries, NO compulsive reliance on melodies (in fact, we shun them almost totally) nor any concept of meeting up to the taste or preferences of a market or even an audience.

This music was produced for the sake of itself.

There is no concept but the CON-cept.


Big Robot & Conrad Schnitzler – Horror Odyssee

Review by Jon Tyler

After Big Robots impressive debut “Aquafit”, I have been looking forward to seeing how they would follow it up, and “Horror Odysee” certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Opening with Kalter Hund, a Neu – La Dusselldorf style raucus rocker, with wailing distorted guitars over manic vocals. Punk drives head on into a wall of sound.

After this adrenaline-fueled opener the pace slows for “Inner Robotics” the first of 2 lengthy tracks which take up the rest of the album. Beginning with industrial white noise, a simple bass line takes you through all manner of expanding synth sounds and fine detail, and some delicate electric piano, “Riders on the cosmic storm”. after nearly 7 melodic minutes the structure starts to break down and chaos rules, though there are brief rhythmic episodes amid this chaos.
It’s difficult to know for sure, but I would suspect that Conrad Schnitzler’s influence is greater during this magnificent electronic mayhem.
Though it is continuous, Inner Robotics is split into 5 parts and although there are no id changes, it’s pretty easy to hear where the piece divides.

Outer Robotics begins with cymbals and electronic noise over a simple melody, the melody fades as the noise builds and once more we have blissfull chaos.
Melody returns after around 5 minutes.
7 minutes in comes the albums most unexpected mood swing with a “toxic cantina” piece, a little jazzy and strangely humorous, a little light relief on the horror odyssee.
Some of the later pieces are reminiscent of early Tangerine dream (when they were great) or mid phase Pink floyd.


Conrad Schnitzler

In the middle of the sixties, Conrad Schnitzler became something like the leading figure of experimental rock-music in West-Berlin.

As a founding-member of both Kluster and Tangerine Dream, he was a maverick at breaking the traditions of Rock music.

He calls himself an amateur who is basically an artist; someone who produces ‘Sounds.’

Born in 1937, Schnitzler grew up in Düsseldorf after the war.

The rebellious art-scene there had a deep impact on Schnitzler, who was not what you would call a success in school. His father tried to give him piano lessons, but only a deep resentment against ‘serious music’ evolved out of this experience.

After finishing school, he was trained as a machinist. Most of his training was done in a big industrial building.

The endless hammering, grinding and throbbing of metal on metal left a deep impact on him.

Somehow, these sounds were like music to him, especially in the evening, when all the big machines were turned off and an empty silence filled the air.

Late at night, Schnitzler listened to the radio. He heard broadcasts about contemporary composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage. Schnitzler recognized a fascinating similarity between their music and the sound of the machines in his factory.

After finishing his professional education, he left the city and signed on as a sailor for one year. Back in Düsseldorf, he realized he didn’t want to be a factory worker. Living off his savings, he became a genuine bohemian. He created tiny tin-sculptures.

Full of doubt and insecure in almost all aspects of his life, he applied as a student at the Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts in 1959.

Unexpectedly, he was admitted to the Academy and registered in the class of Joseph Beuys, who had just become professor there. Beuys had a radically new art approach, saying ‘everybody in his own terms, is art, creating a new social society’.

This period had a deep impact on Conrad Schnitzler’s life.

But in the summer 1961, he decided to depart and headed to West Berlin, just a few weeks before the building of the Berlin Wall.

He talked about this in a recent interview. “Starting from performances, I finally ended up in the creation of sounds early in 1968. Well, I couldn’t play an instrument, but I started with what I had heard about modern music earlier in Düsseldorf.”

He was mostly working with film material.

He scratched and deformed it, so that you hear strange sounds from the soundtrack by projecting it. He showed his films in combination with performances in art galleries.

At the same time, Schnitzler was really enthusiastic about psychedelic rock-music and free-jazz. But at this time, the different music scenes were working in total isolation from each other.

Schnitzler dreamt about getting them all together in one space. This was the reason why he started the ‘Zodiac-Club’ in 1968, together with Boris Schaak and Hans-Joachim Roedelius.

The Zodiac was the first “underground” club in West Berlin. It was sort of strange, dark, and brooding, almost uncontrollable. It was a place where the word “experiment” was the leading force behind everything.

Schnitzler wanted to build bridges between the different movements in art and music. He wanted them to join together and create new possibilities.

On the stage of this glass-walled room, the former canteen of a theatre which looked out on the Spree river, everybody ranging from Agitation Free to german free-jazz-pioneer Peter Brötzmann were invited to create and communicate their own vision of experimental music.

The room was painted pitch-black, including the windows. Schnitzler went around town, distributing flyers which advertised “noises” with the time and place of the event. Whoever wanted to take part in creating these ‘noises’ was allowed to take part.

Most of the time, Schnitzler shared the stage with known and versatile artists from jazz to rock.

These stage acts were statements of non-conventionalism, based on the pure joy of making music. Sometimes musicians would meet for the first time in their life on stage of the Zodiac. Or maybe two bands would appear on one stage at the same time. They might play together or against each other.

For Schnitzler, this anarchistic concept of ‘free play’ was heading towards his true goal: “If lots of people make noises, it becomes an orchestra… If you do it alone – for example the sound of a stone on linoleum – that’s a solo-track.

If you play these sounds and record them onto different tracks, it becomes a composition… Make horrible noises with instruments and microphones and echo-machines. Just do it and produce as much noise as you want. If you organize this noise it’s not just pure chaos… it can grow into music.

This noise-making was meant as a way to express and explore your inner self. It wasn’t meant to create music in a traditional way at all. Basically, the idea was to create sounds for communication, to let others experience your own philosophy.”

Immediately, a scene was growing around Schnitzler, but soon he realized it was too much work to organize the club and go on stage every evening.

He quit and began concentrating just on making music. He sold his welding equipment and spent all the money for instruments.

He purchased reverb and echo equipment so that he could create “loops”: “The music should not be a reference to the normal stuff. No folk-music, no rock-music, no pop, no dance-music, that was the rule.”

In 1970, “Noises” becomes “Kluster,” a band featuring Boris Schaak and Hans-Joachim Roedelius.

Their stage act was pure improvisation. They manipulated “loops,” stuck microphones on guitars and violins and put these sounds through filters or ring modulators.

“If there was ever any sound that we felt had to be altered, then we did alter it in a radical and fundamental way. Without making it a public affair.”

Strangely enough, they got the chance to publish a commercial record: “I discovered an advertisement in the newspaper from an organist who was interested in new music. Since I knew this guy from the time I lived in Düsseldorf, we went over there and played the tape of a concert we had made to him. A lot of feedback and all those crackling sounds. He said, ‘this is good, do you want to do a record?’ We said, ‘That’s OK.'”

They prepared themselves well to record in Conrad ‘Connie’ Plank’s Cologne recording studio. “We said we’ll do two 20 minute-long pieces; just show us the time in between. So we just played solid and saw nobody.”

At the same time, Schnitzler was working with Edgar Froese and Klaus Schulze to create ‘psychedelic rock-music.’ But soon enoughm Froese discovered that he didn’t like anarchistic music. Despite his arty background, he wanted to play by the rules of rock music.

So there was a lot of tension within the band. “They tried to make nice music I just interfered with.

‘You destroyer, you!’ Klaus Schulze always shouted.”

Schnitzler did take part in the recording of the first Tangerine Dream album, Electronic meditation but shortly after that, he was ousted from the band.

“We did a tape earlier, when we got some machines and lights, but we were fighting a lot about it, because they were rock musicians. They liked to play this kind of rock music. So all the concepts were running away. Sometimes we did fantastic things, but they were playing against me.”

Schnitzler was always a radical: he wanted to change and recreate what had become the leading rule. He was always after the unpredictable.

Shortly before this concept propelled him out of the musical circles of West Berlin, he organized a collective of musicians, who played under the name “Eruption.” Ten musicians, standing around the audience, consequently playing with or against each other. For Schnitzler, this marked the end of it all. No more cooperation with other musicians. From then on, he was on his own, as sound-creator and musical philosopher.

As for Kluster, Schnitzler insists that he never really left the band- he just ‘grew out of it.’ In any case, Kluster was never conceived as a band per se. Schnitzler just changed the name for his stage-shows (from ‘Sounds’ to ‘Kluster’ as explained above) and Roedelius and later Dieter Moebius where the two musicians who played with him almost every time.

As such, Kluster didn’t have any grand plans- they just happened to make music whenever they felt like doing it. Luul Ulbrich of Agitation Free explains that Schnitzler was interested in concepts, not in writing songs. Even so, he was a very strong influence to other musicians at that time- Ulbrich says that he would hanging out at his apartement, always talking about art and music. As for Roedelius and Mobius, they continued on as Cluster (which you should hopefully know about already) while Schnitzler took a different path.

In 1972, Christopher Franke (a later member of Tangerine Dream) told him about the “Synthie A.” It was the first portable synthesizer for a reasonable prize. “I called all my girlfriends, collected all the debts and travelled to London, to buy me one of these things.” By this time, Schnitzler was working in the studio of Michael Baumann on soundscapes: “I went into the studio, carrying nothing with me and Peter said ‘Oh, why haven’t you brought any stuff? – You can use my Synthi.’ He showed me how it works and so we started. Probably since I was only curious about the possibilities of the machines, I started with the echo machine. I used just rhythm machines with echoes and ring modulation. On ‘Metall I,’ I really freaked out using a harmonizer. Peter showed me how to use it; I did an organ cluster, put it through the harmonizer and it came out like that.”

Together, they created loops. Each loop was recorded on one tape. Schnitzler brought six orange tape recorders, tied them together with a metal chain and hung this construction around his body.

The tape recorders were connected to an amplifier and a loudspeaker that was screwed on a helmet. Wearing this outfit, Schnitzler could walk around and perform as a ‘one-man-band’ in art-galleries. Sometimes only one track could be heard, but sometimes he turned all the tapes on at once: “I give every cassette the same chance, in turning up the volume on the same level.”

Often, he performs on the streets/sidewalk: “I had kids, and I had only one job as a janitor, so I had to think about earning a living by making music. I took my bicycle, and drove to the Kurfürstendamm. Right in front of the Cafe Kranzler, I started to turn on the tape-recorders. Then I strolled up and down the Kurfürstendamm. People were coming after me and I said ‘Whoever likes this can give me some money.’ Well, the best thing was that people even wanted to buy tapes! After one hour and a half, I jumped back on my bike and had 50 marks in my pocket.”

Since the beginning of the nineties, he has been working with CD players. But today, sometimes his musical minimalism can grow into symphonic dimensions: “Of course these concerts can be done with a lot more single-track CD’s, it depends on the performers intention as well as the capacity of the mixing-desk. It’s no problem to work with 12 or 14 CD-players if you’re used to it. Often, I did these performances in connection with a kind of lightshow, with videos or effects. But usually there’s only the performer, his CD players and the mixing-desk on a nearly dark stage – nothing more.”

Even today his working-methods haven’t changed a bit. Each detail adds to one another and leads to the final effect.

Beginning from the early seventies, you can find the link between Minimal Techno and Industrial Music in Schnitzler’s Oeuvre: “I do music how it comes, more like a direct happening – like catching something I know I want to do. Minimalism has always been part of it. The reduction to the essence of noises/sound. I’ve always worked like that until today, on a very personal level. No Schlager (popular ballads), no program music, no music to any kind of use, not for the church, not to dance to, not to chill out to. Over the years, I’ve developed my very own style of creation with sounds. If I don’t do music, I do something else: texts, films, performance – whatever I want.”

Currently, Schnitzler has recorded over 30 albums. Some of them are in limited editions of only 100.

One of his latest recording has the title Klavierhelm (‘piano helmet’) and was released by Important Records in 2006. This time he played piano, an instrument his music is rarely associated with. It’s a surprise to hear how his vision of the ‘pure sound’ works here. It alternates in between John Cage and Cecil Taylor. His sound-vision truly resemblances that of Cage.

Sound is the basic essence of music- even the sound of silence.