Monday, August 8, 2011

Conrad Schnitzler RIP

Just heard that Conrad Schnitzler has died. Lung cancer, aged 74. Very sad. Conrad was a big influence on me. The first record I had with him on it was Tangerine Dream's Electronic Meditation which I must have bought in the mid '70s, but it was Con in 1978 that hooked me - and many others.

Conrad was the first musician I ever interviewed, in Berlin in January 1980. He was the concierge of an apartment block in Kreuzberg, and I remember sitting in his kitchen talking about Kluster, Schulze, Froese etc and demonstrating his rack of cassette players and other pretty basic equipment. He said that "Everything is art; standing in the kitchen is art". It was Conrad who introduced me to Wolfgang, one of my greatest friends. He was very kind, giving me copies of the incredibly rare Black Cassette and Red Cassette; and a year later even gifted me Conrad & Sequenza to release on YHR. 

Wolfgang and I visited him in January 1982, turning up at his home in white overalls with plastic bags over our heads, to which he simply said: "Ah, David and Wolfgang, do come in". I met him one more time, in the summer of '87, again with Wolfgang. I think he was just about to move out of Berlin. After that, we lost touch.

Probably Conrad's single most important contribution has been the DIY ethic that anyone can make music and anyone can release it. Almost all of his vast output of getting-on-for 100 albums has been self-published or via tiny independent labels. I haven't liked all of his music, and in fact pretty much stopped listening to new stuff 25 years ago but I still play his early works, and in fact have done so today - my Conrad top 5 in memoriam:

- Rot (1973)
- The Black Cassette (1974; re-released on vinyl as Gelb 1981)
- Blau (1974)
- Con (1978; produced by Peter Baumann)
- Con 3 (1981; the poppy one)

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