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The Electronic Music of Harald Grosskopf

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For several decades, Harald Grosskopf has dazzled everyone with his percussive prowess, providing acoustic and electronic rhythms for numerous notable musicians, such as Klaus Schulze. His efforts have earned him the reputation of Europe’s premiere e-drummer, a reputation reinforced by his stunning participation in the Eighties and Nineties incarnation of Ashra.

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HARALD GROSSKOPF: Yeti Society (CD on Groove Unlimited)

This release from 2004 features 44 minutes of enthralling electronic music.

Joining Grosskopf on this release is Steve Baltes.

It’s no surprise that percussion plays a vital role in the music on this release, but complex electronics provide more than support. the blend of these two elements is crucial and wildly satisfying.

Rapid-fire rhythms evoke a tender urgency that is superbly maintained and embellished upon by the versatile electronics. From symphonic flairs to innovative dance prospects to sparkling atmospherics, this music continues to expand and delight with each passing moment. The melodies are vigorous, refusing to rely on simple repetitive structure; surprises abound as Grosskopf explores the unexpected...while never straying far from his dedication to the gripping compositions.

The novel rhythms wind like serpentine creatures of immense eloquence. The nimble electronics flow like cosmic brethren, inextricably linked to the beats in a manner that enhances the components, transforming the union into a loving gestalt of enormous charm. One loses any feeling of separatism in the melodies, the tempos merging with the harmonics, producing inspiring music that uplifts as it sneakily hypnotizes.

These tracks are relatively short (averaging around six minutes), forcing the tunes to develop quickly, get to the point, mesmerize, and then exit with suitable grace.

Also included on the CD are two videos, one by Andreas Kolinski for the track “Bravery,” and another by Sebastian Senc for the track “Endurance.”

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This 54 minute CD from 2004 features an excellent dose of energetic electronic music.

While Baltes has gained a reputation for his keyboard work with Ashra during the band's tours in the late Nineties, Grosskopf has become a German legend for his drumming which has graced the recordings of Klaus Schulze, Ashra, and numerous others. A sample by Manuel Gottsching (Ashra's leader and guitarist extraordinaire) is featured in the third track.

If you're expecting a strong Ashra/Schulze sound with this music, you'd be relatively correct in that assumption. Ricocheting guitar notes looping into infinity, sinuous E-perc that mounts in passion with every moment, a wall of versatile electronics--all these factors are present in profusion, and delightfully so.

The guitar is very Gottschingesque, ringing from stage to heaven and back again with nimble fingered riffs that are cycled back on themselves faster than casual detection can glean. Add in some searing sustain chords that resound with nearly painful accord (normally these heights would be referred to as space guitar, but this time these peaks possess a very human touch, so we'll forego the "space" allusions).

The percussion is luxurious and complex. With quasi-normal sounding drums rolling a tempo, electronic bongos are adding sensual (but untribal) rhythms. Lurking at the edges of some of these percussive impacts are fuzzy coatings that shroud the beats with a forest-like quality. Then punctuate it all with deep bass drums, lending an immense stature to the music.

The electronics are not to be overlooked in this hyperactive mix. Keyboards bloop and swoon, delivering riffs that ooze through the fleeting spaces between beats. Scorning the use of sampled instruments to give the keyboards a varied palette, the keyboards that spill forth in this music are odd and unnatural: synthetic creations that evoke spiritual presence or giant machines eclipsing the sky. The result is a tasty undercurrent of weirdness pulsating behind the twin walls of hyper-percussions and flaming guitars.

Despite its obvious Ashra sound, this music bestows a striking variation to Ashra's aerial technique in that Baltes/Grosskopf/Heilhecker deliver an earthier dose of this style of electronic music. Their dynamic take is quite icy at points.

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N-TRIBE: Tower of Power (CD on Groove Unlimited)

This release from 2004 offers 54 minutes of intriguing modern electronic music.

N-Tribe is: Harald Grosskopf and Steve Baltes.

A passage of remote-sounding percussion ushers the listener into the first track, a realm of blooping electronics and drifting atmospherics that gradually leads to a panorama of wobbling tempos pulsating in an astral field of mounting intensity. As the rhythms grow more defined and begin to display stability, the harmonics adopt a more ghostly demeanor, establishing an ethereal flow that compliments the sturdily languid beats with distinct rave sentiments.

With the next track, the style mutates into more trippy territory. Entitled “Speech,” this composition utilizes vocal effects to great effect. The mouthings are subjected to clever treatments, fleshing out the track’s basic percussion into a lavish tapestry of counterpointing rhythms. Soft electronics float like watchful specters amid this nest of undulating beats, monitoring the progression and periodically swelling to provide more substantial melodies.

The third track (the longest of the four at 19 minutes) explores a more abstract structure, delving into almost industrial terrain with distantly grinding machines in solid conjunction with a bubbling pit of molten consistency. A mood of ominous importance is generated by these dark atmospherics as impacts are elongated into metallic growls. Hesitant electronic effects swirl, rise and retreat into the nebulous mists. After a stretch of tension-laden genesis, distinct beats emerge, transforming the roiling thunderheads into a morass of even more dramatic character.

For the CD’s final track, the music takes on a more familiar style, with rapidly ricocheting rhythms and cosmic electronics that coalesce to form peppier melodies. The music chugs along, skirting the dividing line between techno and trance with inventive abandon.

This release exemplifies a merger of the past and present, with Grosskopf’s maven percussion fusing with Baltes’ vivacious electronics to produce a satisfying dose of EM that will appeal to aficionados of the old school as well as fans of the new school.

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