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Electronic Music by Schonwalder & Friends

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SCHONWALDER & ROTHE: Filter-Kaffee 101 (CDR on Syngate)

This release from 2011 offers 66 minutes of dreamy electronic music.

Mario Schonwalder and Frank Rothe offer a dreamy dose of electronic compositions whose electronic beauty is unquestionable.

The electronics are crisp and smooth. Keyboards establish cycles that are then looped to generate a glistening foundation upon which additional threads can be layered. The complexity of this meshing is skillfully restrained; while displaying an undulant intricacy the pieces maintains a pleasant flow. Surging qualities are combined with flowing texturals to produce a quasi-ambient flair that is then tempered with a touch of activity.

Piano plays a prominent role in a few tracks, lending a cerebral touch to the dreamy flow.

While rhythms are periodically featured, the beats are soft and immersed in the mix so as not to be obtrusive. Bongos are a keynote model for these tempos. On other occasions, though, the cyclic use of non-impact electronic sounds provides a rhythmic presence.

Heavenly chorales are added to lift the songs to a beatific level, bestowing the music with a gentle yet understated grandeur.

These compositions start sparse and steadily build into structures of lush stature. This gradual accretion allows the musicians to evolve the melodies in an unhurried manner that effectively enhances the music's trance quality, often achieving pinnacles of relaxed intensity.

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KELLER & SCHONWALDER: Long Distances (CD on Manikin Records)

This release from 2011 offers 75 minutes of long-form electronic music.

Detlef Keller and Mario Schonwalder present a tasty dose of slowbuild electronic tuneage.

The first track begins with temperate harmonics generating a congenial atmosphere of complementary tonalities. Gradually keyboards establish cycles that mesh together to form a relaxed flow with a strong mesmerizing capacity. The piece progresses through subtle variations, creating a peaceful mood, and eventually slides into…

The second piece (which, besides being the longest track on the album and a live performance, was inspired by Fritz Lang's classic silent movie Metropolis) starts off with a heartwarming opening of gentle keyboards that is slowly gives way to loftier sentiments as the music enters an inspirational passage replete with spinning gears and celestial tones. The various cycles unfurl with majesty, formulating a contemplative mood with pensive chords and dreamy texturals. Eventually, though, a sense of urgency enters the flow, as pulsations swing into play which generate a rhythmic presence comprised of non-beat tempos. Auxiliary effects contribute a dramatic flair as they cleverly appear and recede, gracing the flow with a touch of tension. Flutish strains counterbalance this tension with their airy trails. The pace picks up as all the elements enter a determined stretch in which the rhythmics (now accompanied by more traditional e-perc) emerge to influence things and goad the central melody into another evolutionary stage, this time achieving an ascending expansion. The keyboards respond with elaboration, expanding their riffs with emphatic passion and heightening the overall drama of the electronic flow. Burbling diodes mark the commencement of a cosmic finale with keyboard loops that escalate in speed, augmented by a selection of industrial effects that serve to remind one of the song's basic premise.

The last track is quite short (okay, it's 7 minutes long, but that's short compared to the other pieces). Here, the music adopts a more pensive attitude with riffs that reflect a comfortable softness. This relaxed passage serves as an excellent closure for the album.

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