Telefunken 1980 / MiG Music 2022
Oscillating out of the obvious to harness the essence of electronica, German wizard of gauze gets into macrocosm on his Klaus-Schulze-produced debut.
Wolfgang Bock had came out of nowhere in the late ’70s to ride the coattails of Kosmische Musik and seemingly vanished into nothingness a quarter-century ago, after his fourth album and a reference book on synthesizers saw the light of day, to focus on sailing, but the keyboard player pursued a different kind of concentration in the beginning. While many other activists of Berlin School went for minimal approach, this one opted for his first platter to exude sonic grandeur yet eschew abstract artificiality, which is why “Cycles” proudly stood the test of time. More so, the record sounds relevant now even in terms of its subject matter – apparently inspired by the Cold War atmosphere – as well as its overall ambience.
Not for nothing Bock, instead of programming beats, invited proper drummers to lay down the groove on all the tracks here, the titular side-long epic propelled along by the rhythm-and-blues percussive maven (and the future voice behind Rob Pilatus) Brad Howell, whose toms assist Bock’s sequencers in creating aural rapture – the multilayered spaced-out planes where various ivories interweave and overlap, elevating their harmonies to celestial choirs and taking on a life of their own. It’s an analog of crosstown traffic on stellar routes, lit with Mellotron flashes before dissolving into tranquil drift and circling back to harried throb only to switch the instrumental palette to organ for the two-part “Robsai” and solidify the flow into a fugue and then a madrigal that will be given an exquisite electronic caress and belligerent march and taken to the verge of a new dawn.
However, if the belching “Changes” slowly locates its momentum in dynamic lapses and splashes, the 11-minute finale “Stop The World” finds motorik jive right from the piece’s start and dances through melodic structures with much grace and rock abandon until crystal baroque is encountered again. Still, there’s more to Wolfgang’s method, as a heavier bonus number “Wir fliegen ins All” – which Bock released in 1982 on EP under the Helicopter moniker – adds Düsseldorf touches to Berlin template in attempt to steal the then-contemporary scene with the help of his friends’ declamatory voice and soaring guitar.
Why “Cycles” hasn’t been celebrated remains a mystery; why it shouldn’t be hailed now begs no question.