Klaus Schulz, the German multi-instrumentalist whose work with drones, pulses and synthesizers had a huge impact on generations of electronic music makers, has died at the age of 74.
Frank Uhl, Managing Director of SVP for the Schulze label wrote: “We lose and will lose a good personal friend – one of the most important and influential composers of electronic music – a man of conviction and an exceptional artist. Our thoughts at this hour are with his wife, sons and family. His always cheerful nature, innovative spirit and impressive body of business are with us. rooted in our memory indelibly.”
Schulze, who briefly played with groups Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel before going solo, created work that pioneered in multiple ways: Epic electronic soundtracks are seen as the basis for ambient and new age music, while expressing his sense of rhythm in electronic phrases Sequential, he pointed the way to techno, trance, and other dance music genres.
Born in Berlin in 1947, Schulze played a variety of instruments in a variety of local bands, eventually settling down as drummer for Tangerine Dream in 1969. Led by Edgar Froese, Schulze played on his debut album, but soon left to form another band. , Ash Ra Temple with guitarist Manuel Guching and bassist Hartmut Enke. This partnership also lasted only one album – their self-titled 1971 debut – before Schulze left to start a solo career, though he joined the band for a brief period in the 1970s and 2000s.
His first solo release was Irrlicht in 1972, a four-part composition that involved Schulze manipulating a broken organ and recordings for an orchestra and amplifier to create a towering wall of sound. He began using synthesizers with his next album, Cyborg, the following year, and went on to create a wide range of albums that eventually numbered about 50, including live albums and soundtrack recordings.
Major releases include Timewind (1975), which used an early serializer to create hypnotic repetitive patterns – later a building block of dance music – and 1979’s Dune, inspired by Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel. His fascination with Dune continued well into his later life: he collaborated with Hans Zimmer on the soundtrack for the Academy Award-winning 2021 Denis Villeneuve, and Schulze’s latest album Deus Arrakis, also inspired by Dune – is due for release in June.
He worked as a producer for other artists including Dead Can Dance singer Lisa Gerrard – the pair also recorded live albums together – and pop band Alphaville. He also collaborated on an 11-album series with musician Pete Namlook, based on the Moog synthesizer, using the manipulative title Dark Side of the Moog. In the mid-1970s, he recorded two studio albums with his super band, Go, which also featured leader Stomu Yamashta along with Steve Winwood, Al Di Meola and Michael Shrieve.
Schulze is survived by his wife, two sons, and four grandchildren.