Deus Arrakis has unexpectedly become a posthumous album following Klaus Schulze’s death in April, just a few weeks before that of a fellow notable of European electronic music, Vangelis. Its three lengthy instrumentals are a masterclass in old-fashioned cosmic music, full of winking lights and slowly oscillating drones — a trip into the beyond piloted by Schulze at the keyboards of the set of analogue synthesisers that he kept at his home in Germany.
Emerging from Berlin’s underground rock scene in the late 1960s, Schulze was among the generation of German musicians who pioneered ambient music. He was originally a drummer in bands, including Tangerine Dream, before striking out alone with 1972’s Irrlicht. He proceeded to make numerous solo albums, including film soundtrack work, although never at the level of Vangelis’s Hollywood success.
Deus Arrakis revives Schulze’s interest in Frank Herbert’s dune sci fi novels. In 1979, he released an album named after them, while the previous year he recorded a track called “Frank Herbert”. It has a gripping electronic bassline that Hans Zimmer borrowed, with Schulze’s co-operation, for his score to the recent film adaptation of dune. The experience inspired Schulze to create the three epic tracks of Deus Arrakiswhich last almost 80 minutes in total.
The first one, “Osiris”, has a gentle echo of the bassline from “Frank Herbert” embedded in it. It pulses softly amide swelling synth chords, like a signal drawing us into outer space. “Seth” opens with the unsettling sound of static interference, which resolves into a beautiful ambient melody. A cello part emerges later, played by frequent collaborator Wolfgang Tiepold. Its drawn-out drones complement those from Schulze’s electronic equipment. The ending has the mystical quality of Indian raga.
“Der Hauch des Lebens”, which translates as “the breath of life”, is the final track. Made as Schulze approached the last breaths of his own life — he was 74 when he died, having a renal disease for some years — it features a classic 1970s cosmic melody that spins like a planet in everlasting motion. It is a touching token of a pioneering era for electronic music, the breath of life for later generations of musicians.
‘Deus Arrakis‘ is released by SPV