After their first CD "101" (released on Syngate.net)
this CD is a long trip back into the electronic music of the seventies. A lot of sequences, dark athmospheres and FX.
("Kaum einer vertritt die Berliner Schule mit so viel Genuss- und Abwechslungsreichtum wie Mario Schönwälder in seinen unterschiedlichen Partnerschaften. Da ist immer etwas Sehnsüchtiges, Träumerisches aber auch Energetisches. Der Wunsch, dem Digitalen die analoge Seele zu entlocken. Gelingt auf „102“ hervorragend.")
Reviews in English:
Filter-Kaffee’s second album “102” came out on E-Day 2015, on which the duo Frank Rothe and Mario Schönwälder also performed parts of it live in concert.
The tasty but short “Intro” hails back to TD’s begin/mid ‘70’s retro-days, followed by the halucinogenic atmospherics, lush mellotron textures and vintage sequencing of “RubyRed” “Sequence A”. These aural spaces (with a occasional slight gothic and darker undercurrent) line up very nicely to classic Berlin School as heard on “Phaedra” and “Rubycon”, but moulded into in a spatial but authentic sound design with occasional minimal flavours.
“Sequence A” follows the same pattern, but the outcome (which also features a contemporary edge) somehow is a bit less captivating. With the 15-minute “Six-Eight Time”, the duo delivers another very nice and moody piece, taking off with melancholic spaces, followed by a fine combo of pleasantly tuned sequences and a smooth soaring solo-voice, at the end winding down with tranquil mellotron realms.
The 22-minute “Darkshift”, the longest piece on the album, is a sequenced, slow unwinding exercise that’s in constant motion, gaining more body along the way (although some of the solo leads in there aren’t that attractive nor effective). The finale (“Outro”) is a short ethereal piece dedicated to the memory of Edgar Froese, who passed away a few months earlier.
I think aficionados of the classic Berlin School should seek out this album despite some weaker moments.
Sonic Immersion © 2022
Filter-Kaffee 102 (77'30") recalls the creation in Berlin of a unique kind of avant-garde. Riding the winds of free expression, this genre paid fresh attention to the human spirit. In the ageless in-the-moment immediacy of this school of experimentation, Mario Schönwälder has again teamed with Frank Rothe to realize an album inspired by the electronic music movement of pre-ambient/techno Europe. Filter-Kaffee 102 grew out of a fascination with the ability of electronic music to facilitate a cinematic yet personal experience in sound. To Schönwälder + Rothe, the synthesizer is the ultimate creative tool to be used toward these ends. With this technology offering a versatile palette of contrasting textures animated by hands-on manipulation, Filter-Kaffee 102 emerges as a free-flight into the wordless. Present in this music are all the syncopated electronic rhythms, haunting melodic lead lines and unearthly morphing atmospheres usually found in good spacemusic. Yet the interplay of light and dark, of colors and textures, speaks of a frontier that is not merely of the vast regions between stars, but in the relationship between inner and outer space - the bridge between the mental and the physical. Fundamentals have a way of asserting themselves. Their Mellotron strings have a fragile glowing consistency, often providing an ominous texture against which the cycling sequencer patterns stand out in bold relief. Prettiness with a tough core, the six tracks acknowledge the physical power of sound without forgoing the chance to stimulate more intellectual responses. In places, a most delicate study of interesting sonic hues, while elsewhere this album turns starkly dramatic. Slowly finding their grip, electronic tone patterns echo and pulse beneath hovering ambient shadows, as commanding melodies flee past shimmering sonic shapes. Schönwälder + Rothe take you away from daylight thinking - to experience things one just does not encounter by day. In this music from the edge of darkness, the night mind surrenders itself to sound - until concluding with a sense of being delivered, at last, to your-self. - Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END
“As long as vintage Berlin School genre is between hands as skillful and creative as those of Mario Schonwalder and his friends, its life is protected for years to come”
1 Intro 3:07
2 RubyRed 21:15
3 Sequence A 11:44
4 Six-Eight Time 15:51
5 Darkshift 22:28
6 Outro 3:04
Manikin | MRCD 7101 (CD DDL & LP 77:32) *****
(Vintage Berlin School)
Resonances, white noises, oscillations, lines of synth which float like clouds of ether and explosions. Explosions which reverberate into a structure of rhythm. "Intro" skids and zigzags with fury in a lively and heavy rhythm where lines of synth to the fragrances of Ricochet are caressing it, as if the time had frozen in 1973. There are things which don't change. Like the music of Mario Schonwalder and of his friends! In solo, in duet or in trio, Mario Schonwalder makes every effort to draw from the deepest of his influences to extract always the best of what retro Berlin School style would have lost through its numerous changes of phases. And he does it with as much skill as his passion for the genre. A logical suite to the very good Filter-Kaffee 101, “Filter-Kaffee 102” hits the market more than 4 years after the first adventure of the tandem Mario Schonwalder & Frank Rothe. This time, it's pure Berlin School. Not a zest of a shadow of zombie techno. Only exhilarating vintage Berlin School and a damn good one. Good old and a powerful one where the perfumes of Edgar Froese's solo works, the album he is dedicated to Edgar by the way, embrace the vertiginous rhythms of Ricochet and those heavier, darker of Redshift. Striking and simply what is done best in the genre!
After the fall of first dark and resonant chords which seem so much mislaid and which sound so much like Redshift, the introduction of "RubyRed" dives into an ambiospheric state. Here, the tenebrous decor of the vintage years, either fluty airs and floating mists, roam over a fields of heterogeneous noises with tones as white as blacks which draw a Mephistophelian atmosphere. A radioactive cloud rises. A line of juicy and resonant sequences gets out of it. At the beginning the keys jump laconically before losing some shadows which skip more insistently and forge a fluid rhythm of which the deep oscillations won't escape to the caresses of a charming flute, nor the banks of Memotron mist. We are in the core of the vintage years. The Phaedra years with monosyllabic pads which fall like riffs on a superb pattern of oscillatory rhythm. Little by little the keys are losing the battle against the atmospheres and after a good 7 minutes of solid electronic rhythm "RubyRed" dives back into its second ambiosonic phase, very brief this time, before re-kicking the moods and forcing a less wild rhythm, a more musical one, where sequences dance freely among the fluty airs. Slowly this rhythm gets out of breath and "RubyRed" concludes its long trip of 21 minutes in the atmospheres of this fields of tones which had rocked its opening. Between some very dark and menacing moods a la Redshift and of a Tangerine Dream of the Baumann years, the music of this “Filter-Kaffee 102” sharpens constantly the curiosity of the ears. As this introduction of "Sequence A" where nasal trumpets and dark choirs mislay sinister airs on metallic elytrons jingles which sound like snips of scissors in felted explosions and effects of gas. Three lines of sequences in parallels emerge. The dominant one forges a sneaky rhythm while the second hiccups with glass tones. Hardly perceptible, the third one makes shine its weak carillons which end to sculpture a hypnotic melody and of which the airs weakened will turn for a long time in our head. This polyphase structure moves forward stealthily with fine jerks which limp in banks of mist, filets of choir and synth lines perfumed by trumpets of Jericho. Charmingly Tangerine Dream and charmingly Ricochet !
And these fragrances of psychotronic moods go up to the doors of "Six-Eight Time". There where are escaping arpeggios which ring as when struck on an anvil in a universe of cloudiness. Still here the range of Tangerine Dream and especially Edgar Froese for the atmospheres of Epsilon in Malaysian Pale, in particular these hoops and these synth pads which derive in a universe where everything seems to have been eradicated from the earth, are strongly presents. The rhythm extricates itself from this sonic oblivion, where the flavors of ether abound, with a movement of sequences which multiplies its keys and of which the sharp capers bounce on the curves of another line of sequences. The movement becomes fluid and the rhythm oscillates of its ample loops and with its sequences to the contrasting tints which deeply flicker and among which the loops and the arcs are pecked by electronic percussions and their metallic bites. It's a good electronic rhythm of the vintage years, while "Darkshift" is even heavier, is in a more black pure Redshift. As if it was still possible. A wild and deafening rhythm escapes from layers of ether and from resonant bumblebees. The lifeless atmospheres are brief and let get away rustlings, a little as if we were near hell. Tom-toms resound a little after the two minutes point. The rhythm is black and felted, adorned that it is by layers of mists, lines of flutes and spectral rustles which always try to fasten "Darkshift" in the cradle of its atmospheres. Another line of sequence emerges then. A little as in "Sequence A" the rhythm spreads its phases, quite convergent, in a electronic shroud perfumed of analog fragrances. It's a heavy, a loud rhythm knotted in sequences with tones full of contrasts which pound cruelly around synth lines and their evanescent harmonies which stream and get entangled among dark kicks. Other lines, among which some very vampiric ones, besiege the rhythm. And no...The floating harmonies of the flutes, nor the caresses of the ethereal mists manage to control it. Quite the opposite! And other sequences run away, feeding the rich sequenced approach and a bit complex which nourishes the black strength of "Darkshift". This is a pure monument which gave me the taste to listen some Redshift. Splendid! And it's a pity that "Outro" sounds the knell of “Filter-Kaffee 102”. A wonderful album, available in vinyl by the way, where the duet Mario Schonwalder & Frank Rothe. surpassed itself downright with a superb album which is more than a tribute to Edgar Froese. It's a real profession of faith for the genre which, as long as it will be between hands as skillful and creative as those of Mario Schonwalder and now Frank Rothe, will stay always so bewitching, so enthralling and will live forever.
Sylvain Lupari (May 28th, 2015)
One of the most prolific artists on the contemporary electronic scene, Mario Schönwälder has teamed up with Frank Rothe to produce this atmospheric and ambient album that is performed entirely on real and virtual analog synthesisers, harking back in sound to the traditional 70s vibe typical of Tangerine Dream, Neu! or Kraftwerk.
The album, another homage to the early german synth pioneers, splits the music into an A-side and B-side. The sound also echoes those early sonic soundscapes as the tracks build up from keyboard riffs as they pulse and dart across the speakers, from the incessant heartbeat that runs through RubyRed whilst synth waves drift across the background like tides hitting a beach.
With nods to psychedelia throughout RubyRed, and a hint of the cacophonous and tumultuous finale from Pink Floyd's Saucerful of Secrets to the metronomic drive of Kraftwerk's Autobahn, this covers over 40 years of electronic music in one sitting.
Sequence A is more akin to the early work of Tangerine Dream, with passages reminiscent of the eerie and at times sinister Zeit, as ominous chords and discordant passages give way to choral effects as the track reaches its climax.
The tracks on here are given plenty of space and room to breathe and evolve, and as is always the way with the best electronic music, these aren't just songs, they are symphonies in sound, flirting with the less-is-more ethos of ambient music, whilst the analogue sounds bring out the warmth that, in the wrong hands, could be cold and processed.
As the closing waves of Outro follow on from the shimmering darkness of Darkshift, you don't realise how immersed you've been in the music until it ends with a sonic pulse rather than an almighty bang.
The immense power and beauty in music of this nature is often hinted at, but some artists are never quite able to realise the potential, here on Filter-Kaffee, both Schönwälder and Rothe show why they are at the forefront of the contemporary German electronic scene.
James R Turner: 7 out of 10 (DPRP.net
(“As long as vintage Berlin School genre is between hands as skillful and creative as those of Mario Schonwalder and his friends, its life is protected for years to come”)