Been looking for this album for a very long time - thanks for a great re-issue! Almost a companion to 1991's Soul Extinguished, the same raw production shifts both of these albums into a uniquely claustrophobic and nightmarish world, where both human and tape inevitably turn into the dark psyche of dangerous animals. An incredible and unclean early period by ST at the tail end of the analog cassette era, before the switch to digital with the Grand Guignol.
Excellent dark ambient sounds of the pioneers Schloss Tegal remind me of the 90s and amazing covers of Power electronics and industrial, high quality sounds, great album Eighth tower records.
Favorite track: Cadaver Obedience (Decay Mix).
I met Richard Schneider (Schloss Tegal) at Klub 007 in Prague in December 2019, right before the pandemic. Having been invited by Jan Kruml to work together on a radio transmission on Radio 1, I stayed in Prague for some days and had the chance to attend a Schloss Tegal live performance; that night, various musicians from the Prague underground played at the club, including Vladimir Hirsch. After the concert I had some talks with Richard regarding his participation in the compilation "Drone Islands – The Lost Maps" which I was going to release a month later, and I congratulated him on the performance. At the time, I couldn’t imagine that our paths would have crossed again till the moment we talked online about the release of “Musick From Madness” (a document of the early Schloss Tegal productions) through the Eighth Tower Records label.
More than a simple release - though one of historical importance that I’m honored to publish - this publication represents the best way to remember some friends whom I had the pleasure to know and collaborate with: people I could hardly meet in person at the moment.
Schloss Tegel was a Berlin-based hospital where disaffected soldiers were treated for exhaustion, depression, and other mental conditions spawned by the very violent and demanding nature of their profession. One would think that, if a post-industrial project known for the darkness embedded in their work chose this as their name, it would be because of the dubious methods used to treat their patients; perhaps the hospital was known for having submitted its subjects to inhumane experiments and practices that were on the verge of being pure psychological and physical torture. Nonetheless, this couldn't be further from the truth. Schloss Tegel was a place where the healing process was approached through music and art therapy. How can a project with such gruesome sound and aesthetics be named after a place of healing and improvement? Can we take it as black humor or as a way to reflect the fractured and foggy state of mind of those who attended such an institution? Having been spawned out of the decaying biomechanical world of early industrial music, which fused technology with primitive impulses to create bleak and harsh soundscapes instead of danceable techno pieces, Schloss Tegal (RL Schneider, MW Burch) released "Musick From Madness" on cassette tape around the early 90s, and despite being their second outing (the first being the Procession of the Dead 7"), it already showcased the elements that would grant them the title of pioneers - or even founders - of the dark ambient genre. We had the paradoxical positioning of harsh and soft textures, obscure samples, a very cinematic presence, and loose song structures that flowed like nightmares from which, as the title of the final track in the seminal "Oranur III" (Tegal Records, 1995) states, you can't wake up. Now, thanks to Raffaele Pezzella’s Eighth Tower Records label, Musick from Madness finally has a proper reissue.
If industrial and some of its offshoots, like the ever-controversial power-electronics, intended to place the listener in the center of a tumbling building being demolished by heavy and rusty machinery, Schloss Tegal aimed to create ethereal wreckage: the structure being explored and subsequently destroyed was not one belonging to an unnamed urban landscape, it was the mind itself. While it still had the raw power of early Throbbing Gristle or Whitehouse, the force with which Schloss Tegal struck was very different; somewhat gentler, but still very unnerving. Every detail and every sample is buried under decaying sound layers that feel as if they are struggling to keep everything underneath, but their presence somehow seeps through the cracks. It is all very subliminal. These suffocating atmospheres came rather naturally to the duo if we are to take into consideration everything they were consuming outside of music. With interests such as the teachings of Satanism, the intricate plots that only conspiracy theories can provide, and a proclivity towards the darker side of human nature manifested in a strong interest in serial killers of the late 70s and 80s, it is no wonder that Schloss Tegal were able to conjure such bleak, yet intriguing, landscapes with little effort. To listen to “Musick From Madness” is to let the darkness take hold and lead us through a slow, overwhelming and spiraling descent into uncharted territory. Beginning with hypnotic pulses and unintelligible samples whose echoes linger through the songs with a ghost-like presence, the album eventually gives in to cacophony; nonetheless, it is all very subtle. It doesn't turn harsh or dissonant, but as it progresses, its persistent, maddening state becomes highly - and dangerously - contagious. The duo were already experts in creating engaging experiences, knowing when to hold back, and when to bring back certain motifs to give us a sense of direction, even if for a brief moment. The goal was never to scare us, but to help us assimilate the darkness within. Parting from that point of view - which one could say is very psychoanalytical - it starts to make sense that this enigmatic duo took their name from a, rather wholesome, mental facility. This is the dichotomy of Schloss Tegal.
Jorge C. Ortega
released June 4, 2021
For me, Schloss Tegal is a name from the distant past, but much to my surprise, the last time they appeared in these pages was in Vital Weekly 874, so perhaps not that long ago. When I had employment within the record industry, in the '90s that is, we carried releases from this American duo of RL Schneider (synth, samples, electronics) and MW Burch (tapes, samples, electroacoustics). "Their name came from a hospital in a castle near Berlin, that served as a psychiatric clinic treating soldiers with art and music therapy", it says on Discogs, and also that some critics called them founders of Dark Ambient. I am not one of these critics. Dark ambient is a word that we started using for various bands at the turn of the '80s, for all those whose ambient music was too dark to be ambient and too quiet to be industrial. The booklet says 'pioneers' of the genre, and that is surely true. 'Musick From Madness' was their debut release in 1991, in the form of a cassette by State Of Flux. I had not heard that one, back in the day. Their release 'The Grand Guignol' made it to the fanzine called Vital, but apparently, I wasn't impressed. Oddly, perhaps, I quite enjoyed this re-issue. Maybe more than I thought I would. I am thinking that their industrialized form of ambient music never went away and that everybody who works these days with those small Korg synths, Walkmans and lo-fi sampling, owes partly to the paths started by bands like Schloss Tegal. Naturally, there are also differences. The lengthy use of the spoken word in 'The Father Is Omnipotent' is something that has its roots in the mid-'80s power electronics scene of which Schloss Tegal also borrows a few tricks. Those lengthy spoken words, the ritualistic leanings, the overall harsher darker tones, the devilish incantations. Those make this very much a product of its time, and the current lo-fi wave would less easy repeat that (I think), but it makes this a fine historical document all the same. I found it a most pleasant time travel experience. (FdW)
Tracks “The Father is Omnipotent”, “I Give Everything to the Devil”, “The Red Skull”, recorded between 1986 and 1990, and previously unreleased.
The original cassette, published by State Of Flux, existed in two editions. In the first, an edition of 25, each copy has a bone glued to the inside cover. The second edition is exactly the same, but without the bone.
A State Of Flux was a label, distributor and radio program on WCUW-FM in Worchester, Massachusetts all run by John Collegio.
Breaking down the barrier between the music and its audience, and inviting listeners from wherever they come from to immerse themselves in the chaos and contradictions of Indonesian culture. Eighth Tower Records
this album is a collection of quite differing but, at the same time, related and same-minded artists and musical trends, but in general, this compiled album is nothing but a top-product! Eighth Tower Records
supported by 46 fans who also own “Schloss Tegal - Musick From Madness”
This, friends, is my only reported “favorite album of 2021.” This album- granted, an anthology- has so many textures. I noted in a 3-track ‘spanse being reminded of Four Tet (albeit beatless), Trepaningritualen (plus harmonica), and Acid Mothers Temple (sans guitar). The Sonologyst is a curatorial genius. Creativity rules this world. cielocanth