Title track: “Schizophrenia”
“All the Answers”
“Man in the Mirror”
“Voices of Yonder”
“Always livin in a Lie”
Norbert Krüler alias Shamall doesn’t do it under a two-story plane. This time he deals with the shallows of the human mind up to mental illness, uncomfortable truths and agonizing self-discovery. Musically, he spans exactly the same cosmos as always, namely Floydy scenes, equipped with strong electronic devices, but also hard guitars. However, with “Schizophrenia” he succeeds in one of his musically most exciting works. The almost twenty-minute title track unfolds slowly, but powerfully, extremely proggy and dark, with the necessary large dynamics and a very cool, high-flying floydy synthesizer solo. “Foolin’ myself” shines with a wonderful acoustic guitar. Shamall treats himself to many instrumentals: sometimes neoclassical (“Thoughts”), sometimes spacy (“On the run”), sometimes progmetal (“World of Emotions”). Otherwise, it’s also fitting that he often sings in high lament registers. Lots of bombastic longtracks, lots of recurring musical themes and, as always, it’s only one continuous movie, which is like a mental rollercoaster ride you have to get involved with.
P.S.: High quality surrealistic artwork.
Top track: Schizophrenia
c/o Walter Sehrer, Eclipsed Rock Magazine, 12/2019 – 01/2020
SHAMALL – All The Answers (9:09) on Eclipsed Sampler “Music from Time and Space, Vol. 72”
Album: Schizophrenia (2CD) (2019)
As always SHAMALL offers great head cinema. This time the theme is even darker: tormenting thoughts to the point of mental self-abasement. Musically all Eloy- and Pink-Floyd fans are addressed. “All The Answers” is a nine-minute maelstrom of electronically padded art rock with hard rock explosions.
Shamall – Schizophrenia
2L Productions (2019)
(22 tracks, 150:38 minutes total playing time)
Norbert Krüler aka Shamall has been making music for more than 30 years. At the beginning as he was still on the road as a DJ, he first released electronic music under the pseudonym Shamall in 1989. At the beginning of the 2000’s Shamall switched to Progressive-/Artrock, because he thought that he would repeat himself. The first album in this style was “The Book Of Genesis” in 2001. Since then he has released seven studio albums (including the album “Continuation” with tracks left over from the 2013 album “Turn Off”) in this style.
Now Norbert Krüler took six years to record a new album. In the meantime the above mentioned “Continuation” and a 5 CD box with recordings of his complete career came out. In October 2019 the latest work “Schizophrenia” has been released. It is again a concept album and a double album at the same time. And the 6 six years Norbert needed for working on that album was really worth it, because he succeeded again in creating an outstanding album.
Noticeable at first is the great artwork again. The CDs come in an eight-page digipack including a 16-page booklet with all lyrics and very appealing graphics. Not only in the music Norbert shows his perfectionism, also the graphic design is in no way inferior.
Although the two CDs contain eleven tracks each, they are cut together in such a way that a longtrack of more than 70 minutes was created on each silver disc. Since the dramaturgy of the pieces builds up and is coherent in itself, one should listen to the CDs in one go.
As with the previous album “Turn Off”, Krüler (lead and background vocals, guitars, piano, organ, keyboards, bass and programming), Matthias Mehrtens (lead guitar) and Anke Ullrich (lead and background vocals) will be there. Especially Anke’s lead vocals in the song “Supernatural Dream” not only provide variety, she also adds a very special note to the music and sets a counterpoint to Norbert’s vocals.
The album “Schizophrenia” deals with the problem of ignorance of people and the growing restlessness within modern society. It’s clear to everyone that the world becomes more inhuman and intolerant almost every day and nobody seems to care about it that much. Thus Shamall has dealt with the current situation in Germany, but also in the world. We are hardly ever in Germany and therefore we don’t look as closely at how others are doing or whether we are ruining our planet with our behaviour. The main thing is that we feel good. Shamall makes this clear on “Schizophrenia” by, for example, holding the mirror up to the listener with a few simple sentences (“Man In The Mirror”).
The album actually serves the purpose of enlightenment and is supposed to be a call. And so Shamall sings in large parts about collective looking away, what the chorus of the title song expresses with the sad conclusion: “it’s schizophrenic – I know what’s wrong – but don’t even turn around – I just don’t do anything – that’s schizophrenic…”. The antithesis is the singing of Anke, who sings about the beautiful “whole” world in most flowery colours. Norbert also sings in some places that he wants to surrender to indifference and prefers to sit down on the sofa to smoke pot.
Musically, he has again created a cornucopia of ideas and sounds that captivate from the very first note. Already from the first notes on you can see immediately that this is a Shamall album, because Norbert Krüler has a very distinctive and clearly recognizable style, which is interspersed with quotations and sounds that remind you of great acts of rock music.
The album sounds – according to the theme – a bit harder and more threatening overall, which also resides in some of the vocal passages of Norbert Krüler, who clearly expresses his voice regarding his message. The same applies to the sound, which alternates between hard, bombastic arrangements and tender, sensitive passages. Matthias Mehrtens provides numerous great guitar solos, while Norbert has played breathtaking solos on the keyboards. In addition, he lets several powerful drums pelt down on the listener. The whole thing is then put together to form a grandiose complete work. Shamall takes the listener on an acoustic roller coaster ride, where it’s impossible to get off during the ride, the arrangement is so captivating.
The first silver disc full to the brim then ends with a symphonic “Thoughts P.II”, which ends the first act and leads into the pause you need to insert CD 2. This soundtrack-like instrumental track begins very quietly at first to increase in the course of its 5:38 minutes, in which fat guitars and the drum rhythm provide for hymnic moments. The second CD is carved from the same precious wood as CD number 1.
“Schizophrenia” by Shamall is an outstanding Progressive-/Artrock album with ingredients from Krautrock and traditional electronic music. Breathtaking solos (especially on guitar and keyboards) and grandiose melodies paired with well elaborated drum rhythms are abundant. From the first to the last note, this masterpiece of rock music remains highly exciting. In addition, Norbert Krüler has dealt with a serious topic in the lyrics (our society threatens to sink into indifference). For me “Schizophrenia” is one of the best works of the year.
c/o Stephan Schelle, November 2019
New Shamall album after almost 6 years
Shamall took almost 6 years to release a sequel to his successful album “TURN OFF” (2013) incl. “CONTINUATION”.
Why this long time without release? The composer and multi-instrumentalist Norbert Krüler and his fellow musicians Matthias Mehrtens and Anke Ullrich certainly didn’t lack inventiveness. For the self-critical artist, however, even after almost 35 years it is still the greatest challenge to create a worthy follow-up album to the respective predecessor that meets Krüler’s high demands on his own works. One that gives him goose bumps. The artist knows what he owes to his loyal fans of many years: A musical continuation of his previous albums in the styles of Spaceprog, Hardrock, Progmetal and Artrock, which he enriches with new inspirations, but never submits to the zeitgeist and certainly no collection of fixed, freaked out ideas.
Under these circumstances Shamall created it’s newest double album “Schizophrenia”, which indeed has a lot to offer. Even the opener and title song clarify what’s going on: guitars and vocals are much harder and more threatening, but at the same time more sensitive than those of their predecessors. Very well thought-out arrangements, which present an energetic change between lovingly engaging yet demanding vocals and infinitely playful keyboard and guitar solos, accompanied by atmospheric sounds and dramatic classical interludes. Some synthesizers were replaced by guitars, which doesn’t mean that Krüler doesn’t work on the keys again passionately and produces one memorable solo after the other. Besides hard riffs and fast-paced passages, fantastic atmospheric pads provide pleasant moments of relaxation, before guitars, drums and synthesizers resume their speed, sometimes skilfully accompanied by discreetly woven-in classical orchestras. In a few words: A hard rock prog pop ballad album with an impressive atmosphere and bombastic sound. And in fact it is also a journey through the most different music styles. For Krüler it’s as self-evident as if there were no pigeonhole thinking. After all, he himself comes from a time when there were only two pigeonholes: good or any other music.
His long-standing fellow musicians – guitarist Matthias Mehrtens and singer Anke Ullrich, who can now be heard on the third album with her passionate voice and somehow reminds of Kate Bush – help Krüler to put his personal view of music into practice. Matthias Mehrtens’ guitar playing gives this work a very personal touch again, especially as he is a bit more aggressive and playful in some passages. The many turns and facets of his performance as well as the progmetallic riffs surprise again and again and lend the whole work a tremendous dynamic. As usual, Krüler is responsible for the beautiful, catchy melodies – so goose bumps all the way are guaranteed. And of course this album with its about 150 minutes is no easy task. But once you get involved, it guarantees an insatiable addiction factor. Like its predecessors of the last 15 years, “Schizophrenia” also includes a socio-critical message. Krüler deals with the ignorance of the human species towards the current social and ecological problems – according to the motto: “We all know what’s going wrong and just don’t do anything” – this is what he finds schizophrenic. It seems as if he wants the hippie times of the 70s back and seems to think of Che GueVara.
To make a long story short: The album has a dynamic and a freshness you wouldn’t have expected after almost 35 years of Shamall. The artist has succeeded here in bringing together the most diverse musical styles of the last 50 years with new music. If you are familiar with all the Shamall albums and bring them together, you feel as if you are reading a thick book, which simply becomes more and more exciting in the later course. “Schizophrenia” is definitely for fans a further improvement on its predecessors.
The opener of this album @ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Y52OwaDsA
1. Schizophrenia 18:55
2. Thoughts p.I 04:09
3. All the Answers 09:07
4. The Inconvenient Truth p.I 07:26
5. Frightened 02:43
6. On the Run 04:27
7. Foolin‘ Myself 04:45
8. Yearning Moments 06:20
9. Supernatural Dream 10:08
10. It Leads to Nothing 03:31
11. Thoughts p. II 05:38
1. World of Emotions 11:47
2. Meet me by the Water 03:53
3. Man in the Mirror 07:11
4. The Inconvenient Truth p.II 08:45
5. The Shape of Things to Come 08:34
6. We are all in the Same Boat 04:02
7. Voices from Yonder 07:16
8. Always Livin‘ in a Lie 04:57
9. Despair Grows to Anger 06:47
10. Eyes Of A Stranger 07:42
11. Happy but Unhappy 02:36