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
(free translated from Dutch language)
Once in a while I’ll find that I’ve been sleeping and a band / musician remained completely under the radar. That was the case with Shamall. Shamall is the project of the German musician Norbert Krueler which is active for about thirty years and already released fifteen different studio albums in that period. “Continuation” is their latest release and is also an integral part of the compilation “History Book” along with four other CDs which provide an overview of thirty years Shamall.
Krueler is a multi-instrumentalist and does a lot himself, including the production, but also works frequently with guest musicians like Matthias Mehrtens (guitar). This is the the case on “Continuation”. There is also a singer from the party (Anke Ulrich), but overall the emphasis is focussed on the instrumental level. “Continuation” takes 79 minutes and contains mostly compositions that no longer fit on the previous release “Turn Off”, because it had already reached its maximum playing time.
As well as “Turn Off” is “Continuation” an indictment of nuclear power with the Fukushima disaster as the main source of inspiration. “Oh dear”, I can hear you, dear reader prog, all the thinking: “This is a musical “atomic power – no thanks” – happening”…? Will depart the musicality of the message? I assure you that this is not the case. The message is of course justified, judging by the nuclear disasters, but nowhere the music is subordinated to the message. In fact, I rarely had owned a socially committed album that led to such great compositions.
According to Wiki the musical style of Shamall is best described as a mixture of Alan Parsons and Pink Floyd. The following names came to my mind when listening: (indeed) David Gilmour (Random Walker), Lee Abraham (Fragments P. IV) Enigma (Linolenic Acid), Peter Baumann’s early solo work and even Manfred Mann (Floating Subatomic Particles and Solitary Life). Multi-variant, merged into a style in which the listener can drift on a sonic trip that holds the attention without interruption for seventy-nine minutes and let the listener enjoy.
The whole is produced “German at it’s Best”: wonderful spaciousness, balance and definition in full harmony; the ears are spoiled. To make it short: this album is a must for electro prog fans in the corner of Tangerine Dream / Loom, Ashra and F. D. Project.
c/o Clemens Leunisse, Progwereld 2016
© Marius Merle 15.10.2016 – free translation from German language
Langwedel-Etelsen. From zero to one hundred, so the start of the band Shamall could be described 30 years ago. In 1986 the first single went directly into the top ten of the German charts. Bandleader at that time: Norbert Krüler. And the musician, who has been living in Langwedel, Lower Saxony since 1994, continues the project for a long time as a lone fighter. Norbert published more than a dozen recordings by changing his musical style several times. After a bumpy start, Shamall is now celebrating its 30th anniversary – which nobody would expect retrospectively.
Norbert Krüler, who already played guitar on major stages in the North Rhine-Westphalian homeland back in the day, started his DJ career in the Aladin-Music-Hall in Bremen in the mid-1970s. “At that time the biggest rock club in Germany with later one of the largest laser systems in Europe”, he underlines the particular importance of this music hall. At the beginning, over a number of years he set up the pieces of other musicians before he began to make his own music again. So his first compositions were “special, effective, dynamic and pulsating music”. Norbert’s compositions went down well with his audience with the result that “shortly afterwards I got attendance from a record company in the music hall”. And then everything went quickly.
From out of nowhere into the top 10
Under the band name Shamall, Krüler produced with two other musicians the first single “My Dream” in 1986. But first of all there was still a problem to solve. “The record company wanted songs with vocals, but nobody from us wanted to sing. So we pulled matches and the choice fell to me ultimately” remembers Krüler. Just like the first single the second release “Feeling like a stranger” succeeded a good chart placement. “My dream” went through the ceiling and hundred thousands copies were sold worldwide. But financially the group had bad luck with contracts – so “nothing remained”. Also the music sequence of the first single “my dream” was used for the console game “Katakis”, which was sold more than a million times – as Norbert would have known many years later. “There simply someone else has turned out to be the composer,” says Krüler. So he didn’t receive any money from his first hit single.
Besides the setback that the success did not bring the expected money, Krüler had also other concerns. “After the second hit single, we were hard on the border to get a stamp as a disco project” he explains. So he wanted to meet new challenges and left the way of “music for the masses”. Norbert decided to go new ways – again without singing and alone, because meanwhile his two initial collaborators had left Shamall. “I started to make music, which I liked and which I could test in the Aladin Music Hall – a perfect way to find out the quality of the music” explains Krüler the advantages of his DJ-job. For his first album CD, entitled “Journey to a Nightmare”, he didn’t find a record company at first, but later, in 1989, he was able to publish it on an independent label. Musically, this album was classified as electronic music with classical, psychedelic and krautrock elements.
Even one year later the following album “Moments of Illusion” appeared, that was Shamall’s most successful album of the electronic era. The song “Physical Visions” was used for some international TV commercials, such as from Telekom. Five other albums were following in the style of electronic music – meanwhile with his own record company. Krüler felt again, that it’s time for another musical change. Now more guitars and vocals should build the musical base. The first CD in this style “The Book: Genesis” was released in 2001. In the meantime Matthias Mehrtens joined the band, and Shamall made a definite change to the Neo-Progressive Rock genre. Krüler had always taken up critical themes with his lyrics, starting with the double album “Who do they think they are” (2003) – a conceptional album about the Gulf War.
Until now Shamall continues this musical path and CDs are published regularly. The band become established in this musical genre of neo progressive rock with many fans around the world. “Russia, Japan, France, United States, Canada”, Norbert cites only a few countries in which the albums always find good sales – as well as the five-CD box with songs of three decades that came to the market on Shamall’s 30th anniversary. Meanwhile, Anke Ullrich also has become a singer of Shamall.
But what does the bandname actually mean? It is derived from the desert wind shamal. “The name sounds good and is timeless,” explains Krüler, who loves to look back on the previous 30 years. “I would do it all again,” he emphasizes. “It is also necessary to make mistakes and learn from them”, says Krüler – alluding to the commercially successful start-up period, from which one could hardly make any financial profit. “But I think if everything had gone smoothly, Shamall would not exist any more,” says the 58-year-old, who is simply happy to be able to work at his age in this job. “Of course, I also know that I am making music for a dying generation,” adds Krüler. But still, the musical path of Shamall is not yet at an end even after three decades.
+++ +++ Update:
Actually a 4-CD set was planned, which should reflect the musical development of Shamall from the beginning until today. As 30 years musical work does not fit on 4 CDs because it would draw an incomplete picture of Shamall’s musical history. Some important titles would omit for reasons of physical limitation of a compact disc. Therefore, we have now decided to bring out a CD-Set with 5 discs as a Capbox with the title: Shamall – “History Book”.
The first 4 discs contain not only a selection of remastered earlier works but also some titles of Shamall’s more recent CDs.
The compilation of the “History Book”, which appears exactly 30 years after the release of the 1st Shamall maxi single “My Dream” (1986), traces the musical career of Shamall from his early electronic works to the current progressive / psychedelic rock. The 5th CD contains new music, based on the “Turn Off” theme with unreleased material, early versions and rehearsals. Because of many inquiries from fans we decided to release this 5th disc as a separate digipak with the titel “Shamall – Continuation”.
Both releases are available on JULY, 5th in our Online-Shop.
Please stay tuned for more information.
The Shamall albums offered here are after the band’s transition to progressive rock and so are their highest-rated on Prog Archives: Turn Off (2CD, 2013, digipack), Is This Human Behavior (2CD, 2009, digipack), Questions of Life (2008, digipack), Ambiguous Points of View (2CD, 2006, digibook),Who Do They Think They Are (2CD, 2003, jewel box), and The Book Genesis (2CD, 2001, jewel box). Ambiguous Points of View counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
We’re devoting most of this space to the latest album Turn Off, because that’s the one we’ve listened to. It seems that the major influence present on the Shamall albums has been Pink Floyd. But Turn Off sounds much closer to Eloy, themselves Pink Floyd influenced but quite distinct. Shamall doesn’t just sound a little like Eloy here — if you didn’t know any better, you’d think this was a new Eloy album. More specifically, it sounds like Eloy featuring special guest Edgar Froese.
That’s one of the remarkable qualities of this album, how well Tangerine Dream style sequencers and synths are integrated into progressive rock. There are male and female vocals (in English), though the music is heavily instrumental. It turns out that Shamall is primarily the work of one man, Norbert Krueler, but you’d probably never guess. This is one amazing album, perhaps with slightly too narrow a style given its 150-minute length, but you won’t feel shortchanged on this or any of the other Shamall albums. Most are double-CDs, and each disc is nearly full. There is a lot of music here.