Review of the new album “Schizophrenia”. By Stephan Schelle, Musiccircus-magazine

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

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