Straight from Duisburg, Germany comes the impressive debut from Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock (otherwise known as Cosmic Hoffmann) on Klaus Schulze’s wonderful Innovative Communication record label. Music For Paradise was Klaus’s attempt to present his spiritual journey from space-disco cosmic man to “woke” Eastern-influenced musician, via various forms of musical movements. Originally titled “Music for Meditation”, somewhere, along its phase from demo to completion, an ode to its Asian influence turned into something dramatically different. Transformed by Klaus’s interest in the Mellotron, synthesizers, and ambient sounds, Music For Paradise became more appropriate for what it came to be. It was those machines and a bit of experimentation that allowed him to create and recreate something mere allegory couldn’t. Hypnotic, mantric, spiritual, and full of depth with the very little, but intricately sculpted, sonic movement it took, the music on this record beams with something uniquely placid and peaceful, displacing the listener just enough to take you on that same journey.
Divided into two halves, the vinyl release opens with a side-long track: “Paradise”. Divided into four sections – Air, Water, Fire, Breath – “Paradise” begins much like environmental music. A waterfall synthesizer melody introducing recorded bird calls tries to set the mood, evoking the feeling of a forest environment. As Heinz Weidenbrück’s bass adds the internal beat of the song, and hand drums slowly, softly, add a solid base from where the song could just ruminate, Klaus starts to slowly guide the album (and us listeners) into a decidedly relaxed sonic meditation.
What makes “Paradise” such a totemic track is all these not-so-random, very life-like, spontaneous bits of recorded mantra vocals, nature sounds, and assorted Mellotron fading in and out, that simply allow the song to grow organically. If I had to think of any emotional way to describe the allure of “Paradise”, I’d say it’s the way Klaus portrays it as the sound of some attainable ecology/environment. With that in mind, one can see how important the role those environmental sounds Klaus recorded in India, Sri Lanka, Bali, and Thailand, are to this album. They serve a way to free you from locale and expectation.
When the faraway drone of an unknown string instrument gives way to Klaus bringing to life the Fire section, with a heavy, tremulous, cloud-busting guitar, that rockets “Paradise” somewhere else, only to drag it back to Earth through with barely there Mellotron chants, you never lose sight that this is in fact a natural way for the song to unfold. Once we feel the theme of the song return us back to serenity, all that is occurring, serves to allow us to easily grasp how much of a sonic journey we’ve gone through. Twenty one minutes long, it’s rare to feel a track that long, feel (somehow) like it flew just by.
The second side of the album, beginning with “The End of Time” continues with this theme of sonic wandering. Over Yves Greder spoken French dialog detailing the end of time and its resurrection, Klaus resends his floating guitar sound through a whole new set of spectral DX7 synth and Mellotron sonic ramps. The tribal-sounding “Kandy Sweets” then tries to segue the album away from its ruminative, hypnotic side. Almost Göttsching-like in its combination of meditation and rhythm, Klaus’s arrangement comes as close as possible to creating something that sounds like the source from where he got all his sampled bits – the jungles of Sri Lanka. Droning and hypnotic (in a different way), it’s a very intriguing way to bring the melodic side of the album to a close.
Even the final track (as hear in the original LP) “The Silence” has something to add to the overall atmosphere of the album. Seamlessly combining unplaceable sonic drone with nature sounds interjected with pinpoint piano strikes and vocal chant, “The Silence” serves as a fitting coda to an album trying to take you beyond relaxation and meditation, to a more exalted place. It seems to me Music For Paradise was never about tuning out your world, as it was more about focusing on what you tend to ignore and cancel out. You don’t need a guru to tell you: “sit back, close your eyes, and listen”…