c/o Eclipsed, Walter Sehrer, 2016
SHAMALL has presented an impressive collection with the 5 CD box set “History Book”; three decades of band history are a lot of wood, also in the music business. Norbert Krüler aka Shamall made his own musical “feel-good zone” between prog, space rock and electronics. “History Book” offers a rich overview of his work. He has selected from a total of 13 albums from the period between 1989 and 2009.
eclipsed: With the 5 CD box “History Book” you have delivered an impressive overview of your work. How did this project come about – why this comprehensive retrospective, what was the reason for it?
Norbert Krüler: The reason was of course the 30th anniversary of Shamall. So a perfect occasion for a musical retrospective “from the beginning to now”.
eclipsed: How did you start this project? How did you choose the songs and spread them over the CDs?
Krüler: I listened to the titles of all the albums again and then decided according to my personal feelings.
eclipsed: There is a clear cut. You left out material before 1989, such as your ’86 radio hit “My Dream” (with the exception of “Caligula 2009”, also originally from ’86). Surely a very conscious decision?
Krüler: “My Dream” as well as “Feeling Like A Stranger” were in hindsight two existential basic compositions, without those tracks the entry into the professional music world would probably not had succeeded. They are good electro-pop tracks rooted in the ’80s, but they have nothing to do with the work of today. But it’s a different story with “Caligula 2009”. On the one hand, the title still has a large fan base until today, and on the other hand, due to the fact that it was my very first work, I still have a special relationship to it.
eclipsed: At the same time, there are no tracks from your last studio disc “Turn Off” from 2013, but CD 5 is the highlight in the box. Here you can find outtakes, very well done leftover material from “Turn Off”. By the way, it is a very consumer-friendly decision that you can also buy this CD individually! But why did you include this in the box at all and not market it as a completely regular new release?
Krüler: Since “Continuation” is not a new album in the classic sense, but rather unreleased music of the “Turn Off” theme, this was a good way to also give the fans these, in my personal opinion, really good tracks.
eclipsed: With your old albums, wasn’t there any leftover material that could have found a place on the box?
Krüler: You can find these outtakes from earlier periods on “Collectors Items” from 1993 and on “Feeling Like A Stranger – The Whole Trip” from 2010.
eclipsed: Was there any remastering on the older tracks?
Krüler: Noticeable in the assembling of the collection were the different volumes of several albums. These were subtly adjusted to a common level. In order not to destroy the zeitgeist of this music, the remastering process was also otherwise meticulously done in the psychoacoustic realm.
eclipsed: Special praise is due to the very valuable and beautiful presentation in the slipcase and the individual cover artwork for each CD. What was behind the all-connecting Far Eastern-looking man who sits contemplatively in front of the different sceneries in each case?
Krüler: It was very important to us to create a visual connection between the individual albums. So the idea came up that a Tibetan monk could accompany the development of the individual Shamall phases through the years.
eclipsed: In retrospect, would you like to change some of your earlier tracks? Did you had to resist this temptation?
Krüler: I have often thought about bringing earlier tracks into the present. There would be already some. But against it is that many fans connect memories of their youth just with the original versions. Furthermore, it is a curse and a blessing at the same time that you as a musician are subject to a development process over the years and therefore hear these titles with different ears. With a new interpretation, there would therefore be a great risk of destroying the character of the originals.
eclipsed: Are there any tracks that you yourself no longer like today?
Krüler: Not really. Every title is part of the story.
eclipsed: After working on such a collection, you either fall into a black hole, or you immediately tackle new material again – how is it with you?
Krüler: Music is a matter of the heart for me. I couldn’t imagine a day without music. I don’t waste any thought on later success when I’m working. You can’t create a good, creative work if you allow yourself to be subjected to commercial constraints. That’s why it’s always exciting to see how far I can develop musically with the help of my fellow musicians. Black holes are not an issue there.
eclipsed: How does Shamall see himself anno 2016 – a musician satisfied with himself and his work?
Krüler: Looking back at the work of the last 30 years? Yes, with some exceptions that is true.
eclipsed: When you worked on your musical output, did it open up new horizons, as it were, a new perspective on your own work?
Krüler: I can’t say it that way. For me, music is a “journey without a timetable”. If I get goose bumps myself, then I did something well. I can’t analyze it “scientifically”.