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Cover picture of Norbert Krueler aka Shamall from his latest release "Schizophrenia"

Shamall – the official pages

Music Circus Magazine: Shamall – Schizophrenia (2019)

by Stephan Schelle, Music Circus Magazine, November 2019

Norbert Krüler aka Shamall has been making music for more than 30 years. Starting out as a DJ, he began releasing electronic music under the pseudonym Shamall in 1989. Then in the early 2000s, Shamall switched to progressive/art rock because he felt he was repeating himself musically. The first album in this style was “The Book: Genesis.” He has released seven studio albums (including the album “Continuation” with tracks left over from the recording of the 2013 album “Turn Off”) in this style of music since that time.

Shamall Cover - Schizophrenia (2019)

Norbert Krüler has given himself six years to record a new album. In the meantime, the above-mentioned “Continuation” was released as well as a 5 CD box with recordings of his complete career. In October 2019, the latest work has been released under the title “Schizophrenia”. Once again it has become a concept album and at the same time a double album. And the time that Norbert has left himself for it, has truly been worth it, because he has once again made an outstanding album.

But the first thing that stands out is the great artwork. The CDs are in an eight-page digipak including a 16-page booklet, which contains all the lyrics and very appealing graphics. Not only in the music Norbert shows his perfectionism, also the graphic design is in no way second to Shamall’s music.

Actually both CDs contain 11 pieces each, but they are arranged in such a way that on each silver disc a long track of more than 70 minutes has been created. Since the dramaturgy of the compositions builds up and is coherent in itself, one should listen to the CDs in one go.

As with the previous album “Turn Off”, multi-instrumentalist Krüler (lead and background vocals, guitars, piano, organ, keyboards, bass and programming) is again joined by Matthias Mehrtens (lead guitar) and Anke Ullrich (lead and background vocals). Especially Anke’s lead vocals in the song “Supernatural Dream” not only provide variety, she also brings a very special feel to the music and sets a counterpoint to Norbert’s vocals.

The album “Schizophrenia” deals with the current problems in society. So Shamall addresses the problem of ignorance of the people as well as the growing unrest within modern society. Everyone is actually aware that the world is becoming more inhumane and intolerant almost daily, and no one seems to really care. With this, Shamall has dealt with the current situation in Germany, but also in the world. We are doing better than ever in Germany and therefore we don’t look so closely anymore at how others are doing or if we are ruining our planet with our behavior. The main focus is that we feel good. Shamall points this out on “Schizophrenia”, where he presents a mirror to the listener with a few simple sentences (“Man in the Mirror”), for example.

The album actually provides enlightenment and is intended to be a call. And so Shamall sings in large parts about the collective looking away, which the refrain of the title song expresses with the sad conclusion: “it’s schizophrenic – I know what’s wrong – but don’t even turn me around – I just don’t do anything – that’s schizophrenic….”. The opposite is the singing of Anke, who describes the beautiful “ideal” world in the most flowery colors. Norbert also sings at some points that he wants to surrender to indifference and would rather sit down on the sofa to smoke pot.

Musically, he has again created a cornucopia of ideas and sounds that captivate from the first note. From the first sounds you immediately recognize that this is a Shamall album, because Norbert Krüler has a very distinctive and clearly recognizable style, which is interspersed every now and then with quotes or sounds that remind you of great acts of rock music.

The sound of the album is – according to the theme – altogether a bit harder and more threatening, which is also due to some of the vocal parts of Norbert Krüler, who clearly expresses his voice concerning 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 again recorded breathtaking solos on the keyboards. In addition, he lets several times powerful drums raining down on the listener. The whole thing then adds up to a grandiose entire work. Shamall takes the listener on an acoustic roller coaster ride, where it is impossible to get off during the ride because of the captivating arrangement.

The first cd ends with the symphonic “Thoughts P.II”, which closes the first act and leads into the break, which is needed to insert CD 2. This soundtrack-like instrumental track starts very smoothly at first, only to build up over the course of its 5:38 minutes, in which fat guitars and the drum rhythm provide anthemic moments. The second CD is cut from the same noble wood as CD number 1.

“Schizophrenia” by Shamall is an outstanding album of progressive/art rock with elements of krautrock and traditional electronic music. Stunning solos (especially on guitar and keyboards) and grandiose melodies combined with well-crafted drum rhythms abound. From the first to the last note, this masterpiece of rock music remains highly enthralling. Furthermore, Norbert Krüler has dealt with a serious topic (our society is threatening to fall into indifference) in the lyrics.

In my opinion, “Schizophrenia” is one of the best albums of the year.

This post is also available in Deutsch.

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