Restless mastermind Klaus Schulze had already done time in early Krautrock bands Tangerine Dream, Cosmic Jokers, and Ash Ra Tempel by the time of his 1972 solo debut, Irrlicht. Schulze had worked mainly as a drummer in most of these bands, but his innovative approach to synthesizers that unfolded over the course of his dense, prolific, and always forward-reaching solo albums throughout the '70s and '80s would set the tone for almost every genre affiliated with electronic music. Irrlicht was in some ways even more ahead of its time than his work with electronics, seeing Schulze creating ambient drones and highly experimental cosmic sounds made completely without the use of synths. Even as soon as the 1973 follow-up Cyborg he would be deeply immersed in chains of synthesizers, sequencers, and other early electronic instruments, but the sounds on Irrlicht had a lot more in common with the philosophies of musique concrète, with Schulze manipulating tapes he made of an orchestra practicing and stirring those sounds into swelling sheets of electric organ and cosmic ping-pongs of delay and other effects. These raw elements were boiled down into three lengthy pieces of a science fiction symphony: the shifting, desolate "Satz Ebene"; a brief, somewhat terrifying respite with "Satz Gewitter"; and the darkly meditative 21-minute album closer, "Satz Exil Sils Maria." Though made largely outside of the electronic realm (the 24-minute bonus track "Dungeon" that surfaced on later reissued editions of the album in the CD age is shockingly noisy and minimal compared to what would follow), the foggy experiments of Irrlicht were still astonishing, setting Schulze off on a path that would inform everything from new age to trance to the more electronic camps of indie rock as his legacy grew over the next several decades.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas