San Francisco Pulse  October '89
"NEW AGE MUSICMASTER"

by Bill Shinnick

 

 

Salzburg was a sleepy little town until a boy named Wolfgang and his harpsichord took it by storm and put it on the musical map.  And look what the Beatles did for Liverpool and Elvis for Memphis. Could Conrad Praetzel do the same for Redwood City?

Perhaps it is premature to prepare for Praetzelmania, but the Redwood City bred musician's debut offering, Between Present and Past, has ranked among the best New Age releases of the year by reviewer Robert Carlberg of Electronic Musician magazine.

Of course, New Age music is not likely to inspire teenage girls to run through the streets singing "We love you, Conrad, Oh yes we do-oo..."  You might even ask "What it?"  About ten years ago, a movement towards spiritual meditation-and-relaxation-music acquired the moniker New Age.  Its most famous practitioners were Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, and the folks at Windham Hill.  Critics derided the genre for being too soothing, "tinkling", simple-minded  Muzak for the health-food set.

It is a little more difficult to pigeonhole just what music qualifies as New Age today.  "Lots of music that doesn't fit in other categories gets throw into New Age" says Praetzel.   His own music has been described as "timeless, stunning, startling."  It is definitely not background noise it's imaginative, involving, and uplifting.

The collection includes twelve songs, with titles such as "Fish That Walk on Land," "In the Same Forest," and "Pull Down the Webs."   Praetzel composed, arranged, and produced the music as well as playing the guitars, keyboards, and percussion on the all-instrumental album.

In keeping with his eclectic nature, he recently finished an archaeological dig in Northern Nevada, which may explain where he digs up those