Monday, September 3, 2018

CORNELIUS CARDEW + THE SCRATCH ORCHESTRA – The Great Learning (1971)




Label: Deutsche Grammophon – 2538 216
Format: Vinyl, LP / Country: UK / Released: 1971
This LP, released in Germany, was also available as part of the six LP box set 'Avantgarde Vol.4' on Deutsche Grammophon, catalog number – 2561 107.
Style: Post-Modern, Avant-garde
Recorded at Chappell Studios, London, on February 15/16, 1971. Composed in 1969.
Design – Erich Lethgau
Engineer – John Timperley
Musical Assistance [Musical Advisor] – John White
Producer – Karl Faust
Producer [Assistant] – Richard V. Hill
Orchestra – The Scratch Orchestra
Composed By, Conductor, Liner Notes – Cornelius Cardew
Printed in Germany by Gebrüder Jänecke, Hannover
Matrix / Runout (Side A runout, stamped): 1 ℗ 1971 UK 2538 216 / 2561 107 S1-A
Matrix / Runout (Side B runout, stamped): 1 ℗ 1971 UK 2538 216 / 2561 107 S2-B

Side A
A - Paragraph 2 ................................................................................................... 21:45
Side B
B - Paragraph 7 ................................................................................................... 20:30

Performers:
CORNELIUS CARDEW – conductor
and
THE SCRATCH ORCHESTRA

Though David Jackman is not mentioned anywhere on the sleeve, he was an active member of the Scratch Orchestra at this point and is probably one of the massed singers. Some of the other members mentioned in the liner notes are: John Tillbury, Gavin Bryars, Michael Parsons, Howard Skempton, Michael Chant, Christopher Hobbs, and Hugh Shrapnel - each of who recruited friends, family and students to swell the ranks.
Paragraph 2
Cornelius Cardew composed experimental works for each of the seven paragraphs of The Great Learning by Confucius (translated into English by Ezra Pound). Each piece is for different instrumentation. Paragraph 2, for drums and voices: groups were situated around outdoor arcade, each group consisting of one drummer and a number of singers. The drummers play through twenty-six rhythms, in any order each chooses, while the associated vocalists sing the text from Confucius on notes that evolve slowly, timing their entrance to the downbeat of their particular drummer. Each group is autonomous, and each performance unique.
Paragraph 7
Paragraph 7 is less raucous than Paragraph 2, being for singers only. Each singer chooses a pitch to begin, and sings the first line ("If"—see the score below) softly eight times, each time for the length of a breath. Then she moves around the space, listening to other singers, until hearing a new pitch of her choice, at which time she sings the second line ("the root", five times) on that pitch. Everyone progresses through the piece this way, as a cloud of pitches gradually coalesces into several clusters. The audience moves throughout the space, similarly to the singers, so the piece is a locomotive and auditory kaleidoscope.

Consider this statement of Morton Feldman in 1966: “Any direction modern music will take in England will come about only through Cardew, because of him, by way of him. If the new ideas in music are felt today as a movement in England, it’s because he acts as a moral force, a moral centre” (quoted by Michael Nyman in Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond, 115).

Cornelius Cardew

Born in England in1931, Cardew became involved on the continental music scene during the late the 1950's, years that marked the consolidation of the postwar avant-garde’s achievement. Cardew worked with Stockhausen from 1956 to 1960, serving as the composer’s assistant in the production of Carre, and was associated with Cage for fully a decade (1958-68). As a performer, writer, and organizer of concerts, Cardew actively promoted the music of these and other adventurous composers, including Pierre Boulez, Christian Wolff, and Terry Riley. Cardew thus established his credentials as an experimental music professional during these years, yet that very professionalism eventually struck him as problematic: Cardew viewed contemporary music increasingly as the occupation of a highly trained elite, completely removed from the experience of the general public. Dissatisfied with this situation for both musical and political reasons (Cardew had become active in leftist politics at this time), Cardew became interested in music that could bridge the gap between amateurs and professionals. Cardew’s compositional response to this challenge during the years 1963-67 was Treatise: a graphic score of nearly 200 pages. Experimental composers such as Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, and Earle Brown had been using graphic scores for years, but Cardew’s was different: he provided no instructions for interpretation of the images. The performer is presented with page after page of complex combinations of circles, lines, squares, triangles, and their derivatives, yet no instrumentation is specified, nor is the relationship of the images to pitch or rhythm in any way explained. The performers of Treatise must study the images and realize them through improvisation or in fully-notated compositions. Writing some years later in his Treatise Handbook, Cardew stated his intention [“Each player interprets the score according to his own acumen and sensibility. He may be guided by many things—by the internal structure of the score itself, by his personal experience of music-making, by reference to the various traditions growing up around this or other indeterminate works, by the action of the other musicians working on the piece, and—failing these—by conversation with the composer during rehearsal. (Treatise Handbook, Edition Peters, 1971, xii)]. Treatise is perhaps best regarded less as a composition than as a stimulus to composition.



In its breadth, complexity, and rigor, Treatise was an enormous achievement, yet it did not lead to a subsequent series of graphic works. Instead, Cardew sought to create music that not only was accessible to amateurs, but that could be performed by large groups of people. Part of the solution, Cardew believed, was to establish a community of performers, a community that embraced individuals of varied talents and backgrounds who would approach music-making in a collective manner. This was the impetus behind The Scratch Orchestra, the focus of Cardew’s activities in London during the years 1969-72. As described in “A Scratch Orchestra: draft constitution” (Cardew, Scratch Music, 10-11) the ensemble of professional and nonprofessional musicians engaged in improvisation rites, “scratch music” (structured improvisation), popular classics (traditional works, freely adapted from memory by the performers at hand), composition, and research projects. Since most of this music was improvised to some extent and was not recorded, it has faded from memory. The notable exception is The Great Learning, Cardew’s monumental setting of a text by Confucius. If Treatise stands as Cardew’s major composition of the 1963-66, The Great Learning is his masterwork of the Scratch Orchestra period.

(Stephen Miles: Notes on Cornelius Cardew)



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Monday, August 27, 2018

MAURICIO KAGEL – Exotica (Deutsche Grammophon – 2530 251 / LP-1972)




Label: Deutsche Grammophon – 2530 251
Format: Vinyl, LP / Country: Germany / Released: 1972
Style: Post-Modern, Contemporary
Recorded in Munich, Germany, Polydor Studio, 22.-26.3.1972.
Artwork by – Mauricio Kagel
Photography – Zoltan Nagy
Engineer – Klaus Hiemann
Producer – Dr. Rudolf Werner
Recording Supervisor – Hansjoachim Reiser
Liner Notes – Dietmar Ströbel, Mauricio Kagel
Matrix / Runout (Side A): 1 ℗ 1972 G 00 2530 251=3 S1
Matrix / Runout (Side B): 2 ℗ 1972 G 00 2530 251=2 S2

Side A
A - Exotica – I ........................................................................................................ 26:31
Side B
B - Exotica – II ....................................................................................................... 23:20

Leader, composer:
MAURICIO KAGEL
Performers:
MICHEL PORTAL, VINKO GLOBOKAR, SIEGFRIED PALM, THEODOR ROSS, WILHELM BRUCK, CHRISTOPH CASKEL

Gatefold cover with 4 pages booklet tacked into centerfold, both showing liner notes and photographs.
Packaging text in German, English and French.
Some 200 instruments were used, from almost all (non-European) parts of the world, made available from the Instrument Collection of the Munich Stadtmuseum, from the Otoia Collection and the Olympic Committee in Munich, Germany, from the "Institut Fondamental D'Afrique Noire" of Dakar University, by Dr. Ramon Pelinski and Rolf Miehler, by the composer, and by the performers themselves. 


non Occidental instrument

“I have always had the desire to compose a work where the essential condition for each performer lies not in the fact of playing the instrument which they have trained with for years, but an instrument for which they do not possess the technical skills (with full orchestra, the realization of this principle would lead to inconceivable sound effects: a major part of this imperfect result could resemble a perfect interpretation of contemporary music; On the other hand, this work would also call to question the technical skills of the performers, so that with dismay and panic, perhaps somewhat tinged with irony and enjoyment, they would invent original music.) Conventional musicians would most certainly not be thrilled with such a piece. But others?”  — Mauricio Kagel, 1972 (translated from the original text).
Composed during 1971 and 1972, Exotica presents the peculiarity of having been written for extra-European instruments and voice: “a dominant place is reserved for song […]. It is exactly this possibility to sing that seems essential to me; because contrary to the musical practice of other continents, it was systematically rejected by European serious music.”
The work leaves all freedom for the instrumentarium choice up to the interpreters as well as the selection and organization of the various sections. However, the work lacks the elements of a continuous improvisation and, even when the musical indications consist of the imitation of certain musical parameters regarding a recorded medium, the duration of the interventions of every instrumentalist, the parameters of imitation to retain the quality (from ‘most faithful’ to ‘most incorrect’) remain noted with the greatest precision.




What relationship then prevails between the source of inspiration — the vast cultural heritage of traditional oral music — and the writing of the work? Kagel responds: “in Exotica, my desire was not to incorporate modes, notes and exotic rhythms in a learned way, on the contrary I sought the wild, natural, raw state. […] with Exotica, we are continually suspended over an exalting abyss, which has nothing to do with ethnic music, nor with standard combinations of contemporary music.” In fact, the score often gives the impression of being a transcription familiar to an ethnomusicologist, but a transcription of a particular kind: That of traditional music which the unpredictable imagination of the composer would have reconstituted, where the theatrical spirit and the humor compete in a spirit of musical inventiveness.
Furthermore: “those listening to this piece will also be confronted with a sound world which they doubtless will have difficulty in placing. Does it parody Asian, African or Oriental music? Or are we obviously in the presence of stylistic imitations intended only to slightly blur the intangibility, the aura and the characteristics of the original? Does the resulting music ring of the “exotic” because it was remodelled by a Western composer’s pen? Or, going still further, because the instruments are so typified, that no typically Western music is emitted? Each of these questions deserves answers both diverse and elaborate.” In fact it calls into question our relationship with “other” music and more generally, music’s universality. Laurent Aubert summarizes this questioning in the following way: “our discovery of the music of the “other,” is experiential, a transcultural individual experience from person to person where the perception of otherness becomes secretly entwined with our own sensibilities towards otherness. Listening also contributes to the transformation of the object by imposing new paradigms. We are left to consider a new approach towards notions such as universality or otherness: indeed, if, as it is often said, the music is a universal language, what music are we referring to, when and under which conditions is it considered universal?” (Laurent Aubert: La musique de l’Autre, Georg éditeur, Genève, 2001.)



Now, 46 years after the composition of Exotica, when the question of interculturalism and its implications are at the forefront of the media, this interrogation retains all of its relevance. From naive fascination to patronizing caricature, Exotica stages the vast distorted mirror of our world perception, inviting the public to journey to the borders of the construction of musical identity.

Fabrice Marandola [English translation: Peggy Niloff]



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Sunday, August 19, 2018

GANELIN / CHEKASIN / TARASOV ‎– Semplice (Me ‎– С60 21121 009 / LP-1984)




Label: Мелодия ‎– С60 21121 009
(white labels)
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: USSR / Released: 1984
Style: Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation
Vilnius Recording Studio. Recorded of 1983.
Artwork [Painter] – E. Cukermanas
Engineer, Mixed By – E. Motiejūnas
Directed By – Vyacheslav Ganelin
Supervised By [Editor] – R. Zalnieriute
Matrix / Runout: С60-21121/2-1
Matrix / Runout: С60-21122/2-1

A - Semplice (Part 1) ............................................................................................ 20:38
B - Semplice (Part 2) ............................................................................................ 20:00

Personnel:
VYACHESLAV GANELIN – keyboards, piano [acoustic], keyboards [basset, casio-tone], horn  [hunting horn], percussion
VLADIMIR CHEKASIN – alto saxophone, trombone, flute [end-blown], percussion
VLADIMIR TARASOV – drums [sonor], percussion

Unlike many free jazz groups, Ganelin Trio is one that knows how to use space and dynamics, creating a sometimes incredible sense of drama.
As may be expected, "Semplice" is a huge, sprawling tapestry, full of rich and shifting textures. It begins like a piece of South Asian classical music, built up from absolute silence at first with the tenderest whispers of percussion, which gradually grow to crescendos, diminish again, and build back up.
Here, the Trio is a mini-orchestra as they employ ethnic percussion instruments, a vast array of woodwinds, horns and Casio electronic keyboards.



"Semplice" is evolving into various movements via a climactic and budding flow - offering disparate themes and tonalities aided by an abundance of meaningful dialogue. The Trio alternate instruments as if this were a Broadway play where three actors double up and multitask roles or more appropriately, a loosely based theatrical troupe. It doesn’t end there. This composition progresses into a series of structured motifs, as the band begin to develop rich melodies featuring memorable hooks and at various junctures elicit memories of the 80’s European Prog-Rock movement. “Semplice” is a brilliant piece of work as this Trio seemingly start with nothing yet gravitate towards complex, innovative ideas while pulling it all together in surprising fashion.
Ganelin's piano playing is colossal, and the dramatic power of his impassioned duetting with the smallest strains of sound (from the Casio) is astounding. When Chekasin's saxophones finally appear, they add a swashbuckling and unpredictable piquancy to this piece which is full of modern classical, modern jazz, and ancient references, but is unto itself a masterpiece.

Simply put “Semplice” is a remarkable recording and if you seldom had the opportunity to hear this legendary band......now is the time! Highly Recommended!

(Review By Glenn Astarita, AAJ)



If you find it, buy this album!

Friday, August 10, 2018

URS BLÖCHLINGER / CHRISTOPH BAUMANN with CADAVRE EXQUIS – Music By Two Composers... (LP-1988)




Label: Creative Works Records – CW 1014
Format: Vinyl, LP / Country: Switzerland / Released: 1988
Printed and manufactured in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Style: Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation, Avantgarde
Recorded at Soundville Studio, Luzern, in October 1987.
Layout, Design – Bernd Wendt
Engineer – René Zingg
Liner Notes – Hansjörg Schneider
Liner Notes [Translation] – Ursula Meyer
Producer – Christoph Baumann, Mark Wider, Urs Blöchlinger
Composed By – Urs Blöchlinger (A1, A2, B1, B2), Christoph Baumann (A3, B3)
Matrix / Runout (runout side A, stamped): CW 1014 A-1 | P
Matrix / Runout (runout side B, stamped): CW 1014 B-1 | P

Side A
A1 - March Is An Introduction ........................................................................... 10:54
A2 - Kinderlieder Nach A. Wölfli ......................................................................... 2:58
A3 - Wucherung II ............................................................................................. 12:59

Side B
B1 - La Belle Et La Bête ..................................................................................... 4:53
B2 - Kännsch Höngg ? ..................................................................................... 15:48
B3 - Ballade ........................................................................................................ 6:08

Personnel:
Urs Blöchlinger – alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, bass saxophone
Christoph Baumann – piano
Nat Su – alto saxophone
Martin Schlumpf – soprano saxophone, bass clarinet
Ian Gordon-Lennox – trumpet, flugelhorn
Roland Dahinden – trombone
David Taylor – bass trombone
Tom Varner – french horn
Hämi Hämmerli – bass
Dieter Ulrich – drums, percussion

Creative Works Records is an independent Swiss record label was founded in 1983 by Mike Wider in Root in the canton of Lucerne. Wider, who had built up a recording studio in Lucerne and worked as a music producer, recorded on his first album the American alto saxophonist Marion Brown.
Since then, the label has published between two and four productions a year. In particular, modern and contemporary jazz and avant-garde music are released. The label is run by Wider sideline and is not designed for profit: profits earned always flowed in full in the next productions.
The label has released such musicians as Corin Curschellas, Urs Blöchlinger, John Wolf Brennan, Christy Doran, Urs Leimgruber, Evan Parker, Alfred Harth, Marion Brown, Bernd Konrad, Peter Schärli, Ned Rothenberg, Hans Kennel, Lucas Niggli, Tscho Theissing and Franz Koglmann. Also albums of the deceased musicians Klaus Koch and Werner Lüdi were published by the label. Both sound carriers and DVDs have been released.
Currently, the focus is on Swiss musicians of the jazz and improvisation scene, such as Luigi Archetti, Christy Doran or Peter A. Schmid, and the Swiss composers, who are Marianne Schroeder and Brennan in the Groupe Lacroix (including collaboration with the Moscow Rachmaninov Trio Russia and the Ensemble Sortisatio from Germany). The philosophy of the label today is "to accompany a band or an artist over several years and to offer him the opportunity to introduce themselves at different intervals with different projects."
The label aims to build up the musicians over a longer period of time without curtailing their artistic freedom. Quote Wider: "For certain productions, I am already involved in the creation process, but I'm not one who talks everywhere. However, it is important for me to find a personal connection to the musicians. " Unlike many other labels, the rights remain with the musicians.


Urs Leo Blöchlinger (born June 4, 1954 in Wettingen, † March 3, 1995 in Turgi) was a Swiss jazz musician (alto saxophone, soprano, bass saxophone, flute) and composer.
Blöchlinger first learned to play guitar and trumpet as an autodidact before turning to the saxophone. He studied for a short time at the Swiss Jazz School in Bern (inter alia, Andy Scherrer), then moved to the Music Academy in Zurich, but broke off his studies shortly before the diploma. He ran a multimedia cabaret with Christoph Baumann with the Jerry Dental Kolllekdoof, founded his own trio (with Thomas Dürst, Thomas Hiestand), introduced his own compositions to the Ensemble Lekfek in 1982, and then founded groups such as Saint Bimbam, Kuddeldaddeldu or Tettet. He also played with Day & Taxi or Bermuda Rectangle; He also appeared with George Gruntz, Carla Bley, Hans Koch, Werner Lüdi, Peter Schärli, John Wolf Brennan, Martin Schütz, Fredy Studer, Christy Doran or Hans Kennel.
Blöchlinger, who had been married to pianist Valérie Portmann since 1981, wrote multistilistic compositions between modern jazz and new music and also performed experiments with improvisational concepts. He wrote theater and film music ("Paddy or the Lily on the Bottom of the Bottle") and the musical "Der Kranich" (with a libretto by Hansjörg Schneider), performed in 1991 in Berne, but also compositions for the "Schlieremer Chind". "The passionate frontier worker and cheerful and melancholy avant-gardist was restlessly traveling between styles, between slapstick and an aesthetics of resistance." At the age of forty, Blöchlinger committed suicide.



Christoph Baumann (born June 26, 1954 in Baden AG) is a Swiss pianist of modern jazz and free improvisation music.
Baumann worked as a teacher for a short time after completing his training at the Wettinger Lehrerseminar. From 1975 to 1979 he graduated from the Swiss Jazz School in Bern. In 1975 he founded the cabaret influenced Jerry Dental Kollekdoof. Then he directed the Baumann-Hämmerli-Sextett with Hämi Hämmerli and the great formation Cadavre Exquis and the recession orchestra with Urs Blöchlinger. He founded the Latin experimental formation Mentalities and the crossover project Symphonic Salsa. With Jacques Siron he directs the groups Afro Garage, Nuit Balte (with Petras Vyšniauskas) and the Septet Rouge, Frisé & Acide 7. With his own groups or as a sideman he toured in Switzerland, Europe, Latin America, India and Madagascar and played on the Leipzig jazz days and other festivals, such as Montreux, Willisau, Vilnius etc. He also worked in groups such as Omnibus, the Swiss percussion ensemble and Potage du Jour, "Swiss Improvisers Orchestra" and performed with the French Orchester National de Jazz and La Marmite Infernale.
Between 1982 and 1990 he was a teacher of improvisation at the Zurich Conservatory; He also taught at the Jazz School St. Gallen and at the Lucerne School of Music, where he is professor of jazz piano and improvisation. In addition, he was one of the organizers of the "Conference for Improvisation" in Lucerne between 1990 and 1999 and was responsible as program designer for various jazz series. Since 1976 he has written music for film and theater music. He wrote the speech operas "Attinghausen", "Ds Grais" and "Behind the Seven Mountains".

(Data retrieved from: de.wikipedia.org)



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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

AMON DÜÜL II – Yeti (Liberty Records – LBS 83 359/60 X / 2LP-1970)




Label: Liberty – LBS 83 359/60 X
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1970
Style: Krautrock, Psychedelic Rock, Free Improvisation
Printed By – Carl v. d. Linnepe, Lüdenscheid / April 1970 on Liberty Rec.
Design [Cover Design] – Amon Düül II
Engineer – Willy Schmidt
Producer – Amon Düül II, Olaf Kübler
Co-producer – Siegfried E. Loch
Composed By, Lyrics By, Arranged By – Amon Düül II
Matrix / Runout (A-side, stamped): C 83359 A-1 Made in Germany
Matrix / Runout (B-side, stamped): C 83359 B-1 Made in Germany
Matrix / Runout (C-side, stamped): C 83360 A-2 Made in Germany
Matrix / Runout (D-side, stamped): C 83360 B-1 Made in Germany

Side A
A1 - Soap Shop Rock ........................................................................................ 13:47
        a) Burning Sister .......................................................... 3:41
        b)  Halluzination Guillotine ........................................... 3:05
        c)  Gulp a Sonata ......................................................... 0:45
        d)  Flesh-Coloured Anti-Aircraft Alarm ......................... 5:53
A2 - She Came Through the Chimney ................................................................. 3:01

Side B
B1 - Archangels Thunderbird ............................................................................... 3:33
B2 - Cerberus ....................................................................................................... 4:21
B3 - The Return of Rübezahl ............................................................................... 1:41
B4 - Eye-Shaking King ........................................................................................ 5:40
B5 - Pale Gallery .................................................................................................. 2:16

Side C
 C1 - Yeti (Improvisation) ................................................................................... 18:12

Side D
D1 - Yeti Talks to Yogi (Improvisation) ................................................................. 6:18
D2 - Sandoz in the Rain (Improvisation) ............................................................. 9:00

Personnel:
Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz – vocals, tambourine
John Weinzierl – guitar, twelve-string guitar, vocals
Chris Karrer – violin, guitar, twelve-string guitar, vocals
Falk Rogner – organ
Dave Anderson – bass
Peter Leopold – drums, percussion
Christian "Shrat" Thierfeld – bongos, vocals

Guests on "Sandoz in the Rain":
Rainer Bauer – guitar
Ulrich Leopold – bass
Thomas Keyserling – flute

Yeti is the second studio album by German rock band Amon Düül II, first released in April 1970 on Liberty (Germany: LBS 83359/60 X; United Kingdom: LSP 101) as a double LP. The album was produced by Olaf Kübler and Amon Düül II, and engineered by Willy Schmidt, "with a little help of Siegfried E. Loch". Including both short songs and longer, improvisational tracks, British avant-garde music magazine The Wire describes Yeti as "one of the cornerstones of both Amon Düül's career and the entire Krautrock movement.

Note:
The cover was designed by the band's organist, Falk Rogner, and features a collage depicting the Grim Reaper (German: Der Sensenmann), made from a photograph of Wolfgang Krischke. Krischke, who had worked with the band as a sound man, had died of hypothermia while under the effects of LSD. Rogner said: "When he died I thought that the photo would be a perfect tribute to his memory. He never managed to find his way into Amon Düül properly when he was alive, so maybe his image as Der Sensenmann will work as a strange cover image and he could be remembered as a magical person."



Although "Tanz der Lemminge" is largely considered as the best classic Amon Duul II album, I prefer "Yeti". It is also a double LP, but the musical journey produced on this album by this crazy bunch of hippie experimentators surpass even the toughest and the most daring listeners' expectations! It is almost one long, trippy, psychedelic acid rock improvisation streched across four sides of an LP set. Pumping and intoxicating rhythm section accompanied by the screaming solos of jangly guitars and occasional violin makes its peak here on "Yeti". Crumbs of VELVET UNDERGROUND "dirty" sound and of San Fransico acid scene are heard here and there but they are ever more expanded into a dangerous, unknown experimental territories, at least up to this point of time (remember, the year is 1970!).
Unlike their later, more refined efforts, this embryonic recording showcases the more urgent sound of a band with strong ties to the European counterculture barricades of 1968. The music is almost raw in spots, but not without a certain primitive beauty, moving from the dreamy psychedelia of "She Came Through the Chimney" (complete with bongo drums and more than a whiff of cannabis) to the feedback-soaked power of "Archangel Thunderbird", on which the strident upper-octave singing anticipates Johnny Rotten's angry vulpine growl by more than half a decade.




Spaced-out one-chord guitar jams with pounding drums and thrashing cymbals, ghostly violins in Middle Eastern echo chambers, and the amps all cranked to maximum distortion. For lack of a better comparison (always the cheapest form of criticism, to be sure) think of a shotgun marriage between "Space Ritual" HAWKWIND and the more cosmic digressions of early PINK FLOYD, circa "Ummagumma".
Centerpiece is the 24 minute jam session Yeti which was devided in 2 parts. A magical mystery tour from the beginning to the end. Absolutely fascinating and I'm quite sure this could only played in that way under well dosed drug influence. Psychedelic guitars, often very sentimental and melancholic, various bass playing, hypnotic repetitive but also detached as a solo instrument and a very interesting drum timing. By all means a unique Krautrock gem. Sandoz in the rain afterwards is for relaxing after the Yeti was around - a nice flower power piece with acoustic guitar, flute and percussion.

I am aware that listening of this album can be a painful and rather devastating experience for novices or the people who prefer melody, arrangement and nice production. But for those others, go ahead and try this potion - you may well experience rather different realities without chemical abuses. This is one of the most powerful and uncompromising records I ever listened and definitely among the top 10 Krautrock albums!

(Review by Neu!mann–Seyo–Rivertree / Prog Reviewers)



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AMON DÜÜL II – Tanz Der Lemminge (Liberty – LBS 83 473/74 X – 2LP-1971)




Label: Liberty – LBS 83 473/74 X
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1971 
Style: Krautrock, Psychedelic Rock, Free Improvisation
Printed in Germany by Carl v. d. Linnepe, 1971, Lüdenscheid.
Engineer – K.-H. Hausmann
Mixed By – Kalle Hausmann
Producer – Amon Düül II, Olaf Kübler
Original Film-Musik Cham Sin mit Maria Schell
Written-By – Karrer, Rogner, Weinzierl, Meid
Matrix / Runout (A-side, stamped): C 83473 A-1 Made in Germany
Matrix / Runout (B-side, stamped): C 83473 B-1 Made in Germany
Matrix / Runout (C-side, stamped): C 83 474 A-1 Made in Germany
Matrix / Runout (D-side, stamped): C 83 474 B-1 Made in Germany

Side A
"SYNTELMAN'S MARCH OF THE ROARING SEVENTIES" ..................... (15:51)
A1 - In the Glass Garden ......................................................... 1:39
A2 - Pull Down Your Mask ....................................................... 4:39
A3 - Prayer to the Silence ........................................................ 1:04
A4 - Telephonecomplex ........................................................... 8:26

Side B
"RESTLESS SKYLIGHT-TRANSISTOR-CHILD" ......................................... (19:33)
B1 - Landing in a Ditch ............................................................ 1:12
B2 - Dehypnotized Toothpaste ................................................. 0:52
B3 - A Short Stop at the Transylvanian Brain-Surgery ............ 5:00
B4 - Race From Here to Your Ears .......................................... 5:20
        a)  Part I - Little Tornadoes
        b)  Part II - Overheated Tiara
        c)  Part III - The Flyweighted Five
B5 - Riding on a Cloud ............................................................. 2:33
B6 - Paralyzed Paradise .......................................................... 3:07
B7 - H.G. Wells' Take Off ......................................................... 1:26

Side C
"CHAMSIN SOUNDTRACK" ........................................................................ (18:05)
C  -  The Marilyn Monroe-Memorial-Church ...........................18:05

Side D
"CHAMSIN SOUNDTRACK"......................................................................... (15.00)
D1 - Chewing Gum Telegram .................................................. 2:41
D2 - Stumbling Over Melted Moonlight ................................... 4:33
D3 - Toxicological Whispering ................................................. 7:45

Personnel:
Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz – vocalstambourine
Chris Karrer – electric guitar / acoustic guitar, violin, vocals
John Weinzierl – guitars, piano, vocals
Falk Rogner  organ, electronics
Lothar Meid – bass guitar, double bass, vocals
Peter Leopold  drums, percussion, piano
with:
Jimmy Jackson  organ, choir-organ, piano
Al Gromer  sitar
Rolf Zacher – vocals



Through the trials and tribulations that life has to offer comes a vast wealth of inspiration and karmic balance and thus the members of AMON DÜÜL II were collecting their just dessert after having a series of setbacks. One of the most terrifying events was at the Keks Club in Cologne, Germany in 1971 when a fire not only destroyed all of their musical gear but snuffed out four youths in attendance and then soon thereafter their new equipment was ripped off which lacking any insurance and not totally paid, ended up bankrupting the band as royalties for their previous two records were garnished to pay off creditors. As can be expected, such incidents create extreme tensions with members of a fledgling band simply trying to make their way in the cult recesses of the music scene and as a result bassist Dave Anderson was the first to bail and immediately hooked up with Hawkwind while founding member Chris Karrer (violin, guitars) would take off to join Embryo. Meanwhile Renate Knaup who never really left the band, only contributed when she felt like it and pretty much sitting this one out with the exception of the one teeny weeny track "Riding On A Cloud" which she clearly was and found that more interesting. Likewise Falk Rogner stuck around on a part-time basis and as a result organ playing duties are shared.




Such was the rotating door lifestyle of 70s commune life yet all the turmoil resulted in a very different creation process for TANZ DER LEMMINGE than "Yeti" which only came out a year before but sounds light years away in sound and overall feel. No longer were Anderson's signature bass playing style present as Lothar Meid took the helm and had a completely different artistic direction. However, despite all the odds stacked against them, the collective commune that had garnered much attention with their first two albums retreated to the eye of the hurricane and reformed, took a deep breath and still managed to release their second double album in a two year timespan. The very first startling thing you will notice when putting on their third album is how very, very different it sounds compared with the previous two. But despite it all, it wasn't only a bloody miracle that it was created at all but actually stands up as one of the band's most varied, creative and ambitious releases of their entire career. This album came out just months after their series of catastrophes under the German title TANZ DER LEMMINGE but was released in the US as DANCE OF THE LEMMINGS. It also found a repackaging in Italy where it was retitled VIAGGIO IN UN SOGNO ("Journey Into A Dream").

The evolving aspects from "Yeti" to TANZ DER LEMMINGE also reflect the turbulence of early 1970s Germany as idealistic hippie and leftist values turned to full-fledged violent revolutionary attempts to use terrorism in order to protest the state apparatus. The Red Army Faction (Baader-Meinhof Gang) shook the entire country to its core and inevitably the arts and musical culture were equally affected. While "Phallus Dei" and "Yeti" were more free flowing and psychedelic rock oriented with a sense of naive innocence running through their course, TANZ DER LEMMINGE is not only more sophisticated in the musical sense but runs the gamut of the emotional spectrum equally as if the band just like the land in which they resided was facing the most uncertain of futures and in the process were throwing any zany idea possible at the wall to see what would stick. The result of this nosedive into the world of fastidious experimentation resulted in a sprawler of a concept album that contains four progressive rock suites with each offering completely different moods and objectives. While these grails convene to take the listener on a wild roller coaster ride of musical diversity, they all coalesce into a larger sense of creating a surreal and psychedelic narrative of the era.




TANZ DER LEMMINGE is most certainly a more thoughtful and provocative album than what came before and will require ample periods of uninterrupted attention with plenty of after time rumination. Upon first listen i was actually disappointed with this album, big time, as i was expecting a clearcut continuation of "Yeti." While i may have put this back on the shelf for a while, it had planted its seeds and summoned my nonjudgmental return. Upon reflection and ample listening time i have fallen under its hypnotic spell as it mesmerizes my restlessness while stimulating my creative cranial cortex. The diversity of sounds, tones, styles and twisted tales of the imagined or not comes off as a playful nerdy paradise of sounds that slinks and swirls in every foreseeable direction of the sonic palette while earning an A+ for tenacity on the trip-o-meter. No you don't need drugs to enjoy this but then again, maybe you do. You without doubt need patience and above all a very open mind. This is certainly a grower as it strives for a 10 on the progometer but really only scaling up to a 9. For 1971 this is some pretty daring stuff. It far outreaches other Krautrock contemporaries. While Can and Faust were limiting their respective sounds to a certain niche market, AMON DÜÜL II were taking the rock approach to the jazzy stellar other worlds of Sun Ra and his Magic Arkestra as if they were abducted by alien beings and implanted with creativity chips. Man, that commune idea really worked for these guys at the time but like all good parties it must come to and end and such is the case with the highest peak of their career as the following albums incrementally became tamer and commercial. TANZ DER LEMMINGE, however was and remains one of the highest peaks of the early Krautrock world.

(Review by siLLy puPPy / Prog Reviewer)



If you find it, buy this album!

Friday, July 20, 2018

EMBRYO – Father, Son And Holy Ghosts (United Artists – UAS 29 344 I / LP-1972)




Label: United Artists Records – UAS 29 344 I
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1972
Style: Krautrock, Fusion, Free Improvisation, Prog Rock
Recorded March 1972 at Studio 70, Munich.
Original German pressing
Design Concept [Coverideas] – Embryo
Photography By – Uta Hofmann
Engineer – Jürgen Koppers
Producer, Arranged By  – Embryo
Matrix / Runout (A Side): UAS 29 344 I A1/ Made in Germany
Matrix / Runout (B Side): UAS 29 344 I B1/ Made in Germany

A1 - The Special Trip .......................................................................................... 5:56
A2 - Nightmares .................................................................................................. 1:01
A3 - King Insano ................................................................................................. 4:50
A4 - Free ............................................................................................................. 6:25
B1 - The Sun Song ............................................................................................. 8:52
B2 - Marimbaroos ............................................................................................... 2:59
B3 - Forgotten Sea ............................................................................................. 9:18

Musicians:
Sigi Schwab – acoustic guitar [twelve-string], electric guitar, veena, bulbul tarang
Edgar Hofmann – violin, soprano saxophone
David King – bass, flute, marimba [alto-marimba], vocals
Christian Burchard – drums, percussion, marimba [marimbaphone], vibes, vocals

Everyone that is familiar with Embryo already knows the story behind this and the two ensuing albums. In the 8 months following their second album Rache, the band recorded 3 albums worth of material but their label refused most of it due to the lack of "commercial potential". Only the songs that ended up on Father Son and the Holy Ghost were deemed accessible enough. Luckily, the other material was eventually released by Brain.
During these 8 months, the band changed musicians as swiftly as they wrote material, and each of the 3 releases contains a different line-up. It's something that very much defined the sound of each album.



In search of a bassist Embryo would recruit Dave King, who would later appear in several Kraut/Jazz Rock bands, with Bunka focusing on guitar.Recordings for a new album begun already from September 71', but Embryo's label United Artists, afraid that the fresh material would be a commercial failure, refused to release it, somehow forcing the band to smoothen their style. By the dawn of 72' there was enough material for two album, but Embryo kept producing music, now having joined forces with talented guitarist Sigi Schwab with Bunka remaining behind the scenes. Eventually the album, which was to be titled ''Father, son and holy ghosts'', was along the strict lines of Embryo's label and it was eventually released in 1972.





It is quite hard to imagine what really turned off the management of United Artists, because Embryo's third effort sound no less complex than their previous releases, maybe the addition of a pair of happier or more funky tunes was enough for them to keep the whole thing rolling. Otherwise ''Father, son and holy ghosts'' sounds quite close to Embryo's previous efforts with enigmatic spaced-out experiments, lots of Ethnic tunes and a fair dose of complicated, twisting grooves with powerful, psychedelic tones. Once more the ability of the band to deliver stretched, instrumental themes with long sax solos and elaborate passages with archaic flute drives displays their talent on Ethnic Jazz/Fusion. Schwab's freaky guitar solos is a new element in Embryo's style, but generally the Germans managed again to create a diverse and interesting album, which gets the principles of Kraut/Psychedelic Rock, passes them through Ethnic filters and put it up there with the freedom of Jazz. The result is often outstanding, featuring extended instrumental exercises with only sporadic vocals, either led by the jazzy saxes, the elegant flutes or the folky violins, powering them finally into majestic experiments, full of loose solos, intense bass playing and drumming and hypnotic rhythms. They still lack the more emblimatic moments of the previous album, but nevertheless this is a very dynamic Kraut Rock album with tremendous changing moods.
Add another winner in Embryo's discography. Apparently the band was in an orgasmic inspiration with tons of material written in 1971/72, some of it ended up to be this cool release.

(Review by apps79 / Prog Reviewer)



If you find it, buy this album!