kraut rock


Kraftwerk: Autobahn (1974)

“Fun, fun, fun on ze Autobahn … fun, fun, fun on ze Autobahn …” *

Who knew a bunch of future robots could have any fun? Or this much hair!

Kraftwerk’s gradual process of self-discovery over three experimental albums finally accelerated and found purposeful direction (right down the highway, as things turned out) on their career breakthrough, yet the unedited, sidelong title track still had room to spare for the group’s endless technological curiosity.

Gliding synths, pre-industrial kilng-klangs, and such, all set to primary colors:

“Die fahrbahn ist ein graues band; Weisse streifen, gruener rand.”
(“The driving strip is a grey track; White stripes, green edge.”)

Side two abandons the highway system for the solar system, and you couldn’t ask for two more contrasting musical studies than “Kometenmelodie 1” (stark and foreboding) and “2” (lush and uplifting) – nor more diametrically opposed night and day atmospherics than those of “Mitternacht” (“Midnight”) and “Morgenspaziergang” (“Morning Walk”).

What a trip!

Maybe Kraftwerk could help recover America’s crumbling infrastructure.

* Today I learned the I’ve been wrongly assuming these were English lyrics all these years and that, in fact, they are the German “Wir fahr'n fahr'n fahr'n auf der Autobahn,” or “We are driving on the Autobahn.” 

More Kraftwerk: Trans-Europe Express.


Think “Variety” 1973 Germany  Kraut Rock Prog Rock


Think came from Marl in the Ruhr area and their only LP is - like many of the discs released on the Garden of Delights label - very rare and expensive in vinyl original. “Variety” was released in 1973 on the small Gelsenkirchener Menga label, as well as the single album of the other “well-known” band from Marl called Join In (“Kentalope Island” - also published by Garden of Delights) , The CD reissue of “Variety” is one of the most interesting of the really obscure albums, the garden-of-Delights-maker Walter Nowicki has excavated from the shallows of the German Proghistorie.

The music of Think sounds more like California than to the Ruhr area. The three Germans, the two Hungarians and the Czechs, jazzy, psychedelic, folky, and also classically progressive. This music reminds me of It’s a Beautiful Day, but it is often very fluffy and round, but also complex. Some earthy, sometimes bluesy-rocky Think, however, are also afoot, but also a trace of experimental, with a few herbivative-meditative ingredients, a few tougher outbreaks and a shot of early Pink Floyd (“drops”, especially in the edgier bonus version) ,

Frank Voigt plays the flute on the flute, echoing the tone of the tone, or whiskers, accompanied by the energetic band. The sound gaps fill Gerd Pohl on the rather restrained, but angular electric guitar, which only occasionally blows bluesy-rocky, and Kajo Sandrik to an organ (rarely piano) or violin. He is mainly responsible for the classic progressive element, but his fiddling sometimes has something folky. Finally, there is Rodrigo Ramor, who is sometimes rather unobtrusive, but quite pleasant, which is sometimes shaded by Pohl’s voice.

The two bonus pieces were produced more than a year before the actual album. The sound quality is very good. Here, the band is a bit rougher and louder, but not so sophisticated yet more powerful. Just the already mentioned “more drops” looks even better in this “dirty” version. The final “all that I remember” sounds a long time, but it is not quite as bad as a slightly disturbing, not at all appropriate section after a little over 2 minutes in the long “draw conclusions from .. . ”), Or better Bluesrockjam, which gets however by some extravagant flute deposits a quite own character.

“Variety” is a completely successful disc with re-discoverable cabbage skirt, which deserved a bigger popularity! The whole thing does not really sound too krautig at all. Beautiful plate!……by…… Achim Breiling………

This album makes for great and somewhat sophisticated psychedelic nutrition for those hungry heavy heads with a predisposed preference for multi-colored musical edification. Don’t get the wrong idea though, this is NOT just some over rated, useless & busy cerebral background filler of an album. Neither is it one of those that has every possible Far East Indian string & percussion gizmo being played all at once. However, it is an amazing and somewhat if not completely, unique Heavy German Prog/Psych classic like no other.

The group Think were comprised of Hungarian, German & Czechoslovakian musicianship. The end result of their amazing collaborative recording was to be completely unpredictable in a comparative sense. For me the results liken themselves to the very best US West Coast Psychedelic influenced Progressive Rock my ears have ever heard. Imagine an instrumentally diverse Rock & Folk version of Captain Beyond crossed with the group Bread. All the while being saturated with a very real lysergic aptitude.

Now, with one ear’s foot just outside your armchair bound spacecraft’s door, you are at least partly in a nearby musical universe! This album from start to finish is masterful to say the very least and represents one of the most fateful of musical assemblages ever. The group sadly only existed while the music was being recorded and is in fact shrouded in mystery as few acknowledged details exist. The musicians themselves were in part touring Germany within a Hungarian Orchestra troop when they were apparently struck with a streak of repressed rebellion and decided to defect. After talking with the label owner of the German based record label “Menga”, the wandering musicians hooked up with another musician or two and proceeded to render their only known official release. This is a MUST for fans of the genre, and CD & LP reissues do in fact exist…… waxidermy………..

Think, hailed from Marl, a town in the northern Ruhr area of West - Germany. Founded 1971 by 3 Germans, 2 Hungarians and 1 Czech the group fused together their different cultures into a complex progressive rock featuring flute, violin and guitars in a richly folky and classical intoned style, reminding bands like It’s a beautiful day, Pell Mell, but also Bacillus groups like Omega, Nektar or Epsilon. This inventive mix was most successful on the 14 minutes longtrack ‘Draw conclusion from…’, a journey through bluesrock, jazzy elements and classical quotations interspersed by melodic vocal parts, sounding more next to California than to dark and heavy Ruhr area. Album comes with comprehensive bandstory by drummer Wördehoff and notes by guitarist Pohl and a lot of rare photos.
This is one you have to discover! A secret tip!…………

THINK was one of many German incidents in the early 1970s which produced one album and then disappeared for ever and ever. The band featured skilled musicians, for example two from Hungary and one Czech who some day played in Germany with the Philharmonia Hungarica … and then decided to stay. Soon they found some German mates to build up a six-piece crew and came in contact with the Marl/Ruhrgebiet based label Menga which 1973 released their sole album 'Variety’. This is an appropriate album title by all means.
They offer a nearly eclectic sound when mixing up classical, jazzy, symphonic, heavy, folk, blues and psych elements to something very interesting and enjoyable. With other words: this is nothing rough and unpolished … if anything than the two bonus tracks probably, earlier recordings included on the Garden Of Delights reissue. Both appear in a more heavy rock vein where More Drops is also clearly Pink Floyd infected. The groovy All that I remember shines with some experimental gimmicks. This foreshadows the trickiness of the following regular album tracks.

THINK start the album very relaxed, folksy, the title song is decorated with violin and Frank Voigt’s flute, later turning to a swinging jazzy mood and even classical impressions. And so on … they build up a surprising chain of varying impressions provided with turns and breaks where you immediately can recognize the compositional ability. Then you will meet the mellow instrumental Watercorps - of course once interrupted by a frantic hurry-up. Drops is pervaded with hallucinatory impressions as well as jazzy excursions. The epic Draw Conclusions from partially sounds like performed by the Keef Hartley Band, bluesy with playful organ …

… so you can hear they take the album title quite literally. And it works on top of it! Vocals are surprisingly good compared to other German bands and all in all this is somewhat relaxed music. As mentioned before 'Variety’ is digitally remastered and re-issued, available via Garden Of Delights. The booklet of 32 pages holds many images, illustrating the spirit of that time very nicely. A very good progressive rock effort - recommended!… Rivertree …………

4.5 stars. An interesting lineup here with three Germans, two Hungarians (brothers) and a Czech. The German lead guitarist was a big fan of KING CRIMSON and PINK FLOYD while the drummer was into LED ZEPPELIN and BLACK SABBATH. The three non-German musicians were Classical musicians. They called themselves THINK because of their interest in a thinking audience. Vocals are in English and the music is in my opinion very moving and Psychedelic in nature. PINK FLOYD is the band I thought of most often. Lots of organ, guitar, flute and viola.
“Variety” opens with gentle guitar as flute and viola join in. Vocals and organ follow. It turns jazzy after 1 ½ minutes. Great sound a minute later. What an amazing song ! “Watercorps” opens with relaxed guitar, bass and drums to start. Vocals join in as the organ floats in the background. Flute comes in and it sounds so good. Viola after 2 minutes. Another incredible track. “Drops” is the best one of all in my opinion. Experimental intro then laid back guitar and drums lead as the vocals join in. Very FLOYD-like here. It kicks in after 1 ½ minutes. A nice flute / bass section 3 minutes in then the guitar starts to solo. Nice. It’s experimental again before 5 minutes as themes are repeated.

“Draw Conclusions From…” is the longest track at 14 minutes but my least favourite. I still think it’s great though. A beat with flute and guitar as vocals join in quickly. Organ follows. We get a Blues section after 3 minutes until after 5 minutes then that earlier sound returns. Best part is after 7 ½ minutes as the flute and organ lead. Viola follows. Nice bass too. “Last Door” opens with the door squeeking open as guitar, bass, flute and percussion take over. Vocals too. A calm after 1 ½ minutes. Nice. It picks back up a minute later to end it. Cool tune. Two bonus tracks here.The first one “More Drops” is an earlier version of “Drops”, while the other is “All That I Remember”. The latter is fairly catchy with vocals. Nice guitar solo 1 ½ minutes in. Actually the guitar is more the focus here than on the other songs.

I’m very tempted to give this 5 stars because I like it so much, but in reality it’s not quite that good. Still this is one amazing Krautrock record. It makes me feel really good……….by Mellotron Storm ………………..

Let me introduce you to a record that really likes it, when you get drunk and turn up your stereo. It gets even more jolly and exuberant, if you then start to jump a little…..just a little in the corner - it’ll sense it. Variety is very much like having an omnipresent party friend living on your shelf. He lies there dormant, until the next time his owner decides to plunge head first down a barrel of beer.

The booming organ dominated jazz rock of the first cut is a fair blueprint of what this album is about. Much in line with the sounds of the early British prog rockers, bands like Colosseum, Quartermass, Gracious and Indian Summer, Think churned out one infinitely warm and heartfelt record back in 73. The comparisons stop at the organ drive though, as Variety brings in an altogether more gooey and sticky vibe. On the first cut it shows itself in a layer that seems to come from within the organ, so as you get this streaming, oozing effervescent quality to it. Sounds absolutely brilliant matched up with the tight interplay of the rhythm section.

Then you have the small interventions happening throughout the album - popping by in the form of either a viola or the smooth guitar stylings of Gerd Pohl. The viola completely transforms the tunes it appears in, especially on that first self-titled track, where it suddenly changes the mood for a playful kind of Mozart rock. The guitar though just does what it does best, which effectively consists of pointing the band in the direction of the stars, hope for the best - and then take off!

Yet another endearing musical trait of Pohl’s, is the way he riffs. Oh my word! This guy literally sounds like he’s revving an old Ford Mustang! VRRROOOOOOOOOM VRRRROOOOOOUMMM!!!! Ironically, you’ll have to wait until the bonus track called More Drops to get the best example of this roaring fuzzed out riffing mayhem. I can’t believe this tune wasn’t included on the original album! It’s one of my favourite things on Variety.

Even the vocals are strangely good - considering this was recorded in Germany 1973, by Germans singing in English. Hoho…..Yeah well, I might be a little harsh, but let me tell you - we were just as horrible in Denmark, when it came to the English lingo. Damn… Anyway, on Variety the vocals are 80% accent-free, and there’s additionally a pastoral shading to them that meshes incredibly well with the loftier sections, where the organ develops a quasi mellotron identity and begins to soar like a hot air balloon.

For some musical reference points, I’d say Pink Floyd in the dreamy sections, a strange mix of Black Sabbath, Amon Düül ll and King Crimson in the grainy muddied guitar riffs, and then perhaps a dash of the flute rock that made Canned Heat famous a few years prior to this release.

I think I’m with my good friend John The Mellotron rating-wise. Think’s sole album is a breathtaking slice of hard edged psychedelia with a delightful jazzy twist to it. It might not have been particularly fresh and pioneering, back when it first hit the street, but then again if you decide to judge music by the same standards you do water rugby and pole vaulting, you’re bound to set yourself up for nothing. Absolutely nothing. That is not zen at its finest btw, that’s merely the indication of you missing the plot by several nautical miles. Music is first and foremost about feel, and that is coincidentally also the one single thing this album’s got in spades! 4.5 stars………by Guldbamsen ………..

Think came from Marl and their members had previously gained musical experience in different bands. One played progressive rock in the cast guitar, flute, piano, organ, violin, bass, drums and singing. Her bandname was the guiding principle of the group. The music has been jointly developed and embodies the conformity of the group. The English texts were pictorially embellished and interpreted musically in such a way that a symbolic connection with everyday problems becomes recognizable. In 1973 they recorded the only LP in the small Gelsenkirchen studio Menga and they appeared in a 500 edition……..

Bass Guitar – Ricky Ramor
Composed By, Layout – Think (4)
Drums, Percussion – Frank Wördehoff
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Gerd Pohl
Flute, Effects – Frank Voigt
Violin, Viola, Piano, Organ, Percussion, Effects – Kajo Sandrik
Vocals, Percussion, Photography By – Rodrigo Ramor

A1 Variety 6:36
A2 Watercorps 5:04
A3 Drops 7:15
B1 Draw Conclusions From… 14:00
B2 Last Door 3:15

Mark Lanegan — Gargoyle (Heavenly)

Photo by Steve Gullick

Mark Lanegan can sound like a voice from the crypt, his hollowed out, deep-black whisper almost too low to hear properly, a whisper like Leonard Cohen if he’d recently been to hell, a whisper that could frighten children into eating their vegetables. In Gargoyle, though, he uses this whisper sparingly; the hairs on my arm rise to it just once, during “Nocturne” and for the rest of the time, the one-time Screaming Trees’ front man sticks to melody. Gargoyle is a singing record, a tuneful record, a densely, headily arranged record that surrounds Lanegan’s gothic reveries in soft glowing light. There’s almost no negative space in these ten songs. All are filled, end to end, with enveloping textures and sustained sounds.

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Yucatan  "Yucatan" 1982 German Kraut Rock Private

Yucatan were a band that had no idea what they wanted to be, so they threw a lot of mud against the wall, and hoped something would stick. History tells us that strategy never worked. And it appears Yucatan were yet another victim. But not before demonstrating they had immense potential to be a great progressive rock band. Even though Germany had some odd obsession with Mexico during this period in time, Yucatan, despite the name, has zero influences from our neighbor to the south.

I suppose if I was to summarize in a hurry, I’d call Yucatan a Deutschrock band and walk away. But that would disregard the fact that when Yucatan wanted to, they could deliver a highly fascinating and complex sequence of progressive rock music. And yet they could as well incongruously take a direct lift from Eddie Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’ solo and stick it in the middle of a song. For no reason, it would appear, other than to perhaps satisfy the guitarist that he indeed learned how to play it after 4 years of intense practice in front of the mirror. I just sat there waiting for the riff of 'You Really Got Me’ but instead got the Gunther blues voice. And speaking of which, there is a tepid attempt at playing heavy metal here too. There’s some galloping guitars (with no heft at all), and a few other tries at a sound that local countrymen Accept had already mastered with their brilliant and very heavy “Restless and Wild” album (and sadly, Accept then degenerated into an AC/DC party band not long after, much to my dismay). And then there’s the 4th track. A very fine slice of instrumental organ/guitar driven progressive rock (though the ridiculously thin sounding synth at the opening is entirely unnecessary)!

So what we have here is AOR radio friendly, 70s progressive rock, German vocal, English vocal, metal, progressive, boogie, symphonic, badly dated sounding synthesizers, killer organ, excellent psychedelic blues solos, good hard rock guitar, bad metal guitar…. album. That was privately released. If there was ever an album that would be better to cherry pick a few songs off for a compilation of unknown German progressive bands, then this would be that album………….
Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Johannes-Maria Piel
Drums, Vocals – Uwe-Harno Theedt
Guitar, Bass – Uwe Asshoff
Keyboards, Vocals – Axel Fritsche

A1 Yucatan 3:14
A2 Alte Zeiten 3:28
A3 I Miss You 5:57
A4 Auf Und Ab 6:11
B1 Burning Witches 4:53
B2 Motherless Child 3:38
B3 Keiner Weiss Bescheid 3:14
B4 Irrwind 4:05
B5 Stark Nach Vier 3:00


Yucatan - ‘Yucatan’ - 1982
[German Kraut Rock Private]

Source de découverte : @johnkatsmc5


German experimental/kraut rock/everything band Can released Tago Mago 40 years ago and yet the album is still as relevant as ever. Countless bands including Radiohead, Deerhunter, Pavement and Sonic Youth were greatly influenced by this record and by Can in general. Can managed to take the avant garde movement of New York and fuse it with prog rock, electronica, and even soul to create a sonic bliss of calculated chaos. So if you haven’t heard them before or if its been a while since you last heard them I suggest that you take a few moments out of your day to listen to this gem. You’ll find yourself simultaneously hearing both the past and present of modern music.

Cold Pumas - Persistent Malaise

One would think that with an album title as such that it’d be hard to get through, that perhaps it’d be so uneasy that you’d find yourself not wanting to listen, but it’s actually persistently listenable. Songs go on for five minutes at a time, but it’s almost as if it’s two songs melding into one. First track A Versitile Gift is a stellar example of this; like a roller coaster it takes builds up and slows down throughout the track and goes into this droney jam out that the guitar takes center stage on and then time changes up not once, but twice, and it’s a totally different song (but it’s not). 

The Modernist Crown is what I would consider the track where the post-punk element really shines through. Off kilter guitar at the onset, dancey drums and apathetic vocals (not a bad thing), it’s easily my favorite track of the lot. Points also go to Cold Pumas for the track Puce Moment, should I suffer from synesthesia, I would imagine that I’d be hearing that exactly that weird combination of brown and purple, seems like it’d be gross but it’s not. 

This Brighton, England trio caught my attention with the clever name of their debut full length album. After giving it a listen, it’s good to know that it’s just a misnnomer: there’s no feelings of malaise here. Cold Puma’s album is a formidable effort in the post-punk/kraut rock reformation. -a