Author Topic: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?  (Read 1587 times)

The Mollusk

  • We whipped 'em, didn't we?
Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« on: October 04, 2020, 07:24:36 PM »
A genre I don't delve into very often, which is bizarre considering how utterly magnificent and compelling and awe-inspiring I find it every time I do.

Been on a bit of a bender today, a late Sunday breakfast and cleaning the kitchen to CAN's Ege Bamyasi, and then throughout the day gradually plodding through Neu!'s self-titled debut and Neu! '75, Cluster's Zuckerzeit, Harmonia's Musik von Harmonia and am currently having my soul melted by the improvisations at the end of Amon Düül II's baffling, insane, mind-crushing Yeti. Six albums and nary a dull moment across any of them, all definitive masterworks in their own rights.

There's a happy midway-point reached on Neu! '75, Zuckerzeit and Musik von Harmonia which is not too ambient and not too meandering or freakish for me to engage with them completely with far more ease than a lot of other stuff in the genre. They're pretty much perfect as far as I'm concerned. That isn't to negate other staples of the genre, of course, but these albums click with me from start to finish. You could stick them on at any time of the day and I'd stop what I was doing and slip off the deep end.

I really need to force myself more into the second side of Tago Mago but I'm apprehensive given its reputation of being quite nightmarish and also that I'd consider the first side to be a pristine paragon of psychedelic repetition, among the greatest hypnotic groovy music I've ever heard. This style is more readily available throughout the majority of Ege Bamyasi, although it is spread comparatively thin, I think. It is a stunning album but the combined double whammy of Oh Yeah and Halleluwah is a fucking unwavering colossus.

Still haven't properly got into Faust or Tangerine Dream (I've never been the most eager explorer of ambient music), and never listened to the pre-electronic Kraftwerk stuff either. Pointers always appreciated.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2020, 07:25:48 PM »
All you'll ever need


BlodwynPig

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Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2020, 07:30:32 PM »

Dirty Boy

  • Gallant rider
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2020, 07:51:31 PM »
Quote
...Amon Düül II's baffling, insane, mind-crushing Yeti
Fucking yes, this album is amazing!

You're going to want to hear Wolf City as well if you haven't already. There's some days i think it's almost as good as Yeti.

With Faust, the first four albums are where it's at really. As a fan of early Residents, my preference is for the first two, but they are possibly not the easiest places to start. Maybe go with IV, that shouldn't scare you off.

shagatha crustie

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Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2020, 07:57:23 PM »
I had one of my all-time listening experiences with Neu! 75, sitting at the front of a megabus back from a wedding party in Bristol on a rainy winters night. Just one of those moments where you're absolutely intoxicated by the music, racing with feelings and thoughts and feeling so incredibly emotional and alive. A year or two later I saw Michael Rother in Leeds, he played 'Seeland' and I was transported straight back to that experience.


BlodwynPig

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Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2020, 07:59:18 PM »
Amon Düül II up to and including Hijack are brilliant, but because their albums swing wildly in styles (Made in Germany and Wolf City being my favourites), you'll generally get disagreements on that statement. But in isolation, a lot of fun to be had.

Famous Mortimer

  • War - it's fantastic!
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Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2020, 08:30:24 PM »
I had a big relisten to the discographies of some of the classic bands recently, and I found almost all of them went to shit around the late 70s. Can's last tolerable album was 1977's "Saw Delight" (and even that was a bit ropey); Amon Duul 2's was maybe "Lemmingmania" (1975); and I love 1983's "Hyperborea" by Tangerine Dream but it had been pretty slim pickings for years before that (and everything afterwards was awful). Faust and Neu had largely shut up shop by the mid 70s, but I do like Faust's later stuff. Cluster are maybe the only ones who kept making amazing stuff, but they were always a bit odder anyway.

Then I had a worry that maybe I was just in love with the recording methods, that when they got synths and big studios, they were making the stuff they'd always wanted to make but couldn't get the sound right. But I got over that.

I played "Tago Mago" so much when I was a student that now, 25 years on, I could probably still hum most of it from memory. And I remember the day my mate George came back from a trip to the charity shop, said "you like this lot, don't you?" and gave me a copy of "The Faust Tapes" he'd bought for 25p.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2020, 08:35:59 PM »
Lemmingmania is a compilation, but they didn't really go to shit until Almost Alive and certainly Only Human

I've just realised Hijack was before Made in Germany! It sounds like a late 70s album. And Pyragony X was 1975!

Rizla

  • That's not another knife - THIS is another knife!
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2020, 08:42:44 PM »
So much incredible music to explore in this problematically-named genre. I think this might be one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever recorded, it is psychedelic in the truest sense, in that it is actually mind-altering. It sounds like falling in love or coming up or some shit. Staggering.

shagatha crustie

  • Huff the talbot
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2020, 08:50:52 PM »
So much incredible music to explore in this problematically-named genre

It's probably not for me to say, but I've always thought of the name as fitting - an artistic postwar reclamation of technology by the next generation of youth in Germany.

Famous Mortimer

  • War - it's fantastic!
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Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2020, 08:51:12 PM »
Lemmingmania is a compilation,
Possibly why I liked it :)

but they didn't really go to shit until Almost Alive and certainly Only Human
I didn't like that at all, but horses for courses and all that.

I'm just listening to "Curiosum" by Cluster now, and it's dead good. Although "Tristan in der Bar" sounds off.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2020, 09:12:37 PM »
So much incredible music to explore in this problematically-named genre. I think this might be one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever recorded, it is psychedelic in the truest sense, in that it is actually mind-altering. It sounds like falling in love or coming up or some shit. Staggering.

Thought that was going to be Brainticket's first album.

the science eel

  • married to Su Pollard for 8 years
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Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2020, 10:04:47 PM »
I don't really have much to add because most of my favourites have been mentioned, but I think early Amon Duul II is a little overlooked and this one is a fucking monster brainmelt that's fit to hold its head up alongside 'Yoo Doo Right'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQNL4qffqcM

and this is pretty special

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvtfYKxBpT0


And if you haven't heard any Can from when they were Inner Space then you should really investigate. This one is FUCKING AMAZING

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4NoUCvCOK0


I could say a little about Agitation Free and Guru Guru too but they're not quite up there with the likes of Can, Neu! and Faust. Maybe later.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2020, 10:09:12 PM »
Guru Guru and Embryo live though!!! Fucking hell. I saw them live, obviously aged, but they still had it

purlieu

  • Gertrude Stein said that's enough.
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2020, 10:47:57 PM »
It's probably not for me to say, but I've always thought of the name as fitting - an artistic postwar reclamation of technology by the next generation of youth in Germany.
Cabbagerock.


If you like Harmonia then I'd definitely recommend the Cluster & Eno stuff, in particular the second album - the first is a bit slight, but After the Heat, released as Eno Moebius Roedelius, is fantastic start to finish. Slightly ambientish miniatures but with a lovely off-kilter vibe throughout. Broken Head is magnificent.

The Faust Tapes would be my recommendation as a starting point for Faust, as knowing your taste you might well like the absurdity of it. Their first, self-titled album comes a close second. They're both very odd and frequently daft.

Tangerine Dream are an odd one as they very quickly moved away from what would generally be considered krautrock. Their debut, Electronic Meditation, is the closest to how one would imagine the sound, being a largely improvised free-jazz inspired rock album, with the impressive core lineup of Edgar Froese, Klaus Schulze and Conrad Schnitzler. Two other albums from their early Ohr era, Alpha Centauri and Atem mix the free improv/freakout sound with more ambient/drone elements. In the middle of that they did Zeit, which is arguably the first dark ambient album and features a cello quartet, and Popol Vuh's Florian Fricke. After that they did Phaedra and created the 'Berlin School' sound of sequencer-based synth music and very quickly moved away from anything resembling krautrock. That album and Rubycon are highly recommended, as even though they're key milestones in the history of ambient music, they're also far darker, weirder and more dynamic than what one would expect from ambient. After that they gradually moved in a more proggy direction, with mixed results (Stratosfear and Force Majeure being great and surprisingly fun, Cyclone being abominable), before moving on to define the sound of '80s film soundtracks with albums like Exit and Logos. I could write about 70 more paragraphs about TD but I'll wait until you show some vague interest before forcing that on you.

So yeah, Popol Vuh are really worth a listen. The first album, Affenstunde, predates TD when it comes to early ambient, and is a lot more typically ambient than they ever were; it might not be up your street but is a worthwhile listen from a music history perspective. The second album starts in a similar, albeit much more percussive, manner before going intense on the second side with a church organ-led piece, 'Vuh', which is exceptionally heavy going and heavily recommended. After that, Florian Fricke abandoned electronic instruments and recorded a very baroque sounding - and utterly beautiful - acoustic album called Hosianna Mantra. After that, Popol Vuh moved towards a slightly droney 'raga rock' sound which involved layered jangling guitars, sitar, piano and voice, which is usually euphoric and totally unlike anything else I've heard from the '70s. Brüder des Schattens – Söhne des Lichts and Letzte Tage – Letzte Nächte come very highly recommended. Into the '80s Fricke began to work with choirs to make a primitive chanting sound which sometimes veers close to new age but is surprisingly powerful.

Back to the Berlin School approach, both Ashra and Klaus Schulze are worth a listen. New Age of Earth is the really notable Ashra album, similar to Tangerine Dream but warmer and arguably poppier; prior to that, Manuel Göttsching released a solo album, Inventions for Electric Guitar, which is an incredible piece of music that did a hell of a lot more than almost anyone was doing with the instrument at that time; after Ashra, he released E2-E4 which kind of invented house music. Earlier band Ash Ra Tempel are almost certainly worth exploring, but there are other people here who will be able to point you in the right direction there.

Schulze, originally drummer with Tangerine Dream, created his own strand of electronic music for a couple of years. Debut album Irrlicht is described on Wikipedia as "Schulze mainly used a broken and modified electric organ, a recording of a classical orchestra rehearsal played backward, and a damaged amplifier to filter and alter sounds that he mixed on tape into a three-movement symphony," which does a good job of covering the sound. It's dark and intense, and not really like anything else recorded at the time or for quite a few years after. After that he gradually introduced synths, guitar, and percussion into his sound until adding a sequencer in 1975, following the success of TD's Phaedra the year before. His music is generally quite different from TD in form, being based around longer, more psychedelic looping sounds than TD's more heavily composed pieces; frequently a track will go got 25 minutes with a steady synth sequence backing things, whereas TD tracks tend to change direction every five-or-so minutes, even in their longer tracks.

Deuter is worth investigating. The solo project of Georg Deuter, his debut album D combines odd instrumentation and elements of humour. No percussion but a range of usual instrumentation gives it a fair bit of energy and it's definitely unique. His second album Aum is more ambient, with recordings of ocean waves and more much emphasis on acoustic guitar. After that he travelled to India and became a neo-sannyasin, recording a bunch of meditation albums. From 1976 onwards he helped to define new-age music, but until the late '80s his music had more of an edge than a lot of new-age stuff does, with albums like Silence is the Answer, Haleakala and Ecstasy being exceptionally good in mixing ethnic instrumentation and electronic/ambient sounds.

Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2020, 11:36:19 PM »
First Krautrock i ever heard was After The Heat because I became an Eno obsessive in my early teens. Never followed it up as like teenagers do, i wasn't interested unless my obsession was involved.

Then I found The Faust Tapes in my step dad's record collection. I asked him about it and he wasn't bothered, said he bought it because it was cheap. It really "blew my mind", like the first time I heard techno did (Laurent X - Machines, on John Peel). Still probably my favourite Krautrock album. Bridget Riley cover too, perfect.

Imagine hearing this for the first time, with no context and no idea about experimental music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEwb_f8d7hY


chveik

  • vampires have it easy
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2020, 12:30:20 AM »
Gunter Schikert's Uberfallig is quite nice. so are the solo careers of Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius (more on the ambient side though)

Sin Agog

  • Dogs fucked the pope; no fault of mine
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2020, 12:42:30 AM »
Gunter Schikert's Uberfallig is quite nice. so are the solo careers of Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius (more on the ambient side though)

Met that guy at some other gig once.  Was utterly delighted I knew who he was.  He's like the spacy avuncular grandpa I never had, and the music is some brilliant Heldon-style pulsing analogtronica.  His group GAM were great as well.

Always found the Schulze-produced album by Sand extremely special.  They were evidently pretty good songwriters, but he took their tracks and placed them on a medieval stretching device and made them sound like almost nothing else whilst still retaining the kernel of song underneath.  The Ultrasonic Seraphim comp is where it's at.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJLiBvVMcWE

I quite like a few things off the Moebius side-project Liliental.  This track had a very cool retro-futurist shopping mall sound to it.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5266zb0fTw


And yeah, I've gone off about it before, but Amon Duul II's post-freakout pop period has some wonderful gems.

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2020, 07:09:47 AM »
Im sorry Purlieu, but Cyclone is great

Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2020, 10:06:30 AM »
I am not a massive expert on the subject but do love me a bit of krautrock. I picked up Katzenmusik by Michael Rother when I was in Berlin last year and it is a lovely bit of ambient guitar noodle shit. I don't think it is one of the major works of the genre but I really like it

Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2020, 10:16:05 AM »
re: Popol Vuh in the 80s, I REALLY like Agape-Agape from 1983. I can see how a hardcore Vuh-head might see it as a dilution of the sacred power of the group from the 70s, but it really has great tunes!

Their tune 'Vuh' is almost the beginning and endpoint for drone music as an exercise for me. Oceanic organ chords and rushing cymbals wrapping you up in a cathedral of sound. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbQ1v-nCFjA

I hate to say things like this as it might make me seem like a snob hung up on training (and I really am not) but what shines in groups like Popol Vuh and Can and others is that they really knew about music - in the classically-trained, time-served-in-youth-ensembles sense. Wasn't Irmin Schmidt a Young Composer of the Year? I make this point to sort of diss a lot (but not all) of modern interpretations of motorik/kosmiche that slavishly replicate sounds but never the climate this sort of stuff came about in. Bit of a grumpy grandad statement I suppose.

Probably the most consistent group would be the Cluster/Harmonia cell of projects. Even Roedelius' album from 2020 has some decent stuff on it. Gonna put Cluster II on now while I do some work.

I really like all Kraftwerk records but found The Organisation (pre-Kraftwerk quintet) not really my bag, baby. In a way, though, Kraftwerk are the most influential and most derivative of the era.

Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2020, 11:00:46 AM »
This thread just makes me miss Serge.

Famous Mortimer

  • War - it's fantastic!
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Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2020, 01:05:56 PM »
Always found the Schulze-produced album by Sand extremely special.  They were evidently pretty good songwriters, but he took their tracks and placed them on a medieval stretching device and made them sound like almost nothing else whilst still retaining the kernel of song underneath.  The Ultrasonic Seraphim comp is where it's at.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJLiBvVMcWE
I liked the first few minutes of the video you posted, and it's really good musically, but I find the vocal stuff to be pretty awful. I was doing a bit of reading about it and the people of ProgArchives absolutely hate it, too - https://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=11604
« Last Edit: October 05, 2020, 01:29:37 PM by Famous Mortimer »

purlieu

  • Gertrude Stein said that's enough.
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #23 on: October 05, 2020, 01:15:25 PM »
Im sorry Purlieu, but Cyclone is great
I don't even know where to start with this. I'd happily place it in my all-time top ten worst albums I've ever heard. Aiming for epic prog but sounding musically incompetent is not a good look. Steve Joliffe is possibly the worst singer I've ever heard, especially in the outro of 'Bent Cold Sidewalk' where he sounds like he's straining just to get the voice out of his throat. The pasting together of the 'song' section and the totally unrelated Berlin School middle is hilariously bad. Even the side-long instrumental is utterly void of anything interesting in terms of melody, structure or dynamic, literally just set the sequencer going and noodle around on top of it for 20 minutes. On the odd occasion I've listened to it I've genuinely boggled at how it even got released. If I was at Virgin at the time I would have laughed and asked what bunch of amateurs they got in to make this joke album.

Dirty Boy

  • Gallant rider
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2020, 01:21:32 PM »
Quote
This thread just makes me miss Serge.
Me too :-(

Can up to and including Landed is all great and Tago Mago in particular is a psychedelic classic, but i've really got into the early, raw and repetitious pre-Soundtracks stuff of late. Delay 1968 is blinding and there's plenty good to be found from the Mooney years on Unlimited Edition and The Lost Tapes as well (and Monster Movie which should go without saying).

Waiting For The Streetcar

Fairly obvious it couldn't last though...
Quote
Can formed in Cologne in 1968. Originally fronted by black American sculptor Malcolm Mooney, a personnel change was required after less than a year when Mooney's "unique" stage style (shouting, talking continuously, etc) turned out to be a symptom of something more serious.

During a huge multimedia show he began chanting "upstairs downstairs", continuing throughout the intermission, until the band rejoined him for their next set. After three hours he collapsed from exhaustion and was sent back to the States on psychiatrist's orders.

Famous Mortimer

  • War - it's fantastic!
    • International Syndicate of Cult Film Critics
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #25 on: October 05, 2020, 01:38:30 PM »
Gunter Schikert's Uberfallig is quite nice
Never heard it til this morning, and it's extremely my thing. Cheers chveik!

the science eel

  • married to Su Pollard for 8 years
    • PRELUDIN - where goons don't go
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #26 on: October 05, 2020, 01:45:12 PM »
Gonna put Cluster II on now while I do some work.

Love that album. There's one long track that's just four rising notes, repeated. It blew my mind when I first heard it.

Zuckerzeit sounds like it was made by a completely different band, but it's equally fabulous.

MiddleRabbit

  • Whatever it is you're selling, I don't want it.
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #27 on: October 05, 2020, 05:35:17 PM »
I like Can a lot, up to Soon Over Babaluma, although what sounds like a violin gets on my tits on that. 

I was pleased about Turtles Have Short Legs being on the singles collection though.  Can invent Happy Mondays.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=my8T7hB992k

BlodwynPig

  • The Last Living Member of COVID-20
Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #28 on: October 05, 2020, 06:52:06 PM »
I don't even know where to start with this. I'd happily place it in my all-time top ten worst albums I've ever heard. Aiming for epic prog but sounding musically incompetent is not a good look. Steve Joliffe is possibly the worst singer I've ever heard, especially in the outro of 'Bent Cold Sidewalk' where he sounds like he's straining just to get the voice out of his throat. The pasting together of the 'song' section and the totally unrelated Berlin School middle is hilariously bad. Even the side-long instrumental is utterly void of anything interesting in terms of melody, structure or dynamic, literally just set the sequencer going and noodle around on top of it for 20 minutes. On the odd occasion I've listened to it I've genuinely boggled at how it even got released. If I was at Virgin at the time I would have laughed and asked what bunch of amateurs they got in to make this joke album.

And that is why I love it. Pure dystopian beauty.

The first copy I owned I bought in Montpellier in the early 90s. It was warped and probably a cheap repress. Added to the vibe, I would say.

Re: Can we absolutely go off on one about krautrock?
« Reply #29 on: October 05, 2020, 07:38:54 PM »
By chance, this popped up on my twitter feed earlier this evening:


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