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Kraut! - Die innovativen Jahre des Krautrock 1968-1979: Teil 3

Review by Gary Hill

I really like this set from Bear Family Records. As you might guess, it collects a lot of tracks that fit under the kraut rock heading. I've previously reviewed two other of these collections, and I'm going to review the fourth one in this issue, too. Most the music here fits under proto-prog at least, if not full progressive rock. There is a wide range of sound here. I should mention that I previously reviewed a few of the tracks here on other releases, and my track reviews of those songs are copied or modified from the original reviews for the sake of consistency. Like everything from Bear Family, this is a quality release with a digipack that includes a massive booklet.

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Track by Track Review
Disc 1
18 Karat Gold - See Me In Your Dreams

The guitar riff that opens this cut feels a lot like The Rolling Stones. The tune kicks out from there into a cool jam that has a lot of that classic rock sort of sound. This is very much a glam rocker with some hints of prog rock in the mix. I can make out quite a bit of David Bowie influence on this thing.

Emergency - Jump Into Your Grave
This number has some cool King Crimson-like jazzy jamming built into it. In fact, parts of this really make me think of early 70s Crimson. Yet there is a mainstream rock vibe to it, too. It's easy to make out plenty of psychedelia, as well. This makes great use of horns, and the guitar soloing is on fire.
Gibli - Niagara
Trippy, space rock like jamming is on the menu here. Wind sound effects are a big feature of this cut. It's a solid instrumental. 
Sahara - Rainbow Rider
A high-energy rocker, this thing grooves and rocks and is very cool. It's part mainstream and part prog rock in the early parts of the number. There is a drop back to a mellower movement for a short interlude later. There is some killer guitar soloing later. The cut works out into a cool jam further down the road. We get more of a mainstream rocking section for the extended chorus section later. It calls to mind a proggy version of something from "Hair" to me.
Between - Uroboros
Mysterious sedate sounds begin this number. There is a bit of middle-eastern flavor as it continues building in mellow ways. The cut doesn't change quickly. Instead, it's makes a gradual move towards intensifying. The world music elements really flourish. There are some middle eastern styled vocals, but they are non-lyrical. Otherwise this is an instrumental, and a particularly effective one at that.
Deuter - Soham
This is another that has non-lyrical vocals as the only singing. The sounds of nature are a part of the mix. This is another that gradually evolves. It is folky, psychedelic and space rock oriented.
Embryo - Tausendf├╝ssler
Tribal vocals and drumming bring this into being. It has some weird vocalizations. It reminds me of some of the tribal stuff Hawkwind did. Then it explodes out into a powerhouse jam with some definite Jethro Tull elements, largely from the flute. This is a classy cut with a lot energy and killer instrumental grooves. This is another song that, other than those vocalizations early, is delivered sans vocals. It has some killer prog and proto-prog styled movements.
Gift - Blue Apple
Coming in more like a psychedelic folk piece, as the vocals come in that picture is completed. It drives out into more hard rocking psychedelic progressive rock further down the road. I like this number alright, but it's not nearly as strong as the last few pieces. The vocals don't work for me at times, either. Still, there is some great guitar work and the song has some cool changes.
Ihre Kinder - Menschen wie Sand am Meer
With lyrics in German, this is a cool rocker. It's perhaps less proggy than some of the rest here, landing closer in the vein of mainstream rock with psychedelic flavorings. There are some cool changes along the road.
Aera - Mechelwind

Now, this is much more pure progressive rock based. It's an energetic jam that twists and turns. It has some great instrumental work with different instruments taking the lead at different points. It really has some great changes and exploration. It's a strong instrumental that dances around progressive rock, space rock, psychedelia and even fusion. At just over ten-minutes long, this is one of the epics of the set.

Joy Unlimited - Contacts – Rudiment
The first part of this two-parter seems to be the extended instrumental introduction. That cool psychedelia meets prog concept gives way to an energized proto-prog number with great female lead vocals. There are a couple intriguing twists in the form of instrumental breaks along that road.
Kin Ping Meh - Good Time Gracie
This opens with a classy prog workout. It shifts to a mainstream rocking concept for the song proper, though. This is part Rod Stewart and part Rolling Stones.
Kraan - Holiday am Marterhorn
This is another classy instrumental. The tune has some jazzy veins to it. It also has an almost rubbery element. It runs through in one direction for a while and then reinvents itself as something else. This just keeps driving onward and evolving as the various musicians create impactful contributions to the sound.
Disc 2
Checkpoint Charlie - Haben Rock

A fast-paced jam that has both psychedelic and prog elements brings this into being. The cut shifts to a more mainstream rock sound for the entrance of the German vocals. It doesn't stay there long, though. This works through all kinds of twists and turns and is decidedly progressive rock based as it does. Don't get comfortable anywhere along this road because you won't be there for long. A section with some spoken vocals is a dramatic twist. There is some crazed guitar soloing in the movement that fires out from there.

Wolfgang Dauners Et Cetera - Mellodrama 2a
Starting with some mellower textures, this grows out organically via more layers and intensity brought to it. Intricate guitar is a big part of the picture. An acoustic guitar solo mid-track has a real rocking element despite the fact that it's not electrified. There is a lot of space rock in addition to classic prog and even some folk music in the mix on this instrumental number.
Bullfrog - I'm Coming Home
This starts off feeling like Deep Purple. As it builds out there are hard rocking elements combined with more definite prog. This has some powerful vocal arrangements and some killer instrumental interplay. It’s a great piece of music that just really works. There are some cool shifts and changes and it rocks.
Dzyan - Fohat's Work
The opening section of this has a weird psychedelic rock kind of approach with non-lyrical vocals. The cut shifts out from there to a real jazz rock arrangement for the first real singing.  We are taken out into a killer psychedelic rock jam after the vocals are done. It eventually works back out to the vocal section for a short reprise before the song ends.
Volker Kriegel - Windmill
This comes in with a decidedly fusion-like jam. The track grows outward from there with a prog sensibility. I love the grinding bass that runs along at the bottom of that section. We're taken to more trippy, jazz-like jamming from there. This has some killer keyboard work and something that sounds like non-lyrical voices, but I think is actually an instrument. There is some hot clean guitar soloing in the mix on this piece, too. The whole tune really does come close to crossing into pure jazz, but I'd argue that's probably somewhere between jazz prog and fusion.
Octopus - We're Losing Touch
I should note that I've reviewed this song on a vinyl release from the band. The title on that one read "We Are" rather than "We're," but it's the same song. I have used that track review here. Coming in with a driving, harder rocking jam, as keyboards come over the top it has hints of psychedelia. I love the lines of guitar that rise up as it drives forward. There is a dramatic change into a different jam from there, but the general mood and spirit remains unchanged. Another shift moves them into the fast paced jam that serves as the backdrop for the vocals. A smoking hot instrumental takes over for a time. Then it drops down for a slower, rather dramatic movement for the next vocals. The backdrop on that is almost exclusively keyboards. A faster section rises up out of that, driving it into another killer instrumental section. That doesn't stay around long, though, instead serving as the ending.            
Orange Peel - Tobacco Road
This blues rocker gets an intriguing presentation here. The number takes on some psychedelic edges, but overall is more of a pure blues rock song. There are some blasts of more proggy jamming, though, largely from the organ playing.
Guru Guru - Der Elektrolurch
At nearly ten-minutes long, this is an extended piece. It comes in psychedelic and trippy with a sparse largely percussive arrangement. Eventually guitar comes up with a bluesy, but understated, approach. As it gets into some echoey strangeness later there are spoken vocals (German) that come over the top. The cut works from there to some trippy rocking stuff that makes me think of early Pink Floyd in a lot of ways. This has that same sort of experimental psychedelic vibe. That section leads to a short drum workout that ends the piece.
Action - Miscarriage Of Human Thinking (Part II)
This comes up gradually with more of a cool psychedelic edge. The cut works out into a cool jam, and some scat singing comes over the top. The falsetto vocals are largely non-lyrical, but they do seem to touch on some vocals at times. The singing shifts to non-falsetto as the real lyrical singing begins. The cut drives with a lot of killer psychedelic energy as it does, taking on a real proto-prog angle. There are definitely proggier shifts and changes along the road. There is some smoking hot guitar work before it's over and done. This is another epic piece, and, in fact, the longest of the set.
Brainticket - Black Sand
Hard rocking and quite psychedelic, this jam is based on a cool groove. The vocals are spacey and the retro keyboard textures add a lot to this. There are some moments here that feel like early Hawkwind merged with Booker T and the MGs.
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