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Various Artists

OST-KRAUT! - Progressives aus den DDR-Archiven 1976-1982 Teil 2

Review by Gary Hill

Much like the previous edition of this series, this double disc collection gathers up some great German prog music. This lands more along the pure prog side than the first one did. There is some great stuff here. The lyrics are all in German, but that didn't get in my way of enjoying this. The digipack comes with a massive full-color booklet (also in German).

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Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Magdeburg - Alte Bänder

The introduction on this is all about keyboards (mainly organ). After that intro, they launch out into something that sounds like a proggier early Deep Purple. That organ returns in style later on the instrumental break.

WIR - Der Eisberg
Building with sense of drama and power, this is a hard rocking number that works well. It does have some proggy angles to it. The guitar soloing, and indeed the whole song, grinds upward to some nearly metal stuff. There is even some metal Halford like screaming on the track. I should also mention that this thing has a lot of funk in the mix, early and again when it comes out of that metallic section. While the prog is on the subtler side on this tune, it's definitely there.       
Stern Combo Meißen - Der Alte
I love the bass work on this. There is again some funky angle here. This makes me think of what you might get if you merged Frank Zappa with King Crimson and a funk band.
Bayon - Haus der Kindheit
A slow blues grind is at the heart of this. The cut isn't the proggiest thing here, but it does have some progressive angles to it. There are folk music things at play, too. Symphonic strings lend some magic. This is an intriguing and effective piece of music.
Karat - Das Monster
Much more of a straight ahead rocker, I don't hear a lot of prog on this. The tune is entertaining, but not at the level of much of the competition here. It has a bit of a novelty song angle to some of the vocals. There is a burst of funk later, too.
SBB - 2’10
As this gets underway I'm definitely reminded of Frank Zappa. That element gets merged with some down-home country rock on this instrumental piece. There are a number of cool changes, and it gets into some rather lush, more purely prog stuff further down the road.  
Prinzip - Sieben Meter Seidenband
Classical organ music gets us underway here. The tune turns harder rocking with an almost punk energy to it beyond the extended introduction. As the vocals join it reminds me a little of the punky side of Hawkwind. There is some killer proggy jamming later on the number.
Mädel Passion - Morgendämmerung/Herzallerliebstes
Chiming bells create an atmospheric backdrop as the other instruments gradually build upward. There is a world music meets psychedelia approach. Violin paints the bulk of the melodic territory. As this starts really driving outward I'm reminded of things ranging from Mike Oldfield to Jean-Luc Ponty and Al Di Meola. This works through quite a bit of territory with different instruments climbing to the prominent position at different times. There is an excursion as it approaches the halfway mark that takes it into old world zones. The cut rocks out like crazy from there as the more traditional rock instrumentation takes over. It just keeps evolving and twisting, though. The instruments drop away for an acapella chorale vocal section. The track drives outward from there with a lot of cool prog  style as it continues to explore.
Kleeblatt - Kinderlied
Mellower music based around intricate acoustic guitar is in the driver's seat here. This is decidedly proggy with both classical and folk elements appearing in the concepts here. This works through a number of changes, and is another that makes me think of Mike Oldfield to some degree. There are some great keyboard moments later in the piece.
ZOE Band - Himalaja
Some rather Steve Howe-like guitar is heard as this gets underway. Some spacey sounds emerge to join it. Then, after a time, a horn rises up and takes the cut in new directions. I'm reminded a little of Pink Floyd in that section. A harder rocking guitar sound takes over, heralding the song proper. The first vocals join almost two-minutes in. This cut continues to explore in its own way and with its own magic. The instrumental jam later includes killer keyboard work.
City - Der Tätowierte (Single-Version)
More of a straight-ahead rocker, this is solid, but not on an even plane with some of the rest here. It does have some drama and style.
Karussell - Entweder oder
There is plenty of folk prog built into this early. The cut gets into more of a psychedelic rocking zone as it continues on its way. There are some twists and turns along the road, and we get a cool dropped back proggy section later that almost calls to mind early King Crimson for me. after a return of the vocals, this explodes out into the closing instrumental passage, another that makes think of Robert Fripp and company.
Electra - Einmal unsichtbar sein
Energetic and decidedly prog based, this is an intriguing cut that's one of the strongest of the set. It has some cool twists and turns.     
Modern Soul Band - Meeting
This is a powerhouse instrumental piece that has jazz prog and more on display. It is ever-changing and wanders into space rock zones at points. It's another highlight of the set. It even works out to some full-on jazz jamming late in the piece.
Disc 2
Pond - Planetenwind

Neo-classical patterns are painted with electronic instrumentation on this classy number. This instrumental is very much a part of the late 1970s electronic music trend. This is so classy. 

Stern Combo Meißen - Licht in das Dunkel (Studioversion)
I love the keyboard sounds as this gets going. As it builds outward there is a classic prog sound. Then an explosion sound seems to end the piece. A sea of voices take over from there. The cut drives forward after that into a mainstream rock meets prog arrangement. This gets some powerful symphonic prog treatments at various points. They take this into some classy, freaky prog meets space jamming later in the track. This is another winner.       
Reform - Stadtgesicht
After a bombastic introduction, this drops back to a mellower prog groove that is so classy. It works through a number of changes. There are some jazzy moments. The vocals are nearly spoken. This is just oozes style and artistry. An instrumental section later calls to mind Jean-Luc Ponty and really brings a healthy helping of fusion. It works back out to more rocking zones for the return of the vocals.
City - Aus der Ferne
I dig the driving energy of this number. The track has a good flow and some classy moods. There are some world music elements on this track. It also has plenty of fusion built into it. This number has such a cool organic evolution. It's one of the standouts.
Bernd Dewét & Horst Krüger Band - Der Rock’n’Roll King aus dem Thüringer Wald
This is not really all that proggy. It has a old time rock and roll vibe. There is  a silly novelty song meets musical theater element. This is not bad, but it's not really a winner for me.
Jürgen Kerth - Auf die alten Tage
Blues, jazz and Southern rock seem to merge on this. The cut has some interesting twists and turns. It's neither the proggiest nor the least prog thing here. It has some intriguing movements that do lean on prog. While other parts are not far removed from the Allman Brothers.
Bayon - Ouvertüre aus "Die Schlacht” / "Der Traktor”
Very classical in nature, this features a lot of symphonic strings. There is an electronic, trippy space music element  at play, too. This instrumental is packed full of magic and charm. It turns out toward more expressive jamming further down the road, getting rather psychedelic. There are some non-lyrical vocals that show up at times on this. At over eight-minutes of music, this is the epic of the set. They put that time to good use as this is another standout.      
Transit - Sturmflut
Coming in tentative and spacey, the vocals come in over the top of an understated arrangement as it continues its build-up. This drives outward with some killer prog rocking concepts, turning rather spacey at times. The closing jam really emphasizes the space rock element.    
Lift - Große Landschaft
A keyboard dominated arrangement starts this track. This works out into one of the most purely progressive rock pieces here. It has a number of great changes. This gets quite soaring and triumphant.
Gong - Mammon
I dig the up-tempo prog concepts of this. It leans on the AOR side of things to a large degree. This has some cool twists and turns, but overall feels more mainstream rock.
Stern Combo Meißen - In den Kosmos
I love the synthesizer rich arrangement on this. The cut has a real magical electronic prog meets space vibe. It has great energy and really works so well. This is another standout.     
Dina Straat & Kleeblatt - Drachenfliegen
More electronic, this feels more along the lines of Kraftwerk in parts. Other sections have a mellower, folk prog approach and make me think of Renaissance.
Reform - Rock ’n’ Roll
This is pretty much a straight-ahead rock and roller, but the title probably gave you that idea, right?  I really like bass sound on this a lot.
4 PS - Träume wie Segel
A mellower, jazzy concept is on the menu here. This goes through a number of twists and turns. At times it gets more purely proggy.
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