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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Shrunken Head Shop

Live in Germany

Review by Gary Hill

This live album is all about jamming. It wanders in a territory that’s part space rock and part jazz. The end result is a set that’s often entertaining and occasionally quite freeform and exploratory. I’m not blown away by everything here, but I am by most of it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Legends of Litfass

This rises up gradually, feeling a bit like Hawkwind. Then it wanders out into a jazz kind of jam. This is very definitely a merging of killer space rock with jazz. Around the four minute mark it drops way down to space atmospherics. It gets quite freeform and spacey as it continues. It rises up from there with some definite nods to psychedelia. The jamming keeps shifting and changing, but the jazz meets space concept remains intact. Around the fourteen minute mark it drops way down again. Weird space rock ensues from there. As this builds out it gets into some noisy rock sounds, but the horn keeps it rooted in jazz. Another drop down emerges around the twenty minute mark. It works out to a percussive movement for a time and then rises up with a rather dramatic, cinematic kind of symphonic sound. That gets the usual space and jazz elements built into as it continues. It drops down to nearly just percussion at the end.

Whales of the Black Forest
The space elements are present here, too, but this remains mellower and there is less jazz here. At times I’m reminded of the more ambient and yet symphonic side of early King Crimson. By around the seven minute mark it has grown out to something with more jazz and more intensity to it. They drop it ways down again after a while.
Celebration of the Tsantsa
Almost feeling like it comes straight out of the previous cut, this has a lot of prominent percussion early. It works in a very freeform space meets jazz sound as it continues. At times this is among the most freeform thing here. At other points, though, it gets into some of the more mainstream territory. The section where the guitar solos is one of those moments. As it comes out of that, it gets more intense and almost feels like crazed Rock In Opposition fusion paired with Pink Floyd. By around the ten minute mark, it’s gotten much more sedate and then it works out with some extremely freeform (and at times noisy) space rock. From there it coalesces to something with more melodic elements. Then around the sixteen minute mark it drops way down again and it grows a little more symphonic beyond that point. Eventually more noisy freeform space takes over again.
Tracks of the Mystery Ape
At less than nine minutes in length, this is one of the shortest pieces here. It starts quite mellow and rather freeform. By around the three minute mark, though, it has built out a bit from there. It starts to coalesce into a cool space rock jam from there. They turn this into some real loud weirdness later to take the piece out.
Wrath of Bernd
Here we have the shortest cut of the whole set. It’s got a real fusion element to it. It’s somewhat freeform and really rocks. There is a lot of guitar soloing on this beast. This is definitely the weirdest thing here. It’s a little too random for my tastes, but those who dig Rock in Opposition should like this. In an intriguing twist, though, they take it out into some bluegrass like country inspired music right at the end.
 
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