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Various Artists

Kraut! - Die innovativen Jahre des Krautrock 1968-1979: Teil 4

Review by Gary Hill

The latest in a series of discs from Bear Family Records focused on the kraut rock movement, this is a bit different from the rest. That's because the first disc includes vocal based songs while the second one is made up of instrumentals. That second disc is made up of epic pieces, with three of the six coming in at over 17-minutes long. I have reviewed the first two collections in this series in previous issues, and the third one is also reviewed in this issue of Music Street Journal. You can always count on Bear Family for classy releases, and this is no exception. It includes the two CDs along with a massive book (in German, but it has lots of great pictures).

You will find bonus video footage of this release available at the Music Street Journal Youtube channel here: .youtube.com/watch?v=5MVDA3GDyCY

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
                 
Karthago - Don't Send Me Your Money, Send Me Your Heart

A classy keyboard laden opening starts the album. The cut works out to a classic rock arrangement built around blues rock from there. This becomes a classy tune that features jazzy proto-prog, psychedelia and more. This has a really classic sound to it.

Birth Control - Gamma Ray
There is a weird climbing synthesizer thing at the beginning of this cut. That gives way to a trippy psychedelic, proto-prog groove. A spoken vocal comes over the top of that. The cut grows out to a sung section as it continues. There is some killer organ work on the number as it jams further down the road. The guitar solo later starts with seriously strange stuff before exploding outward from there. There is a percussion workout as the instrumental movement continues. There are some vocalizations at times during that part. It eventually makes its way out to a return of vocals, but the percussion with vocalizations is back at the end to close the tune.
Os Mundi - Children's Games
There is a heavy, almost metallic sound early on this cut. The number works out to a jam that has plenty of psychedelia in it. Yet I can also make out some early King Crimson here. The jazzy bits really bring that comparison, but it's not just that. A percussive movement takes over later with flute dancing over the top of it. It gets pretty crazed before it's all done as other instruments join. Eventually it turns back to the song proper for the return of the vocals. This is another slab of pure proto-prog class.
Dissidenten - Germanistan
Blasts of jazzy jamming are interspersed with unique fast-paced vocalizations in the early parts of this. The cut gets into some world music based sounds further down the road complete with female world vocals. Then it works to a fusion-like instrumental jam from there with some killer acoustic guitar soloing over the top of it. Eventually those female vocals return, but over the top of a more jazz oriented arrangement. This is intriguing and entertaining, but not really my thing.
Metropolis - Dreamweaver
This rocking number makes me think of a proggier version of the type of music that made up the musical "Hair." This has some killer fast-paced prog jamming at times. There are some cool twists and turns. A fast-paced jam around the half-way mark makes me think of a prog version of Jefferson Airplane. The cut has some particularly strong moments in a psychedelic meets proto-prog style.
Lokomotive Kreuzberg - Nostalgie
This is a strange tune. it has a weird 1950s music vibe to a lot of it. There is a real musical theater thing, too. It's bouncy, fun and so classy, yet really bizarre. I think there is actually a kazoo solo on this tune. There are a lot of shifts and changes here. There is a strange thing late in the track where it sounds like a record is skipping. Then a knock is followed by a voice (in German as the lyrics are). Strange sped-up effects take over from there.
Ton Steine Scherben - Halt Dich an Deiner Liebe fest

The lyrics to this are also in German. It's sort of a proggy, classic rock based power-ballad. There is a cool guitar exploration section built into the tune later, calling to mind The Allman Brothers to some degree.

Mythos - Eternity
This rocking tune gets a Jethro Tull kind of vibe as it opens, thanks largely to the flute. It works outward with a cool psychedelia meets progressive rock approach. It eventually gets into a more mainstream movement for the entrance of the dramatic vocals. The Tull like instrumental section returns at the end to take the track to its closing.
Saat - Emtidi
With a duet of male and female vocals, there is a real psychedelic ballad vibe here. The intricate acoustic guitar definitely reminds me of early Hawkwind.
Agitation Free - Malesch
World music is heard at the start of this based heavily on the vocals. The cut shifts from there to a keyboard-based psychedelic proto-prog. The cut wanders through some killer psychedelic jamming, getting trippy. I'm definitely reminded of the Doors at times along this musical road.
Ash Ra Tempel - Light And Darkness: Light - Look At Your Sun
Starting mellow and rather sparse, this cut has a real trippy kind of psychedelic space vibe. It grows up gradually as it continues. Electric guitar joins after the two-minute mark as the track continues to intensify. It gets rather noisy and a bit crazed further down the road.
Disc 2
                   
Tangerine Dream - Phaedra

One of the pure epics here, this is over 17-and-a-half minutes long. Sound effects based textures bring it into being. Spacey electronics take control as it works out from there. The cut gets very trippy and science-fiction oriented as it builds in classic electronic music ways. As it approaches the 12-minute mark there are weird echoey bursts of sound that seem like some strange animal. A more symphonic keyboard texture gradually rises upward to join them as they start to seem more distant. Eventually the more melodic keyboard sounds take command again. Those elements hold it until it eventually drops away and ends.

Klaus Schulze - Ways Of Changes
There is a tasteful weirdness to the opening sedate sections of this piece. This number is nearly as long as the preceding track, making it another of the epics. The track builds upward in intriguing instrumental ways with an almost folk music styled acoustic guitar part joining the keyboards. There are definitely links to classical music, too. Cool space keys come across around the four-and-a-half-minute mark. The track starts to gain intensity and drive from there, working into some cool spacey zones. The keyboard elements regain control and it makes its way through various trippy territory.
Cluster - Rote Riki
There is a strange, rather bouncy and percussive electronic texture as this starts. It's definitely a weird track, feeling a bit like robot music. There are even some keyboard effects that resemble machines talking.
Os Mundi - Walky Talky
In some ways this has a more traditional prog sound than a lot of the rest here. It's a driving number that includes some world music like melodies at points. It has a good energy and cool shifts and changes. I'm reminded of early Pink Floyd in some ways. This thing grows in some intriguing ways.
Hans-Joachim Roedelius - Regenmacher
Ambient elements and sound effects bring this in, and percussion rises up to lead the way. There are some freaky things as this grows out that feel like some kind of creatures communicating with one another. The piece is largely percussive, but there are some more melodic elements more as flavoring. There are sounds of a storm at the end of the number.
Human Being - Human Being 1 (Edit)
Coming in tentative and sparse, there are strange bits of melody that seem to be trying to coalesce at first. This remains very freaky and freeform in nature. It has a lot of classical instrumentation in the mix and feels quite a bit like something from a movie soundtrack. Change and evolution is slow and gradual, but it definitely exists. This gets rather loud and cacophonous as it continues. It eventually drops way down again to end, but given that it says it's an edit, I have to wonder if was faded down from the original mix. At almost 17-and-a-half minutes of music, this is another epic piece. It's the strangest number of the whole set, too.
 
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