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Various Artists

OST-KRAUT! - Progressives aus den DDR-Archiven 1970-1975 - Teil 1

Review by Gary Hill

This album chronicles a lot of the early progressive rock scene in Germany. It's a double disc set and has some great music. Much of this leans toward proto-prog and psychedelic. The lyrics are in German, but music is the universal language. There is plenty of great music here that I've not heard before. This comes in a digi-pack that includes a massive booklet that is in German. It makes a great historical document of some interesting and important music.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
                       
Peter Holten Septett: Weiter, Weiter

Trippy keyboards and drums serve as the opener to this number. As it launches out into the driving, proto-prog jamming, and the vocals join, I'm definitely reminded of early Arthur Brown. This has some cool twists and turns and really rocks.

WIR: Zeit
This comes in with a mainstream rocking mode which serves as the backdrop for the first vocals. There is a dropped back section that emerges. That part continues some definite psychedelic and proto-prog vibes. That section eventually returns us to the song proper. A dramatic, jazzy jam emerges from there. That instrumental section winds through and deposits us back in a more mainstream rocking mode for the next vocals.
Die Skalden (Skaldowie): Kennst Du das nicht (Czasem kochac chesz)
I love the cool psychedelia meets proto prog sound that brings this in. The cut is packed with retro cool and style. It works through in some particularly classy ways. They take us through a number of cool twists and turns on this. It's one of the most effective numbers here, really. There is some smoking hot jamming with the it speeds up for a time on the extended outro.
Bayon: Input
For some reason this reminds me of the band Sugarloaf just a little. This cut combines space rock, jazzy elements, proto-prog and psychedelia into something really special. It's a jam fest that just rocks and twists and turns through decidedly prog changes. This instrumental is definitely one of my favorite pieces on this collection.
Rote Gitarren: Wachsein im Dunkel
Coming in slow, mellow and fairly trippy, this is stark contrast to the intensity of the previous cut. That's a good thing. The track remains on the slower and more restrained side, but it's still packed full of drama and class.
Ekkehard Sander Septett: Kein Märchen
Flute on this cut begs comparison to Jethro Tull. This is more of a rocker for certain, and I think that link goes perhaps a little deeper than just the flute. Still, this has more of a straight psychedelic rock angle, and the organ brings something entirely different to it. I know it's just because of the use of the phrase, but the "Du hast" part does make me think of Rammstein. There is a dropped back freak-out portion to the track, too. I dig the guitar solo quite a bit.
Puhdys: Steige nicht auf einen Baum
This drives in with frantic, hard edged psychedelia meets prog sounds. This is another that makes me think of Arthur Brown to some degree. This works through a number of twists and turns. It has some seriously hard rocking sections. It's all class.
Joco Dev Sextett: Stapellauf (Erstfassung)
Heavy and bit doomy as it opens, this shifts out to a cool psychedelic, proto-prog jam that is packed full of classy textures and sounds.
Pavol Hammel & Prudy: Schluss mit den Märchen
Coming in more along the lines of psychedelic ballad, this powers out after a time to rocking sounds that really groove. It explodes into crazed prog sounds for a jam that leads to a reprise of the opening modes. Eventually we're back into hard rocking zones from there.
Uve Schikora und seine Gruppe: Deine Augen
Coming in mellow with world music concepts at play, this builds up gradually. I'm reminded of Vanilla Fudge as it starts to drive outward. After working through some changes, this drives out to a fairly mainstream rocking jam from the entrance of the vocals. This has some killer jamming built into it. It works out to more world music further down the musical path. After another return to the song proper, they gives a powerful guitar solo based, middle-eastern jam.
Bürkholz Formation: Sei kein Vulkan
A fast paced jazz rocking jam, this makes me think of artists ranging from Arthur Brown to Frank Zappa. It's a fun romp that is packed full of proggy cool. This thing gets very driving and rocking along the road.
Breakout: Ich hab die Sonne (Na dnie mych oczu)
A powerhouse jam, this features proto-prog, psychedelia and more. This thing includes some really smoking hot stuff and quite a few twists and turns.
Omega: Zerbrechlicher Schwung
With female vocals, this is a killer, high energy rocker with a lot of style and charm. It works out to a cool psychedelic rocking instrumental movement later.
Collegium Musicum: Hommage à Johann Sebastian Bach

This is a bouncy proto-prog meets classical music jam. This gets more rocking as it continues, and is a particularly entertaining instrumental piece.

Disc 2
                       
electra-combo: Tritt ein in den Dom
The opening burst makes me think of a cross between Vanilla Fudge, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. That gives way to some church organ, but then returns. After the second iteration we're taken into more of a full treatment, but it's short-lived. Organ takes over from there. Then a rocking jam is heard. This cut keeps evolving with this short shifts to more keyboard only followed by a brief section of band arrangement. Around the two-minute mark another organ section gives way to a more mainstream rock movement. The vocals come in over the top, bringing a rather R&B meets prog rock jam. This has some interesting twists and turns and is quite an effective number.
Nautiks: Wir gehen am Meer
More of a dreamy element is on the menu here. This song features some prominent organ music. It's a groove with plenty of 1960s vibes at play.      
Lift: Roter Stein
A dramatic mainstream rock sound is a big part of this. The keyboards bring a lot of magic to the table, while the bass really holds it down. Even without understanding the lyrics, the vocals provide a lot of emotion. I'm reminded just a bit of Procol Harum on this track.       
Blue Effect: Clara
I dig the high energy and pure class of this number. This has some smoking hot guitar fills. The instrumental break later is positively incendiary.
Klaus Renft Combo: Was mir fehlt
This is more of a mainstream rocking tune. It's very classy, but I don't think I'd call it prog or even proto-prog.
Kati Kovács und die Juventus Gruppe: Wind, komm, bring den Regen her (Add Már Uram Az Esöt)
While this also leans on the mainstream rock side of things, I'd consider this proggier. The female vocals work well, and the classy instrumental work is magical.
Panta Rhei: Gib dir selber eine Chance
There is a soulful groove and plenty of proto-prog in the mix here. This has some great jamming along the road. I really love the driving bass work on the instrumental section on this number. The guitar work in that part has some killer angular features, too. It drops to mellow, trippy stuff for some flute work mid-track. That section is decidedly spacey and artsy. A spoken section comes in after the flute drops away and bass joins as the backing. Organ rises up with some freaky sound as this gets rather freeform as the spoken section continues. Eventually that gives way to a bluesy groove. The vocals (now sung) wail their pain over the top. The bass drives in some killer ways as guitar solos and organ provides some icing on the cake. The bass takes over from there as it gets an opportunity to solo. We're brought out to the song proper to take it out.
Hungaria: Die Farben der Natur
There is a bit of a Beatles-like vibe to this in some ways. It's on the mellower side, keyboard based and has some cool harmonies. It works through in a straight line before turning to a vaguely symphonic keyboard dominated jam later. Then it gets into some really symphonic mellower stuff before making it back to the song proper.    
Die Skalden (Skaldowie): Ein ferner Punkt (Jak Znikajacy Punkt)
This builds out with a psychedelic proto-prog section with non-lyrical vocals. It drops to a mellower, trippy treatment for the entrance of the actual vocals. This turns to some really inspired prog rocking sounds as it continues onward. Afte4r going on an intriguing instrumental journey that gets rather trippy, this works back out into powerful driving prog.
Set: Eisen
Energetic and seriously rocking, this is another that at times makes me think of Arthur Brown. This gets some fiery guitar soloing on an instrumental break. This is a killer song.      
Illés: Hier stand die Sonne hoch
With sitar and other psychedelic vibes on display, this is trippy goodness. This doesn't move far from its origins, but it doesn't need to because it's cool as is.                
Klosterbrüder & Stern Combo Meißen: Gedanken an Fusion: Aktivität
Coming in tentatively, this grows outward gradually with a real percussive bias. This gets a rather droning sort of melodic element after a quick stop. Eventually some strange vocals come over the top adding to the trippy weirdness factor. It eventually explodes out into some powerhouse jazz zones that make me think of Frank Zappa to some degree. This works through some variations before eventually taking it out.
Jürgen Kerth: Nacht unterwegs
I dig the jazzy rocking groove this brings this in with a rather funky approach. This has such a tasty groove to it. It oozes emotion and class, even without understanding the lyrics. This is on the mellower side, but is nowhere near dull and boring. I'm reminded just a little of Dark Side of the Moon era Pink Floyd, but with some serious funk in the mix.
Modern Septett Berlin: Sagen
This is more energetic and has a real jazz rock prog vibe to it. It's a fun tune that is quite effective.           
 
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