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Dzyan - Electric Silence CD (album) cover

ELECTRIC SILENCE

Dzyan

 

Krautrock

4.03 | 154 ratings

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Pnoom!
4 stars The year was 1975. CAN, the biggest name in Krautrock, released the poor Landed, and would sell out with their next album. Amon Duul II, another founding Krautrock band, was pretty much completely dead (at least as far as their ability to make music that mattered). NEU! was in the process of breaking up, and released a patchy album (albeit with some great material on it, but also some equally not-so- great). Faust was in the midst of a five-year disappearance. Ash Ra Temple was gone, and their follow- up, Ashra, would not produce a studio album until 1977. 1975 was not, in short, the greatest year Krautrock had seen. It seemed to be entering a decline (one it has not ever really exited) like the one symphonic prog hit in the late 1970s as the big names like Yes and Genesis turned pop. But amidst this turmoil there arose an amazing band, one who already existed, but who had not made much of a splash. This band was Dzyan, and they were out to show that Krautrock was still alive and kicking, and, wow, did they ever succeed.

While I have not heard their earlier albums, I am quite sure that Electric Silence is the very peak of their career. It is, in every sense of the word, perfect, and quite a masterpiece. The music is unique, bizarre, thought-provoking, pulsating, and captivating; quintessential Krautrock, in short. These three guys could play, they knew it, and they were prepared to have the rest of the world (at least those who liked Krautrock) know it as well. What they came up with is Electric Silence, certainly a peak of the Krautrock genre, and indeed a highlight of all music regardless of genre restrictions. Electric Silence, from the superficial aspects (such as the amazing - if strange - cover art) to its very essence (the music), is one of those few albums that simply defies belief, and brings you back again and again to listen, entranced, as you sink into a world no other band has managed to capture (CAN's Tago Mago is another example of this).

Before I venture into discussing individual tracks, I want to talk just a bit about Krautrock in general, seeing as how it's my favorite sub-genre of progressive music. The biggest reason why this is so is the uniqueness of every Krautrock band. I have yet to find a band that sounds like CAN, or like Amon Duul II, or like NEU!, or like Faust, or like Dzyan, even, who is not, in fact, either CAN, Amon Duul II, NEU!, Faust, or Dzyan. All the Krautrock bands I know are truly one of a kind, inimitable. Every single Krautrock band I know (which, unfortunately, is currently only those five, though that figures to change as soon as possible) is completely unique, and that gives the genre an unpredictability that no other prog sub-genre has afforded me. With each new album, I have no idea what I'm going to get. Even within bands, this trend is clear. I own six CAN albums, and not one sounds like any of the others. I own four Amon Duul II albums, and while the first two go after very similar sounds (though the second delves into more areas than the debut), these two sound nothing like the other two I own (which in turn sound nothing like each other). The two NEU! albums I own (NEU! and NEU! '75) capture different sound spectrums. No matter what I'm looking at in Krautrock, I can always count on the fact that, whether I like it or not (and more often than not I like it), it will be unique.

Dzyan is certainly no exception to this. Despite coming after Krautrock's main heyday, they avoid falling into any clichés set by the bands that came before. Like CAN, they were heavily influenced by world music, but they incorporated these elements into their overall sound much more smoothly than CAN (this is high praise, given that CAN is my favorite band). Ethnic and Middle Eastern influences and rhythms are ever-present, and greatly add to the music. Also, keep in mind that world music had yet to be defined, and that bands like CAN and Dzyan were the first to be doing this new style of music (the term world music would actually wait a couple decades before entering into music speak). Dzyan is innovative and inventive, and on top of all of this (and their great musicianship) they sound absolutely incredible.

The songs on this album incorporate Krautrock "freakouts," ethnic influences, avant-garde percussion, great mellotron work (as another reviewer put it, "mellotrons from hell"), and just a tad of everything else you can think to name. Back to Where We Come From, the opening song, contains a liberal dose of spacey sound effects and also uses the same instrument King Crimson used for the beginning of Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part 1 to start, and then slowly incorporates all the elements I mentioned earlier (and a few more as well). The drumming/percussion on this song is some of the greatest I've heard, continuing in the Krautrock tradition of stealing the show (though they do tone it down just enough - which isn't much - to allow for a similarly wonderful guitar solo near the end). A Day In My Life shows amazing use of the sitar, and The Road Not Taken builds up for three and a half wonderful minutes to one of the greatest Krautrock freakouts I know, which ends the song in marvelous fashion. Again, it's impossible not to mention the drumming, which is as incredible as ever. Khali blends the sitar of A Day in My Life with the "mellotrons from hell" a fellow reviewer mention. For Earthly Thinking is probably the standout song on this album, building perfectly to include all of the elements I mentioned earlier before hitting a Krautrock freakout even better than that on A Day in My Life. This song is almost post-rock in nature, given its lengthy-buildup-to-amazing-climax format, a genre that, like world music, would not be defined until much later (I'm not suggesting that this song sounds like post-rock, just that it foresees the basic post-rock structure). Electric Silence (the title track) closes the album just as wonderfully as it began, with more amazing percussion, ethnic influences, and the like.

Electric Silence is not by one of the big names of Krautrock (Faust, NEU!, Amon Duul II, and especially CAN), but with this album, Dzyan prove that they are just as good at Krautrock (if not even better) as all of those bands, and they help show just why Krautrock is my favorite subgenre. If you are afraid of the strange nature of bands such as CAN, Faust, and Amon Duul II, but want to get into Krautrock, this is an album for you. It's not quite as "out there," but it's just as inventive and insane. Necessary for all fans of progressive music, for it stands as one of progressive rock's greatest achievements, and undoubtedly essential for fans of Krautrock. Simply a masterpiece.

Pnoom! | 4/5 |

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