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Amon Düül II - Phallus Dei CD (album) cover

PHALLUS DEI

Amon Düül II

 

Krautrock

4.03 | 306 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Phallus Dei" is, most of all, a relevant seminal album for the krautrock genre, and as such, it set the pace for a special way of doing prog rock: a way based on the dynamic tension originated by the mixture of Floyd-inspired psychedelia, spacey ambiences, ethnic textures and avant-garde free-form experimentation. Since Amon Duul II was the most proficient section of the Amon Duul musical entity, it is no wonder, after all, that the musical achievement delivered in the "Phallus Dei" album turned out to be so magnificent and groundbreaking in its time. The use of archaic German in the sung parts surely helped to increase the aura of weird mysticism spread all over the album's repertoire. The first half of the album is a set of 4 numbers that range between 2 and 8 minute spans. The instrumental excursions, which are all both fascinating and fashionably unpolished, are properly set on their own architectonics without getting too square, and definitely, Amon Duul's music couldn't go for that - the sonic richness is so tense that the sense of ordainment has to serve as a complementation to its various nuances, not really as a conventional musical frame. Meanwhile, the vocal deliveries are odd enough in their half-bewitching, half-operatic craziness to evoke images of exorcisms, nightmarish daydreaming and mystic revelations. The first two tracks are genuinely revealing of the band's ideology, but my personal favourites from this first half are 'Luzifers Gholom' and 'Henriette Krotenschwanz'. The former bears an amazingly dense sense of mystery that evolves across its different passages in a very csustained manner, while the latter is set on a captivating martial pace that adds fule to its almost satyrical spirit. All in all, the album's definite gem is the namesake suite that occupies its second half. The 20+ minute 'Phallus Dei' is a real marriage of Kosmos and Chaos, fused together in a unique, unnamable musical source that seems to direct the performers' creative forces all the way through the various excursions that are being installed and disrupted successively. In the beginning we have a hypnotic prelude that seems somehow creepy but mostly is dark and inscrutable, a prelude in which disjointed chords on guitar, violin and sax float in communion with soaring synthesizer layers. Then we have an exciting jam whose harmonic bases and atmospheres are properly led by the guitar solos, accompanied by exorcising occasional chantings. When we get to minute 12, a percussive section appears in the shape of an exotic rhythmic "Kamasutra" expanded on a massive tribal environment. The last four minutes are filled with a more articulated section, in fact, the most articulated musical passage in the entire album. Defined melodies and recognizable guitar riffs conform the nucleus for a music that has stopped being tense and has begun being dynamic in a less unconventional fashion. This factor seems prepared to convey some sort of joyful air, an idea that makes itself clearer with the appearance of a wickedly playful violin solo. Now, going for the album as a whole, a large parte of its particular beauty and artistic relevance lies in the successful amalgam of two fires: the flame of European deconstruction (incarnated in the guitar and keyboard sounds) and the bonfire of ethnic colors (mostly represented by the rhythm section). Regarding the latter factor, Dave Anderson's bass input must receive a special accolade, since it combines rhythm and melodic interaction in a very distinctive manner, although Karrer's guitar and sax duties remain always central in the band's sonic load. There is so much more that I feel I need to say about this album, but I think I'll just stop it here... not before proclaiming Amon Duul II as real supreme masters of krautrock, an this should make their debut album a masterpiece in itself.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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