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Agitation Free - Malesch CD (album) cover


Agitation Free



4.00 | 253 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars East meets West on the debut Agitation Free LP `Malesch' from 1972, an album of exotic sounds and spacey atmospheres, as proposed by an improvisation based jam-band. Two identities, two musical sounds seemingly at odds with eachother instead become one unified whole, when it probably should sound very confused and conflicted. The band seamlessly blend eastern styles of the old world with space-rock and plodding Krautrock flavours of more modern eras, and the result is a collection of freeform psychedelic experiments full of mysticism and grooving rock passages. Of particular note throughout is future Tangerine Dream member Michael Hoenig's unearthly, atmospheric and restrained keyboard drones, although to be fair, four of the band members are credited to keyboards here!

There's a scuzzy, uneasy menace to album opener `You Play For Us Today', with splintering heavy psych electric guitar feedback that channels the late 60's Pink Floyd sound, alongside piercing upfront bass and droning maddening organ with an ethereal shimmering tone. `Sahara City' is more ambient and drifting, ethnic market place flavours introduced by acoustic hand percussion, cymbal rises and loopy electric guitar mangling from Jorg Schwenke in the manner of Syd Barrett's distinctive sound. The piece is full of meandering mystery, until it comes together in a shambling, nicely ragged acid-rock driving march in the final minutes, perhaps closer to Can. Burghard Rausch's drumming absolutely purrs on that one too. Searing electronic violations and repetitive hypnotic panning swirling organ permeates throughout `Ala Tul', with thick mumbling bass breaking through tribal percussion, the entire band working up a heady yet joyous intensity.

All the focus is on Michael Hoening's keyboards on the opener of the second side, `Pulse'. It's a bent sustained organ and wavering electronic drone with a maddening repulsive loop that plays over and over into infinity, likely to drive you to madness, brought on even sooner by relentless drum fills. Another droning synth hum pulses away in the background of `Khan El Khalilli', blanketing delirious sighing cries, skittering frantic drumming and chiming acid-folk acoustic guitars. There's a drawling bass plod from Michel Gunter that bursts through some meditative flute and lovely electric guitar soloing that takes flight, leaving the whole piece in a warm toasty haze. After opening with a chirping electronic loop, drums, bass and guitars seamlessly grow in confidence and tempo throughout the title track `Malesch', a never-ending pulsing Hammond organ joyfully noodling away, the whole band bringing a constant and infectious driving energy and whipping up a gentle fury. Sadly the album ends on a scorching rock track that only serves as an interlude at little over two minutes, but it does make for a memorable finale.

By the time their `Second' album came around, the band had abandoned most of the ethnic elements altogether, placing a greater emphasis on melodic, joyful electric guitar soloing and electronic experiments, which only makes this one all the more special. It's just as good, if rather different, to the follow-up, but both are essential chilled-out Krautrock works. It perhaps shares a similar searing spiritual ethnic flavour as the second half of Guru Guru's `Dance with the Flames' album, mixed with the expansive electronics of early Tangerine Dream, but there's always that thrilling sense of exploration and sonic freedom that the Krautrock bands are known for, and `Malesch' is simply beautiful, intoxicating music.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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