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Amon Düül II - Tanz Der Lemminge [Aka: Dance Of The Lemmings] CD (album) cover

TANZ DER LEMMINGE [AKA: DANCE OF THE LEMMINGS]

Amon Düül II

 

Krautrock

4.09 | 315 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Extra terrestrial's, Marylyn Monroe and a Transylvanian brain surgeon. but not a lemming in sight

I find Amon Duul II to be a frustrating band. Their "Live in London" album, which sold in significant quantities in the UK due to a budget price, indicated that they had originality and talent in no short measure. Having investigated further though, I find that their studio albums are alarmingly inconsistent, ranging from simplistic pop based songs to overlong, self indulgent improvisations. Outside Germany, this the band's third album bears the title "Dance of the lemmings" (I had to update the site to show this as it took me a while to find it under its German language name!).

The album's opening track "Syntelman's march of the roaring seventies" is a three part piece running to 16 minutes, and occupying the whole of the first side of this double LP. There are similarities with Hawkwind's "In search of space" from the same era, in the pounding rhythms and spacey sounds. The music varies from such psychedelic influences to acoustic, folk like phases which are reminiscent of albums such as Jethro Tull's "Thick as a brick". While the instrumental passages are frequent, they tend to reflect the overall tightness of the suite, with little of the improvisation which blighted the previous "Yeti".

Side two is occupied by the seven part "Restless skylight-Transistor-Child" which is notable for containing the most imaginative titles of the album. These include "A short stop at the Transylvanian brain surgery", "Dehypnotised toothpaste", and "Race from here to your ears". Needless to say the lyrics, which may be in English but are impenetrable nonetheless, bear no relation to the titles. According to John Weinzierl, the theme of the piece is an extra-terrestrial view of human life. Unusually, the track features sitar and choir type vocals working together, offering an ear catching counterpoint to the less structured section which follows. Improvised electric violin also makes an appearance, backed by a heavy electronic back beat. This suite is the most diverse of the four sides, and therefore the most demanding. The highlight is the "Race from here to your ears" section, a softer section with female vocal accompaniment and phasing. I do feel though that the "Live in London" version is much the superior. Strangely, the lyrics here mention "Syntelman", whose name is included in the tittle of the first suite.

There appears to be some confusion over whether the whole of the second album is the "Chamsin soundtrack", or just side three. The LP sleeve would appear to imply that sides three and four are both covered by this title. At the time of the album's release, the obscure film for which the music was intended had not been released, appearing in Germany a year later. The music did however win a German soundtrack award! The third side of the LP is occupied by the singularly titled "The Marylin Monroe- memorial- church" (complete with hyphens as shown), which runs to 18 minutes. This piece has more in common with the "Yeti" improvisations than the rest of the album. While it is mildly appealing, with floating early Pink Floyd like sounds, it is probably best regarded as soundtrack music and left at that.

Three separate tracks occupy side four. "Chewinggum telegram" probably contains the hardest rock on the album, the driving guitar once again being reminiscent of Hawkwind. "Stumbling over melted moonlight" continues very much in the same vein, with the closing "Toxological whispering" completing the trio of instrumentals in slightly slower guitar fusion style.

For me, this is easily the best of the Amon Duul 2 studio albums I have heard. OK, so it does ramble a bit at times, especially on side 3, but in general the music is focused and well performed. Incidentally, the album title also appears to bear no relation to anything on the album.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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