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Grobschnitt - Ballermann CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.72 | 177 ratings

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5 stars This album is a double one, and it's yummy at that!

Let me start this review with my own limits: I have to explain my perspective you can judge how rellevant it is to you. I'm not familiar with GROBSCNITT. This is the first, and so far the only album that I ever heard from this German prog band. And it's great. There.

A double album consist of a one record of "more ordinary" prog (subgenre-wise)- a mixture between hard rock, krautrock, psychedelia and some symphonic moments. The second record contains one full-LP-length suite divided in two parts because of vinyl sides split. This one sounds like a mixture of space rock and krautrock...and it has nothing to do with "Solar Musick Suite" of the Hillage/Khan/Gong crowd.

In general, this band is many things, but symphonic is one that is less significant than others. But as I've said, I'm not familiar with the band's discography yet, so I guess there are more convincing reason to bear the sympho tag. Also, it seems that "Solar-music" exists in a live version which is apparently the most popular. I won't go there - so let's take a look at this worthy double vinyl, and if you are lucky enough to find it (or its digital counterpart) skip my words and take a listen.

Vocal is raw, harsh. I mean, German raw. At the moments it's so harsh that it seems out of tune. The lyrics are funny - not al the time, but there are many humorous moments including the general attitude of the band (this is more a gut feeling of mine).

If anyone dares to say that old prejudice that Germans doesn't have a sense of humour, well, it's wrong! This record is equally enjoyable and equally entertaining. "Sahara" starts with intro (speech) and it's great. Don't expect anything spectacular here, but I like that attitude! The song It reminds me a bit of BONZO DOG BAND's "Ali Baba's Camel"; this one is humorous too, it's also very hard rocking and majestic in a good old German style, vocals, as I said, harsh, the accent thick as much as you can imagine (all lyrics are in English). These guys had a great time and fun playing and recording together, I'm sure! In a way, this record represents the essence of the seventies, perhaps that's why I like it so much. It's simply good, good in the 70's way, good in any possible way, charming, music is dense and convincing, melodies are...incredible. They're not breaking the boundaries (and certainly not ahead of time) but these guys knew how to make a good melody. Or song. Or a double album.

Songs vary from longish to long, and I was never bored, not for a single moment.

Guitars are precise, both dirty and clean when necessary. When these guys caught "floydian" moments, they really got them; they actually managed to sound both "floydian" and ballsy at the same time, which is not something that could be said about PINK FLOYD, only occasionally. (sorry fans!) So, yes, you guessed it, guitar is more on a Latimer/Gilmour side than anything else. But, fusioned with the best moments of URIAH HEEP (this applies to the band in general) and some grittiness typical for krautrock movement. Keyboards are beefy, Hammond sounds as Hammond should sounds, synth interventions are buzzing and minimalistic, piano is gorgeous, other keys are just fine. If you're into this decade you'll like it. The other instruments are also fine, but I must mention two more things:

1) drums. The drummer is a damn good one; not the best in the world, surely, but he plays so free, happily and convincing. I see I'm repeating myself. But it's true. These guys obviously had very similar mindsets, and the thing as a whole worked perfectly, making me smile, 33 years later. 2) sound effects. Another highlight. Because they are drastic, dramatic yet tastefully dosed - they're not all over the place. I'm pretty sure they utilised Space Echo unit; and the other thing's not a vocoder, but it's certainly some sort of rendering between a vocal formants and musical instrument - electric guitar, I guess, or something similar to high resonance, or amp it's a Talkbox. Whatever it is, it sounds astonishing.

The "Solar Music" is a 33 minute piece, again full of surprises and joy. It's less conventional then the first vinyl, but it's sharing some points with the first record (it resembles it, in a way), but without being overbearing, or boring, or hermetical, or whatever. It simply fits into the overall picture of the album (same can be said from the opposite point of view, of course) - enough that you won't get an impression that this is too long album that should be rather split in two. No. This one shows band's diversity rather than tight playing and humour. They managed to do all the things good on an album. They got me.

I want more.

clarke2001 | 5/5 |


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