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A.R. & Machines - Die Grüne Reise (The Green Journey) CD (album) cover


A.R. & Machines



3.98 | 99 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars A.R. was Achim Reichel: celebrity pop star, producer, and Liverpool beat band copycat, who in the early 1970s either rebelled against the commercial success he enjoyed with The Rattles or (from another vantage point) jumped aboard a fashionably far-out bandwagon. I'm inclined to suspect the latter, but in no way does that diminish what he was able to achieve with little more than a guitar and his trusted Machine: an Akai X-3300 reel-to-reel tape deck, capable of producing (in his words) "endless echo cascades" of pulsating, hypnotic sound.

He might have only been a casual tourist on a psychedelic holiday, but the trip he took on the AR&M project was adventurous, to say the least...although it's hard to know who was really in charge: A.R. or his machines? At times it seems like the studio echo technology was determining not only the style but the actual composition of the music, with Reichel dragged willingly along for the ride.

The first Machines album, from the Krautrock miracle year of 1971, shows less depth than its monumental sequel "Echo" (1972), but is far livelier, and way more fun. You can still hear the pop music idol at work behind the weirdness, in catchy tracks like "Come On People" and "I'll Be Your Singer, You'll Be My Song" (released together as an unlikely 45 rpm single). Here and elsewhere, Reichel succeeded in proving how easily popular music could be psychedelicized into a whole prism of colors, beyond the usual blues. The tapes were then spliced into an exhilarating, not-quite-random medley, with the expected anchor of a legitimate verse or chorus always lurking somewhere just beyond earshot.

In the end the music devolves into a fantastic Zappa-like collage of looped voices and effects, not unlike "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet" but organized with an almost stereotypical sense of German order and efficiency. That's not a lazy comparison: The Mothers of Invention were one of the essential midwives of Krautrock. But I don't recall even a tongue-in-cheek iconoclast like Zappa ever choreographing a repetitive chicken cluck or simulated sneeze (...gesundheit... gesundheit... gesundheit... gesundheit...)

The calibrated overlapping sounds gave the experiment a semblance of real music. But it really wasn't anything more than Reichel goofing around in the studio, just to hear what popped out the other end, refining to cyclical perfection the similar rhythmic effect of Roger Waters' "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict". The echo process makes it seem as if Reichel's guitar is actually giggling at you, so it's only fair to return the favor, by listening to the album with a stupid grin spread across your face.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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