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A.R. & Machines - AR4 [Aka: A. R. IV] CD (album) cover

AR4 [AKA: A. R. IV]

A.R. & Machines



4.00 | 66 ratings

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3 stars In his all-too brief psychedelic heyday Achim Reichel didn't sound like anyone else in the Krautrock universe. The guitarist seemed content to chart his own singular path through the cosmos, isolated from his closest aesthetic contemporaries (Manuel Göttsching, Günter Schickert), and never straying too far away from Planet Earth.

This might be the most balanced of the albums he recorded as A.R. & Machines, blending the dense artistry of "Echo" with the skewed songwriting of "Die Grüne Reise". The echo on his guitar, accomplished using a simple reel-to-reel tape deck (and pre-dating the similar but less accessible Frippertronic effect) once again sets up the groove. Everything else - drums, vocals, saxophone etc. - was layered carefully on top, flowing dreamlike into and out of a very busy mix.

The technique works best on Side One ("Vita"), in three long, overlapped tracks approaching something that might almost be classified as hypnotic pop. The album's flipside ("Aqua") shows less focus, but not inappropriately for a 23-minute suite titled "Every Raindrop Longs for the Sea (Jeder Tropfen Träumt Vom Meer) H₂O". If nothing else, the meandering rhythms work like a new and short-lived form of nervous, jerky ambient musik.

Altogether the LP was a welcome rebound from the unmotivated "AR3" album. But in retrospect the effort can't transcend a nagging sense of redundancy: after three previous AR&M sessions, it had all been heard before.

(Consumer Postscript: the album has never been officially reissued since its original vinyl release in 1973. Reichel has apparently disowned this entire chapter of his career, which leads me to wonder how committed he was to the music in the first place)

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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