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Agitation Free - Malesch CD (album) cover

MALESCH

Agitation Free

 

Krautrock

4.01 | 196 ratings

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5 stars One of my absolute favorite albums of all time. Quite a talented group of musicians! You won't find solos or traditional song structures here; the music is VERY cohesive and the individual instruments combine to create a piece of art that is much larger than the sum of its parts. It is this integrated whole that one has to hear (listen to the WHOLE album) in order to fully appreciate the music, which feels just like a breathing, naturally flowing essence that has its own continuity beyond temporal relations. Holds up to many repeated listens, and works well for active listening (so much creativity and nuance) as well as for mood music. A doorway to the spiritual for me. The music is very well put together; it is incredibly well-played, structured and orchestrated. Themes aren't repeated but flow seamlessly through each other; the music is always in flux. It transitions through more accessible/immediate and experimental zones with fluid ease and a sound that is very melodic, rhythmic, ambient, dynamic, nuanced and varied. There is some great layering going on here, and great percussive textures, drones, melody, and interplay.

The entirety of the album is pervaded by a slight middle eastern ethnic influence that is more explicitly referenced by a variety of interesting recordings from their trip/tour to Egypt that appear to varying effects, degrees and qualities as bookends for the tracks. These recordings are fused very well with the songs, which already flow very well into one another. The music is entirely instrumental and stays entirely interesting; vocals aren't missed or to be desired. In fact the Arabic vocal samples between the tracks ground the music quite nicely, as they serve the function of vocals in establishing a human tone, though they do not interrupt the music and, being in a foreign language, ground the music (along with the other field recordings of music and assorted sounds) in a sense of otherworldliness, one that is at once slightly psychedelic or exotic and very candid, earnest and down to earth (there is no semblance of exotic affectation or superfice/glamor). This music is very grounded, yet it is mysterious, exploratory, expansive, meditative, trance inducing, psychedelic, and powerful.

As far as genre is concerned, the music of Agitation Free on 'Malesch' is a mixture of psychedelic, experimental krautrock with elements of spaced-out ambient, experimental electronic, and raga-like drone. Their music for the most part consists of organ-patterned pulses; seamless psychedelic cosmic musical textures with intricate musicianship and musical variety; hard, driving rock similar to Amon Duul II or Guru Guru but more compelling cohesive; jamming that occasionally invokes the interplay and styles of Garcia, Weir and Lesh of the Grateful Dead; and electronic experimentation. Their music features frequently great musical interplay and great playing, great textures, melodies and grooves. Many of their songs have a trance-inducing psychedelic feel and a very bold sound. This music is densely packed with creative ideas and musicianship. As an album, the songs blend together to make an almost seamlessly flowing and uninterrupted musical journey. Compare loosely to bands like Ash Ra Tempel, Amon Duul II, Brainticket, Popol Vuh, Kalacakra, Between, Dom, Guru Guru, Gila, Yatha Sidhra and, also, with The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers for their dynamic interplay and preference for a cohesive, jam-based aesthetic. I compare the quality of their musical interplay and playing quite favorably to the best of the Grateful Dead's live output (e.g., L&G, TGD: Fillmore East 1971).

While some may dislike the experimental, ambient parts of this album (e.g. the build-up in "Sahara City", and the entirety of "Pulse"), for me the ambient is an integral counterpoint to the more pointed moments, establishes a mood and a context, and lets the music really sit and get into your subconscious, in true Krautrock fashion. I for one love the development on "Sahara City".

Standout tracks: "You Play for Us Today", "Sahara City", "Ala Tul", "Khan El Khalili", and "Malesch" (incidentally, my first two favorites were "Rücksturz" and "Pulse", the only other tracks on the album!). So seriously guys, the entirety of this album is fucking brilliant.

This is one of the albums that has profoundly changed my musical world, in the company of Brainticket's "'Psychonaut'", Asia Minor's "Between Flesh and Divine", Can's "Future Days", Santana's "Caravanserai", Jeff Buckley's "Grace", Popol Vuh's "Hosianna Mantra", Jan Dukes de Grey's "Mice and Rats in the Loft", Rush's "Moving Pictures"...).

I personally favor this one much over their follow-up "2nd", which is still a beautiful, graceful, masterful work and a highlight (one of very many) of the Krautrock genre!

The word for this one is GRACE.

5 stars, definitely.

listen | 5/5 |

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