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Amon Düül II - Yeti CD (album) cover


Amon Düül II



4.11 | 441 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Yeti, Amon Duul II, 1970 Now this is a very interesting one to try to break down. Amon Duul II's second effort is huge leap  forwards from the already pretty strong Phallus Dei, and, interestingly enough, it uses the double-LP format to allow the band to both expand their existing lengthy, bleak and atmospheric improvisations and to complement them with the sonic seltzer of a half dozen or so classy, energetic rock pieces. The resultant album has many, many high points, an astoundingly unique mood to it, and throughout displays both compositional and performing excellence and some very charming, despite the accents, vocalists. Where the problems creep in is maintaining the listener's interest for the whole length of the album and in trying to create a coherent work from so many improv-rooted pieces. That, for me, weakens the album's impact and keeps it, at least, a notch below Wolf City in terms of listening time. 'Objective'/importance says 5 stars, but my enjoyment only allows for 4.

The lengthy opening suite, Soap Shop Rock, transforms quickly from a slightly clumsy rocker to an intense, involving and surrealistic bit of psychedelia, with particularly memorable work from the rhythm section of Peter Leopold and Dave Anderson, as well as the multi-talented Chris Karrer. More unusual, perhaps are Renate Knaup-Groschweitz's high and distinctive backing vocals, taking over the role a keyboard or two normally would. From the raw rock of the opening Burning Sister to the psychedelic craze of Halluzination Guillotine to the light-hearted operatic vocals of Gulp A Sonata, this piece is excellent, but the real gem is the final 'movement', the astounding Flesh-Coloured Anti-Aircraft Alarm, opening with an absolutely jaw-dropping violin lick from Karrer and then developing with crazy going-off-all-over-the-place vocals and whistling mixing in with the unpredictable rhythm section and some astounding violin soloing and high-register organ. A quick repeat of the opening phrase rounds off the song, and, even though it's quite neat, you have to admit that the anti-climactic ending doesn't quite fit it. An astounding piece of music, in terms of conceptualisation, playing and ideas, and the mood is set quite nicely for the album... as micky remarks, not exactly coherent, and that does hurt it a little.

The following She Came In Through The Chimney is a much more calm and collected number, with a relatively consistent six-string guitar part being imaginatively expanded upon and improvised over, with some particularly superb Ratledge-like work from Falk Rogner on what I think is a lowry organ. The imagination of the bongo parts is very neat as a feature... you don't get all that many bands really treating them in the same way they would another instrument. Smooth stuff, not really a highlight for me, but a nice lead up. Edit: took another look at the reviews already up, and the consensus is that some of said Ratledgeism is a violin. They're probably right... though I'm still somewhat convinced the organ's on there.

The most straightforward rocker on the album follows this on pretty sharply, with a kicking main riff, killer drumming, lead vocals throughout most of it and some psychedelic organ and guitar soloing thrown into the breaks. Always nice to see a very eclectic band take on and easily conquer the basic rock song, and Renate Knaupf throwing her range all over the place as a lead vocalist is a real bonus, even if her backing parts are maybe what makes the album so atmospherically dense.

A bit of a storm-in-a-teacup next with the high-tempo folk-based number Cerberus, fully exploring the interplay between the two guitarists, with the bass (Dave Anderson) and the bongos (Shrat) effectively taking on the part of soloists for this one, before electric-feedback-land comes in and takes over the groundwork of the acoustics. A very unique and well-explored piece, with a bit more of an eastern European vibe... maybe the best prepared track on the album.

The Return of Reubezahl is an intense, concise, almost soundtrack-like preparatory piece for Eye-Shaking King, with its smoking blues/rock ending leading into the fiery maw of viciously distorted-vocals, distorted guitar, fuzzed-up-bass and thundering drumming, a heavy trip from that prelude through the wilderness of the mind. Exceptional.

The briefer, on my reissue, at least, Pale Gallery, is a bit less astounding, relying on a slightly insistent and mechanical drum pattern as well as some very interesting organ and violin work. Unfortunately, the sort of ghosts-flitting-around image doesn't really transform into something really solid and striking. Nice, but is it really adding anything?

The second original LP is made up of three distinct, individual and creative improvs, and I think it represents the album and creates a mood even more effectively than the first. You can see the band is confident enough to strip back its sound, and to try some new and effective things even in full improvised flow. Describing it fully is obviously a waste of time, but a general mood thing isn't out of order.

The title track, a dark, brooding, scenic number, in addition to the typically excellent and pacy work from the rhythm section, features all sorts of feedback, demonstrative twangs from the 12-strings, and violently clashing electrics, producing an overall dense forests-and-mountains mood accompanied by an impressively dense aggression and movement. Some wordless vocals, both male and female, fill out the abstract fog in this musical forest, while a more mournful conclusion harnesses all this restless energy to a more introspective and exotic end. All in all, Yeti is an extremely well thought-out and followed-through bit of improvisation, with a wonderful freedom of interpretation, as well as some distinctly avant-garde organ and violin work.

Yeti Talks To Yogi is a bit more light-hearted, starting out with a dense clump of instruments, which gradually collaborate (with some fantastic bongo-work from Shrat) to work out each others' space and produce a very dense, dark mood, from which the conversational wails of the violin or the feedback from the guitar pre-empt the very loose and touching herdlike vocals. Admittedly, the ending is a bit overly curt, but otherwise another amazing piece.

Sandoz In The Rain, with guest flautist 'Thomas' and a further guitarist/vocalist and bassist, features a much calmer and more capable mood, with some superb acoustic work, a full, probably improvised, lyrical section, pretty work between the violin and the flute, and for me, it conjures up memories of walking along steeper paths by rivers in Wales and the North, with a slight misty/rainy vibe to it. Again, evocative, touching, and excellent improvisation. Particularly lush is the amazing roll of the drums and thundering feel of the line, 'Sundrops in your eyes.' Simply put, the inclusion of the lyrics gives this the most pictorial and absolute feel of the three improvisations, but at the same time, the band adapt that to create a more free-flowing, abstract picture for your mind to fill in. Again, maybe trails off a bit too sharply, but that doesn't obscure the merit of the rest of it.

So, all in all, a collection of The Good Stuff. The second half is particularly good and has clarity in those improvs that Phallus Dei wasn't quite self-confident enough to achieve, as well as a really striking mood, and most of the first half isn't much weaker at all. Still, problems creep in from trying to unite and compile all this work into one album. Yes, it's not quite perfect, and yes, there are some tracks which are markedly less interesting than others, but just look at the release date... 1970: it really sounds nothing quite like anything else out there. Remarkable for its time, and it's a gem of the Kraut Rock and Psych Rock (and, you could say, 'Heavy Prog') genres... a must have for anyone, and a very secure four stars. Maybe worth listening to the two 'halves' separately if you find it a bit too much heavy going.

Rating: Four stars, 'Objective' five, 13/15 Favourite track: Sandoz in the Rain

TGM: Orb | 4/5 |


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