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Mythos - Mythos CD (album) cover





3.62 | 102 ratings

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3 stars Here, on its debut, the Berlin Krautrock group Mythos is a studio-augmented power trio: guitarist/sitarist/flautist Stephan Kaske, bassist/guitarist Harold Weiße, and drummer Thomas Hildebrand. While heavy-prog three-piece segments are the backbone the last two-thirds of the album, there are nonconforming passages interspersed throughout.

The oddest track here is actually the opening number, 'Mythoett,' a reimagining of a Händel piece. Based only on this song, you'd expect that Mythos would be prog-folk album. While 'Mythoett' is technically a power-trio song, Kaske plays flute rather than guitar. This is followed by the longer-form 'Oriental Journey,' during which the instrumental configuration changes from sitar/acoustic guitar/drums to flute/bass/drums to sitar/bass/drums. Segues among these movements are marked by sections sung by Kaske and a passage dominated by ethereal sound effects.

The traditional 'power trio' arrangement (i.e., with electric guitar) first appears on 'Hero's Death,' parts of which remind me of early-1970s King Crimson. 'Hero's Death' forms a bridge between the somewhat lighter opening songs and the more heavy and experimental Side Two. Like 'Oriental Journey,' but unlike the remainder of the album, it contains sections sung by Kaske, and contains some cleaner three-piece arrangements similar to those on the first two songs - - but with the electric guitar replacing the sitar and flute. 'Hero's Death' also introduces the kind of freak-and-roll sections in which 'Encyclopedia Terra Part 1' will culminate.

Side Two is comprised the two sections of 'Encyclopedia Terra,' the whole of which the band appears to consider its magnum opus. 'Part 1' opens with a musique concrete collage of ominous chords underlying the singing of birds - - implying a peace whose end is inevitable. Following the introduction of the rhythm section, a plaintive guitar enters at about two minutes, and the three instruments converge in a syncopated pattern at four. Soon enough, the guitar begins going rogue, as they say, and is joined by a second overdubbed guitar as the band departs King Crimson territory entirely for the crazy, fractured environs of Krautrock à la early Ash Ra Tempel. At this point, the war is on. Eventually, the martial syncopation returns. The final three-plus minutes of 'Part 1' is comprised by synthesizer- generated effects simulating air-raid sirens, warplanes, falling bombs, and explosions, over Hildebrand's equally violent drumming.

And then, finally, there's 'Encyclopedia Terra Part 2,' which, from a structural point of view, is like the 'Soon' section of Yes's 'Gates of Delirium' (from 1974's Relayer). The birds are back (shades of 'Close to the Edge,' which was also released in 1972), now joined by church bells. A Moog-ish, monophonic synth lead appears and the power trio is reintroduced, eventually joined by the flute, a second track of bass guitar, and, around 2:30, the electric guitar. The tempo is slower than on 'Part 1,' giving this track more of a heavy-prog feel. The group settles into the main vamp - - again, a Crimsonian affair - - for a minute, beginning around 3:30. The final three minutes of the album is a rhythmless ethereal synth passage over which Kaske recites a story about the future of mankind.

Mythos is a solid album. Overall, the sound is decent for an album recorded in late 1971 (I purchased my copy from, so I don't know whether it is the 1994 CD release (which seems probable) or a later remaster). The production (by Dieter Dierks) is good, if a bit unsubtle in the reverb department. The instrumental performances are strong throughout. To me, this would be a four-star album if the compositions were a bit more inspired. As it stands, Mythos is an enjoyable period piece.

patrickq | 3/5 |


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