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Ginga Rale Band - Wir Bedauern... CD (album) cover

WIR BEDAUERN...

Ginga Rale Band

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.84 | 11 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars The jazz-rock fusion scene has been an exciting one ever since Frank Zappa and Miles Davis got the ball rolling in the late 1960s and once the floodgates were opened there has been a steady stream of new artists emerging ever since. Germany was particularly fertile in the 1970s and crafted many hybrid sounds once the Krautrock scene emerged around 1970. Kraut fusion or Jazz-Kraut is one of those subdivisions of Krautrock where rock musicians dabbled in the world of jazz and more often than not resulted in wickedly cool mixtures of jazzy musical flavors all dressed up with the psychedelic lysergic weirdness of Krautrock some with hard rock heft and some veering towards outer space with an emphasis on pure freakery. Led by seasoned musicians stocked up on fertile imaginations, the music of this style is some of the best of any genre ever crafted.

After the obvious Kraut fusion acts such as Embryo, Xhol Caravan, Kraan and Passport, there were quite a few lesser known bands that came and went all throughout the 70s but when the progressive rock scene as a whole started to wane around 1975, these sorts of bands continued to form, release an album or two and then fade into obscurity. While Germany gets the lion's share of the attention for the Krautrock scene, both Switzerland and Austria were in on the game too. The Ginger Ale Band formed in Salzburg, Austria in 1977 spent a couple years celebrating the sugary carbonated soda drink and then changed its name to the more mysterious sounding GINGA RALE BAND in 1979. The band released two albums and then disbanded in 1984 only to become mere footnotes in the history books of Austrian prog rock however i cannot even begin to tell you HOW AMAZING THIS BAND WAS!

As the GINGA RALE BAND this hefty lineup of Paul Hochrainer (vocals, guitar), Josef "Josh" Oppacher (bass), Peter Willert (drums), Al Susie (vocals, saxophone), Furz Pipi (synthesizer, keyboards), GŁnther Humpl (mixing) and Marc Steinhausen (bass, vocals, guitar) released two albums in the early 80s but the second one "Information" devolved into a rather mediocre alternative rock sound. The real gems of this band is on this excellent debut WIE BEDAUERN? (German for "We Regret?.") which is one of the highlights of Kraut Fusion especially if you really love extra doses of progressive rock attributes in the mix. Not only does GINGA RALE BAND deliver all the goods of the jazzy complexities that allow the traditions of extra flavorful chord progressions to be the central focus upon which the various musicians solo around but the prog rock characteristics are in full swing with lots of hairpin turns, unexpected leaps into disparate dynamics and tempos along with many, many time signature changes.

With only four tracks that extend past 42 minutes, you know there's gotta be some serious compositional excesses going on and you would be right to guess as such! Now i really don't like the track title choices but for some reason the first and third tracks are both titled "Nigger." Makes me cringe but despite the awful lapse of reason in this dreadful decision the music is beyond phenomenal. Supposedly the second is the continuation of the first with the track "Buglieish" in between but in reality there is no real rhyme or reason as this mostly instrumental album simply generates grooves, melodies, counterpoints and lots of improvisational mojo action. There are vocals but all are in German and only spoken at various random moments. The focus is squarely on the rhythmic drive accompanied by one of the many instruments taking part in a lengthy technical soloing and all of these musicians are on the top of their game. You can really expect Mahavishnu Orchestra performances here. Had this band emerged ten years earlier, they surely would've been one of the top jazz-fusion bands of all time.

Despite the scary looking bleakness of the album cover art that looks more like one of those early 80s post-punk styles, GINGA RALE BAND really delivers a rather uplifting procession of magical melodies that are lifted even higher with the sparkling keyboard sounds that emerge from Pip Furz and just to give the album a bit of rock creds, guitarist Paul Hochrainer adds a bit of heavy rock guitar heft from time to time but often he's cranking out some seriously tight-knit riffs and solos that act in tandem with the sax, keys or other guitar sounds! While the first three tracks are excellent the grand finale "Gugug" will blow your mind through its 17 minute run. For the first several minutes it rocks the house with as much jazzy fusion mojo as permitted by law but after seven minutes starts adding trippy Krautish keyboard sounds until the whole thing turns into a major Krautish freakout straight out of 1971 and crafts a freak zone that Amon Duul II and Ash Ra Tempel would bow down in admiration to! Don't worry, it drifts back into jazz-fusion paradise for a final procession of angular antics run amok.

Why this album is not well known is beyond me as this is some of the absolute best albums that has emerged out of Austria. GINGA RALE BAND crafts not only some of the best Kraut jazz of all time but delivers it in such a way that is quite innovative and utterly unique and the icing on the cake comes towards the end of the album where the album launches into hyperspace and lands on planet Lysergia without jettisoning all the jazzy yumminess that makes them a jazz-rock band after all! In all honesty, there were many very talented Kraut bands that crafted a unique hybridization of progressive rock, jazz and Krautish psychedelia with bands such as Brainstorm and Eiliff coming to mind however you can surely add GINGA RALE BAND to the top of the heap as one of the most adventurous and innovative bands of this style that has gone relatively unheard except for those of us who delve into the obscurity bins of prog rock music. This is one of the most woefully under-known, under-appreciated and off the radar bands i've come across as it still hasn't ever seen a reissue after its initial 1980 vinyl release. For those craving adventurous complex jazzy Krautrock with amazing musical delivers then you simply must listen to WIR BEDAUERN?

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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