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Secret Oyster - Straight To The Krankenhaus  CD (album) cover

STRAIGHT TO THE KRANKENHAUS

Secret Oyster

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.18 | 53 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Also known as Overlander, Straight To the Krankenhaus (a hospital) this was actually released in 76 as their last album, but recorded simultaneously with Astarte. This second name for an album Secret Oyster's discography is the third time so, giving an impression that Secrtet Oyster's discography was extremely confusing although they put out only four albums. This album is a direct continuity of Sea Son and holds many superb moments, but one can't help thinking the group has followed the line from an earlier-70's steaming hot jazz-rock band to a later-70's cooler fusion. The main difference here is the appearance of the Moog as opposed to only organ and electric piano on the previous two albums, but there are few Latino effects sprawled here and there. The grotesque painting for this album's artwork was first seen in the window of an art gallery and had the group laughing their heads out for hours, so much that next morning they went out to buy it and asked permission to have it as their artwork.

In some ways, we are still very much in a jazz-rock realm not far away from Soft Machine's Softs and Bundles, Nucleus or Isotope, Mahavishnu Orchestra, but in other ways, the group sounds also more like the later 70's Weather Report, with some ethnic Latino flavours. After the short intro Lindance, the title track is a 100 MPH track leading the listener to the over-emotive Second Hand Rose (Vogel has heard some of VdGG's evocative lead sax lines, obviously) and the High Luminent Silver Pattern has some Jeff Beck lines (Blow By Blow era) and is easily side 1's highlight. The lengthy Delveaux is sublime moment of slower jazz-rock that easily matches it forerunner in terms of excellence.

Stalled Angel takes on the later 70's funk-jazz, while still retaining a superb Bohling guitar solo. Another real highlight is the superbly tense but gentle Rubber Star with its descending line, quickly followed by the delightful Traffic & Elephants with some terrific ambiances over layers of synthesised strings. The closing Leda is yet another beauty that rivals not only with Delveaux but the while Sea Son album as well. The great interplay and dramatic guitar squeals create a splendid atmosphere. Clearly Krankenhaus finishes in a much stronger manner than it started; although the remasters version now has two bonus tracks; the both of which are Hancock-type of jazz funk (the second recorded live under poor conditions) that stick out of the album's scope, but nothing scary, either but not really adding much value to the album proper. Vogel pulls in some classic sax solos but doubles on keys (much the way Karl Jenkins did in Soft Machine), Bohling filling in some great guitars lines. Clearly no weak tracks but Delveaux is the highlight here with honourable mention to Traffic & Elephants and the track that surrounds the later. Funnilmy enough, the cleaned-up Krakenhaus gained more than Sea Son from the remastering; but the choice of bonus tracks has not only given the edge back to SS, but even widened the gap.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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