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Ash Ra Tempel - Ash Ra Tempel CD (album) cover


Ash Ra Tempel



4.15 | 360 ratings

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4 stars Fighting back sonically

After W.W. II Germany wasn´t quite itself (Then again who was?). It had been bombed back into the stone age and you could walk all day through the streets of Berlin without ever seeing a proper building. Gravel and dust - and the money they needed to rebuilt their once cultural architectural mecca was indeed nowhere to be found. The picture was much the same on a nationwide scale - and the economical crisis was a real and terrifying threat. This particular issue of money and the lack of it, although sounding slightly mad, -had a big impact on the Kraut rock scene rolling across the country almost 25 years later. Due to lack of finance, the state was confronted with quite the dilemma surrounding the education system: Do we fire the old fascist teachers and start from scratch, or do we keep them because we do not have the resources to replace them? Well you can take a wild guess as to how things went... This meant that on most of the universities you were facing old teachers with old ideas. This also subscribed to music. Remember that Goebbels, when in power, changed the German face of culture completely, making everything that had to do with politics in music illegal. This led to the rise of the "Schlager" - which is easy digestible music you can sing along to, and really has no taste at all IMHO. Muzak. The Krautrockers knew this and to some extent, the music they started playing in the early 70´s was to be their revolution against the mindset, that music had to fit in boxes and it ultimately had nothing to say about anything. After all it´s just music right?

Ash Ra Tempel is no muzak, and if you think you can put this album on thinking it will be a prog rock record like say Close to the Edge, Foxtrot or even Birds of Fire - well then my friend you are sadly mistaken. Personally I´d like to think of these two separate pieces as giant handwoven Persian rugs that change color and pattern slowly as you unravel them. The experience of sounds that all together are individual, but in some rather ingenious way fits together like vanilla ice cream and black pepper. The first number Amboss sounds like a drunk Jimi Hendrix dropped by a mushroom tasting party in downtown Hamburg. Chunky Klaus Schultze drums alongside the somehow deranged sounding guitar from Manuel Göttsching makes this piece wild and rocking. The second track Traummaschine is more subdued and relies more on electronics and floating waves of almost ambient music.

There are numerous of high points on this debut - like the one noted guitar solo of Amboss - the naive sixties sounding drumwork of Schutze particularly on the first track, - or indeed the pulsating gloom of Traummaschine (Dream machine), which occasionally sounds like water seeping into water - or like turning your arms on fire waving them rhythmically around in the cold blackness of January. In other words: there is absolutely no "schlager" to be found here. The music is real unrehearsed improvisation from one of the biggest names from the Kraut rock scene, and if you are like me - unafraid of sticking your head into unknown shadows, you should definitely try this album, although it probably won´t be for everybody. If this album soothes your cravings and you find yourself itching and scratching for a fix more, but don´t know where to look - I´d like to recommend the Japanese band called Far Out and their record Nihonjin, which is the perfect musical phone call from the far east - retelling the story with other words, sounds and incidents.

This album is wild, droning, spacey, evil-sounding, uplifting, distraught, beside itself and in tune, experimental and first and foremost filled to the brim with unspoiled unchartered music that breaks every law imposed by Goebbels some years before. 4.5 stars.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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