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Guru Guru - UFO CD (album) cover


Guru Guru



3.61 | 133 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
1 stars Guru Guru followed the lead of other German bands like Tangerine Dream and Amon Duul in having their first release essentially be a set of improvised jam sessions. At least, I *hope* that's what they're doing here, because if these directionless meanderings were composed I'd suggest the composer shape up and try again. I'm not against improvisation or free jazz playing - late Mothers of Invention and early Magma albums both manage to work free jazz into a rock format - but I think *good* free playing is deceptively difficult to do.

The important thing is to convince your audience that you're not just fiddling about to cover for a lack of talent - it's vital that free playing comes across as the instrumentalist *choosing* to forego formal structures, rather than being *incapable* of engaging with them. On this first Guru Guru album the group don't quite sell me enough on their instrumental chops to convince me of that. Likewise, I think stripped-down and very basic production values can add something to an album - they work a charm on Trout Mask Replica, and outside of prog rock circles a number of black metal band have deliberately turned under-production into its own aesthetic. But again, that's the sort of thing where you have to convince the audience that you're doing this out of choice rather than necessity, and again I don't think Guru Guru manage that on UFO.

For example, that screeching feedback which creeps into Genrich's guitars: is it a deliberate use of feedback to achieve a particular aesthetic effect, as deployed skillfully by John Cale and Lou Reed back in their Velvet Underground days, or is it just a mistake? I honestly can't tell. Nor can I summon the patience to sit through these jams (whereas I would happy listen to early Tangerine Dream or Amon Duul II improvise for hours).

Obviously any assessment of free, structureless jamming is going to be extremely subjective; some people will find a particular work crammed with value, others will wonder what the fuss is about. Given that other progarchives users whose opinions I respect enjoy this album, I'll concede that it's entirely possible you'll like it if it happens to gel with you. But it hasn't for me; as much as I want to see the good in this album, my instinct is to say that this particular emperor has no clothes. 1 star.

Warthur | 1/5 |


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