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Amon Düül II - Phallus Dei CD (album) cover

PHALLUS DEI

Amon Düül II

 

Krautrock

4.05 | 308 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Amon Duul II: Phallus Dei [1969]

Rating: 6/10

Amon Duul II are generally considered to be one of the most important bands of the krautrock movement, and their debut Phallus Dei is often seen as the first true album of the genre. With a title that translates to "God's Penis", it's fairly obvious - even before listening - that this album is a strange and tripped-out beast. Musically, Phallus Dei is pure krautrock, featuring every distinguishing characteristic of the genre: lengthy psychedelic jamming, twanging electric guitar, pulsating rhythm patterns, repetitive drum sequences, bizarre nonsensical vocals, and spacey experimental passages. As a krautrock fan (Can's Tago Mago is one of all-time favorite albums), I've never totally understood why this record is so highly regarded. It features everything one would expect from this style of music, but all of these musical elements would eventually be done better not only by other krautrock groups, but also by Amon Duul II themselves on future albums.

The opener "Kanaan" is one of my personal favorites on the album. It's a Middle-Eastern psychedelic jam with superb guitar work and fantastic drumming. "Dem Guten, Schonen, Wahren" features a wonderful groove, but the deviations from this groove often sound strange and off-putting. The psychedelic guitar playing remains delightful throughout, though. The theatrical "Luzifers Ghilom" is divided into two sections, one featuring energetic psychedelic rock and the other focusing on a somber violin motif. This is a good piece of krautrock, complete with bizarre vocals and spacey ambience, but it isn't as engaging as music like this should be. "Heinriette Krotenschwanz" is a short and rather useless piece of groovy psychedelia. The 20-minute title track is the centerpiece of the album. This is a very nice slab of long-form krautrock, but certain sections prove to be somewhat underwhelming. The guitar jam during the first half is wonderful, as is the groovy middle section. However, the introduction and conclusion are overextended and unnecessarily abstract.

I'm not going to deny that Phallus Dei is an indispensably important and formative release within krautrock; because krautrock was an important musical movement, this album is also a significant piece of musical history in general. However, the fact that an album is historic doesn't mean that it's a masterpiece, and it doesn't mean that it's withstood the test of time. This is a good album, but it feels dated; it fails to capture the sense of vibrant experimentalism that the krautrock movement embodied. There are many excellent moments, but there are just as many underwhelming moments. This particular brand of acid-drenched hypnotic rock was quite revolutionary in 1969, but that revolutionary sense is lost on me in the present day. I have an enormous amount of respect for Phallus Dei, and it is indeed a good album. However, I can't help but feel that this is a primitive release, both in sound and presentation.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |

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