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Kaputter Hamster - Kaputter Hamster CD (album) cover

KAPUTTER HAMSTER

Kaputter Hamster

 

Krautrock

2.48 | 13 ratings

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3 stars Kaputter Hamster's debut and only album is much sought after by collectors for its scarcity value - and most of the reviews one reads of this album (where one can find them!) are fairly vague and lead you to believe that it's a lost classic of Krautrock.

It is among the purest of "stream-of-consciousness" music you are likely to hear in all of rockdom - but also among the most raw music, as one might expect from Krautrock. By raw, I mean that the technical abilities of all players are no more than average garage band level, the performance rough and under-rehearsed, and the production is virtually non-existent - all of which makes this album all the more extraordinary.

The ideas flow thick and fast, mainly along the lines of great grooves and ambient rather than virtuosic improvisation. At first, one might think that it's very generic music - and one would probably be right. But there's something else here - that intangible magical something that only the very best Krautrock has. Although definitely not easy listening, for someone that listens to a lot of prog, this is an easy and enjoyable ride from start to finish, and the feeling one gets at the end is of satisfaction.

Excusing the almost complete lack of any production is easy, when you settle into the groove that the Kaputter ones take you on - a perfectly formed and naturally easy-flowing dream-like sequence where few ideas are repeated, and inspirations are not obvious - maybe a smattering of the Groundhogs, as there's certainly some MacPhee in the riffs and sensitive noodling. Yes, the guitarist noodles away - but it's with purpose, and with deep appreciation of the colours he's trying to apply to the music. even if it does go pear-shaped a few times, he always recovers.

When you consider that this was made by the band in their private studio, probably armed with little more than a Revox or two, you wonder why they left it at the debut album and didn't go on to greater things Even though the music is less wild than ADII, it still comes across as early Floyd on amphetamines in places, and carries a personal, of not completely unique stamp.

The drum/percussion solo in "Behind The Universe" is a particular stand out feature - one wonders if all the band members were in fact percussionists first and guitarists second. I could probably listen to an entire album of this!

Vocal intonation issues do not spoil "Shooting At The Stars", a laid-back little piece, with sumptuous drumming and warm walky bass lines. A number of mix issues and hastily covered slips by the guitarist simply add to the overall charm.

Things go from progressively better to slightly better on side 2, and "Interlude For A Dreamer" introduces itself with a couple of surprising time changes before the guitar atmospherics wind themselves around the rhythm section and bass lines. This is stripped down to pure bass and minimal percussion, as the bass explores new ideas.

The percussion intensifies, and the bass continues meandering in a somewhat simple fashion - but never forgetting the root ideas, which gives a great continuity that really helps the piece flow.

The tempo is picked up and the guitars rejoin, and quickly we forget all about the little ambient section - then there's a modulation, a vocal joins, the music slows down, speeds up, goes through more inventive ideas than it's possible to shake a stick at - man! This is Krautrock!

"Mental Convenience" is based on Pink Floyd's "Saucerful of Secrets" to start, and this is used as an inter-verse musical interlude throughout, until we reach the bridge, where KP build tension almost inexpertly and with out of tune guitars. No matter, a vocal joins the "Saucerful." theme, and KP use the material intelligently, developing it to the very best of their capable abilities with a high degree of success.

"Quarters For The Night" rounds this album off well enough with the odd fluff and mix issue - but it's not the grand finale I'd like, even though it's passable for this style.

The centrepiece here without a doubt is the 13 minute "Behind The Universe", but to be brutally honest, this album would never make it among the prog greats in anyone's collection.

Nevertheless, if you have an open ear for music, and prize spirit as highly as ability, then Kaputter Hamster's offering is a good investment. provided you go for the Re- Release! Personally, I don't think that the original is worth the $600+ price tag for the music alone.

It's good, possibly nearly great music that is highly enjoyable for what it is, but it's not life-changingly brilliant.

In summary; A good addition to your collection - mainly for occasional private listening or demoing for friends who have heard about the album and want to know what it sounds like before parting with serious cash.

If you're into Krautrock, this is easily better than some Guru Guru I've heard, and on a par with Erlkoenig. I've only rated it slightly lower because of the execution issues.

3.5 stars.

Certif1ed | 3/5 |

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