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Ralf Nowy - Lucifer's Dream CD (album) cover

LUCIFER'S DREAM

Ralf Nowy

 

Krautrock

3.13 | 10 ratings

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Guldbamsen
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4 stars The German Snowgoose

Back in the early 70s the German scene was like a bad porn-flick where everybody was doing it together on different albums, occasions and in a whirlwind of musical directions. What this ultimately lead to was a deeper understanding of what made the different expressions cook and flow - sear and levitate. It's why a guy like Klaus Schulze was just as amazing in a psychedelic drum freak out as he was behind huge refrigerator-like instruments turning knobs - or maybe acting as head honcho behind a Japanese psych band at the other end of the planet. In many ways this is what characterised a lot of the well-respected musicians back then - and to some extent that's what was essential inside many artistic movements at the time. Movie making echoed this thing - where you'd find people doing photography one day and then having to be in charge of the lighting the next. People needed to keep their fingers on the pulse and know their way around their respective craftsmanship in order to deliver something corresponding to whatever intangible feel, essence or zeitgeist was on the menu. I think this frolicking around in strange bushes and corners of the different musics made the people playing it so much more versatile and open minded. Sure, this was happening back in the 60s, when rock n' roll suddenly began to steal the jazz players away from their home turf, but when Krautrock really started to unfold its wings - an emphasis on experimentalism saw the light of day that challenged the players to go outside of their comfort zones - adapt or indeed metamorphose.

Lucifer's Dream is a testimony to all of this, not because I consider it to be representative of Krautrock in any way, shape or form, because I don't, - no, because it features a giant smorgasbord of talented musicians coming from all over the scene - all of them attuned into a merged sonic effort revolving around one saxophonist named Ralf Nowy. Both bassist Lothar Meid and sitarist Al Gromer came from Amon Düül ll prior to this stint - whereas Sylvester Levay, here providing some dreamy piano, had played opposite Eddie Maron in the Krautfusion band Dzyan. In short: a lot of these people had played around in all kinds of constellations touching on jazz, folk, British invasion rock and something altogether different. On here the waters coalesced into one beautiful almost symphonic album.

Ralf Nowy actually started out as a bit of a free jazz dabbler - playing flute and sax in various jazz groups all through the 60s. He was even awarded with a prize for best soloist at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1963. What then struck this listener as something rather bizarre, is how he proceeded with his career later on. Nowy is today widely known in Germany for his jingle skills and pop music know how - and what to do with any piece of music in order to make it easier to digest for the masses. Somewhere in between these two extremes Lucifer's Dream came into fruition, and knowing whereto this man's path would turn, it suddenly makes perfect sense to this listener how he managed to make something as audacious and experimental as this sound so fluid and easy going. A tremendous feat.

What this album reminds me the most of is actually Camel's The Snowgoose. Yup - believe it or not. The way the slick and understated funky fusion of this album reaches up for the skies and resembles symphonic music much like you'd hear on Camel's now (in)famous record, is damn near uncanny. It's not even fusion, for that it is far too smooth and serene. Packed full of melody and huge musical whiffs of fresh air and swaying textures, this sonic vessel floats through your living room like an elegant woman swooping around in a big Toulouse Lautrec costume. Sometimes the feel of this thing almost approaches femininity. There's a lightness about it, that you forget where its roots started. This is indeed highly experimental musicians working together to give to you something beautiful and luscious. The focus is firmly held on the sprawling melodies with occasional warm saxophone interventions colouring the music red and sensuous. You wouldn't believe that dear old Ralf came from a world of zany off-beat jazz adventures, when you hear Lucifer's Dream. It is much too elegant and well orchestrated for that to ring true.

The one thing pointing towards Krautrock, as I know it, is the Indian work out that suddenly appears with the track Shiva's Dance. Shiva is of course the Hindu god of destruction and in tune with the album's increasingly cathartic development, this track now takes the listener into a musical world that takes on the mad meeting of Indiana Jones and the temple of doom, where evil liquids turn good men into slaves of darkness, and all of these twirling images of blood and flames explode in a fiery musical meeting of sitars, tablas and assorted percussions sounding like they're played by horses' hooves.

Otherwise this album is the German equivalent of the smooth and serene beauty of The Snowgoose - captivating its audience with warm high soaring melodies and a riveting fusion twist that lies somewhere on the outskirts of the recording keeping the beat wonderfully funky and fluid all at the same time.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |

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