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Guru Guru - UFO CD (album) cover

UFO

Guru Guru

 

Krautrock

3.74 | 91 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars The Guru Guru lessen - never know what to expect. Their debut `UFO' sees the German Krautrock band at this early stage playing in a much more free and experimental form than later albums, with hypnotic, maddening and stormy atmospheres of hard deep psychedelic ambient menace and cosmic unhinged trippiness. Don't expect the aggressive Hendrix-like guitar attacks of `Hinten', the comical boogie/doo-wop bent pop of the self-titled album or the acoustic/jazz-rock fusion of `Dance of the Flames', this album heads in a much darker direction, and the murky production gives the whole album a truly hazy and wasted sound. I came to this album after several of their other releases, and what a shock it was when I first heard it! Definitely not a case of love at first listen, rather an appreciation that rapidly grew after several exhausting and hard-going plays.

`Stone In' bites at the listener right from the start, with it's snarling aggressive feedback drenched in waves of reverb and long drawn out atonal droning electric soloing. But it's Guru Guru mainman Mani's maniacal drumming that drifts from `Saucerful Of Secrets' repetitive hypnotic build to out of control chaos, dictating the dark rumbling grooves and schizophrenic changes in direction. Intimidating ground-rumbling bass shatters everything in it's path, incomprehensible moaning crying vocals try to break through to the surface, only to be swallowed almost completely by the whirlwind of searing noise.

`Girl Call' adds an overwhelming sense of tension and danger, scratching at your nerves with it's brooding heaviness. The piece nears early Hawkwind levels of deep space menace and sonic torture, with bowel-rupturing monotonous plodding bass, pounding bashing drums, violent serrated electric guitar slices and crying howls from the dark that try to punch though. It builds to an almighty rising crescendo of noise before suddenly twisting into a dark groove at about the 4:20 mark, which will have you drowsily nodding your head in appreciation. There's a thrashing tormented tuneless guitar wail before `Next Time...' cuts in abruptly with it's clanging metallic Arabic patterns and suffocating oppressive percussion that speeds up, slows down, round and around, whipping the piece into a sludgy cult-like trance.

`UFO' presents the band as true ambient tyrants, the slowly unfolding experimental piece a blur of rising feedback tension, increases and drops in electronic pitches, klaxon alarms and electric pulses. More of a sound collage of impossibly heavy sonic textures and splintering psychedelic noise than even close to resembling an actual tune, and easily the most challenging and hard-going piece on the album that's sure to test some listeners.

The plodding `Der LSD March' opens as a morbid shuffle that blends together disorientating swirling patterns of darting stoned off-key flute and anarchic drum soloing, before tearing into an almost joyous guitar freak-out with pumping bass finale, plus some slight jazzy textures right at the end. It all ends a little too quickly, but wraps the album in an almost serene come-down manner to ease the listener back to reality as gently as possible.

Perhaps potential fans who've found the band's trademark humour a little grating on other albums will find much to prefer here. Other than the occasional spoken word fragment, it's entirely instrumental which perfectly allows to album to cast its hypnotic spell over listeners without words to break up that momentum and atmosphere.

Please don't judge this album based on one listen. I was immensely let down on my initial play, disappointed to find the band's usual deep grooves and more upbeat manic energy almost entirely missing. Yet you'll soon discover those elements worked into the mix in different ways, usually in a more thoughtful, moody and even slightly unsettling manner. It's frequently howling, tormenting and truly takes the listener to the breaking point.

If you don't mind being swept along on a dark sonic trip for 37 minutes, then dumped back to Earth at the end as shattered remains once in a while, you'll find `UFO' a thoroughly intoxicating, moving and unforgettable experience! Highly recommended.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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