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Erlkoenig - Erlkoenig  CD (album) cover

ERLKOENIG

Erlkoenig

 

Krautrock

3.28 | 41 ratings

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Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Sadly this album was a small disappointment to me, but I think I had too big early expectations of it, as I have often before been awestruck by some works of the German underground groups of the 1970's. I believe this record has quite different musical qualities than for example Ash Ra Tempel or Rufus Zuphall classics, which I liked very much. What I appreciate here on the ideal level is the uncompromised musical creation process done according the restrictions of the available resources (mostly instruments). Sadly I'm just not extremely fond with the aesthetic pleasantness of the received end result. The album opens with "Erlkoenig impression" (The band name meaning "The Fairy King"), presenting the musical style palette of the group quite powerfully. Their music is quite structured, and the sounds appear slightly thin at the beginning of the album. Luckily these characteristics changes later during the album. The sounds of the organ are very weird, and not very pleasant to my ears. I'm not sure what kind of machines they used, but there isn't probably any kind of effects used on it. The composition paints strong impressionistic visions, but the sounds don't sadly support the ideas in all parts. Surely both uniqueness and feeling of enthusiasm is strongly transmitted. "Tomorrow" is the first song with lyrics, and the pronouncing of English is the usual quite poor standard, like on many other underground continental European releases. Also the feeling of the composition's verse supports my impressions which I get from this music, this being a very strong presence of lunacy. When listening to this music and simultaneously looking at the album cover picture presenting some kind of hollow tree, lost its' leafs, staring at the listener without thought? I get a very oppressing feeling from this combination, and I would not recommend it to the repertoire of albums for psychiatric music therapists. Composition "Thoughts" has quite beautiful melody on it, and there is also positively space for free playing among the arranged themes. The faster part of this tune with funky guitar resembles a bit the sound of Belgian group Dragon. On this song the keyboard sound also much nicer and rawer, and the quality of the album starts to move to a better direction after clumsier start in my opinion. There are also some nice acoustic guitars here, and fun solos to please my improvisational oriented tastes. "Castrop-Rauxel" opens with a mysterious theme, which leads to another poorly sung verse. This song sounds highly stoned and chaotic though it's still structured, so this can be seen as a very unique accomplishment. "Blind alley" continues dwelling within the feelings of anxiety, starting up dynamically with organ chords and wild guitar soloing. There is also some piano used here, an instrument which has scarcely used on the record, but could have been used more than these occasions and the original last composition "Divertimento".

The bonus tracks on CD release bring over fifteen minutes of more material to this album. The bonus tracks are actually quite good, "The Lad in The Fen" starts with both church organs sounding keyboards and also some very high pitched painful keyboards. The overall feeling is again neurotic and very full of pain and madness. The singing is bit better here than on the original LP tracks, and there are some good melodies here plus some Bossa Nova rhythms. "Love is Truth" is then quite relaxed tune resembling the pop classics of 60's. There are some fabulous flute Mellotrons here too, making this a very good track. "Run Away" is also quite common 1960's oriented faster song with good melodies, decent singing and lots of vintage keyboards. The last song "Monday Morning" starts with clock sound effects, and otherwise the composition is near carbon copy of the previous track.

So this is quite unique record, praised by others, but not my most preferred cup of tea. I would characterize this album as some kind of psychedelic symphonic rock. There are also some very beautiful jazz passages here, so the players were surely very musical. I would have appreciated if they would have used more of the piano instead of the poor sounding keyboards, and few singing parts could have been cut out, as they just lowered the overall quality of this album. Check this out if European underground acts interest you, but don't listen to this if you are in a depressed psychosis.

Eetu Pellonpaa | 3/5 |

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