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EPSILON

Epsilon

Krautrock


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ozzy_tom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars First, self-titled album of German prog-rock band "Epsilon" is definitely their best one. It's a classic example of organ-oriented monster from 70s clearly influenced by British late 60' and early 70' prog/psych movement. All songs are sang in English language and overall "feeling" of this production has nothing to do with (over)experimental Krautrock scene. This album can be easily compared with such underground, organ-oriented bands from UK as "Atomic Rooster", "Cressida", "Beggar's Opera", "Fantasy", "Still Life", "Argent", "Bodkin" and even "The Nice" (in fact musicians from "Epsilon" played The Nice's covers under "Karthago" moniker before!).

1. "Two-2-II" - the longest (more than 8 minutes) song on the album is a really good piece of music. "Two-2-II" has a very untypical for prog-rock, "bouncy" rhythm and melody which sounds almost danceable. But don't worry it's a truly fantastic art rock track with ripping organ riffs, bridges and amazing solos (often Ken Hensley inspired). Winzkowski (BTW, seems to have some Polish "roots" :-) also delivers some good guitar licks from time to time, but Hammond still dominates. Take note this hilarious clavinet solos followed by short fragment taken from rock'n'roll classic "Keep A-Knockin'", these guys knew how to have fun!

2. "2-Four-4" - another long track begin with army march-like melody played on clavinet & organ and I have to say that this fragment builds really fine, almost symphonic atmosphere. After a while organ kicks in again with powerful chords. But few moments later tempo changes again and guys start to play juicy blues-rock a la "Led Zeppelin" with suitable for this type of music vocals. We can also listen to jazzy piano solo here. In the end "Epsilon" reprises melody from the beginning. Really enjoyable track with many different tempos and signatures.

3. "Everyday's Pain" - fast hard rocker based on fat organ chops. In the middle smokin' B-3 solo which shows that Walter Ortel surely could play Keith Emerson's material in the past. Great song.

4. "Before" - it's a really fantastic instrumental with Santana-influenced, bossa-nova-like rhythm & melody. However instead of electric guitar we can listen to ear pleasing organ, acoustic guitar & piano solos. Almost my favorite track here.

5. "Between Midnight" - surprisingly it's a romantic ballad with piano-oriented melody and very good acoustic guitar lines. Very catchy and relaxing. Nice interlude between all of these hard&prog compositions. Sounds like "Procol Harum" a bit.

6. "Paint It Black Or White" - stunning cover of "Rolling Stones'" classic hit "Paint It Black"! In fact it's almost completely different than the original, more psych oriented, just like "Beatles" covers of early "Deep Purple" and "Vanilla Fudge". This version really gives completely new dimension for the song. Main riff played on organ sounds amazing and this psychedelic solo in the middle... Love it!

7. "Hurry Up" - Oh my..., why they had to close this great album with such horrible turkey. Piano-oriented woogie-boogie is not what I expected from these guys. Thanks God it's short. "ELP" and "Argent" also liked to include such duds on their albums, so I won't blame "Epsilon" so much...

Overall it's a highly enjoyable effort which should please fans of organ-driven heavy prog and classic rock. Their next album "Move On" is more guitar-oriented and it's focused on more simplistic arrangements and song structures. However it's not bad (in fact it's quite good hard rock album with some nice prog/art rock elements), you should better start from this debut record. Besides, their 3rd and last release called "Epsilon Off" is a mainstream rock album with very generic, keyboards-free songs with no interests for more ambitious listeners.

Anyway if you like Epsilon's debut, you should also check other early 70s, Hammond oriented German prog bands: "Tyburn Tall", "Twogether", "Trikolon"/"Tetragon", "Murphy Blend", "Sixty-Nine", "Amos Key", "Twenty Sixty Six and Then", "Odin", "Frame", "Pell Mell", "Virus", "Magma" and "Frumpy", along with more famous ones, like: "Jane", "Birth Control" and (early) "Eloy".

4,5 stars from me.

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Send comments to ozzy_tom (BETA) | Report this review (#308858)
Posted Monday, November 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
Guldbamsen
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Site and Forum Admin
3 stars Proper time machine material!

I dont usually write 3 star reviews, and that is not because I love everything - or find it difficult distinguishing diamonds from faeces, but rather to do with me having a huge record collection and wanting to highlight the albums that make me euphoric - tickle my spinal chord and send me packing in that special place where time evaporates and music is everything - all that exists. The 3 star albums I enjoy writing about is either obscurities that speak to me on a personal level - or albums that hold something unique and/or crazy. Ok, that was my small disclaimer - on to the Krautrock!!!

Errmm - sadly this is not a Krautrock record, let alone a prog one. In all honesty, I find little in this debut by German band Epsilon that justifies them being here on PA in a fully blown progressive category. Then why, if I just started out stating what I did earlier, do I concern myself with this album? Why then highlighting a record that clearly is a misfit in drag? Well my friends, its because it is a wonderful album - and a genuine honest one to boot. Its got soul - soul as in Otis Redding, Paul Butterfield Blues Band and several of those early rhythm n blues based acts, those that wore their emotions on their sleeves and sounded like a storm of ashtray vocals, pelting Hammond organs and Ill-put-my-wooden-clogs-up-your-backside tumbling and sweaty rock.

The lead vocals here are coarse, raspy and powerful soulful renditions of what youd hear from a large quantity of bands at the time such as mark 1 Deep Purple and Free, but the cool thing about Epsilon is that, though Germanic in descent, theres really no emphasis on words like "ze" and "bybi" - the singing is wonderfully done and it fills much of this album with a warm and delightful atmosphere. Like a woollen sweater you keep to yourself... Apart from the wall to wall organs that swoop through the tunes like swarms of pelicans, the real meat and potatoes of this band is the combination of all the musicians involved - the way they roll, and I find it hard to believe, that this in fact was their first outing. It is that well done, and it rocks like your dad on a pogo stilt after a bottle of Johnny Walker!

All the blues boxes are ticked off here with lines like: "Woke up this morning" and "Set me free", and all in all, along with those captivating organs and emotive vocals, it is by far the soul feel that is sitting at the front-wheel of Epsilons self-titled debut, and I happen to love it like I love driving south in a rusty old piece of junk watching the trees and shimmers of white paint on the asphalt drift by - like some surrealistic moving painting. This kind of music holds a special place in my heart, and to some extent I feel like Im betraying this album by giving it a 3.5 rating, because personally it feels like more - feels un-rateable so to speak. Like putting a price tag on an elbow - 5.99 and thats a proper elbow I tell you!

I just realized something on this my 4th listening of said magnificent album today. Epsilon sound a lot like Danish beat band Beefeaters, which, if youre wondering, was a cornerstone of the new musical direction in Denmark back in 1967, and helped introduce the sounds of both black America and the psych revolution that was in full bloom all over the Western world. This is a huge compliment by the way, as I adore this band.

This one should please all you old school hippies and rock n rollers, that still feel like something got lost somewhere along the line, and still feel like youre flying effortlessly on warm healing winds, when you pop on a Procol Harum album. This is a time machine in sound taking you back to a place in our modern history, where the money was a bi-product of the experience and not in control of the buttons. 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Guldbamsen (BETA) | Report this review (#562798)
Posted Saturday, November 05, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This was EPSILON's debut album released in 1971. It's one of those albums that certainly has it's moments, just not enough of them. Still I think it's worth 3.5 stars.

"Two-2-11" sounds really good to start with those guitar expressions.The bass throbs and the drums also help out before the organ kicks in. It settles down when the vocals arrive. It kicks back in before 3 1/2 minutes before settling back again with vocals.Themes are repeated. A change though before 5 1/2 minutes with piano but it lasts just over a minute. "2-Four-4" also starts off great with that organ work as vocals join in then guitar 1 1/2 minutes in. A calm follows and reserved vocals join in. It kicks back in with organ and drums before settling back once more with vocals as contrasts continue.

"Everyday's Pain" is uptempo with organ, drums and vocals standing out as the guitar comes and goes. "Before" opens with piano and a beat as the organ comes in. Vocal melodies before 2 minutes. "Between Midnight" features piano and a light beat as strummed guitar then vocals join in. This is fairly laid back. "Paint It Black Or White" honestly sounds like a combination of GENTLE GIANT and THE ROLLING STONES. The sound goes back and forth between sounding like those two bands. "Hurry Up" is like a boogie-woogie tune with rough distant vocals.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#574347)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars Early-70's Kraut-Rock act from Marburg, formed in 1970 and playing some sort of THE NICE Psych/Classical Rock at the beginning (they had a different name as well-Karthago, not to be confused with the Berlin-based band of the same name), just before ex-Nosferatu and Orange Peel guitarist/singer Michael Winzkowski entered the scene.The rest of the crew included bassist Michael Ertl, drummer Hartmut Pfannmller and ex-Jeronimo keyboardist Walter Ortel.Their self-titled debut was released in 1971 on Bacillus Records.

The style of the band has significantly changed under the leadership of Winzkowski.This is a rather dated but well-executed example of Kraut/Hard Rock with big time Blues-Rock and minor Classical and Psych influences, not unlike bands like DEEP PURPLE or ATOMIC ROOSTER.Vocals are decent, all sung in English.The musicianship is far from great but very balanced between hard guitar drives and piano/organ offerings.Actually Winzkowski seems to be the central figure here, delivering bluesy riffing, strong solos and hard-sounding grooves in general, while his typical rockin' voice seems to suit perfectly with Epsilon's adapted style.Ortel is the second leading musician.Nice organ throughout in a JON LORD and KEITH EMERSON vein with a fair dose of Baroque-inspired parts but also some stronger groovy passages, while his piano parts alternate between soft jazzy touches to rhythmic interplays with Wiznowski's guitar.The rhythm section is strong and tight with some powerful playing throughout.The result is an album of frenetic Kraut/Hard/Prog with good perfomances but a very unoriginal style.

Add another reason for purchasing the album to the Classical-inpired re-edition of The Rolling Stones' ''Paint it black'', maybe the greatest idea Epsilon ever had.A good addition for the majority of the prog audience.Fans of Kraut-Rock, Hard Rock, Classical Prog, Proto-Prog and even bluesy Progressive Rock will find parts close to their likings in ''Epsilon'', thus the album comes eventually recommended.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#618933)
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2012 | Review Permalink

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