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MOTHER UNIVERSE

Wallenstein

Symphonic Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

With leader Jurgen Dollase's grandmother occupying both the front and back cover of this gatefold album, you'll probably look to see if this is a rock album or not. Again produced by the unavoidable Dieter Dierks and released the same year (72), as their debut album Blitzkrieg, on the legendary Pilz label, containing shorter tracks (max 9-mins), Wallenstein's Mother Universe is a somewhat not-that-worthy successor, as it lacks the constant brilliance of its predecessor, but seems often uninspired as well. Unchanged line-up, but Dollasse added an organ to his keyboard battery, and he (with bassist Berkers) sings much much much more than previously and on every track, which is certainly not helping MU's cause.

If the opening 9-mins title track offers pretty much what was available on Blitzkrieg (but not quite as well executed or well-written), the following Braintrain opens on a organ-driven hard rock, but halfway through the track, it suddenly changes with Dollasse singing (not well) over his piano, the track becoming quickly tiresome, partly because of the weak arrangement of a poor songwriting and uninspired melody line. The track slowly rebuilds to its original hard groove and even finishes heroically, but the damage was done and irreparable. Shakespearesque starts much like the title track, but stays for most of its duration in the quiet acoustic mode with Berkers singing (not really better than Dollasse, imho) and once it speeds up, it just goes awfully wrong with an atrocious synth sound aggravating this bad outro.

Opening the flipside, the 8-mins Dedicated to Mistery (SIC) Land is an organ-driven hard rocking with an interesting riff, but the track goes awry as soon as Dollase starts singing. Berkers sings (and mispronounces) Relics Of The Past, a folky tune that overstays its welcome by a few minutes. The closing Golden Antenna is a guitar-dominated messily written track, but it has the merit to entice some enthusiasm, something not often found on this sophomore effort.

Not long after the release of MU, Berkers will quit the group, Dollasse and Grosskopf participating in a few musical projects, including the then-famous Cosmic jokers, then back together with Barone will release their third Wallenstein album Cosmic Century with a very different sound, which was just about as well, given the dead end they were stuck in.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#19286)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wallenstein´s second outing: "Mother universe" are an improvement on their first album.. In spite of the weak vocal (especially)on the higher notes..the music is top notch!!! Filled with mellotron and otherwise wonderfull keyboards...the arrangements of the songs seem to fill the room......these German guys are in the Birth control vein....and good at that, if you please....lots of breaks and keyboard interludes....and fuzz lead guitar solos to boot.....the arrangements are great....as is the themes. Mind you this is 1972 stuff..and as such its really good. But seeing this in the light of this days prog music...its kind of weak. Still i like it...as ive always been a Birth control and Epitaph freak !! So its up to every man (prog and otherwise)to choose for himself!! There you have it..are you into seventies prog or not??? If you´re born after 1960 probably not! Then again...who´s to say what you like and which style!!?? Listen to the damn thing..allright!!

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Send comments to Tonny Larz (BETA) | Report this review (#19288)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars WALLENSTEIN were one of the forefathers of Germany's Krautrock scene and who managed to release a number of great early albums with Blitzkrieg drawing 1st blood from me, but years later re-discovering the beauty of "Mother Universe". WALLEINSTEIN were led by the analog keyboard wizardy of Jurgen Dollase (organ, mellotron and clavinet) and the percussive talents of Harald Grosskopf. Contrary to the majority of reviews I have read over the years about "Mother Universe", I dig the vocalist to a large degree and think he fits the music perfectly. "Mother Universe" is a wonderful space prog album with a nice cross section of influences including folk and acid space rock. Instrumentally this album houses some of WALLENSTEIN's best works IMHO and title track "Mother Universe" is a pure delight every time I plop it over the ol' speakers. "Mother Universe" delivers some lovely guitar jams with some great drum, bass and keyboard interplay. Granted a bit Quirky but I love it...

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#19289)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Content Development & Krautrock Team
3 stars Wallenstein emerged under the collective category of krautrock. However their "progressive" sound risen outside of this subgenre, perpetuating the traditionalism of ELP and others symphonic prog bands (from England and Italy as well). Next to "Blitzkrieg" and "Cosmic century", "Mother universe" constitutes the best part of their career. In varying degrees, this album consists of usual dynamic symphonic prog rock pieces with many melodic, fast and technical keyboards sessions, completed by powerful guitar lines and gorgeous vocal parts. The instrumental interludes are the most interesting side of this work. It can be found intriguing by listeners of symphonic prog rock. Not really innovative, sometimes academic but well composed and loyal, this record is a good purchase for those who want to be connected with German prog rock sounding like British ones.

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Send comments to philippe (BETA) | Report this review (#37383)
Posted Thursday, June 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Second album of Wallenstein - Mother universe is an underrated album in my opinion, why is so bad treated here i don't get it, wich are the weak vocal parts, i don't find them. To me is a strong release of early krautrock or better said symphonic prog era, because they change thier style over the years from krautrok to symphonic prog to more pop in the late '70's early 80's. Thier music here are between Beggars Opera and Birth Control here and there, but not bad contrary quite well arrange and played. Sometime the music has a spacy atmosphere like on the title track Mother universe and sometimes is pure hevy prog like Braintrain. Anyway to me the best pieces are Dedicated to the mystery land - simply great piece with uptempo rythm, very hard rock not far from Aunt Mary or as i said Birh Control and very pleasent voice from the keyboard player Jürgen Dollase, who composed all the lyrics and music from this album an Golden antenna.The musicianship is of course brilliant - every musician deliver the best they've got so far. Better album to me than the first one in every way. A classic album in my opinion, well is not something groundbreaking here, but what you are listning on Mother universe is superb and well played and desearve without hesitation, at lest from my side 4 stars. Recommended if you like early symphonic - krautrok prog.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#182078)
Posted Tuesday, September 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The debut album of this German was just excellent. An all instrumental great piece of music by all means. I was a bit afraid to listen to this follow-up since vocals were involved (and this hasn't been the strongest department of German bands). But my worries were quite erased while I discovered the superb opening song: "Mother Universe" displays some very melodic parts, great mellotron and some decent (even if not great, I admit) vocals in English. It is a sweet symphony of about nine minutes.

The next track is features a wild instrumental intro which could not the cup of tea of many progheads but it needs to be investigated. It is almost hard to heavy rock and to my standards, it could have been developed as such but we'll get some symphonic parts instead (of which a vocal part that could have been skipped). The wild section (almost punkish!) gets back at the end of this crazy song. Another good moment though.

The pastoral and folkish "Shakespearesque" is somewhat weaker but the inspiration gets back with "Dedicated To The Mystery Land": again the intro is gorgeous and highly hard/psyche oriented.

Like during "Brainstrain", the song evolves into a more symphonic approach for a short while. Some great and frenzy guitar are topping the second part of this excellent track. The third highlight.

The two remaining songs are quite average and are dragging down my rating to three stars. Still, this is a good album that would need some more exposure.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#306919)
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Does Wallenstein's "Mother Universe", their second album, hold it's own with their astounding debut "Blitzkrieg"? My answer is yes. There are some differences in this second effort, but also some continuity with it's predecessor, with the result being an album that holds it's own, but is still classic Wallenstein.

The differences are that this album has real vocals, the songs are shorter, and the mixing of instruments is sometimes altered. On some tracks in Mother Universe, Jurgen Dollase's keyboard work is less to the fore than on Blitzkrieg, and the resultant song feel in some cases leans more towards a psych direction than a classical music structure.

Then, there are the previous Wallenstein characteristics apparent. Dollase's deeply moving keys playing, obviously classically inspired at times, the playfully aggressive guitar work going on at the same time at times, and the creative bass and drum work, as well. And the compositions are Dollase's, as in the case of the debut album.

On Mother Universe, the vocal work and instrumental play go together really well, and make for a balanced album, though it is instrumentally where this band really shines. Mr. Dollase's keyboard work is especially delightful, and a thrill to follow on this album, as well. Vocally and instrumentally, there is real unbridled emotion going on here, and what would music be without real emotion? The whole record is very moving, and displays some of the greatest music of the symphonic prog world, period.

Wallenstein would not peter out after these first two masterpieces, and continue to create some great music, up to, and including the album Charline, an album which is a far cry from this one, but good, nonetheless. Mother Universe is definitely one of the band's very best-i give it five stars.

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Send comments to presdoug (BETA) | Report this review (#951613)
Posted Monday, April 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars According to Jürgen Dollase, there was still a tendency towards Hippie-Rock styles in early-70's in Germany and the crowd was not prepared to accept the more symphonic side of Wallenstein.As a result ''Blitzkrieg'' received mixed reviews, while Dollase had also to face the preference of producer Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser towards a more folky style, influenced by the talents of Jerry Berkers.However Berkers, having served as a young man in the Vietnam war, was mentally ill, resulting often to day-long disappearances.Through these storms Wallenstein managed to record their second album ''Mother universe'' again at Dierks Studios in Cologne, a work released in 1972 on Pilz, featuring Dollase's grandmother on the front cover.

Of course Wallenstein's crew was way too talented to offer a miserable album despite the huge problems around the band and now the frenetic styles of their debut was combined with some softer British-influenced early Prog Rock, similar to KING CRIMSON and CRESSIDA.So, the tracks are somewhat split between powerful Kraut-Rock pieces with heavy organ and punchy guitar parts and more elaborated Symphonic Rock with monster Mellotron themes and smooth piano lines.Lush orchestrations and atmospheric vocals are the basic components of the later tracks, which also feature some smooth interplays with piano, keyboards and guitars.The more energetic tracks are definitely more original with a nice dose of Classical influences mixed with melodic guitars and bombastic Kraut Rock grooves, led by piano, bass and drums.Some of the furious and messy breaks of the debut are completely gone, instead there is place for tracks like ''Relics of the past'', which was rather a step backwards for the group, offering hippy-styled Psychedelic/Folk Rock among more demanding and rich arrangements.Anyway, the album remains quite charming all the way with a high level of musicianship and mostly interesting material.

Needless to say this was the last album of Wallenstein with this line-up, a good work of Symphonic/Heavy/Kraut Rock with a flexible sound, that mostly works well but not always succesful.The top tracks though are pretty great and ''Mother universe'' deserves a warm recommendation.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#1047329)
Posted Sunday, September 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have to write something about a very pleasant music experience I have had when I listened to this record: "Mother universe" by the German rock band Wallenstein. It was released one year after their debut "Blitzkrieg", now 1972 and we can see an old lady with shining hair on the cover. The design is very appealing and the row of six long songs are a perfect opportunity to hear some wonderful prog from the seventies.

Bill Barone plays guitar and sings, Jerry Berkers sings and plays bass, Jürgen Dollase sings and plays keyboards and mellotron and Harald Grosskopf plays drums and percussion. I most state three differencies with this record from their first. This record has much more vocals, it's much more progressive and much better than "Blitzkrieg". "Mother universe" is a lovely opener with both a wild progressive melody and a heavy and fine vocal(8/10), "Braintrain" is a powerful rock song with a splendid ending(10/10) and "Skakespearesque" has something from the baroque or the medieval time in the instrumentation(8/10). "Dedicated to the mystery land" is a varied and lovely piece with song in the end that closes it perfectly(9/10) and the poetic and richly sung "Relics of the past"(8/10) isn't bad at all. The closer is perfect also the best: "Golden antenna" is very melodic and perhaps a bit crazy, like Gentle Giant. It jumps around and entertains us(10/10).

This record isn't far away from being a masterpiece. The record is great and very full of progressive structures, fine and sympathetic as well as sometimes very heavy and cool. Wallenstein had developed a lot since their debut and this is an album I warmly recommend! 4,42= 4 stars

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Send comments to DrömmarenAdrian (BETA) | Report this review (#1156839)
Posted Wednesday, April 02, 2014 | Review Permalink

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