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Dies Irae - ...make ends meet... CD (album) cover

...MAKE ENDS MEET...

Dies Irae

Krautrock


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4 stars Sometimes it baffles me as to how great composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert could have emanated from the same cultural background as bands from the Kosmische or Krautrock movement of the late sixties/early seventies whose members lived in communes and played wacked out radical politically and religiously rebellious music that often got them into hot water with both the authorities and local townsfolk. Perhaps some sort of atonement or ongoing emancipation ritual from the memory of the totalitarian Nazi state that was still fresh in the minds of the German people and passed downto this younger generation. The better known bands from this era included Amon Duul, Amon Duul II, Xhol Caravan, Floh de Cologne and Guru Guru. Then there were one album wonders who were perhaps too busy with their communal lifestyle, of which music was an integral part of the free thinking philosophies, to sign successful big record deals.

One such band was Dies Irae who released a single LP in 1971 on the obscure BASF/Pilz label simply entitled "First" ( maybe a more fitting title would be "First and Last" in hindsight! ). Long after all the smoke from the bedlam of that era cleared a concert was held in Saarbrucken in Saarland to celebrate some of this long lost music with a Dies Irae reunion being one of the highlights. A subsequent album was released entitled "Saarbruck Live" which featured 3 cuts from the Dies Irae set. Those three tracks plus the remainder of the set form the foundationand introduce this 78 minute 15 track demo CD that conpletes Dies Irae"s recorded library if you have the highly collectible "First" album on either CD or Vinyl.

Beginning with the live set which includes all the tracks from the "First" album, this has got to be some of the heaviest psych ever laid down. Plenty of relentless guitar freaking along with the wacked out vocals of Rainer Wahlmann from this 1992 hippie orgy. The musicianship is suprisingly above average for such a band and it gets into some really trippy jazzy and bluesy grooves. Wahlmann joins in on mouth harp here and there making the music even more unusual. Those who might be familiar with "First" with it's meticulous Conny Plank engineering will no doubt be in for a big suprise here. Th songs are balsy, literally right-in-your-face and might even scare some old hippies. All the controversial lyrics that got them into trouble when their album was broadcast live on WDR Radio in 1971 are recited here with tenacity and conviction. 60 years down the line there was a bit more tolerance! The centerpiece and jewel of the album is arguably a track called " The Trip" ( the warped 1971 8mm video can be viewed on youtube ). " To nowhere, throw the dice" vocalist Wahlmann chants as he muses about what he prefers, heaven or hell. So he takes a trip to both as he vapourizes into the sureal lyrics. " Hell was fightening!" he declares at one point. Audacious versions of "Lucifer", "Witche's Meeting" and "Harmageddon Dragonlove" are delivered without irresolution as well. And as the master of ceremonies raves at the beginning this part of the CD this is what rock 'n' roll legends are made of.

Around the same time of this live reunion in the fall of 1992 the band attempted to re-unite for another studio album and wrote 5 new songs which were laid down in rough mixes in the Green Wave studios in Riegelsberg, Saarland. They had a raunchy cosmic blues sound that the live set had and were recorded straight with few overdubs. The lyrics were typical of the earlier Dies Irae style that got them into trouble back in '71. Despite the potential for another album the band split for good in December 1992 and slipped into Krautrock folklore forever and those 5 tracks are included here.

Featured as bonus tracks are two Dies Irae tracks that appeared on a long lost to time Krautrock compilation of Christmas songs that was also released on the BASF Pilz label entitled "Heavy Christmas". Dies Irae's contribution to this festive Frankenstein included a nightmarish version of "Silent Night" complete with air raid sirens and gunfire followed by the band's special stoned Christmas message on Shepherd's Song.

The only complaint about this gem would be the varying quality of each individual track that and the abrupt cuts between selections. Available exclusively directly from Rainer Wahlmann this is an essential for fans of early Krautrock searching for that long lost classik. A true Krautrock freakout blast from the past.

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Posted Saturday, April 3, 2010 | Review Permalink

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