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Agitation Free


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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars In some ways, Second is the logical successor to Malesh with its twin guitar "attack"; these two (Schwenke is replaced by Dietz following drugs problems) are so mellow that it seems a shame to call them an attack. But the name "attack" is now apt for the drumming since the group enlisted a second drummer (ex-ART Burmeister), thus giving an exacting edge that only the Allman Bros Band had before. Losing the second drummer just prior to recording their aptly-titled Second, AF retained all of the inertia and the album has a fantastic ABB fluidness wherever necessary. Graced with a drought, than rain season artwork, this second album lost all ethnic touches of Malesh, one passage excepted, proof that their debut's rep was indeed overdone.

Starting on the First Communications, you can hear the Floydian cosmic/psych influences of Malesh will also be relatively absent as well. Dialogue & Random is an electronic free jazz improve leading into the two-part Leila, which is strongly reminiscent of the ABB's Elizabeth Reed and fades into Silence Of The Morning sunrise with electronic birds chirping along to tranquil electric guitars gliding along the organ mist layers. Superb music. The birds lead you to a slow Quiet Walk into a cosmic dark hole (Tangerine Dream's Zeit is not far away here) if it wasn't for an electric Indian-laced guitar (the only real ethnic moment of this album), before stretching itself out maybe a tad too long. The closing Haunted Island is the only sung track of the album, filtered, almost recitative over a superb mellotron, and once over, the two guitars take over and soar in the sky for a grandiose finale.

Although AF's second album holds some fairly different influences, trading in the Arabian and cosmic /psych Floyd ambiance, for a more pastoral west coast sound, both albums can be regarded as AF's crowning achievements, although neither reaches perfection.

Report this review (#21637)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent atmospheric German space rock with some pretty trippy interludes. A very young and talent Michael Hoenig (later with TANGERINE DREAM) plays a wonderful array of keyboards which when combined with the acid washed guitar solos takes your mind into another world. This music is not for the novice and should not be taken on an empty stomach! AGITATION FREE a very similar to ASH RA TEMPEL in many ways bringing perhaps a more cultural feel forward in their music. I love the insturmental excursions on this album and find it a great recording to lay back and listen to. "2nd" never gets too loud or frenzied and always seems to maintain a dark, but warm atmosphere. Lutz Ulbrich also joins on guitar better known for his later work in ASH RA. On the back sleeve we are told that THIS RECORD SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD and I would 2nd that notion. Spacey but absolutely brilliant recording... essential!
Report this review (#21638)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, the second Agitation Free album is different to the first one. The Ethno influences are completely gone as well as the oriental impact. But with everything gone wich made the first album what it is, the second one doesn't weaken, far from it, I consider "2nd" to be even better than "Malesch". Yes it's not as playful but still isn't a slight fare. What makes this album so great is the symbiosis of Hoenig's electrical gadgetry and Keyboard playing (It might be helpful to mention that Hoenig later on gets a member of Tangerine Dream) and the guitar playing by the very talented and often underrated Lutz Ulbrich and Stefan Dietz. The guitar work mainly consists of long and beautiful improvisations wich either alternate or collude with Hoenig's Keyboard and Synth sounds.

"First Communication" is one of the best songs of this album. Here you can impressively experience what I meant with long guitar improvisations. It's Krautrock at it's best and IMO one of the best songs of this genre. In "Dialogue And Random" you get to hear some of Hoenig's nice gimmicks and electrical sounds, very typical for german prog music BTW. The both "Laila" parts feature nice guitar solos and improvisations paired with nice and atmospherical Keyboard and Organ sounds in the background. I think "In the silence of the morning sunrise" again features some really great guitar sounds as well as a talented Hoenig on keyboards. The whole tune is introduced by some nice electric sounds wich create the perfect atmosphere concerning the title of the song. Chirping crickets and twittering birds wich also linger throughout the whole song. "A quiet walk" is maybe the prime example for the perfect symbiosis of Hoenig and the guitar players. The first half of the song belongs to the electrical improvisations reminicent of Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze untill after some minutes the guitar and bazouki appear, first very muted and slowly, after a final bulky organ chord take over, terrific. "Haunted Island" is quite queer and features vocals, more recitative than singing. Very dark, I like it. And again, you get some fine guitar work here.

"2nd" by Agitation Free is, at least for me, one of the best Krautrock recordings. The guitar improvisations sound amazing and the symbiosis with the talented Hoenig really put you over the edge. This album is worth every penny and features no single bad song. If there's a Krautrock recoring I would recommend without concern this would be the one. It's an album with the possibility to get you into Krautrock, to discover the wolrd of germany's music from the seventies. It's highly recommended.

Report this review (#21640)
Posted Sunday, August 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As the title unabashedly suggests, this is Agitation Free's second album. The line-up has experienced a change: new guitarist Stefan Diez fills the position left behind by Jorg Schwenke, showing a similar degree of finesse to that of his antecessor, in both the playing itself and the way in which he manages to interact with his fellow members. As many others have noted, the ethnic flavours that were so recurrent and essential to the debut album's repertoire are now almost totally gone for "Second": this album is more decidedly Occidental, heading for the creation of industrial ambiences and a more straightforward psychedelic rock. The jamming is also more intense and aggressive, but remember, this band's ideology is pretty much based on the creation of magic more than on the forge of disturbance. So, we have to expect all the guitar leads and riffs and all the weird sounds played on organ and synthesizer to pour out with a sense of exquisiteness, a captivating exquisiteness that, in a strange way, manages to effectively complement the inherent rocking energy displayed in the instrumentation. The album kicks off with 'First Communication', a number that pretty much epitomizes the album's overall musical direction. 'Dialogue & Random' serves as an electronic free- form bridge between the previous track and the two-part 'Laila'. 'Laila' is one of the definitive classics in AF's history: Part 1 consists of a brief jam that carries out a specific melodic pattern, while Part 2 does for a harsher attitude, not unlike 'First Communication', but with a major dose of sophistication, at times sort of coming into the fields of jazz rock. Nowhere does the dialogue between all musicians work as brilliantly as on this number - a especial mention goes to bassist Michael Gunther. Krautrock at its most regal! 'A Quiet Walk' is a different story: also a two-part number, this has nothing to do with walking or quietness. it sounds more like flying in a sky full of dense air and storm signals. 'A Quiet Walk' starts as a very trippy jam, in which the synthesizer's somber layers and the echoing guitar effects assume the leading role, while the band as a whole seem determined to give up any kind of structure; then, the idea of structure comes around in the shape of a South Eastern Europe-influenced jam, basically led by exotic percussions and bouzouki, while the guitar exhibits some hypnotic leads. For this second section, it seems as if the band wanted to take a look back at the times of "Malesch": you can also notice the influence of Ash Ra Tempel's cosmic side (ART were friends with AF, and there was actually a close friendship between the guys of ART and guitarist Lutz Ulbrich). 'Haunted island' feels very ethereal, too, but it is essentially more related to tracks 1 and 3-4. Hoenig does a great job complementing the dual guitars with his clever synth textures. IMHO, "Second" is an improvement from "Malesch", so it deserves a better rating: 4 to 4 ˝ stars.
Report this review (#21641)
Posted Friday, March 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 4,5 stars

As the name suggests, this is the second album from the band, and actually the last from the "real" Agitation free band, featuring the original line-up. Mainly instrumental, this 1973 album reaches perfection.

The opener piece, "First communication" is the perfect spacerock tune. It starts very slowly with sound effects (wind blowing) and progressively builds up with bass/guitar, drums and keyboards. This majestic rise leads to stunning developments with fantastic guitar, space keyboards and excellent rhythmic section.

"Laďla Part I" features a wonderful lyrical guitar solo, highly impressive and emotional followed by the second part, with an hypnotic bass/drum repetitive pattern on which guitar flies very high, playing a symphonic theme.

"In the silence of the morning sunrise " is a mellow blues piece with acid sound effects and evokes a trip's comedown. Always excellent guitar.

"A quiet walk" begins with experimental synthe and features a wonderful bouzouki solo played by Lutz Ulbrich -along with all guitar throughout the album- giving an eastern feeling to the piece.

The last piece is the weak one, features some singing -rather speaking- but ends on a repetitive theme with guitar somehow reminiscent of PF.

An underestimated masterpiece from this major band.

Report this review (#74632)
Posted Tuesday, April 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. For me this is almost as good as their debut but it is different. Gone for the most part are the ethnic Arabic sounds found on "Malesch". I find this recording more laid back, and less exotic compared to their debut. I love the dual guitars that work so beautifully together, treating us to some shimmering melodies.

"First Communication" is one of my favourite AGITATION FREE songs. It opens with spacey sounds as the wind howls.The song becomes pastoral as light drums, synths and guitars supply the melody. The song builds and we get some organ 4 minutes in.The guitar is fantastic ! "Dialogue And Random" is a short instrumental of various strange electronic noises with no melody. "Layla,Part 1" is really a short guitar led intro for "Layla,Part 2". There is a jazz feel to this song at times and I was reminded of the DIXIE DREGS and have read of others who were reminded of the ALLMAN BROTHERS. The second part of this song is a tasteful guitar led jam. This is a great track. "In The Silence Of the Morning Sunrise" reminds me so much of the start of ALCATRAZ's "Simple Headphone Mind". It opens with birds singing as we are treated to another dreamy soundscape,as guitar and drums lead the way in this hypnotic tune. One of my favourites. "A Quiet Walk" is truly a quiet walk ! It's atmospheric with not much going on. Various sounds come and go. After 5 minutes we start to hear a melody as the guitar is being strummed, while the other guitarist plays a variety of melodies."Haunted Island" opens with spoken words quoting Edgar Allen Poe's "Dreamtime". Organ and drums come in followed by mellotron before we hear some more spoken words.There is some great trippy guitar the rest of the way.

This is a must have for fans Krautrock.

Report this review (#123424)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars - 3.5 Stars for me.....

This album sort of aleternates between two different styles..... It mostly sounds like a blues guitar oriented jam session......maybe by an Eric Clapton cover band......but then it switches to weird electronic noises.....and hey....why don't we play some more kool guitar music.....okay....maybe some more noises now....

Anyways, I like both styles.....but this seems pretty disjointed to me....

Flipping a coin for the final rating.

Report this review (#163774)
Posted Wednesday, March 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Krautrock at his best ......., This album is my favorite for Agitation Free ,in fact for many reasons , i'll keep only one for myself. I have this album since 1974 , i got it as CD in the late 90's . there's a few albums on my list that i feel like playing everyday , and AF the second is surely one of them . Clear , Smooth , nearly one of the best compilations to introduce you proggers to space/krautrock . so , Diddy's comments are simply enough and feed my hunger in 34 years to express my feeling about it ,and certainly oliverstoned review was completely accurate in this matter . A stunning spacy team work from talented german band . N.B = more than highly recommended to all space rock / krautrock and proggers in general .
Report this review (#164448)
Posted Thursday, March 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The notable difference between this album ('2nd') and its predecessor ('Malesch') is that here the band has largely dispensed with the overtly ethnic component of its sound - this may be preferable to some listeners and a problem for others. Like 'Malesch' this is a very mellow, feel good slice of space rock. It is extremely well recorded and produced - one could call it authentic Space Rock Ear Candy. Compared to it's predecessor the electric guitar is much more to the fore throughout this album - the playing is extremely tasty and generally bluesy. The band interplay is formidable. There are (sometimes jarring) electronic sound experiments scattered throughout but they are, at the least, interesting and certainly do not outstay their welcome. As on 'Malesch' the emphasis is on atmosphere and mellow groove - however, unlike 'Malesch', certain tracks here, like 'Laila 2' and 'In the Silence of the Morning Sunrise', actually have memorable melodic hooks - this is a welcome development. The chilling final track 'Haunted Island' (the only track with (strange processed) vocals) is particularly satisfying. Yes, I personally enjoy this second album just as much as the debut so have no hesitation giving it a very comfortable 4 stars.
Report this review (#173625)
Posted Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
3 stars 01. First Communication Some sounds, as Roger Waters would say 'Radio Waves', a few synthesizers imitating theremin, and a lovely calm near the sound of the wind, a few very pretty fingered ones of guitar. Drums and bass enter in calm and reconciliatory tone. Some noises between the music show the whole electronic influence. But in the general one a calm and lovely sound!

02. And Random talks The sounds of the end of the first track are only a forewarning of this belt here. Totally 'machine ', hipnotizing.

03. Layla, Part 1 The only 'hammer blow' of the piano, a few very cool fingered ones, a very quite worked bass, a ground of animal guitar, drums to accompany, and a keyboard of bottom (laughters) is clear. This is the first part of Layla (do not confuse with the homonymic one of Derek And The Dominoes and Eric Clapton).

04. Layla, Part 2 The second part has a divine bass! Melodies of guitars and keyboards married perfectly! A space rock without equal.

05. In The Silence Of The Morning Sunrise Since it might not stop being it follows the wave of the previous one, imaginary birds sing and completely.

06. The Quiet Walk a) Listening Hearing are we all, me to pay attention in what he says to us this part? Difficult! It is a task of extreme attention, not because of being bad, on the contrary, because of being of a simple incredible complexity.

b) Two-Not Of The Same Kind The second one deceives what is more electric, follows them to me with vocal, what more look when (laughters) and good guitars were keyed, as a matter of fact. good guitars for the whole disc.

07. Haunted Island To more space of all, with vocal decorative overlays and good 'dark' since any poem of Edgar Alan Poe must be. Instrumental minimum in reciting the poem. And an instrumental good jazz to tell the truth, but two guitars soling different melodies it is a complete enchantment.

Is this disc in the general one much more acoustic, and this not very known band, but he wants to know? Very good!

Report this review (#192596)
Posted Wednesday, December 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The songs on 2nd are much more structured than on the first 'Malesch', with a slightly stripped-down sound that has more of a rock or jazz-rock feel. This record sees Agitation Free hanging on to the legendary sound of Malesch but beginning to slip away. This album has fewer ideas on it than Malesch, while that record flourished with them. The ideas it has are drawn out more, more immediate, and the sound is more upbeat (more truly embodying the name "agitation free"), less mysterious or psychedelic. Slight similarities to the Grateful Dead are evident on the first song "Fist Communication" as the flowing melodic, and the occasional expressive series of lone, high pitched guitar notes are reminiscent of Lesh and Garcia, and, like the Dead (dare I say. better?) the musical interplay is top-notch (as on Malesch). They play here in a more clearly blues-influenced sound that is somewhat reminiscent at times of the Allman Brothers.

The unevenness of this album and the relative lack of ideas compared to 'Malesch' makes this a four star album only, although there are more than a few moments of emotive, musical, and brilliance. If the second side (the last 2 songs) was as good as the first, I would give this a fifth star. Recommended highly to those who enjoy great musicianship and musical interplay.

Second is not nearly as good as Malesch in my opinion, and is generally much less psychedelic, tangential and dense with ideas. It is also more stripped down and melodic in sound and still very creative and enjoyable, with more than several excellent moments throughout.

Standout tracks: "First Communication", "Laila (part I and, to a lesser extent, II)", and "In the Silence of the Morning Sunrise"

4.5 stars!

Report this review (#214698)
Posted Sunday, May 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Agitation Free's 2nd continues their known extended lazy space jams. They toned down the Middle-Eastern influences and samples, but apart from that there isn't much difference with the debut. If you are looking for accessible and smoothly played psychedelic music with a light jazzy touch, then this album is a recommended stop.

What surprises me is that I prefer this album over the debut, despite the diminished Arabic influences of which I'm normally a huge fan. But somehow this album flows much better for me. It sounds fluent and inspired, and shows a band that has become very confident and relaxed about what they are doing. With First Communication, Laila and Haunted Island the album has some true standout moments. The other tracks can serve as nice background music while nursing the baby. Sure nothing that will trespass the comfort of your listening experience.

An improvement over the debut but I must say I keep preferring the more experimental acts in the instrumental Kraut rock field (such as Gila, Dzyan, Ash Ra Tempel). But this one can sure serve as a perfect introduction to Kraut-jam-rock. 3.5 stars, with one true highlight being First Comminucation.

Report this review (#309022)
Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is considered as a Krautrock classic, deservedly so. It is better than their debut Malesch, especially if you are not that fond of its ethnic (mainly Egyptian) ingredients. There's a new chap on guitar, Stefan Diez, and his elegant soloing graces especially the fine, laid-back opener 'First Communication' and the two-part, more energetic 'Laila'. Perhaps the weakest piece is the short synth experiment by Michael Hoenig called 'Dialogue And Random', which is a bit irritating curiosity.

The B-side of the original vinyl is quieter, at part even meditative of nature. This is positive to me; at least the whole album doesn't sound the same even for a Krautrock newcomer. Nine- minute 'A Quiet Walk' takes several minutes before it seems to be going anywhere, but it turns out to be rewarding as the guitar starts to colour the track. The final piece 'Haunted Island' is a hazy, psychedelic song reminding of Saucerful Of Secrets-era Pink Floyd as it contains gloomy singing or rather poem-reading (E. A. Poe - not mentioned in the track information though) and mellotron. Otherwise the album is instrumental. The CD re-issue contains also live version of 'Laila' plus many brief essays on Agitation Free, Thomas Kessler's studio which played an important role in birth of the Berlin School, and other related little memoirs.

Agitation Free is worth checking out if you're interested in Krautrock (they are quite accessible part of it), Space Rock in the early Floyd vein, or in free-orientated fusion. It's a shame that despite their formation already in 1967 they did only two studio albums. They disbanded in 1974 due to some musical disagreements.

3,5 stars actually.

Report this review (#389266)
Posted Saturday, January 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars The second album from Agitation Free continues where the excellent Malesch.

Agitation Free is in my view the best Krautrock band around. Then again, my exposure to Krautrock is not the greatest. But Agitation Free rock and roll my world with their long guitar solos and hypnotic melodies. At their best, they are as good as anything you will find on PA or anywhere else. At their worst, they are pretty dull.

The first four songs is among the best Agitation Free has ever done. The themes here are long and drawn out guitars and tangents run. Superb melodies indeed. The album takes a nose dive with the filler A Quiet Walk which is pretty lame. The closing song is pretty good too.

This is another good Agitation Free album, but not as good as Malesch, I am afraid. But I am still fascinated by this band.

3.75 stars

Report this review (#453628)
Posted Sunday, May 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Without the Middle Eastern and North African influences that permeated their previous album, Agitation Free's sophomore effort seems to lack focus or much to hang its hooks on. There's electronic noodling and fumbling about with acoustic guitar aplenty, but nothing that really reaches out and grabs me - especially considering that there's a glut of more distinguished instrumental psychedelic freakout albums from the Krautrock scene to choose from which are far more compelling and focused than this one. Most damningly, one of those albums is Agitation Free's own debut - and if you own that, you've already heard better renditions of most of the musical ideas on here.
Report this review (#507716)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars After the ethnic experimentation of debut album 'Malesch' - which had come about thanks to an invitation to tour Egypt from the Goethe institute - German kraturock pioneers Agitation Free set to work on their second full-length studio album in 1973. Despite barely being together a full year, the group had enjoyed much success on the road, with their Egypt trip followed up by a performance at the ill-fated Munich Olympic games of 1972, a performance which gave the group some much needed national exposure. Featuring Stefan Diez(guitar), Michael Hoenig(keyboards), Michael Gunther(bass), Burghard Rausch(drums, Mellotron) and Lutz Ulbrich(guitar, bouzouki), '2nd' would eschew the Eastern sound of 'Malesch' for a much more tripped-out, acid-rock sound complete with bubbling synths and mystical sound effects that brought the group's sound closer to the likes of Amon Duul II and Gaa, though the melodic guitars of Diez and Ulbrich also hinted at Jefferson Airplane-sized aspirations. The key track on '2nd' is the acid-blues drenched 'Laila', a live favourite that can be found in several different - and lengthier - versions on Agitation Free's highly-recommended live albums 'Last' and 'Fragments'. Indeed, there are many similarities to be had between this sophomore studio effort and 'Last', with the live arena adding a free-form vibe that, for obvious reasons, couldn't be recreated within the confines of the recording studio, to many of the tracks found on '2nd'. Those two albums, along with the spacier and much more experimental 'Malesch', represent the apex of Agitation Free's sadly rather truncated career, which explains why many of the same tracks can be found across the group's tiny discography. Some fans may well feel a little short- changed by the lack of variety on both 'Last' and '2nd'(none of the 'Malesch' material seems to have been considered for the groups live shows) yet there is no denying the moments of pure beauty that can be found in the best parts of this Berlin five-pieces compositions. All the tracks on this release are highly recommended to those who enjoy genuinely melodic, tripped-out space-rock, though the lack of more material does tinge Agitation Free's otherwise impressive musical canon with a slight feeling of disappointment - if only because their synth-and-guitar led dynamic leaves one craving for so much more.
Report this review (#541629)
Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I already posted a recommendation to check out this album, so I figured I would review it as well. The first song "First Communication" strikes me as somewhat of a precursor to Post-Rock, in the vein of Red Sparowes. This track is a very gentle instrumental rock song and features excellent guitar work. One thing that you notice immediately about this album is the crystal-clear production. It really serves to bring out the different moods of the songs, by expressing the tone of each instrument very accurately. The second song "Dialogue & Random" is a collection of electronic noises arranged in a very trippy manner. If electrons wrote music, this is what it would sound like. A crashing piano chord finishes Dialogue & Random and simultaneously introduces the third song, "Laila, Part One". An epic guitar solo laid over a sweet groove comprises this entire song. A transition at the end of the solo opens up into the fourth song, "Laila, Part Two". As did Part One, Part Two primarily consists of a guitar solo laid over a groove. Unlike the first Part, however, this one gets slightly repetitive as the bass line and basic groove are repeated for well over four minutes. This song could also be viewed as an influence on Post-Rock. Laila, Part Two gently fades out and in comes the fifth song on the album, "In The Silence Of The Morning Sunrise". This song is more free-form that the two Lailas, and consists of a nice instrumental track with some pretty bluesy guitar soloing. I have just come to realize that one of the main reasons for why I like this album so much is that the guitar playing is ridiculously good. It reminds me of a mix of Harvey Mann and David Gilmour, with a dash of Hendrix. Morning Sunrise fades out and in comes the sixth song on the album, "A Quiet Walk: A) Listening B) Two - Not Of The Same Kind". This song opens up with what sounds like a babbling brook, and then some atmospheric and trippy noises start fading in and out. It's pretty cool, sort of like a psychedelic version of the "silence" in a forest, which isn't really silent but rather filled with a bunch of small noises. About three minutes in, a guitar solo gently fades in and out, all the while accompanied by more trippy sounds. I can just imagine how crazy this will sound in headphones. At the five minute mark, a single vocalized note floats into the song, then disappears, leaving in its wake gentle strumming on acoustic guitar. As the strumming continues, distorted guitar and bongos trade playing verses for the remainder of the song. A Quiet Walk fades out and in fades two haunting, ethereal voices, one whispering and one singing. These voices recite lines from something written by Edgar Allen Poe while cosmic noises play in the background. This is the last song on the album, "Haunted Island". After the first set of vocals finish, the instruments begin playing, while a muted and wavy voice recites more lines. This will sound wicked trippy in headphones. The second set of vocals concludes and in comes an impeccably bluesy guitar solo. My attention is drawn once more to the unusually clear production of this album. You can hear every note from every instrument perfectly. As the song winds down, the solo fades out and a distorted riff is repeated several times, when suddenly all of the instruments stop, the drums play a few final notes and then a sound like an electronic wave seems to wash over the song, ending the album... What an incredible listening experience that was. I cannot recommend this highly enough.
Report this review (#569446)
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Don't let those comparisons to The Allman Brothers or The Grateful Dead scare you away. Agitation Free was indeed an old-school jam band, but in classic Krautrock fashion they raised the convention to a whole new level. I doubt if Jerry Garcia ever transformed a guitar solo into a goofy, extended VCS3 drum break (here titled "Dialogue and Random"), or introduced an energetic instrumental workout with a long, freeform electronic drone-fest before reaching for his bouzouki, as Lutz Ulbrich does here at the start of "A Quiet Walk".

Their bluntly titled sophomore album saw the band reduced from its earlier, more communal seven-man line up to a much leaner quintet, and growing stronger for the loss. A lot of fans prefer the collage of Third World soundscapes on their debut album "Malesch", but this was where Agitation Free discovered its true voice. The music is more relaxed and casual than the cosmic cut-and-paste fusion of "Malesch", and there's an organic unity to this disc lacking from the earlier effort, giving it more of a timeless quality when heard today, nearly forty (!) years later.

From the burst of white noise at the top of the album to the matching explosion in its final moments there isn't a false note to be found. The only hint of the band's hallucinogenic Space Rock origins can be heard in the arctic mellotron and heavily treated vocals on the aptly-titled album closer "Haunted Island": an uneasy epilogue to the otherwise beautiful grooves of "First Communication" or "Laila", and the hypnotic pagan folk-rock of "A Quiet Walk".

The music of Agitation Free may lack the garage band energy of early FAUST or CAN; the single-minded momentum of NEU!; the transcendental mysticism of ASH RA TEMPEL and the kosmische musik groups. And yet this album in particular may be the ideal antidote to all those freakazoid Krautrock alternatives: proof that enlightenment can sometimes be found on the path of least resistance.

Report this review (#766089)
Posted Thursday, June 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Agitation Free's `Second' album shows the German band moving in even more interesting directions than the ethnic music inspired flavours of the debut, while still bringing the band closer to that daring sense of sonic freedom and exploration that the Krautrock bands are known for. While the roots of the group are still kind of in an old-school jam-band on this one, the middle-eastern atmospheres of the first album are almost totally replaced here with bluesy guitar soloing, cruising space-rock diversions and experimental electronic passages. Perhaps the results are a little uneven, but the majority of the laid-back, sun-kissed dozy jams especially make it an addictive listen.

Album opener `First Communication' couldn't be more blissful. A careful build of liquid murmuring bass, nimble electric guitar soloing that bursts into sprightly life over and over and the most effortless and seamless tempo changes expertly reigned in by the drumming. The entire piece displays a restrained flowing ambience full of spirit, as if you're soaring amongst the clouds. `Dialogue and Random' is a curious, perhaps even slightly nightmarish electronic experiment of cold machine loops and mechanical oscillations. After a coffin-slamming-shut piano boom, the two part `Layla' is an acid-fried bluesy instrumental with electric guitar scorching away, purring bass and warm Hammond organ washes, the piece constantly growing in urgency, and always truly joyous and infectious.

There's a creeping lethargic and sexy groove to `In The Silence of the Morning', the main guitar melody twists around ripples of Hammond organ and flighty electronic shimmers. `A Quiet Walk' comes closest to the raga-rock ethnic sounds of the debut album `Malesch'. Starting as an ambient early Tangerine Dream-styled drone with wavering synths almost resembling running water with rippling synths before ominous Pink Floyd-like organ rises, eventually frantic acoustic guitar runs and pulsating hand percussion take over. It actually reminds me of moments from the Vangelis album `The Dragon', a default Krautrock album if ever there was one. `Haunted Island' is the only piece of have vocals, breathless and ethereal other-wordly rambling steam-of-consciousness voices. Electric guitar bending notes and searing Mellotron veils weave slinking grooves behind a heavy Brainticket-flavoured intensity.

While the album never quite gels perfectly, the warm jamming improvisations quite at odds with the cold electronic passages, there's no denying the inspiration and determination of the band to challenge themselves and listeners. Easy to put on as a background listen and drift away to, `Second' will appeal to fans of the Ash Ra Tempel, as well as those who don't mind more evocative and chilled out Krautrock sounds.

Three and a half stars.

Report this review (#1292020)
Posted Wednesday, October 15, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars There's a reason this band has so many records in print 40+ years after their debut. Agitation Free is essential Krautrock, essential Space Rock, essential Progressive Rock, essential Rock, and almost essential for those with an interest in the roots of ethnic fusion, ambient, global psychedelia, even industrial and drone rock.

2nd is the height of Agitation Free's powers.

Restrained and elegant (but still loud with some rough edges) Agitation Free tones down the Arabic overtones of their debut, Malesch. It's how they combine rough and smooth that makes their sound classic.

"A Quiet Walk" is a definite highlight. Ambient mixed with hippy folkprog is as easy on the ears as Harmonium's "Histoires Sans Paroles" and Guru Guru's "God's Endless Love For Men".

Superb - one listen and you'll hear why the reach of this album far exceeds its current grasp. The cover makes me laugh and Agitation Free is a terrific name for a band - they are one of the few rock instrumental groups whose song names truly mirror the feeling(s) reflected by the song. Classic.

Report this review (#1449110)
Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars For me, Agitation Free's "2nd" is the quintessential Krautrock album. While not as recognized as bands like Amon Duul II, Can, or Faust, Agitation Free was an exemplary Krautrock band. "2nd," being their last album (at least until the 1990's), was their finest moment. Many reviewers have faulted this album because of it's rather recognizable influence of West Coast bands like the Grateful Dead, and the Allman Brothers, somehow making it not "true" krautrock. I wholeheartedly disagree. Yes, the influence of those aforementioned bands are there, but Agitation Free injected a large dose of krautrock weirdness into the mix, and the results are magical.

When I first listened to this album, I knew that I liked it, but once I listened to it in a "different frame of mind," I was completely blown away. It reminded of, many years ago, when I first listened to Pink Floyd's DSOTM in a similar frame of mind. While this album is sonically nothing like DSOTM, it is one of the pivotal albums of it's genre. I won't go into detailed reviews of each song (that has been done at length in previous reviews), but I would best describe the sound of the album as a whole as a very jammy krautrock, with excellent guitar work by short-lived member Stefan Diez. Bassist Michael "Fame" Gunther and drummer Burghard Rausch lock in grooves throughout various moments, while the remaining members' instrumentation float over the top in a hypnotic, spaced-out jam. No boring, overdone freak-outs here, just pure audio euphoria.

The only fault that the album has are the awkward vocal pieces during "Haunted Island," which could have just as well been left out. Not enough to bring it below 4.5 stars, so I easily round the rating to a 5. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#1514934)
Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Agitation Free streamlined its sound for its 2nd long player. In the dust go the middle eastern mystic rhythms that permeated the debut, in come lilting dual guitar melodies and spaced-out harmonics. The result is a crowning achievement for German rock and must have album for progressive rock collectors.

Three compilation worthy cuts - "First Communication", "Laila pt. 2" and "In the Silence of the Morning Sunrise" - highlight this set, with the last two album cuts pushing this record into all time classic territory. The vagina album cover puts it over the top.

Sorely underexposed in the progressive rock arena, all of Agitation Free is recommended, but this one should be on your shelves if you own 100 prog albums.

Report this review (#1633780)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars The second Agitation Free record is said to be quite different from the debut, which has some eastern influences. I myself hear a fairly logical continuation in style. Slowly paced instrumental melodic rock improvisations with the sense of 'being in the moment' as their greatest asset. Atmosphere & soul are key, rock is just the sound. With the lush timing of a cool jazz quintet, Agitation Free recorded some of the most relaxing krautrock pieces ever. Opening track 'First Communication' impresses as a classic spacey krautrock track. Love the acoustic guitar in the second halve. When it comes to combining the sound of the different instruments, this song is not representative of what's to come. Still a strong track! The album's center pieces 'Layla part 2' and 'In The Silence Of The Morning Sunrise' are my favorites. They take the listener to a whole other universe without making to much of a fuzz about it. Just a great rhythm, one great melody and two guitar players soloing the blues in the night sky. Lovely organ sounds. This is what world peace sounds like. Somehow it reminds me a bit of 'In A Silent Way' by Miles Davis. The ethnic 'A Quiet Walk' is a nice piece with an Irish Bouzouki. 'Haunted Island' is a bit darker and less remarkable, but still a good track. Whereas the debut album of Agitation Free 'Malesch' would benefit from the brake-out moments, this album sees the perfection of musical atmospheres that are perfect without any contrasts. This is a real treat for home stereo listeners.
Report this review (#1884650)
Posted Monday, February 12, 2018 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars AGITATION FREE formed all the way back in 1967 but didn't really find a unique niche in the Krautrock scene until the members found exotic ethnic influences through the group's travels throughout countries like Eygpt, Greece and Cyprus which led to the unique sound heard on the band's debut "Malesch." The album immediately stood out from the band's Krautrock contemporaries for its bold percussive drive augmented with psychedelic jams and progressive electronic influenced drones and spaced out timbres and tones. The group enjoyed a successful tour and has remained a well-known band because of the interesting fusion of ethnic sounds and the German Krautrock scene.

So cool was the debut that it is quite surprising that the band so radically changed its sound for the sophomore album uncreatively titled 2ND. While the psychedelic freeform jams and experimental Krautrock elements are still in abundance as are the electronica and drones, the Middle Eastern percussive drive had been completely dropped and instead replaced by a rather unimaginative standard rock drumming style and in the process makes 2ND sound a bit more generic than the 1st. Another big change was the replacement of guitarist Jörg Schwenke with Stefan Diez however the stylistic shift goes way beyond just a new member joining the ranks.

Due to the interest and exotic nature of "Malesch" which kept the band on the live circuit, the band had a difficult time finding the time to record 2ND but finally locked themselves away in the studio in July 1973. The band took a completely new approach on this one and focused more on spaced out jam sessions that implemented bluesy guitar riffs lazily flowing along with bass grooves and more standard rock percussion. While the keyboards and mellotrons are still around, they pretty much provide intros and other sections outside of the context of the main jamming sessions and therefore the album feels a lot less integrated than the previous one and without the strong percussive backbone that gave "Malesch" such an exotic feel, this one just seems a bit too free floaty for its own good.

Once again the tracks are completely instrumental with the sole exception of the ending track "Haunted Island" which contains the spoken word vocals of drummer Burghard Rautsch which narrates a tale of what the title suggests. 2ND truly resonates in the heady psychedelic era of Krautrock but for some reason this album doesn't connect with me as much as it does with others. I exponentially prefer the debut release "Malesch" and when it comes to this rather Can inspired groovy form of Krautrock, AGITATION FREE seem a bit amateurish on 2ND. For all its trippiness, the album seems to lose some of its psychedelic affect by the rather standard bluesy rock jamming and the rather uninventive drumming while the rock parts are hampered by the rather unfocused electronic experimentation. It just doesn't sound very dynamic despite nothing resonating as overtly bad.

Personally this one just sounds like a few steps down. The debut featured complex chord progressions that developed into pleasing melodies whereas 2ND just sort of jams along aimlessly with boring blues scales and nonchalant grooves and percussive drive. While the album received critical acclaim during its release and has remained popular in cult circles, the album failed to sell well and the band folded in 1974 although they would reform in 1998. Perhaps the closest track that matches "Malesch" material is the nine minute "A Quiet Walk" which features more experimental touches aside from the predictable jamming and even includes a more dynamic percussive drive not quite adopting the ethnic influences of its predecessor but has the most interesting guitar workouts as it includes not only an electric guitar but also a 12-string acoustic along with the more exotic sounds of a bouzouki.

I've owned both AGITATION FREE albums for many years and i've tried to give this one a fair chance on many occasions as most of the time albums that don't hit me at first have to grow on me, but after every single listen i can only think about how much more i love "Malesch" and during the playtime of 2ND i just sit there and rearrange the album in my own mind to make it interesting. I really don't understand why so many find this album to be so innovative. There were literally many dozens of more interesting Kraut bands cranking out far superior material. After many years of giving this a chance, i have concluded that it's just not an album that deserves all the praise that is heaped upon it. While not outright bad, it's a piss poor followup to one of Kraut's most innovative albums of the early 1970s. For yours truly this one is a major disappointment and to my ears this is the epitome of an AGITATION SPREE.

Report this review (#2238114)
Posted Sunday, July 14, 2019 | Review Permalink

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