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Amon Düül II - Wolf City CD (album) cover

WOLF CITY

Amon Düül II

Krautrock


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars Released the same year as CIB, Wolf City is what I call AD II's last great album and the best of their second trilogy (which includes the weaker Vive La Trance, although it was released after the Live In London album), and is a stunning album, especially for progheads. Coming with an impressive fiery Persian mythology artwork gatefold sleeve with an intriguing collage on the inside gatefold, Wolf City is an arresting work. Surrounded By The Stars strikes because it could be Jefferson Airplane going bonkers, especially once the violin gets going (Papa John Creach), but it's lacking the pure genius of Casady. Throughout its almost 8 minutes, SRBS is constantly shifting and keeps us riveted to our speakers and slowly dies down. Green Bubble is a slower mellotron-ladden track where the West Coast psych spectre still shows it head, but in a more subdued manner, while the group seems to apply a bit of musical humour in its very distorted soundscapes. Jail House Frog is a strange mix of Zappa and German cabaret-type of music where strange bubbles are sprinkled all over the song and the rhythm section going bonkers. Excellent stuff.

Excellent title track opening the flipside also, where the group is cruising at full speed, all pistons spewing fire and molten lava in your brains, the latter frying away without the need of external illicit substances. Starting on an Indian raga, Wie Der Wind slowly morphs into a great improv where the violin takes the lead (in some ways, we could imagine being on an Embryo album). Future Popol Vuh Fichelscher is outstanding throughout the whole album, especially in here; but the following Nepal track. The well known heavy Deutsche Nepal is probably my fave tracks, especially with the loud German monologue spoofing their own recent past and their expansionist plans. Built around a descending riff, the track operates magic with Daniel's drumming pulling an astonishing amount of drum rolls. And Daniel Fichelsher is the star of the Sleepwalker Timeless Bridge where he drums, plays guitar and vocalizes. No wonder he'll leave the commune and become the second part of the Popol Vuh machine.

Clearly the last of AD II's essential works, it's a wonder how they actually managed so meny good albums in a row, given the constantly chaotic background the group evolved in. But then again it's a part of the magic of those few years, where the world's usual long-established order was not only challenged but almost became obsolete. The counter-culture came awfully close to overpowering the fairly diminished so-called high culture. Too bad Wolf City came out with such short running time, because with an extra 10 minutes and a little more discipline (and lmaybe less line-up turmoil) , this record would've made the difference and the world would be upside down, the sun rising in the west and the moon lighting up the sky during the day. Oh well!! So much for that revolution. Warmly recommended.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#27821)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This psychedelic progressive rock is very bizarre!! Never seen stuff like that. One thing is fer sure: this record is not accessible at all!

There are lots of instruments involved: female vocals, guitars, drums, bass, keyboards, percussions. Not catchy, so it takes concentration to really decode those songs. The electric guitar is sometimes rather razor and intimidating. The bass is not timid. Made in Germany has more catchy parts.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#27823)
Posted Wednesday, April 07, 2004 | Review Permalink
Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Not much to say - just listen!!!

Wonderful! Got this together with a copy of Phallus Dei, and I must say that it's really hard to review on a first listen - but I felt so powerfully moved by the album that I wanted to leave my first impressions - they'll probably be edited later, but if they help you decide which Krautrock album to buy, then all well and good!!!

Fantastically improvised feel, and some amazing original ideas - Listening to the latter part of "Jailhouse Frog", I could swear that I heard a riff used by Pink Floyd on "Dark Side of the Moon". Everyone has to get their influences from somewhere, I suppose!

First impressions? I will be listening to this again, that's for sure! I didn't find it inaccessible - on the contrary, it just kinda washed over and through me as I chilled to it.

Superb album!

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Send comments to Certif1ed (BETA) | Report this review (#27824)
Posted Monday, May 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
fredericlemai
4 stars What an imaginative band, like some others Krautrock's bands they have found original sounds several before others. Listening the end of "Sleepwalker's timeless bridges" is an incredible expérience : the guitars of New Wave Era are still here. Like a Cure or And also the Trees song. The vocal line are also a very imaginative one.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#27825)
Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars So often is the case with the music of AMON DUUL II either you get it or not... usually nothing in between. I do really enjoy the early years of AMON DUUL II with "Wolf City" representing one of them. The thing that sets this album up differently from say an album like "Yeti" is clearly the more accessible progressive leanings, yet still remains highly imaginative. This album mixes psychedelic and progressive rock in a way no one else could. On top of the usual guitar, bass, keyboards, AMON DUUL employ a nice dose of sitar (Pandit Shankar), tabla kettle drum and tambura which really all clicks on this album. Without a question Renate Knaup's vocals do take some slight adjustment to get into but for this music lover fits perfectly. This is a lively, fun and exciting album to listen to and I love their use of the distorted wah wah guitar and phasing effects and of course vintage keyboards. Musically this is actually fairly aggressive sounding without being noticeably loud or over the top. Songs are highly creative and cover quite a wide range of influences from the early sounds of PINK FLOYD to the punk mood of the late 70's to the psychedelic aura of The OZRIC TENTACLES. Overall a magical album and one that needs to be your collection.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#27826)
Posted Saturday, February 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
spirro.chrisa
5 stars This album, along with Carnival In Babylon, is the apex of Amon Duul's musical achievements. Anyone who has visited Kathmandu would really appreciate this album, the perfect soundtrack to walking through the bazaars and alleyways of the old city. The sheer wealth of imagination is breathtaking, as they mix some truly diverse elements into a unique and instantly recognisable style.

The textures and soundscapes maintain interest over the whole album, as songs change gears effortlessly. The band had a wonderful fusion of influences at this stage of their career, touching upon psychedelia, gypsy music, rock and progressive inclinations, with lyrics shrouded in obscure mysticism. It sounds dreadfully pretentious on paper, but listening to it is a sublime experience. The album has two of the band's most lyrical moments.Firstly, Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strasse (like the wind at the end of a street), with it's gorgeous, haunting synthesizer and violin refrains layered over a subcontinental tabla and drone effect. Secondly, Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge, with it's appealing violin and guitar melodies. The final deeply layered synth chords are a perfect way to end this amazing album.

Granted, Renate Knaupp's vocals do take some getting used to, but I'm glad she was there to stamp her individual style on the first two numbers in particular. A classic album.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#27827)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Although I cannot say that I've listened to all of Amon Düül II's records, I consider this to be their best. The songs are shorter on this one than Yeti (Their second best!), the first track "Surrounded by Stars" is the longest. A quite good song and so are the rest of the first four tracks. The three last are the reason why this album gets 5 stars from me. "Wie der Wind am Ende einer Strasse" is a very light song, you feel free when you hear it, like the wind in the end of a street! "Deutsch Nepal" is groovy hard-rock but I can't decide if it would be better as an instrumental. "Sleepwalker's timeless Bridge" is one of the greatest ending tracks of an album ever, Genesis "Los Endos" of ATOTT is maybe better. To conclude this review I can say that the cover art really gives a picture to the music in it.

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Send comments to Frasse (BETA) | Report this review (#27828)
Posted Sunday, May 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album was recorded at a critical point in the history of the band. There had been some quarreling within the band, and some band members left to form Utopia and record a self- titled album themselves. Yet in typical Amon Düül 2 fashion the band members made peace again while these albums were in the process of recording, which resulted in all band members playing on both albums, and one track ("Deutsch Nepal") appearing on both, albeit in slightly different versions (most notably in the vocals). The opener "Surrounded by the Stars" has the typical snapping guitar chords of John Weinzierl, over which the aetheric voice of Renate "Krötenschawnz" Knaup sings. "Green- Bubble-Rain-Coated-Man" starts more slowly. almost like a ballad, but it changes tempo in the middle and has a furious finale with weird synthies. "Jail House Frog" is an instrumental, in which the synths indeed sound like a croaking frog. "Wolf City" has Lothar Meid on lead vocals, but other band members sing "Wolf City" in chorus all throughout this rack; the guitar indeed snaps like the fangs of a wolf on this track. "Wie der Wind am Ende einer Straße" is an almost oriental instrumental, in which the band seems to improvise a lot. "Deutsch Nepal" has lots of mellotron, over which actor Rolf Zacher tells a story of a freaked-out general (lyrics in German). "Sleepwalkers Timeless Bridge" finally resembles Popol Vuh a little, which is no wonder, because one of the drummers (Amon Düül have 2 drummers on this album, Peter Leopold and Daniel Fischelscher) plays guitar on it, and he is also the guitar player of Popol Vuh on many of their albums. One of the bands best efforts. 4 stars.

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Send comments to BaldJean (BETA) | Report this review (#37662)
Posted Saturday, June 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
crhargrave29@
4 stars I bought this vinyl in '74 and even now over thiry years on I still think this is duul's best album.I thought I was the only person in the world who thought Sleepwalkers Timeless Bridge was one of the best album tracks by anyone ever. Now I know there are other fans of this track. This is a very short album particularly by modern cd standards but here it is quality over quantity.Other reviewers have dissected the individual tracks so I won't. Just get yourself a copy and enjoy 'KRAUTROCK' at its best

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#43843)
Posted Monday, August 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is one of the best efforts by the German prog group AMON DUUL II.Opening track is a wild rockin' ride in pyshedelica complete with electric violin ala THE FLOCK.Every cut is excellent and touches on sounds that are common to that era like the sitars and tabla drums that everyone from MILES DAVIS to THE BEATLES (are they considered prog?) were employing in their recordings at that time.Highlights include title track WOLF CITY and JAIL HOUSE FROG.A heavy dose of acid rock with jazz and world beat elements thrown in for good measure!AMON DUUL II has had quite an output over the years and this is one of their best efforts. Krautrock never sounded any better than this!

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Send comments to bob x (BETA) | Report this review (#43866)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
Progbear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A little bit of everything the band had been up to that point distilled in a single disc, that's WOLF CITY. Starting off with the eerie and menacing "Surrounded By The Stars", we return to the folkie stylings of the previous album with the whimsically titled "Green-Bubble Raincoated Man". "Jailhouse Frog" gets under your skin, with creepy "raven" effects from the returning Falk Rogner.

Elsewhere, there's another improvisational piece involving Indian instrumentation ("Wie der Wind am Ende einer Straße") and another Rolf Zacher avant-garde vocal piece (the rather disturbing, gothic "Deutsch Nepal"). "Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge", as it was written, sung and largely performed by Danny Fichelscher, not an official member of the band, is probably the the album's most atypical number, a breezy vocal tune.

This is probably the album to try if you need a good, concentrated listen to get a feel for what Amon Düül II are all about. Some might fault it for inconsistency. I like to call it diversity.

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Send comments to Progbear (BETA) | Report this review (#44652)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If I tell you that "Wolf City" is a brilliant amalgam of blazing acid rock, authentic eastern influences, lush gothic menace, and deceptively simple krautrock fun, you'll still never imagine what it actually sounds like. Simultaneously harrowing and lighthearted, each song (minus one, but we'll get to that later) is a wild ride within you and without you; various trippy and evocative passages come together to create an album that both defines, and strays from, the Krautrock ideal.

"Surrounded by the Stars" is a lovely, schizophrenic piece that careens between bleepy synths, raga-like jamming and rollicking folk rock. "Green Bubble Raincoated Man" almost fails due to the almost non-stop shrill vocals and heavyhanded cymbals, but the instrumental work redeems it in classic tight-but-psychedelic Krautrock style. "Jailhouse Frog" gets nice and heavy, almost to the point of self-parody, before dropping us into an inscrutable ambient passage full of echoing effects and a bare bouncy piano- this section descends by degrees until you're on the edge of your seat wondering if it will all end in tears or laughter...but unfortunately it simply strikes out into a jam and fades. Perhaps a lost chance for drama, perhaps a calculated withholding of resolution?

"Wolf City" is one of the few stylistically static works on the album, a driving acid rock backing to a spoken poem and eponymous refrain. I'm still not sure what he's on about, but it sounds very dark and possibly laden with social commentary. "Wie der Wind" is an absolutely perfect jam that dissolves blissfully into sample-and-hold burbles and insistent tabla patterns- the kind of east-meets-west experimentation that Amon Duul II does better than anyone, and surprisingly free of the gothic undertones of much of the rest of the album. To compensate, we're then given "Deutsch Nepal", which is deliberate, dark, and heavy (ah, that distorted VDGG-type organ- if only there was more!)...and it's all just tongue-in-cheek enough to remind you that this is no over-the-top MAGMA-type processional. Finally, the exquisite capstone that is "Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge"- I fell in love with the band from this song alone, though as it turned out it was not quite representitive of their sound...well, anyway, it's definitely not to be missed.

This album is part of the raw guts of prog, true to the genre's primal psychedelic roots. In very basic terms, it has far more in common with early PINK FLOYD (or even with JEFFERSON AIRPLANE) than ELP or any of the heavily jazz-influenced bands. If it was just a little more cohesive or instrumentally impressive, it would undoubtedly be a masterpiece...but the rough edge is an essential part of the album's appeal for me. I can't promise you'll love it like I do, but with all the territory "Wolf City" covers, there's almost no way you won't hear something about it that you'll like.

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Send comments to James Lee (BETA) | Report this review (#46820)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In the early 70s, this version of Amon Düül II was churning out classic albums for fun. Wolf City was arguably the last of a spectacular run of records that included Phallus Dei, Yeti, Tanz Der Lemminge and Carnival In Babylon. While not matching the very best moments of the preceeding albums (I'm thinking of outstanding cuts like Yeti's Soap Shop Rock and Tanz Der Lemminge's March Of The Roaring Seventies), it does have the advantage of being significantly shorter than them, and as such is probably the ideal introduction to the wierd and wonderful world of Germany's greatest progressive rock band.

Chris Karrer's violin and acoustic guitar work and Renate Krause's startling vocals (given slightly more exposure than before, but still nowhere near enough) are the true engines of the Amon Düül experience, and they function pretty well here. Surrounded By The Stars takes off where the previous album left off (ie, freaky violin and potent acoustic guitar), while Green Bubble Raincoated Man starts off as a mellower affair, riding on Lothar Meid's bass and some synthy flute, before exploding into an acid-rock jam that's heavy on wah-wah guitar.

Most of the seven songs here are pretty strong but if pushed for highlights, I'd have to go for the concluding cut, Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge which is a classic piece with all the essential elements put together in a rather accesible way. It has many little sections, starting off in sweetly psychedelic mode (more Moody Blues than classic Amon Düül II actually!) before moving into storming hard rock before Karrer's vocals preside over a mix of Indian fusion and spacey sounds ... and it's all done in less then 5 minutes! Jailhouse Frog, with its Gothic chants, "horror" interlude, and space-rock conclusion, and Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strasse, a tabla-propelled nugget with synths and flute and violin both compete for the runner-up slot. There is also a real curiousity in the unpleasant Deutsche Nepal, a heavy-handed piece, thanks in no small part to the thundering speech that rides on dense power chords.

To a certain extent, Amon Düül II is guilty of the repetition of established ideas, and I do enjoy Wolf City less than its predecessors, but I have little doubt this is the place to start with this great band. ... 64% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#47257)
Posted Monday, September 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The first encounter with this album was quite unhappy for me. I was in 3rd or 4th grade high school and a friend borrowed several "cool" LPs of "progressive" music from his neighbour, among which was "Wolf City". At that time I was already deep into GENESIS, VDGG and other prog stuff but I was not too delighted with AMON DUUL II. That music was too "strange" and I had a headache while trying to listen to "Wolf City". But now, many years later, I can see that for certain things you simply need to have experience in order to understand - in this case, the music listening experience. Today I find this album to be an excellent example of the "psychedelic/folk" branch of Krautrock, with beautiful interplay of acoustic and electric guitars, violin, percussions, piano and organ/mellotron. Each song is excellent although Renate's lead vocal sounds a bit unrelaxed. The opener and closer, "Surrounded by the Stars" and "Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge", are highlights but also the title track has that weird and eerie atmosphere. "Deutsch Nepal" was celebrated among my friends back then in early 1980s as a sort of mini-Krautrock anthem, probably due to funny sounding German language (which nobody understood!), as a mockery of WWII Nazi officers giving orders to their subordinates. (Himmler's obsession with exploration of Himalaya region in order to discover the roots of "Aryan" civilization also comes to mind...) Overall, "Wolf City" is an excellent album that should be easily enjoyed by most of prog listeners and is perhaps a good introduction to their earlier, more psychedelic stuff.

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#48145)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I have known of Amon Duul II for many years but never got around to buying any of their stuff. Thanks to this site I was motivated to go out and order this album. In terms of prog music personally outside of the UK, I would definitely favour Swedish, German and French next. Wolf City has not disappointed me at all and comes highly recommended.Ranate Knaup' vocals are strong and remind me of Jefferson Airplane or Babe Ruth a bit, much better though than Grace Slick's voice. The album as a whole is strong but for me it really gets going from ' Wolf City', 'Wie der Wind am Ende einer Strasse ' improves on this with the almost narrative vocal interludes.' Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge' is the epic track of the album. Naturally Wolf City will act as a precursor to more from Amon Duul II. If you like a combination of a more psychedlic Babe Ruth/Tangerine dream combo and Krautrock you will not be disappointed with this group or Wolf City.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#49478)
Posted Friday, September 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A five star rating for sure is something that should be considered well before being given to any album. Amon Düül II is an acquired taste, but once that far extremely rewarding. I noticed this on nearly all pre Hijack albums, but particularly on the ones where they started to change from more psychedelic stuff to more melodic and shorter songs. The two albums that I regard as belonging to that section are Viva la Trance (VLT) and Wolf City (WC), the latter being reviewed here. The first time I found out about ADII I started listening to the early years stuff, for sure also containing a number of masterpieces. Of course, once the ADII infection hits your mind, all other stuff must be explored as soon as possible. Being used to the old stuff, VLT and WC were a little disappointing at first. Too simple at first glance, not really intellectually and musically challenging. "At first glance", that's the key word and where the fifth star in this review is being given for.

What ADII always have been masters in is giving you the impression to have been saddled up with some nice flickering pieces of coloured glass at first instance, while after having blinked a couple of times with your eyes you have to conclude that, instead of the worthless glass, you are actually looking at genuine diamonds. It really is true genius if you are able to make something so complex, professional and thought through at first glance appear to be so simple.

And probably even more genius, since I somehow have the impression that most of what ADII made was driven much more by feelings than by intellect. Until now intellect has never been able to in the core translate feeling and giving overweight to feelings when it comes to taking decisions (how to sculpt your music) also takes a lot of guts, since you can't translate that in something you can easily communicate and discuss with other people. Perhaps that's also why their music and this album particularly is so basically original.

Wolf City generally is reviewed with 4 stars, indicating that most people reviewing it have seen the importance of it. If you are really into ADII, there is no other way then to give this album a minimum of 4 stars, less than that simpy means that you haven't given it the time to start blooming.

I will not review all songs here seperately, since a lot of other reviewers already did this, but I have to say that I fully agree with a lot of other people that Sleepwalker's timeless bridge is an epic all time master piece of music. (Tip for people liking this song, try to listen once to the relatively unknown song "Lemmingmania")

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Send comments to jeromach (BETA) | Report this review (#82972)
Posted Thursday, July 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars In 1973 the two foremost space rock bands on the scene decided to push on their progressive side. One were Hawkwind (with "Hall of the Mountain Grill"), the other Amon Duul II; and Amon Duul II really did it! So, put aside the long pointless improvisations that stretched on (too) long parts of their previous albums, our favourite band concentrated on shorter pieces. They did something similar also in "Carnival in Babylon", but this time they also regained the anarchic spirit of their earlier efforts (Yeti, most of all), melting genius to extravagance. In doing so, they got closer to Frank Zappa's music, but with a far rockier approach. The result is this masterpiece: psychedelic passages turn into epic mellotron- driven anthems, Jefferson Airplane turns into cabaret, Nepal becomes German, and once you get lost inside the Wolf City, you'd never want to find your way again. Definitely one of their fines albums (my favourite one will always remain Yeti) and a masterpiece of the juicier and less cerebral Krautrock.

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Send comments to paolo.beenees (BETA) | Report this review (#99779)
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Often regarded as the less representative of the classic records of Amon Duul II, Wolf City is builded up in song-format and is certainly more accessible for those who begin to explore the vast german scene. This not mean the music is less inovative and involving.

From the strong opener "Surrounded by the Stars" (the longest track here, over 7 mns) to the impressive closer (the most favourite of mine) "Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge", passing through other classic such as the adventurous "Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strasse" and "Deutsche Nepal" there's a teutonic festival approaching sometimes eastern culture through a convincing playing of acoustic instruments (guitar, sitar and violin, above all). The last two songs of the abovementioned ones, can really open a new door toward a different musical taste!

A symphonic wave passes all through the typical german sound and the result is a krautrock's manifesto, certainly deserving more wide recognition. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#102062)
Posted Thursday, December 07, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars In my original review of Yeti (which I have since revised), also by Amon Duul II, I spent rather a lot of that review bashing Wolf City (which I didn't even know well at all at that point), and I honestly can't think why anymore. The first time I seriously listened to this album, I absolutely fell head over heels in love with it. While it's not as good as Yeti (very little is), it's right on par with Tanz Der Lemminge and Phallus Dei (probably slightly below the former and above the latter), and that makes it absolutely essential Krautrock. It gets a rather cold reception from many Amon Duul II fans, who don't like the more structured direction they take on this album, but I find that quite ridiculous. Imagine a whole album composed of songs similar to side two of Yeti (with songs such as Archangel Thunderbird, Cerberus, Eye-Shaking King, and many more), and that's what you have here. I absolutely fawn over Krautrock, and this album is one of the biggest reasons why. This is an underappreciated gem that you would not do well to miss.

One thing a lot of fans of the earlier, more experimental incarnation of Amon Duul II fail to realize is that this simply is not the earlier, more experimental incarnation of Amon Duul II. Gone are the sidelong improvisations that made Phallus Dei, Yeti, and Tanz Der Lemminge amazing. Here, Amon Duul II is looking towards a more song-oriented format, and they prove that this can be equally as potent as their experimental works. Why? Because the band take a whole new, fun, and inventive approach to their music. They are still psychedelic, and they still sound like Amon Duul II. The vocals are still distinct. The songs still hold true to their ideals. In short, this is still classic Amon Duul II. Even the cover is as good as (if not better) their classic work. It's sad that some people don't realize that this still is Amon Duul II, but that's their loss.

What could it be that I love so much about the opening track of this album? Could it be its experimental nature? Could it be the return of Renate Knaup's unique and inimitable vocals? Could it be the left-wing lyrics she sings? Could it be Chris Karrer's delightful violin and guitar work? Could it be the proto-metal (acoustic, I might add) ferocity of the song? Could it be the frantic drumming? Could it be that delectable bass riff that enters after Knaup shouts "at sunrise?" Could it be all of these? Indeed it could, and indeed it is. Surrounded By the Stars is among the very best Amon Duul II songs. It has everything I love about Amon Duul II and then some. I do not feel the need to describe this track in any more detail than I have, for its effect on me lies beyond the power of words to describe. Simply stunning, and, as I said, one of the best Amon Duul II tracks.

The band then proceed to show they've got more than one song's worth of great ideas to share as we move on to the second song, Green Bubble Raincoated man. The vocals are high-pitched, almost shrieks at times, conveying communist/anarchist lyrics about world peace, or something like that (it's the thought that counts). The beginning is slow and calming, strolling through fields of psychedelia, but once the band lay eyes upon the prize (the green bubble raincoated man himself, perhaps?), they break out into an all-out hard rock/Krautrock mix that displays the band's biggest strength.

Jail-House Frog follows, and is a song in two parts, both masterpieces in their own right. This song is one of two on the album that challenge Surrounded By the Stars for best song on the album. The opening music is hypnotic, slowly building up to a Krautrock freak-out, only for the song to give way to part two, an ambient closing section replete with sound effects. The way the band balance the two contrasting sections is perfect, and it's hard to imagine a better song than this (unless, of course, you're looking at Amon Duul II's very best songs, of which this is one).

Wolf City (the title track) is the only other song that challenges Surrounded By the Stars. It is a strange and enchanting piece of music, comprised of insane psychedelia and sheer weirdness as the satirical lyrics go full force on top of a chorus of "wolf city." The lyrics themselves tell of how capitalist society is a "wolf city," and how people have to kill to advance, or even to survive. This, of course, implies that it would be much nicer to live in an anarchist society, or something along those lines (it IS Amon Duul II we're talking about here). Oh well, we can't help their politics (though I actually think their lyrics rank as one of the greatest assets to their music, for it makes them unique).

The only song on this album that fails to captivate me is Wie Der Winde Am Ende Einer Strasse. The opening really gets my hopes up high, but then the song fades into mellow blandness that loses my interest very quickly. I keep waiting for the song to build, but it refuses to oblige, giving it a stagnant feel. Thus, while the theme is nice, the track itself is nothing special, and the album would be better off without it. Pleasant, but not exciting.

As if to apologize, however, Amon Duul II end the album with two of its best tracks, Deutsch Nepal and Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge. Deutsch Nepal is full of amazing bass work that simply flows through my head and never fails to amaze. On top of this are German lyrics that, apparently, satirize Nazi Germany. If you know the song Toxological Whisperings off of Tanz Der Lemminge, this song is like that (only not quite as good, simply because there's less of it to enjoy). An absolute classic.

Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge, which you can sample on this site, seems to be a common favorite, and it's not hard to see why (even if I prefer every song on the album except Wie Der Winde Am Ende Einer Strausse to it - which only speaks volumes about those tracks, because this one is amazing). It never seems to stay still, thus fitting the traditional "prog" mold. The drumming is wonderful as always, and the guitar(s?) give(s) the song a wonderful aura, and this isn't one you want to miss. It's actually quite catchy, but not in a bad way.

Amon Duul II's fifth studio release, Wolf City, is an album I will never get tired to recommending as a relatively safe introduction to Krautrock. Though there really isn't any easy way into Krautrock, this album is about as easy as they come, and on top of that, it's a classic. Different does not mean inferior, and this album, while different, is not inferior. Fans of the band simply cannot miss this, and it is a good introduction to both Amon Duul II and Krautrock as a whole. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to Pnoom! (BETA) | Report this review (#112371)
Posted Friday, February 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars AD II`s "Wolf City" is a most lush symphonic prog album released by the band. they first started with psychedilic guitars for their early albums, then itcame the great e-driven TDL. a 180 deegres turn came with WC, sung songs without leavin behind improvisation, lots of synthesizers making spacey atmospheres through the recording, with the unique female voice expression of Renate K. may sound heavy and dense but this is the psych delivered by AD inside a symph prog issue. in terms of marks a well deserved 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to luisman (BETA) | Report this review (#127194)
Posted Saturday, June 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The first time I heard this album play i'm thinking this can't be AMON DUUL II ? It was of course, just a more song oriented release that's all. I have to tell you that I really like this album, and I like the variety on it as well.

"Surrounded By The Stars" might just be my favourite song on this record. Renate's vocals are incredible on the first two songs, especially on this one. This is a powerful, mid-paced tune with violin coming in at 2 minutes while organ arrives a minute later. The organ really reminded me of ANEKDOTEN who list AMON DUUL II as an influence. I'm reminded of ANEKDOTEN later in the album as well .This has such a fantastic sound at this point. There is something dark and mysterious about this song. More violin 5 1/2 minutes in. "Green-Bubble-Raincoated-Man" is melancholic to open with electric guitar, mellotron and synths. The song changes 2 1/2 minutes in as it kicks in with drums and bass leading the charge. Nice guitar solo 3 minutes in. "Jail-House-Frog" has male vocals and some great guitar. There is a psychedelic feel to this one as a piano interlude arrives with strange sounds coming and going. Mellotron waves come in followed by the return of the full sound for the last 30 seconds.

"Wolf City" is more typical of their sound as it is a quiet and dark track and the vocals are almost spoken (in German) reminding me of ELOY. A nice heavy sound of drums, bass and guitar as well. The guitar to end it is incredible sounding. "Wie Der Wind Am Ender Strasse" is an instrumental that features some input from some guest players. It opens with kettle drums with spacey synths that create a nice sound. This is really cool. Violin comes in followed by an Indian sound of sitar and tabla to end it. "Deutsch Nepal" opens with heavy drums and German vocals that are spoken. A powerful soundscape is sprinkled with piano. "Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge" opens with 3 minutes of instrumental work including some good drumming and a ripping guitar solo. There are three electric guitar players on this song including Daniel Fichelscher who is the drummer on the other tracks. The song changes 3 minutes in when the vocals come in and a different sound with them. There is a sixties sound to this part as synths, strummed guitar and bass stand out. Great sound.

This is another essentail album from the bands catalogue along with the first three studio albums.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#146320)
Posted Sunday, October 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars During the late 80's-early 90's, unusual Euro-Prog LP's frequently turned up in the local 2nd-hand record shop (and at fairs) for wonderously low prices. I hesitated not, ever seeking out music from odd bands most people hadn't heard of (Hammill/VDGG were amongst them, might I add). From the very first time I listened to this album, it totally 'floored' me. It continues to do so today. It turned out to be a unique and fresh aural adventure, even the mind-boggling cover-art (by keyboardist Falk Rogner) was seldom like anything else I've seen up till that point - not even various Roger Dean/Hipgnosis artworks came close to the inventive photography/collage-work that graced the presentation of this obscure German psychedelic band (Falk has confirmed that he "wanted to capture the visions he saw whilst on LSD"). Musically, this incredibly creative ensemble performed highly original progressive-rock - contrary to many alleged similarities with Pink Floyd - they really sounded like no-one else (I suppose they could show really vague similarities with the Floyd, but maybe 'The Doors' also). Not a dull moment throughout. The lengthy Duul classic which opens the album, 'Surrounded By The Stars', clearly displays an affirmed confidence, a true vision encompassing excitement, focus and spontaneity ; great arrangement, instrumentation (featuring rarely used keyboards such as a 'Choir Organ' - which is NOT a Mellotron, and a 'Clavioline') and their performance is flawless - impressive Bass-work from Lothar Meid on this track. Very, VERY impressive stuff - like ALL the releases prior to this !!

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Send comments to Tom Ozric (BETA) | Report this review (#155901)
Posted Wednesday, December 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This Amon Duul II album is alot easier to get into then thiere earlier ones, this one have more of a stright rock feel, thieres still alot of prog and psycedelia goin on but the songs have more of a melodic feel with alot of chatchy parts. The first 3 songs are great examples of this new Amon sound, Surrounded by the stars is a great opener with great rock feel to it, i ecpecialy love the You play your violine, on Napoleon's nose part, i saw the live video of that song on youtube and was surprised to see they removed that part from the song. Green-bubble-raincoated-man and Jail-house Frog goes in the same style. Jail-house Frog has a very good guitar riff, the last 4 songs sounds more like old Amon, with Deutsch Nepal as a kind of comic relife. If you find the 4 previus Amon albums hard to get into this is no doubt highly recomended and allso if your a newbe and was a easy but still very good amon album and aslo if your a die hard fan this is a must have, and if i undesrstod it right its one of thiere last realy great albums. 4 stars. The newest remaster got 3 bonus tracks that goes in the same style as the rest of the album, but they sound a bit more comercial then the rest of the songs and not as good as the orginal album tracks but still nice to have em.

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Send comments to Zargus (BETA) | Report this review (#162102)
Posted Monday, February 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Side two is where it's at.

Perhaps the greatest thing one can learn from is failure or a missed opportunity. For the longest time I had this album in my collection with not much but a cursory run through of it, primarily because of the terrifying experience I had with another Krautrock album, Can's Tago Mago, that left me mocking the whole genre. All over one silly album. How foolish I was.

Here is a musical journey worth experiencing, as Wolf City does not disappoint, with the exception of Green Bubble Raincoat Man, which I just skip. However, the rest of the album is exquisite and majestic, bringing up memories of Comus (see the fiery section in Surrounded by the Stars), Magma (Deutsch Nepal), and many psych rock outfits (Wie der Wend...). Overall, the last half of the songs I find much more appealing, with much darker themes and motifs spread throughout the music.

While I would say this would be unaccessible to the common prog fan, you shouldn't be scared away. There's enough variety here to keep ones interests piqued, and compared to some of Amon Duul II's other works, this one is probably the best place to start if you are really looking to get into the band or into Krautrock.

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Send comments to OpethGuitarist (BETA) | Report this review (#177847)
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is Amon Duul II's best album. More well-crafted than their previous three rambling jam-heavy efforts, and more spacey and bizarre than their following works. This album is near perfection aside from a couple of rather dull failed experimental instrumental sections... but those mis-steps don't hurt the overall album because the remaining songs are absolutely stunning masterpieces of Krautrock.

I read somewhere that this album's two vinyl sides were reversed at some point, so the original side-A became side-B (and vice versa) after a mishap during the album's first re-pressing... and that altered tracklisting has remained on every re-issue since. I don't know if this is true or not, but I often listen to the album this way, and amazingly it actually does make the album flow better! So, that is how i shall review it:

The title track, 'Wolf City', is a favorite of mine... it is repetitive and hypnotic with a magnificently bizarre vocal delivery and odd wailing background voices that really make this song memorable and mesmeric. It has an inebriated, hazy, half-awake atmosphere that really draws you in and puts you in a strange (but happy) state of mind.

'Wie der Wind am Ende einer Strasse' is a low point: it's an over-long Indian-influenced instrumental that I guess you need to be stoned to enjoy. Unfortunately, I don't get stoned so this is simply tedious. Skip...

'Deutsch Nepal' picks up the pieces and is one of my favorite moments on the album... again, the vocal delivery here is insane and captivating. It features an angry German narrator with a smoker's cough delivering some sort of sermon... i have no idea what the meaning of any of this is, but it's so unusual one can't help but be intrigued.

'Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge' is amazing! It's the most pleasant and melodic song on the album and features a beautiful droning ebow guitar solo near the end... the sound of fiery orange clouds parting to reveal heaven's gates opening. This solo is maybe my favorite part of the entire album.

'Surrounded by the Stars' is magical and epic. It goes from excellent heavy riffing verses to cosmic mellotron-rich bridges that make you feel as if the universe itself is beginning to pull itself apart... then there are fantastic dense dreamlike sections full of wonderful violin solos. This song should be considered a classic.

'Green-Bubble-Raincoated-Man' is another favorite. This is as melodic and as accessible as 'Timewalkers...' and features an awesome bass line that reminds me of Paul McCartney, and the song in general has an ambience similar to a lot of the songs from the Beatles' psychedelic years. That is, until, the rough and fuzzy middle guitar solo section kicks in... then it sounds like some sort of hallucinatory peyote trance ritual.

'Jail-house Frog' start off very good... but after the first 90 seconds or so it descends into a weird experimental noise collage similar to something from Atom Heart Mother-era Pink Floyd. I'll pass on this one...

I must admit that this is the only so-called 'Krautrock' record i've ever been able to REALLY get into, so i'm no expert on that scene... all i know is that I love this album and i consider it a flawed masterpiece.

Marred by two lesser songs, I will give 'Wolf City' a high 4 stars.

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Send comments to AdamHearst (BETA) | Report this review (#202211)
Posted Monday, February 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now wolf city is a brilliant album every song is brilliant,it starts with surrounded by the stars which is the best amon duul 11 song around i think the lyrics are just brilliant and the sound is good to[an excellent start to wolf city] next the is green bubble rain coated man which isnt my favorite song on here buts its still a good song renates voice is good on this track,next is jail house frog which i love so much i play it twice everytime i love the middle trippy bit give it a go,and now is wolf city an excellent song the length of wolf city song is just right this song is one of the most addictive duul songs to me with duul sounding brilliant on this one,wie der wind am einer strasse is an intrumental song which reminds me of bits of eastern music in it which sounds brilliant and should be heard with ya ears open all the way,deutch nepal is anther track which is so good i playu it twice its just a pity it only lasts 2 mins.56 could of been longer i think,sleepwalkers timeless bridge ends the album well of 4 mins 54secs and is anther good duul song worth 2 plays well ok after wolf city finishes just play it again its a brilliant listen, i like this as much as yeti but more song sounding which is good and this makes wolf city one of my favorite albums and its a short one to which is why its worth getting as its the best in my mind sometimes and i like it better than yeti at times,you just cant go wrong buying this,i give wolf city 5 stars as its that good.

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Send comments to davidsporle (BETA) | Report this review (#204382)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Long haired freaky people of the Earth rejoice !

Lofty east Indian influences dominate Amon Duul II`s entrancing fifth album. Stranded in a mystical locale called Wolf City and still waiting for the train out of the sixties, Wolf City abounds with ancient environs and plenty of strange psychedelic electronic effects from guitars being played with bows to tablas, sitars, angry saxes and environmental effects. You can almost smell the incense burning on this love in.

Although the band had pretty much ditched it`s penchant for extended out-of-control freakouts by the previous Carnival In Babylon album, the music on Wolf City commands an airy buoyancy throughout and combined with efxceptional anologue production makes the original album seem longer than a mere 34 minutes and 41 seconds.So it`s a bit of a pity that some of the fade-outs weren`t allowed to develop into their full potential as extennded tracks but this is compensated for on the CD remaster with 2 bonus tracks and a 10 minute studio jam from that era. Renate Kanup becomes a star once again on the title track, the acid drenched Green Bubble Raincoated Man and the trippy psuedo-pop track Surounded By The Stars which nods back to the earlier Phallus Dei / Yeti freakout era with a short improv section which was cut out of the single release. The bulldozing Deutsch Nepal adds a bizarre touch he here with it`s gothic barrage of overdriven synths and organs which demonstrate just how devastatingly ahead of their time they were even if the rest of the album seems stuck in a time warp sometime in 1968.

One of Amon Duul IIs last albums that would still hold appeal for the fans of their freakout era and certainly the best produced Amon Duul II up to `73, Wolf City headphones cranked to eleven are definitely in order for this early 70s jewel.

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Send comments to Vibrationbaby (BETA) | Report this review (#218835)
Posted Friday, May 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mainstream Krautrock?

On their fifth studio album, AMON DÜÜL II has chosen to adapt a more mainstream approach to their original & eccentric brand of German psychedelia. Do not let this factor mislead you; Wolf City is one of the best albums I've heard this year. It is incredibly infectious; once you listen to it once, you won't be able to stop, and the listening experience will only get better every time you spin this wonderful record.

A key theme that dominates this recording is a strong Far East influence; the sounds echoing from nations such as India & Nepal. "Surrounded By The Stars" begins with a standard, psychedelic/progressive rock feel, the vocals only contributing to the mystic nature of this track. Later on, the vocals gain a very high-pitched style, an obvious influence on the vocals of Geddy Lee in the Canadian prog rock group RUSH later on in the 1970's. The lyrics of the album are absolutely hilarious; my favorite being the track "Wolf City", which has the feel of a 70's psychedelic rock tune, infused with the typical experimentation of the Kosmische Musik movement. Another highlight is the composition "Deutsch Nepal", a short tune that prominently displays the group's love for experimentation and the avant-garde.

All in all, this album is a great listen. Don't be fooled by the relatively short song lengths; Wolf City is a progressive album worthy of the ears of a progressive listener.

For those new to Krautrock, this album, as well as Neu's 1972 self-titled debut album, are excellent starting points.

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Send comments to Col.Nuke (BETA) | Report this review (#232282)
Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Wolf City is an attempt to distill A.D. II's wild psychedelic excursions into a more accessible sound for a mainstream audience. However, by its very nature, A.D. II's traditional sound cannot by contained in an album barely 30 min long. Therein lies the flaw in Wolf City; it is an attempt at an impossible synthesis.

That's not to say that the album fails completely. The band has in fact continued to refine and polish its sound as is shown on the solid opening and closing tracks. In addition, the instrumental Wie der Wind am Ende einer Strasse is a highlight for me. The rest of the album though, seems to come up short. In particular, Jailhouse Frog and the title track always leave me painfully disappointed. The potential for a brilliant album is present in Wolf City if only the band had decided to let loose at the right moments.

I understand the band's need to evolve but IMHO Wolf City abandons what made them great in the first place, the ability to blow our minds with a powerful jam. While I suppose it deserves 3.5 stars for a solid foundation, I feel that ultimately I must round down rather than up.

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Send comments to cohen34 (BETA) | Report this review (#246103)
Posted Saturday, October 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars After hearing the lengthy Yeti which showed me many sides of Amon Düül II's sound it was even more surprising that Wolf City featured that exact diversity but in a much shorter format!

Some of the psychedelic over-the-top moments have disappeared which probably have something to do with the departure of some band members, most notably Dave Anderson who went on to play on Hawkwind's In Search Of Space. Overall there is a slight emphasis on the more rock-oriented sound but it still definitely sounds like an Amon Düül II record and a more mature one as well!

Album opener Surrounded By The Stars is the longest of the bunch so the composition takes its time to build up towards the climactic ending. Granted that I've never been much of a Renate Knaup fan I find her vocal performance better on this record then previously which has to do a lot with the improved production values. Still I have an issue with Green-bubble-raincoated-man where she sounds too much like Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane, but this also has to do with the more single-oriented type of material that she has to work with here. Luckily the remainder of the album consists, for most part, of instrumentals where Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strasse is probably the track that reminds me most of improvisation material on Yeti.

It's difficult for me to say where this album stands in comparison to the rest of Amon Düül II early material, but considering the album's sparse length and the overall high quality of the compositions I definitely would recommend it as an introduction to this band.

***** star songs: Jail-house Frog (4:56)

**** star songs: Surrounded By The Stars (7:49) Wolf City (3:20) Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strasse (5:47) Deutsch Nepal (3:02) Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge (5:05)

*** star songs: Green-bubble-raincoated-man (5:03)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#268221)
Posted Thursday, February 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Each new Amon Düül album comes with a style change. This one comes with a tighter rocking sound, a focus on songwriting, mellotrons, Eastern flavours and the complete array of styles that Amon Düül had used before. Often the whole lot is crammed into one single track.

The album is rather short and takes a difficult start. The first two tracks are fresh and original but they are sung by Renate and her strained vocals are difficult to digest. While she is mostly in tune this time, her unexpected wails and weird modulations may be original but they hardly make sense to me.

The album takes a radical turn for the good with Jail-House-Frog. Driven by a catchy riff it goes back and forth between trippy psychedelica and theatre music extravaganza. The focus and energy of the band is perfect. The fuzzy delay guitar of Wolf City is even catchier. Its one of the first Amon Düül songs that got me into their unique sound. Next to Can, there is little music from the era that resembles this, but this sound has sure lived on in alternative rock, shoegazer and indie. I'd suggest to check out Loop's album Fade Out if you want to continue this trip.

Wie der Wind takes a more electronic stance and wouldn't be out of place on a Popol Vuh album. Indian percussion, eerie synths and a distant reverbed violin. Also Deutsch Nepal counts as a highlight for me. It has a gothic majesty and a big theatrical feel, not in the least due to the solemn rhythm and recited German lyrics. The album ends with a more folksy tune that delivers the mix of folk and psychedelic rock that they tried to achieve on the previous album.

Given the short length and the opening tracks that fail to appeal to me, I can't allow for 4 stars. But it sure comes close and this album can serve as a perfect introduction to Amon Düül. If I ever get my hands on the bonus tracks I might upgrade it eventually.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#274052)
Posted Thursday, March 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Sleepwalker
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Wolf City was my introduction to the shimmering and rippling realms of Amon Duul II. Its innovativity and distinctiveness struck me on first listen, despite the album is more structured and less laden with experimentation than albums such as Yeti. Therefore, the album might be easier to listen to that earlier releases, which makes it from my experience a great introduction to Amon Duul II.

Despite these tighter and more conventional song structures, Wolf City still features plenty of experimentation and eclectic influences. Most notable are for this are the spectacular and dynamic "Jail-House Frog" and the intense "Deutsch Nepal" with its fiercely spoken lyrics. Despite most of the other tracks being less focused on experimentation, they still are very distinctive for Amon Duul II. From the dark "Surrounded By the Stars", with its fierce fiddling, intense vocals and flamenco influenced chord changes we move to the more benign "Green-Bubble-Raincoated-Man" and the ethnic "Wie Der Wind". Also notable is the broad range of vocals on the album, varying from gentle and melodic on "Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge" to the harsh and intense, yet very likable vocals of Renate Knaup on the first two tracks. The latter might be an acquired taste though.

Another thing I like about Amon Duul II, which becomes very clear of this album, is the line- up and the frequent collaborations with guest-musicians. Often the lead guitarist John Weinzieri plays some easygoing molodies with vocals on top of them; Lothar Meid plays some very dynamic bass and is not afraid to hit some high notes every now and then; the synths vary from choir-like mellotron to roaring organ; and there is frequent use of exotic instuments, like the sitar and ethnic percussion.

Wolf City is an excellent album by Amon Duul II. I might prefer Yeti over it, but it is an excellent and recommended starting point nevertheless. There is not too much negative to say about the album, though it might be notable to say that its flow gets a tad inconsistent because of switching between more tightly composed songs and more experimental pieces frequently. Also, the songwriting on the second half isn't as strong as on the first half in my opinion. Therefore, I think Wolf City deserves three and a half stars, rounded down to three stars.

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Send comments to The Sleepwalker (BETA) | Report this review (#281427)
Posted Tuesday, May 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars This is one of the better ADII albums. I would recommned Wolf City over Yeti or Tanz Der Lemminge for a newbie. I would never start with a double-album trying to get into any group...but that's just me. This album is not as crazy as the first three, but it is more edgy and 'proggy' than most of the band's later albums. In other words, a great place to start your journey into one of Krautrock's more interesting groups.

Most of the band members share vocal duties(including only female member Renate). Jimmy Jackson is here and he plays 'choir organ' throughout the album. This is often mistaken for a Mellotron. Jackson also uses it on Embryo's Rache and Popol Vuh's Aguirre albums. I think he was one of the only human beings to ever use the damn thing! There is some tabla and a bit of sitar on "Wie Der Wind...". Some violin later on. This song has great synth throughout. "Deutsch Nepal" has a great riff. Some nice piano and 'choir organ' here. I love the vocals spoken in German with the "ah-em" throat clearing. Every time I hear this song I picture a general from WW1 with a spiky helmet doing the vocals.

"Jailhouse Frog" is one of the highlights. It starts off in typical ADII rockin' territory but goes into a piano part. Some 'choir organ' comes in and we briefly get a polka beat before the guitars come back in. "Green-Bubble-Raincoated-Man" has so many ideas coming and going for just a 5-minute song. "Surrounded By The Stars" has lots of acoustic guitar and changes throughout the piece. Some good violin playing in this song. The title track is probably the most mainstream sounding song here but it's still good.

I like the cover art. It looks like an ancient Babylonian sculpture. This is the last really good album these guys did. After this their sound would get more streamlined and slick sounding. I would say get this first then proceed to the any of the first three albums. 4 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#308254)
Posted Thursday, November 04, 2010 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Amon Duul II: Wolf City [1972]

Rating: 5/10

Wolf City shows Amon Duul II continuing on the increasingly commercial path that began on Carnival in Babylon. These two albums serve as almost direct companions; they were released in the same year, have similar lineups, and exhibit the same style of music. This style can be most fittingly described as straightforward psychedelic rock peppered with a few sparse hints of experimentation. This album faces the same problems that its predecessor did. It tries to merge experimentation with commercialism, to the point where the band seems unsure of exactly what style they want to be playing. It also tries to pack all sorts of musical diversity into its brief 34-minute run-time; as a result, the album ends up sounding disjointed, directionless, and disparate.

At only seven minutes, "Surrounded by the Stars" is the longest piece on the album. There is some excellent violin work to be found here, but that is not enough to distract me from Renate's terrible vocals. "Green-Bubble-Raincoated-Man" is a hard-rock song with miserable vocals and tired guitar. The groovy bass-line is the only thing that saves this track. "Jail-House Frog" is the definite highlight of the album. The main riff is simple yet memorable, and the jazzy later half features some fantastic sax and piano. The title track is a middle-of-the-road piece. There's nothing to get excited about here, but there's nothing to hate, either. "Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strasse" is a light instrumental with tribal percussion, strumming electric guitar, and shiny synths. This is yet another average track. I can't conjure up any sort of emotional opinion about it. "Deutsch Nepal" is a short march-like piece with some interesting Mellotron. Other than that, however, it's entirely uninteresting. The closer "Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge" is a folky track that almost goes into full-on bluegrass territory. Despite some nice violin work, there's little to write about here.

There really isn't anything about Wolf City that is worth getting excited about. It's an average album by every definition of the term. Every interesting musical idea that the band presents fails to develop itself, so the dull moments seem to permeate the majority of this short piece of work. "Jail-House Frog" is the only consistently interesting and enjoyable track on the album. Also, Renate's vocals are absolutely terrible. This woman has a piercing and unmelodious voice that is an absolute chore to listen to. I understand that such things are entirely subjective, but I can't help but feel strongly about them. Fortunately, though, her vocals only appear on two of these songs. Overall, Wolf City is a continuation of the downward spiral that Amon Duul II was experiencing at the time. It's an uninteresting and average work that is saved from total mediocrity by only a few desperate factors.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#566658)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Compact Krautrock

Complete novices to the genre that seem too scared to try any of the more avant works that Krautrock offers might want to go to WOLF CITY. Most of the (relatively) short album dabbles more with old-fashioned art-rock than what Krautrock is known for. Swiss band Brainticket explored similar creative outlets in PSYCHONAUT, but that album suffers immensely from low quality material and half-hearted performances. WOLF CITY sounds like seasoned veterans with their hearts into the music.

Renate Knaup's voice is a subject of debate; me personally, hearing Brainticket's female singer makes me instantly run to this band. I would call her voice more than competent, and the two tracks (the first two) where her voice is slotted in a main role, she really adds a good tone to the song. There are other vocalists present, but they're not to offensive although ''Deutsch Nepal'' can get a little goony. The track itself sounds like a march to nowhere; even with the heavy mellotron, it's the weakest track.

Amazingly, Amon Duul II can create song-bites with a multitude of ideas and yet make each song flow smoothly. It's all about proper timing and making each idea worthwhile; Amon Duul II has this where others don't. And to top it off, the themes running around are quite catchy. Try not to get into the groove of ''Green Bubble Raincoated Man'' or ''Jail House Frog''. The former of the tracks is the highlight of the album; it builds to a spectacular climax.

The short jam title track also really deserves a strong mention for grabbing that pantheon of pure adrenaline surging hard rock. ''Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge'' doesn't hit the same adrenaline, but it revolves around great ideas (with auxiliary percussion for flavour). It's really pleasant art-rock Krautrock the rest of the way with ''Wie der Wind?'' being entirely based on a bassline planted in the middle of ''Green Bubble Raincoated Man'' (but in a slightly different context) and ''Surrounded by the Stars'' having a Bowie feel.

If you feel too timid to get into WOLF CITY, don't. It's got a safety net for regular proggers and newcomers as to not blindingly offend them. The Krautrock fans might worry about a softening of the sound, but the tracks are of top-notch quality.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#769619)
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Wolf City finds Amon Duul II continuing their attempt to leaven their far-out hyper-psychedelic Krautrock sound with more accessible song structures and compositions. Some may argue that this is exactly what their sound needed, but to me the Amon Duul II magic lay in precisely how far out they took their psychedelic voyages. As far as a smooth, easy introduction to Amon Duul II goes, Wolf City really only introduces the listener to the sound they were adopting precisely to attract new listeners - it doesn't really prepare them for the glorious of albums like Phallus Dei or Tanz Der Lemminge. Just hold your nose and dive in at the deep end, you're a grown-up now.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#955461)
Posted Tuesday, May 07, 2013 | Review Permalink

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