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The Cosmic Jokers


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3 stars Without a question one of the all time greatest examples of space travel without the water wings! If "Galactic Supermarket" does not absolutely blow your lips off then I'll eat my spacesuit! COSMIC JOKERS take ASH RA TEMPEL to the next dimension tossing in the sound-bites of classic psychedelia along the way. The COSMIC JOKERS were a short lived German offshoot band who clearly had creative improvisation aspirations while writing and recording. This all star lineup includes Klaus Schulze, Harald Grosskoff, Manuel Gottsching, Dieter Dierks and Jorgen Dollase so this should sort of give a idea already as to the direction and sound of the band. Essentially "Galactic Supermarket" is 2 overly long but scrumptious epic space jams which are given pure unconditional space to explore space in a space like way. Musically this album blends acid laced guitar solos over Schulze's analog space bedding with zainy soundbites and forboding atmospheres. "Galactic Supermarket" will certainly freak you and your grandma out while sitting on the couch. An original and masterful piece of space prog !

Report this review (#28813)
Posted Thursday, March 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Unbelievably mindblowing stuff from a project that costed the career of Rolf Ulrich Kaiser, the owner of the Ohr, Pilz, and Kosmische Musik labels (because he released these albums without anyone involved knowing).

"Galactic Supermarket" was the second of a series of COSMIC JOKERS releases. Here, you get some of the big names of the Krautrock scene (at least the Ohr/Pilz/Kosmische Musik labels), that is Manuel Göttsching, Klaus SCHULZE, Harald Großkopf, Dieter Dierks, Jürgen Dollase, Rosi Müller, and Gille Lettman, jamming away, creating some of the most freaked out music ever. It's a bit harder to review this album than say, the first ASH RA TEMPEL (where I can describe the first piece as a heavy rocking piece, and the second, and final piece as more ambient and mellow). There are only two side length tracks here, "Kinder des Alls" and the title track. But what is easy to tell, is who is playing what. SCHULZE played organ and synth like it came off Cyborg, Göttsching played guitar like it came off Join Inn, and Dollase played the additional keyboards SCHULZE did not play, like piano and even Mellotron.

This is truly freaked out stuff, with tons of great analog synths, percussion, experiments with echo, and occasional female voices from Rosi and Gille. And while the COSMIC JOKERS more than pissed-off Klaus SCHULZE, this music is way better than SCHULZE would have you believe, and I'd be perfectly happy to have music like this, if you knew this was actually going to be released and the guy behind the label you're recording for didn't try to rip you off. Aside from the controversy, this is truly a classic in spacy Krautrock, highly recommended to all who enjoy ASH RA TEMPEL early TANGERINE DREAM, early SCHULZE, etc.

Report this review (#28814)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For my part I find this album less coherent, consistent than their previous studio jamming session. The jam is developped as if the musicians were isolated each other in individual rooms. However it´s more ecclectic and covers a large range of sounds notably thanks to keyboards exercices. The music is still "lysergic", with lot of intersidereal effects (thanks to Klaus Schulze), the bluesy kraut guitar signature of Manuel Gottsching and Grosskopf perpetual rolling drum parts. We can notice than the presence of Jurgen Dollase is more evident in this album. He provides some elegant grand piano scales in "Kinder Des Alls". Each composition is divided into three parts. The album starts with an enthousiastic "cosmical" effervescence with catchy bluesy piano lines and psych notes from Gottsching. The cosmic, molecular machines get a rather discreet place in the bacground. The improvisation is good but the keyboards sounds really suck, very dated stuff and rather burlesque, but it surely due to the concept of the album. The second par of "Kinder des Alls" is conducted by real atmospheric, haunted synth chorus covered by strange "pipe" synth manipulations. The title track represents the most interesting part of the album, opened with spacey "tremolo" guitar (obtained by delay effects) with this usual bluesy sections and sinister organ parts. The two "Cosmic" ladies (Gille Lettmann, Rosie) introduce the concept of the album in narration.
Report this review (#71883)
Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album along with the group's self-titled first record are in my opinion the most pleasing albums from this interesting project band.

A-side opens straight with drums to an intense acid rock improvisation, which evolves pleasantly and following the logic of the dreams, leading to a beautiful religious cosmic revelation in assured Klaus Schulze way. Some jazzy tryout's lead to the pastures of more open and free musical playgrounds.

B-side presents synthesizer layers which lead to a warming up for the avant-gardist trip, going more deeper than the first side of the album. Later the jam starts to get stable rhythm and groove from the guitar and drums, contrasting interestingly with accessible and elitist musical elements. Also cosmic ladies Gille and Rosie visit the album for some reciting over the shamanist sequences. Sadly the music fades out as there sounded something interesting to start with the keyboards. Maybe this sense frustration is the cause for my general dislike to fadeout solutions. If they do not affect the listening experience but support it, then there are no problems with them.

Anyway, this record is in my opinion a very good cosmic krautrock album, but maybe not as good as their self-titled masterpiece.

Report this review (#207915)
Posted Saturday, March 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars An all-star lineup here with Dierks, Schulze, Gottsching, Grosskopf and Dollase playing the instruments while Gilli and Rosie offer up some spoken vocals. Apparently this album and their debut were recorded while on a break from doing the "Tarot" album with Walter Wegmuller, a great record by the way. Anyway none of the band knew this was being recorded and when these LPs were released they received no royalties. Needless to say the man responsible was taken to court and punished but the damage was done. The good news is we get two really amazing Krautrock albums. I do like the debut better, mostly because of Gottsching's guitar work on the first track. There's not much to choose between the two though in my opinion. One thing "Galactic Supermarket" has that the debut doesn't is mellotron.There's more spoken female vocals too which are very psychedelc.

"Kinder Des Alls" is divided into three parts but they all blend together.Same with the other song on here. Drums, guitar and keyboards lead the way early. Gottsching sounds amazing as usual. Check out the mellotron to end (part A) and to start (part B) it's so majestic and beautiful. Keyboards come in and other sounds as mellotron continues until after 3 1/2 minutes. Organ takes over. The final part has those female spoken words, drums and lots of Klaus Schulze. Great section.

"Galactic Supermarket" is very spacey to open and it's building as guitar and drums join in. It settles as whispered words come in then guitar. It turns spacey with organ and drums come in. Very experimental to end this first part.The second part is calm to begin with as percussion and a beat starts. Sounds like flute too.The guitar is making some noise. Synths before 4 minutes as drums pound. Organ late.The last part opens with Klause and Female vocals that echo. Very psychedelic. Drums are joined by the guitar which starts to lead with spacey synths joining in as well. Crazy out of control stuff here as spoken words are heard. A wall of sound after 7 minutes to the end.

Every Krautrock fan needs to hear THE COSMIC JOKERS first two albums. Classic.

Report this review (#231118)
Posted Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What a cosmic joke did the Fates of Music bring to all prog rock lovers around the world when the (arguably) best krautrock ensemble ever never happened to be a proper band but a congregation of accomplished musicians who out of friendship and pleasure managed to do some excellent jam sessions in a recording studio. This is what The Cosmic Jokers were all about, and the second release "Galactic Supermarket" happens to be my personal favorite of the whole bunch released by Mr. Dierks. The reasons why this sophomore release by this (non-) krautrock project appeals to be as the apex are: 1) the sonic pallet is wider, hence allowing the musicians to expand more effectively on the magic that was occurring at the time; 2) the ensemble's sound in itself feels tighter and more focused, without losing that sort of free-form edge that usually makes the best of the special atmospheres we appreciate as typical of hard edged krautrock. The guitar leads happen to enjoy a more focused protagonist role, as the soaring moods and spacey displays provided by the dual keyboard inputs get conveniently enhanced in the mix. Regarding the latter point, the way in which the electric and grand pianos and the mellotron enter in places to state specific orchestrations and ornaments is just lovely. Grosskopf's drum kit also happens to be enhanced in the mix, in this way generating a strengthened role for the rhythmic pulsations evolving throughout the jams. Like I said, this ensemble sounds more powerful than in their already great debut release. 'Kinder des Alls' fills the album's first half, bearing a solid presence of jazz-rock cadences fueled by Grottsching's stylish phrases (somewhere between McLaughlin and Hendrix). The second section slows down into a set of cosmic languidness, featuring synthesizer and mellotron, building up a dreamy ambience closely related to pre-"Phaedra" TD. With the arrival of the third section, the lead guitar returns to the front, only this time sharing the spotlight with the pairing of Dollase's organ and Schulze's synthesizer, in a sort of refurbishment of the framework that had been elaborated in the first section. IMHO, this is the album's peak, but I won't dismiss the other sidelong track at all. Not at all. 'Galactic Supermarket' is constructed in the psychedelic prog rock parameters, with Schulze and Dollase emerging many times as the dual leaders of the musical journey. The third and last section happens to be more oriented toward the free-form logic, with all musicians gathered in a somewhat challenging chaos, yet still revealing how well each musician is paying attention to the others. For instance, we've got synthesized machine gun effects that punctuate some funky guitar strumming, while, in some other passage, Dollase's playful piano chords counteract against the rhythm duo's delivery. We've got also some spoken female vocals that seem to work as priestess' evocations. It is a pity that the fade-out should get in so soon. Anyway, I thank these guys for the music, which I regard as indispensable for all true lovers of Ash Ra Tempel, first-era Guru Guru and Agitation Free. A krautrock masterpiece, this is, indeed.
Report this review (#236496)
Posted Wednesday, September 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In the spring of 73, one Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser brought musicians from Ash Ra Tempel and Wallenstein together for a couple of impromptu jams. He recorded and released those sessions without ever consulting or paying any of the musicians involved. Not to their liking obviously.

Galactic Supermarket was the second album released from these 1973 sessions. It features the same line-up joined by two women - high on LSD - that provide the occasional echoed scream. Kaiser had already used up the best stuff on the first release, but there are still gems her, especially in the first half.

Kinder Des Alls I is a rocking workout that sounds like a draft version of ideas fit for an Ash Ra Temple release, but it's not of an equal quality standard. Good for fans still.

Kinder Des Alls II is easily the highlight of the album. Mellotron choirs start with a variation on the 'choir theme' from A Saucerful of Secrets. It's joined with percussion and effects. In the second half Schulze takes the lead with droning organs and synths doing an abstract and dissonant interpretation of what preceded. This is as good as what you will find on Irrlicht and Cyborg, but it's only 6 minutes long unfortunately.

It's mixed in with Kinder Des Alls III that continues the desolate feel of part II. The stoned girlfriends wake up and excite the band for a dense dissonant piece with pounding percussion and some good runs down the keyboards from Schulze and Dollase.

The three parts of Galactic Supermarket give ample reasons to the artists to be mad at Kaiser. Not only did he rip them off, he also released material here that none of the artist can have been really happy about. Göttsching is merely strumming some chords here while Schulze twists some random knobs on his synths. Pure chance music, without much coherence or purpose and I seriously doubt if Schulze or Göttsching would have released this if they had any say in it, at least not without further refining the good parts. The last 3 minutes of Part III bring a short moment of focus that is worth zapping forward to.

Despite its questionable origins, this second Cosmic Jokers album still contains some excellent moments of inspiration amidst lots of disjointed jamming that never should have seen the light of day. If the first Cosmic Jokers album was generally recommended to fans of Ash Ra Tempel and early Schulze, TD, Floyd; then I would recommend this one just to the Cosmic Jokers fans.

Report this review (#341397)
Posted Friday, December 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Galactic Supermarket sounds a lot like the first Cosmic Jokers album - no surprise, given that they came from the exact same informal jam session that was secretly recorded and released without the artists' permission by Cosmic Couriers head honcho Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser. It's just as good as the previous album, though I would say this and the self-titled debut are the only Jokers albums you really need - Planeten Sit-In covers inessential scraps from the legendary session, whilst the other two albums consist of tracks from other Cosmic Couriers label artists edited (and, in the case of one of the albums, with Kaiser's girlfriend singing over them). In short, they're for collectors only, whilst this album and the first one covers all the Jokers material that's worth actively seeking out.
Report this review (#506473)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Krautrock guru Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser's bid to save the world through music and LSD reached critical mass with the Cosmic Jokers project in the mid-1970s: a series of informal jam sessions packaged and sold without consent from the musicians involved. Or so goes the accepted legend, disputed by at least one participant: Manuel Göttsching of ASH RA TEMPEL, who later claimed he always had a contract and did in fact receive token royalties (he also said there weren't any hard drugs involved).

Sounds to me like a retroactive whitewash. On the other hand, it pays to be skeptical these days, and who can really say how much of the Cosmic Jokers myth is Internet-Age hearsay: another web-fed rumor with a viral life of its own?

The only sure thing about the whole messy episode is the music left behind, in many ways a goldmine for Krautrock anthropologists and armchair astral travelers. The first Cosmic Jokers album (all five were released in a single calendar year) remains a certified kosmische classic, but some of that magic was conspicuously missing the second time around. Obviously the highlights of the studio jams plundered by R.U. Kaiser were reserved for the first LP; this one is a little more fractured and episodic, presented (like much of the best Krautrock) in a pair of monumental side-long tracks but assembled with less underpinning or purpose.

Still, enough momentum was carried over to ensure a good trip. The album opener "Kinder des Alls" leaps immediately forward on the strength of Manuel Göttsching's distinctive psychedelic-blues guitar, played in a more recognizably rock-based manner, up to a point anyway, before the music gradually collapses and coalesces elsewhere. WALLENSTEIN's Jürgen Dollase is a stronger presence on this album, with his heavenly mellotron chords and cascading grand piano pushed forward in the mix, often overpowering the desultory synthesizer outbursts from Klaus Schulze.

The title track holds together with a little more coherence, thanks in large part (once again) to some heroic riffing by M. Göttsching (keep in mind 'coherence' was always a relative measure with this group...) And for the first but certainly not last time on a Cosmic Jokers album the stoned whispers and shrieking of Kaiser's girlfriend Gille Lettman (aka 'Starmaiden') can be heard, as always through several layers of echo effects, for that maximum lysergic headrush.

The truth about what actually transpired at the Cologne studio of Dieter Dierks may never be known. But when considering the balance of the Cosmic Jokers catalogue this much is obvious: after the second album R.U. Kaiser should have quit while he was ahead.

Report this review (#626404)
Posted Saturday, February 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars If you enjoyed your first trip, you'll enjoy the second one too

3.5 stars

Only a few weeks after the self-titled 'debut' album, Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser released "Galactic Supermarket". Manuel Göttshing supposedly discovered its existence by accident, when hearing the vinyl in a record shop in Berlin. He enjoyed it and naturally asked the shopkeeper what band did the music come from, without even knowing he was a member!

Without surprises, the formula is similar to the first disc: two 20 minutes long 'Kosmische Musik'. However, there is a noticeable difference this time, as both tracks are rather homogeneous, in terms of style and quality. No side is really more rock-oriented, more ambient or more spacey than the other one. The same instruments are used, some additional spaced-out vocals from Rosi Müller (Göttshing's wife) and Gille Lettmann (Kaiser's wife) contribute to the trippy ambiance. The synthesizers are also slightly more present.

"Kinder Des Alles" ("Children Of Everything" in English) can be divided in three parts. The first section is a weird electro-psych rock jam. A little messy but enjoyable. The synthesized second section is my favorite. Maybe this is the soundtrack you hear when you go to heaven. An ethereal and contemplative passage, breathtaking! Then the music becomes more experimental and tense, alternating different improvisations. The ending accelerates and displays mystical sonorities, reminding a little the space-folk of APHRODITE'S CHILD'S "666". Nice and original.

The title track offers roughly the same mixture of instrumentations. A long psychedelic electro-rock'n'roll trance, where keyboards sound either quite strange and ramshackle, or very trippy. Overall pleasant.

Compared to the self-titled first release, "Galactic Supermarket" is a little more psychedelic and less cosmic, a bit less remarkable too, but nonetheless better balanced. To sum up, the tracks are not as memorable as "Galactic Joke", but better than "Cosmic Joy". Therefore, there are no reason to skip this album during your journey into 'Kosmische Musik'.

Krautrock, space rock and ASH RA TEMPEL travellers, be sure to park your spaceship at least one time on the parking of this supermarket...

Report this review (#1582678)
Posted Saturday, June 25, 2016 | Review Permalink

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