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Agitation Free River Of Return album cover
3.25 | 27 ratings | 4 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. River Of Return (8:24)
2. 2 Part 2 (5:46)
3. Fame's Mood (4:10)
4. Susie Sells Seashells At The Seashore (10:01)
5. The Obscure Carousel (5:16)
6. Nomads (7:07)
7. Das Kleine Uhrwerk (5:04)
8. 177 Spectacular Sunrises (13:08)
9. Keep On (3:57)

Total time 62:53

Bonus tracks on 2009 CD reissue:
9. Keep On (3:57)
10. First Communication (Live *) (10:14)

* Recorded 1972, Moers, Germany

Line-up / Musicians

- Lutz Ulbrich / electric & acoustic guitars, ukulele, keyboards
- Gustl Lutjens / electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards
- Michael Günther / bass, keyboards
- Burghard Rausch / drums

- Chris Dehler / vocals
- Bernhard Potschka / acoustic guitar, mandolin, udu, sampler, producer
- Koma / bagpipes
- Alto Pappert / tenor sax
- Minas Suluyan / percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Anton Zinkl

CD Prudence - 398.6552.2 (1999, Germany)
CD Revisited Rec. - REV 103 (2009, Germany) Remastered by Klaus Wagner with 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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AGITATION FREE River Of Return ratings distribution

(27 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(22%)
Good, but non-essential (48%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

AGITATION FREE River Of Return reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

I am not always sure groups should reform some twenty or thirty years later. Some are reforming just for a tour and are in for the fun and generally out to give the fun to the fans also. Where things are getting slippery is when they feel obliged to write a studio album and they are unable to catch the greatness of their heydays, unfortunately unable/afraid to write stuff as they were younger. So generally, I am wary and avoid common rock bands 's returns.

Nothing of the sort here: Agitation Free's latest release is quite fine (although it does not match the heights of their first two albums) and quite worthy of them. Most of the core members are in in fine form and many guest provide the world-music instruments. All of the tracks are of very good standard , maybe not of the impossibly high adventurous type of the early 70's, but manage to resemble what a fan might hope for such an album: honest , worthy and artisticly sound.

Most tracks will remind you of the good old days but without any nostalgic feelings that might alter your judgment. The downpoint might be the didgeridoo brak on the first tracks that seems to be uncalled for but is soon forgotten. The adding of a sax player (he obviously is very influenced by Supertramp's Helliwell) gives Lutjens and Ullbrich some space to breathe. Recommended to any Agit Free fan but do not expect Malesch-calibre stuff even though there are winks/hints of it.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Nice return to form for these legends.

If someone asked me to briefly describe the sound of "River of Return" I might say it reminds me of the mellower side of Djam Karet mixed with a shot of Meddle-era Floyd. Or I could go with the note on the back of the CD which says to "file under psychedelic ambient pop." Either way, the album is a space rock fan's delight. It reminds me very much of Djam's "Ascension" album though perhaps a bit less weird and with the nice addition of saxophone.

The title track begins with 2 ˝ minutes of a chord picked out on acoustic with some light sax creeping in, before the band arrives. The next 6 minutes deliver a mid tempo rhythm with occasional pleasant guitar or sax solos before the acoustic from the beginning returns. "2 part 2" is a spacey hodge-podge of synths, bass, assorted noises to a straight up drum beat. Half way through they tear into a sweet electric guitar solo that stretches to the end of the song-great! "Fame's Mood" is an excuse for a nice bluesy little solo. Next up is the 10 minute "Susie Sells Seashells at the Seashore" and with that title it better deliver, right? Well it's quite different from the "normal" songs we've heard so far, this is pure experimental ambient noisescapes, way weird, way out there. Over the constant sound of waves rolling in, you have various strange keyboard samples rising like an Eno album with other bizarre parts making occasional entrances. Nice stuff, especially for the psychedelic warriors out there. "The Obscure Carousel" takes a lazy pace with some nice sparring between guitar and sax, nothing mind blowing but it's nice. "Nomads" is a highlight, beginning with hand percussion and very slowly adding a distant bubbly bass, acoustic rhythm guitars and some tortured electric soloing. Later the acoustics will solo a bit but the way the track builds so nicely is the story here. "Das Kleine" begins with folksy strumming and acoustic slide sounding a bit like an old acid jug band. They trade off on some rippin acoustic jams that would get Garcia and Grisman all hot and bothered. Yet they never lose the pretty melody holding it together. Nice. Last is the 13 minute mini-epic I suppose, "177 Spectacular Sunrises," which like Susie above shifts back to ambient drift and wide open canvas for spacey noodlings. This one is more minimalist than and not as interesting to me as Susie though it works. The bonus track "Keep On" is a rather unmemorable "straight" sounding pop-rock throwaway. A few nice guitar licks but really adds nothing after the long space piece.

So we have a very nice updating of the Agitation Free sound, they maintain their traditions but add a modern sound and quality production. It's not an essential album but it will please space rock fans I think. I especially feel that fans of Djam Karet should not miss this album. Plenty of medium gear rock with good guitar work and pleasant melodies married to the ambient meditative half. 3 ˝ stars.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars Attempting a comeback after 25 years can be a risky venture, especially for an aging band so closely tied to a vanished zeitgeist, in this case the restless counterculture of early 1970s Germany. But Agitation Free got it exactly right for their improbable late '90s reunion, striking an ideal balance between nostalgia and change.

The classic AF lineup last heard in 1974 was still intact, minus keyboard guru Michael Hoenig, who at the time was occupied with crummy Hollywood soundtrack commissions, emulating his idols in Tangerine Dream. His absence would force the remaining players to pursue a bigger, brighter sound, far removed from the band's Krautrock roots but entirely appropriate for the more streamlined musical climate of the 1990s. 'Accessible' can be a dirty word in Progressive Rock circles, but it works here, and the band's jammy instrumental vibe wasn't compromised in the slightest.

The title track opens the album on an unexpected (and very pretty) acoustic guitar phrase, courtesy of Gustl Lütjens. The added saxophone is another surprise, alerting listeners that the band was no longer living in the past. Or at least not entirely: some of that spacey early '70s DNA resurfaces in the awkwardly titled "She Sells Seashells at the Seashore", one of two cuts breaking the ten-minute threshold. The past is likewise present in "Nomads", a groovy dream of Arab caravans recalling the band's travels throughout the Near East before recording their first album in 1972.

Both tracks reference the same cosmic heritage, but without sounding at all retrograde. Ditto the climactic "177 Spectacular Sunrises", closing the album on a drifting meditative note consistent with the band's Krautrock origins, but updated to the uncertain end of a turbulent millennium.

It's too bad that perfectly timed curtain was then spoiled by an atypical bonus track: the hard-rocking encore "Keep On": not a bad song, but all-too conventional after the uncanny voyage preceding it.

The reformation was brief, and another decade would pass before the band was heard again (see: Shibuya Nights"). But if this ends up being the final Agitation Free studio album it'll be remembered as a worthwhile valedictory, especially for a group more than two decades away from home.

Latest members reviews

2 stars The reformation of Agitation Free saw two albums. This is the first of these two albums and by far the best one. Gone is the wild guitar solos from the first incarnation of Agitation Free. In comes a lot more laidback approach to Krautrock/Space rock than before. The music is much more based o ... (read more)

Report this review (#460683) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, June 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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