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IKARUS

Ikarus

Eclectic Prog


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Ikarus Ikarus album cover
3.85 | 71 ratings | 10 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Eclipse: (15:24)
a) Skyscrapers
b) Sooner or later
2. Mesentery (6:11)
3. The raven (including "Theme for James Marshall") (11:43)
4. Early bell's voice (7:43)

Total Time: 41:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Lorenz Köhler / lead vocals
- Wolfgang Kracht / bass, back vocals
- Jochen Petersen / acoustic & electric guitars, alto & tenor saxes, flute, clarinet, back vocals
- Bernd Schroder / drums, percussion
- Manfred Schulz / guitar, lead vocals (4), back vocals
- Wulf-Dieter Struntz / organ, piano

Releases information

LP Plus 4/Millner International
Reissued on CD Second Battle SB 032, 1995

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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IKARUS Ikarus ratings distribution


3.85
(71 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
20%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(54%)
54%
Good, but non-essential (20%)
20%
Collectors/fans only (3%)
3%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

IKARUS Ikarus reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
4 stars Sole album from an early 70's German (from Hamburg I think) sextet Ikarus, whose reputation as a pioneer of jazz-rock is a bit over-done. Let's just say that they're a typical prog group with symphonic and jazz influences, a bit ala Crimson. Lead by multi-instrumentalist Jochen Petersen (guitars & winds), the group develops a wide soundscape in just four tracks (the shortest being well over 6 mins) that goes as far as electronic twiddling and string arrangements.

The 15-mins Eclipse starts out blues-like with a big guitar riff, but soon evolves into excellent phases of instrumental interplay, while Kohler's voice and accent being rather convincing, but the lyrics (not necessarily his when reading the credits) are not quite so. The opening track is quite interesting with its multiple movements including the organ-filled Scyscraper over symphonic layers (incl mellotrons) and ending in electronic birdsongs and other bruitist stuff. The following Mesentery is the weakest track of the album and disappears in a kosmic and spacey interlude before returning via string layers. The flipside opens on TV or Radio jingle ?like riff, which is the start of the other epic, the 11-mins Raven where Petersen's wind instruments soar, then suddenly (abruptly) morphing into a psych/space improv in its middle section before climbing back gradually via a an heard-elsewhere riff (Heep's Gypsy Woman) and ending in footsteps. The closing track (sung by guitarist Schulz) Early Bell's Voice is a strange trip through ether-modified soundscapes where the organ dominates until disappearing into a knell tolling its madness. Strange ending.

This was to be their only album (now very rare and expensive as a vinyl), most of the members continuing their musical foray, but not necessarily in prog circles, with leader Petersen becoming a record producer later in the decade after passing through Cornucopia. While I wouldn't call Ikarus essential to your collection, it is surely good enough to earn a spot in it and therefore deserving its fourth star.

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars IKARUS were Germany's pioneers of progressive jazz-rock fusion whose one album IKARUS is treasured amongst music fans world wide. Thanks to the folks at Second Battle you and I can now enjoy this classic album. This band blend the heavy musical molasses of KING CRIMSON with the organ led rock fusion sounds of fellow German bands VIRUS and OUT OF FOCUS... and toss in just a pinch of SOFT MACHINE. The album consists of four long tracks with emphasis on guitar and organ interplay, but the use of flute, saxophone and clarinet adds more color to their compositions. Third track "The Raven" opens up with a very much pro ZAPPA'esque introduction before retiring into the land of organ-space rock. Band was comprised of Jochen Petersen (guitar, sax, flute, clarinet, vocals), Wulf Dichter Struntz (organ, piano), Manfred Schulz (guitar, vocals), Wolfgang Kracht (bass, vocals), Lorenz Kohler (vocals) and Bernd Schroder (drums, percussion). Complete with mellotron, space excursions and long tracks this album will certainly please your ears.

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the unique album made by a rather obscure german little band. This album delivers very imaginative progressive/ jazz compositions with a touch of space rock feelings ("Mesentery", Early bell's voice). The opening track offers a captivating, powerful and epic jazz/ rock tune brightly excecuted with full of electric organ arrengements...'Mesentery' is more a dreamy piece of space-rock with some cool jazzy accents...The atmosphere of this album is really orientated to 70s german rock with its totally free musical experience. A fascinating journey through Ikarus universe.
Review by Proghead
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In my never-ending pursuit of little known prog rock albums, here's another one worth checking in to. This German band (not to be confused with any other band called IKARUS, like the one who released Touch the Sun) released this one and only album in 1971. Often regarded as one of the first progressive jazz-rock albums to come out of Germany, to me, the music is actually simply progressive, but does have lots of great sax work (from Jochen Petersen). Because of the presences of sax, as well as Hammond organ, the comparisons to VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR can't be avoided. But unlike VdGG, the band also included strings on a couple of the cuts, and there's some Krautrock tendencies included (the occasional spacy passages remind me a little of TANGERINE DREAM's "Alpha Centauri").

But the one thing the band isn't so great on are the lyrics. It sounds like they had problems grasping the English language, so the first song, expressing the band's concerns for the environment ended up writing lyrics that literally go: "Save the nature/It's a treasure". That has got to be some of the worst lyrics I have ever heard, and it's too bad it has to be a song protesting environmental destruction. The rest of the album features more or less lyrics that make little sense, except for one song using a poem from Edgar Allen Poe. Lyrics aside, this album demonstrates all that's great of early '70s prog rock, and if you like that stuff, get yourself this album.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Real Gem of the 70s!

You wanna hear the true sounds of the seventies? Get this album! Oh yes, this album is a perfect example of how the 70s music sounds like. Musically, you might refer this band to something like Colosseum, Mountain, Steve Marriott, Mahogany Rush, Eloy or even King Crimson. The opening track "Eclipse" (15:25) is so captivating and it brings you back to the glory days of the 70s! I'm sure if you were really there in the seventies, you would definitely say that this band is representative of that era. My memory brings me back even to Canadian band Moxy where the music is also similar to this one. The most interesting part of this track is its walking bass guitar sounds that circumvent the whole musical stream of this song. So stunning bass playing and it's quite dominant! Of course there are lots of mellotron sounds augmented with acoustic guitar fills. The organ solo in the middle of the track at approx 7:40 is also very nice and it's so 70s! I love this track wholeheartedly man! It's so cool, so powerful!

"Mesentery" brings the music into rough style in relatively fast tempo with percussion, bass, guitar, organ and vocal line. The intrusion of flute that follows after first vocal verse is truly brilliant. The flute style is like Ian Anderson but the music is like a classic rock music. It's really a nice composition. Bass guitar still gives its inventive contribution to the song.

"The Raven" opening seems like early King Crimson music. It's relatively complex opening with some jazzy touch and excellent rhythm section, using soprano sax as solo. After immediate break at approx minute 2:30 the music continues into avant-garde exploration with powerful flute work. It's really a treat for those who love classic rock with flute sounds. When the vocal enters the music turns into a bit of blues influenced style with excellent organ work.

The concluding track "Early Bell's Voice" is a mellow track with soaring organ work and still a dynamic bass guitar work. Piano sound enriches the song, combined with stunning guitar and brass section. Hen vocal enters the music in the middle of the track, it reminds me to the music of Colosseum.

Overall, this is a real gem of the seventies that most of you like the classic rock / prog music would love it very much. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars IKARUS were an early 6 piece Krautrock band who sang in English and featured sax, flute, clarinet, organ, piano and some strings besides the usual instruments. They just released this one album back in 1971, and it's interesting reading the lyrics to see how much they cared about the enviroment back then.

"Eclipse" hits the ground running as vocals come in. It settles after 1 1/2 minutes and the sax starts to lead the way as organ, bass and drums continue. Some solo acoustic guitar 3 minutes in. It's building. Vocals return as it settles once again. It kicks back in after 4 1/2 minutes. Themes are repeated. What a fantastic song ! Nice organ / bass section 8 minutes in. Strings after 9 1/2 minutes. Check out the emotion in the vocals 13 minutes in. It ends with the sounds of nature that blend into "Mesentery". It kicks into gear but the vocals are laid back here. The vocal melodies that come and go give it a sixties feel. Nice. Flute comes in. It turns spacey 4 1/2 minutes in as drums continue. Strings join in as well.

"The Raven (Including Theme For James Marshall)" is led by organ and sax early, drums are prominant 1 1/2 minutes in. The organ and sax are back. A dead calm 2 1/2 minutes in then it turns into a haunting mood. Flute comes in. Vocals before 4 minutes. It's raining after 7 minutes. A brighter mood follows. Cool. Piano 10 minutes in with strings to follow. "Early Bell's Voice" opens with piano as organ, drums and bass follow. The tempo picks up. The sax leads the way when it settles after 2 1/2 minutes. Psychedelic vocals join in. Normal vocals 5 minutes in as bass, drums and organ support. It turns dissonant late to end it.

A solid 4 stars.

Review by Guldbamsen
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin
4 stars Hubris and flight

First of all a big thanks to John (Mellotron Storm) for leading this horse to water. I´d like to start off with a bit of history, although a fair portion of our western society have probably heard this fatal and woeful story of misplaced courage and futility. Many of us know the original tale of Icarus. His father Daedalus had built the enormous labyrinth to hold in the terrifying Minotaur. To keep the world from knowing the inner workings of this massive and enigmatic prison, king Minos kept both Daedalus and Icarus captive on the island of Crete. With no chance of escape, Daedalus again proved his ingenuity and by tying feathers together with wax and thread, he orchestrated their airborne jailbreak. Although the father had warned Icarus of the dangers of flight, the son flew too high and too close to the warmth of the sun - melting his wings of wax, and plummeted to his death in the open ocean.

This album mirrors the flight of Icarus through its music, but also in its message. Oh yes, this is one of those... This German band was obviously out to save the rainforest along with the rest of our natural wonders. You can pick this up in the lyrics, which I personally find to be a bit on the saccharine side. Lines like "Mankind what are you doing, Mankind where are you going" and "Save the nature, because it´s a treasure" - doesn´t exactly approach the lyrical heights of a Gabriel, but somehow the record does not fall flat on it´s face like some drugged out hippy with half a mescaline cactus up the bum. I tune the lyrics out, when I listen to Ikarus, and spend my time listening to the fabulous organ playing, the tight drum-work, the funky bouncy bass and the shifts from angular saxophone runs to delightful flute serenading. Oh yes these guys can play. I often think of The Moodies, even though Ikarus probably is much closer to Raw Material and early Van Damme Generator. I think it has something to do with how the mellotron is used. Though sitting comfortably in the back, you are quite aware of this the progger´s best friend, and on here it has that velvety sound, I often get from a Moodies release. On top of this, the second track features some ethereal backing vocals that instantly makes me think of A Question of Balance. The guy playing flute here isn´t that far from Ray Thomas either, and in my book that is no small feat.

So we´ve got some early English symphonics in play here, such as you´d find in The Moodies and Cressida, but furthermore Ikarus has a distinct psychedelic flavour. The music can be lofty and ethereal - floating on air, for then to grow strange extremities and plunge right into some fuzzed out swampy landscapes. The guitar gets more aggressive and growling - the cymbals starts flying and the sax runs free like a tortured mustang jumping out of its pen. On these high notes the music takes on some fusion like qualities, especially due to the sax or clarinet, and I can quite easily picture myself flying on precarious wax wings under a flaming orange skin sun.

The main focus of this record, although released in Germany under the frivolous and structureless Krautrock regime, is by far the song writing. The passages through soft acoustic guitars and sorrow-filled flute harmonies over to cacophonous and slightly Canterburian jazz sections - feel right and true without any birth complications, and they float by effortlessly like round and elegant soap bubbles. Even when the speedometer is high in the red field, there´s an overwhelming balance between the players.

If you´re into The Least we can do is wave to each other, A Question of Balance, Raw Material or either of those 2 Cressida albums, then you should definitely go get this marvellous record, as it sounds like an unlawful and excruciating beautiful orgy of these artists combined.

It is obvious like an armadillo in high heels, that Ikarus´ sole album compares the way of the civilized world with all its ghastly iron structures, poisonous secretions, chainsaws, bulldozers, greed and throw away culture to the flight of Daedalus´ hubris struck son Icarus. We have flown too close to the sun, and now we must pay the ultimate price. As much as I think this is some hippie nonsense, I often wonder how close to the edge we as a global society can challenge the fragile balances of our ecosystem, and for that this album deserves a bit of credit, although I certainly don´t get this from the lyrics. No, if you want fragility and emotion, that speaks about the wonders of our world - be that the ruby red eye of the mystical viper or the infinite heights of the red wood trees, there is tons upon tons of stirring and soulful music within this release to quench your musical and imaginative thirst.

Review by GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ...and there's that organ again. I seem to be drawn towards the organ in the same way as moths to a flame. The difference being I love the closeness to the instrument and I am not burned to ashes by it. Rather it lifts my spirit.

Ikarus plays a certain brand of jazzy prog rock, laced with organ and brass. As a result it sounds alot like many european bands of the time. I hear Skin Alley, Hannibal, Steamhammer, The greatest show on Earth, Graham Bond, Focus, Isaiah and others. Pre-dominantly Ikarus holds a very british sound, though being, as you are aware, from Germany. The vocals are all dealt with in the english language, rather than german. I could have wished for them singing in their native tongue. I am quite partial to that and think it adds to the charm. But then again I can fully appreciate the reason for picking english, being, as it were and certainly is, one of the most spoken languages around, familiar to most people.

The opening track, and also the longest, really setting the pace with an intense jazzy beat. It is divided into several sections and is varied. The organ is ('And there he goes again!') beautifully played. Terrific piece that one.

The following track, "Mesentery", is slightly more mellow but also the more psychedelic. There is a dreamy, percussion-driven section which brings to mind Pink Floydian influences. It is a very atmospheric and beautiful piece, which suits the rhythm of the album, givven the fact that it holds both energetic and more dreamy, mellow songs.

"The raven" is the second longest track and is similar to the first one in energy and construction, though slightly more jazzy. It boasts a sort of free form-ish structure which I like very much. Ikarus manages to balance between structure and chaos in a very fine fashion. "The raven" is also made up of several sections.

The final track is very soothing and relaxing. "Early Bell's voice" is a genius way to end this album. Again, it is a dreamy sort of song. I feel like floating, in and out of the bosom of Time itself.

This is one fine album. If you are interested in jazzy prog this is for you. I love the warm sound of brass and organ together. It brings peace to me and when served in this excellent manner I can't help but be overwhelmed by love to the music of Ikarus. This is top stuff. Yes, it might come across as dated, because it sounds very much as the early 1970's. If that is not to your taste I suppose this album won't agree with you. BUT! If you like good old fashioned, vintage prog with a serious jazzyness to it, I suspect you will, at least, appreciate or even enjoy this one. I love it very much.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars IKARUS was a fairly short-lived band from Hamburg, Germany and only delivered one album in the midst of the early progressive rock years but stood out in the ever growing Krautrock crowds by having developed its own distinct sound. The band itself had its roots in a cover band called the Beatique In Corporation founded in 1966 and despite the members mostly having been classically educated, specialized in covers ranging from Elvis Presley to Tom Jones. BIC had its change in musical direction after winning a competition that found them included on a compilation titled "Pop & Blues Festival '70" on MCA Records and after that honor the sextet that included Lorenz Köhler (lead vocals), Wolfgang Kracht (bass, back vocals), Jochen Petersen (acoustic & electric guitars, alto & tenor saxes, flute, clarinet, back vocals), Bernd Schroder (drums, percussion), Manfred Schulz (guitar, lead vocals, back vocals) and Wulf-Dieter Struntz (organ, piano) would change the band name to IKARUS, however this version of the Greek mythological legend failed to soar so high before crashing.

While the German prog scene was unapologetically going its own way apart from the rest of Europe, certain bands like IKARUS were more in tune with the British scene than say with Can, Amon Duul II or other early bands like Xhol Caravan. Instead of long atmospheric nosedives into the world of psychedelic freakery, IKARUS was more about tight-knit instrumental interplay that crafted classically composed blues rock sounds into sprawling progressive behemoths with jazzy drumming and woodwind sections to conspire to create one of the most eclectic sounding albums of Germany's early progressive rock scene. This eponymously titled debut and sole album contained a mere four tracks but each stood apart from the other and at times makes you question if it's really the same band from beginning to end which showcases the eclectic musical mastery of IKARUS and its inclusion of highly trained musicians who finally had the chance to leave behind the simplicity of 60s pop covers and show their true talents with their own exquisitely designed composiitons.

Like many bands of the early 70s timeline, IKARUS had one foot firmly planted in the late 60s sounds of psychedelic rock and heavy psych with newer 70s elements of hard rock, jazz-fusion and the symphonic prog that was emerging in the UK. The opener "Eclipse" straddles on for over 15 minutes but is subdivided into the suites "Skyscapers" which takes on a heavy bluesy rock guitar riffing style augmented by a domineering organ, flute, ballsy bass and energetic drumming bombast. The track takes on some early Led Zeppelin characteristics in the guitar department and as well with the vocal style of Lorenz Köhler whose singing is probably the weakest link on the album but isn't actually that bad once you get used to it after a few listens. I'm not sure exactly where suite one ends and the second begins but the track takes a roller coaster ride through various movements that include acoustic guitar and heavier rock alternating and eventually culminating in a killer freaked out organ solo in the middle. The track with its somewhat funky bass groove is also the easiest composition to grasp hold of before the complexities of the following three takes many more liberties.

"Mesentery" is a huge improvement and displays a connection between the English band Marsupilami with its energetic zigzagging complexities in compositional prowess along with some of the organ and mellotron sounds that got the band often compared with Van Der Graaf Generator but the band never gets into those kinds of musical sophistication and despite being more disciplined than most Krautrock bands still favors the desire to find themselves into sprawling jams. The mid-section provides a strange psychedelic breakdown with guitar slides, angular drumming patterns and comes off a bit as the weird part of Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." Next up "The Raven" which finds a much more upbeat jazzy swing ushering a series of alternating sounds with some resembling a more jazzy psychedelic pop of The Doors with a Santana type of percussive business and a stealthy workout of progressive time signatures via the choppy bass and guitar riffs. This second track to exceed the 10 minute mark begins on a lighter upbeat mode before turning into a dark frightening otherworldly mix of Krautish kosmische freakery and heavy organ driven heavy rock outbursts. The track is based on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. Some of the compositional structures are super strange.

The finale "Early Bell's Voice" is the most obvious with its connections to the world of classical music as a piano roll begins before the organs and mellotron sounds accompany it. The sax and drums follow and the track moves on to display some amazing instrumental interplay that brings some of the works by Catapilla to mind. For those who have found the 2015 remastered version of the CD in their collection like i have then you will be treated to an unreleased 15 minute live bonus track titled "Sunwave." While it doesn't match the majesty of the original four tracks, it does provide the listener with some context of how IKARUS evolved from a rather ordinary cover band and found itself climbing the ladder of the psychedelic 60s rock scene only with more complex compositional arrangements that would eventually emerge as the totally coolness of this debut album. Despite a tour of West Germany with label mates Wind and Tomorrow's Gift at various progressive rock venues and the chance for a contract with Metronome Records, it seems the members of the band had greater aspirations and the band broke up soon after this album was released. Most notably Jochen Petersen was a producer and he would go on to produce albums by Novalis, Tomorrow's Gift, Blonker and Thirsty Moon as well as working with Achim Reichel and Randy Pie.

The sole album of IKARUS is one of those intricately designed albums that was ahead of its time much like the music of some of its British contemporaries like Marsupilami, High Tide or East Of Eden. Idiosyncratically standing outside of the other German sounds IKARUS was one of those bands that packed a whole career of ideas into a single album and then moved on. With driving blues rock, psychedelic organ and jazz fueled sax and drumming attacks, IKARUS was on a whole other level as far as complex musicianship was concerned and as a result this album needs a few listens to sink in. True that the vocals are the weakest part of this experience but they're not horrible either and at worst ignorable while the majesty of the musical interplay steals the show anyway. While many of the bands were focusing on one aspect of music or another as they wove it into a more complex array of prog rock or jazz, IKARUS on the other sort of had six individually brilliant musicians who could just drift in and out of style and in and out of sync with each other. Sometimes they sounded like they were in their own world and at other times fell into line militantly for the greater good. Definitely one of the most unique early German experiences that has been woefully under-appreciated over the ensuing decades. If you're looking for a true early eclectic experience in the world of progressive rock then this sole album of IKARUS won't steer you wrong.

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