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EMBRYO

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Germany


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Embryo picture
Embryo biography
EMBRYO (not to be confused with Italian and Swedish death metal bands of the same name) are a musical collective from Munich who, lead by former R&B and jazz organist Christian Burchard, boast the participation of some 400+ musicians since their beginnings in 1970. Over the years, the band went from classic space rock to jazz fusion, then Burchard soon started travelling the world and recording LPs with African bands and Middle Eastern musicians. They are still going strong and their 30 or so albums cover a wide spectrum of styles, but the constant remains a blend of Krautrock, fusion and ethnic music.

Of particular interest to progsters are four of their earlier albums: "Rache" (heavy, JETHRO TULL inspired), "Steig Aus" (for some warmer, jazzy prog), "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" (lots of ethnic influences) and "We Keep On" (a convincing blend of rock, ethnic and jazz). For fans who have already acquired the taste, "Zack Glck" ('80) is pleasantly quirky and more focussed than the rest of their repertoire; "Reise" ('79) is noteworthy for some interesting Indian fusion tracks; and "Opal" ('70), their very first, is considered their psychedelic masterpiece. For some samplers of more recent material, the album "Ni Hau" ('96), featuring music from China and Mongolia, and the double live cd "Istanboul-Casablanca - Tour 98" are particularly recommended.

If you're into Krautrock and are a wee bit curious to see what a jazzy FAUST, AMON DL II or GURU GURU sounds like, you could start with any of the first four albums mentioned above.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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Buy EMBRYO Music


Steig AusSteig Aus
BRAIN 2013
$34.40
$11.02 (used)
Embryo's RacheEmbryo's Rache
Materiali Sonori 2010
$15.70
$15.68 (used)
Father Son and Holy GhostFather Son and Holy Ghost
Garofe 2004
$22.84
$49.49 (used)
It DoIt Do
Trikont 2016
$12.95
$14.99 (used)
AfricaAfrica
Mirumir 2015
$27.79
$15.03 (used)
Live in BerlinLive in Berlin
United One Records 2001
$14.98
AfricaAfrica
Maso 2002
$12.00
$20.72 (used)
OpalOpal
Extra tracks
Disconforme Spain 2007
$12.89
$12.94 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
EMBRYO lot of 8 cds prog jazz USD $9.10 [1 bids]
38m 46s
Embryo-Bremen 1971 German prog psych cd USD $17.99 Buy It Now 1h 27m
Embryo-Father Son and Holy Ghost German prog psych cd USD $17.99 Buy It Now 1h 27m
Embryo-Wiesbaden 1972 German prog psych cd USD $17.99 Buy It Now 1h 40m
18 KARAT GOLD All-Bumm LP AMON DUUL 2 II PASSPORT PROG SPACE EMBRYO germany '73! USD $99.00 Buy It Now 2h
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Stone Flute Herbie Mann Embryo SD 520 Jazz LP USD $1.00 [0 bids]
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The Floating Opera, white label promo, Embryo SD 730, gatefold, VG+/VG++, 1971 USD $6.00 [0 bids]
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EMBRYO discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

EMBRYO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.79 | 66 ratings
Opal
1970
4.08 | 67 ratings
Embryo's Rache
1971
3.67 | 55 ratings
Father, Son And Holy Ghosts
1972
3.79 | 78 ratings
Steig Aus [also released as: This Is Embryo]
1973
4.04 | 64 ratings
Rocksession
1973
4.08 | 66 ratings
We Keep On
1973
2.85 | 23 ratings
Surfin'
1975
2.82 | 23 ratings
Bad Heads and Bad Cats
1976
2.73 | 21 ratings
Apo-Calypso
1977
4.20 | 46 ratings
Embryo's Reise
1979
3.50 | 8 ratings
La Blama sparozzi - Zwischenzonen
1982
3.65 | 14 ratings
Zack Glck
1984
4.00 | 6 ratings
Embryo & Yoruba Dun Dun Orchestra
1985
3.67 | 6 ratings
Africa
1987
3.38 | 8 ratings
Turn Peace
1989
4.00 | 8 ratings
Ibn Battuta
1994
3.40 | 11 ratings
Ni Hau
1996
3.89 | 10 ratings
Invisible Documents
1999
4.25 | 4 ratings
Freedom In Music
2008
4.33 | 3 ratings
It Do
2016

EMBRYO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.05 | 10 ratings
Live Embryo
1977
2.93 | 10 ratings
Life - Karnataka College of Percussion
1980
4.00 | 3 ratings
Live In Berlin
1998
4.75 | 4 ratings
Istanbul-Casablanca - Tour 98
1999
3.13 | 4 ratings
One Night At The Joan Mir Foundation
1999
2.93 | 9 ratings
For Eva
1999
4.40 | 5 ratings
2000 Live Vol. 1
2000
4.00 | 6 ratings
2001 Live Vol. 1
2001
4.00 | 3 ratings
Hallo Mik - Live recordings 2002-2003
2003
3.97 | 15 ratings
Bremen 1971
2003
3.21 | 5 ratings
Live Im Wendland
2007
3.75 | 4 ratings
Live At Burg Herzberg Festival 2007
2008
4.00 | 10 ratings
Wiesbaden 1972
2008

EMBRYO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

EMBRYO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Classic German Rock Scene - Embryo
1975
4.00 | 2 ratings
Embryo - Anthology
1980

EMBRYO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Message From Era Ora
2013
5.00 | 1 ratings
Una Gira Per Catalunya
2014
4.00 | 1 ratings
Eternal Forces
2014

EMBRYO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Opal by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.79 | 66 ratings

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Opal
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Out of all the bands that emerged out of Germany from the big bang of progressive rock developing during the late 1960s, EMBRYO has sustained itself throughout the decades into the modern day mostly due to its being a musical collective that has seen over 400 members come and go throughout the years with Christian Burchard serving as the founder and driving force, however much of this longevity also comes from it having emerged as one of the most creative and versatile bands that has been filed under the umbrella term Krautrock. While that label more often than not connotes some sort of psychedelic mind bending qualities (Amon Duul II, Exmagma, Guru Guru) prevalent in the music, it also covers the heavier blues oriented rock bands with progressive touches (Birth Control, Electric Sandwich), the more electronic oriented artists with rock elements (Kraftwerk, Neu!) as well as the jazz-fusion crowds such as Eiliff, Brainstorm and Out Of Focus.

EMBRYO stood out in that it pretty much tackled all of the above with not only a heavy emphasis on jazz-rock but also managed to slip in healthy doses of 60s infused psychedelia, traces of blues oriented rock, electronic atmospheric ambience and went even further by tackling a wide variety of the world music stock by incorporating many styles of ethnic music. The tale of Munich based EMBRYO actually had its origins as far back as the mid-1950s when multi-instrumentalist Christian Burchard began his eclectic musical origins at the tender age of 10 after meeting his childhood friend percussionist Dieter Serfas. Eventually they formed their first band Contemporary Trio in 1964 and when the two parted ways, Burchard would finally create his dream band EMBRYO in 1969 as he was riding the wave of the progressive rock trends that were emerging at breakneck speed. The initial lineup consisted of Burchard (drums, vocals), Ralph Fischer (bass, vocals), Edgar Hofmann (saxophone, flute, percussion) and John Kelly (guitar, vocals). In addition to these core musicians there are also four guest musicians playing cello as well as backing vocals.

The original band arrangement wouldn't last long and would only play together on this debut album OPAL, which gives album #1 a very unique overall sound in the vast canon of EMBRYO's eclectic output. Even right from the start EMBRYO stood out in the pack of the Krautrock scene with a keen musical vision already polished to near perfection as they delivered tight jazz-rock compositions with African percussive drive and plenty of throwbacks to the most kosmsiche representations of the German psychedelic scene. OPAL deftly straddles the line between the psychedelic aspects of Amon Duul II type of Krautrock with that same heavy bass driven groove as heard on their first two albums "Phallus Dei" and "Yeti," yet incorporates a seriously fierce delivery of not only post-bop driven jazz but also the more avant-garde sax frenzied touches ("Glockenspiel") of what Ornette Coleman created all throughout the 60s. The tracks keep a fairly busy high-powered tempo with nice chord changes and instrumental tightness that was above average for many bands of the era in the Krautrock world.

While most tracks are instrumental there are brief moments of vocals (in English) such as on the opening title track but are usually semi-spoken in dramatic poetic prose rather than bursting into fully-fledged singing but soulful outbursts of singing do occur ("You Don't Know What's Happening" for example.) Needless to say, the vocals are not the strong point and hint to a clear Can connection however the music itself is much more dynamically performed with a strong emphasis on a heavy busy groove with lots of jazzy touches alongside various ethnic influences ranging from the African percussive drive to the rather Middle Eastern touches on the closer "People From Out The Space." While EMBRYO would go on to develop even more sophisticated albums and become one of the most revered and well known of the German bands that outlasted the majority of its contemporaries, this first offering that finds itself more rooted in the 60s heavy psych scene is quite the treat itself as there are no weak tracks but rather one grooviliscious ethnic jazz jam after another. While this seems to be the more neglected origins of EMBRYO's nascency, i find this one to be quite exciting.

 Wiesbaden 1972 by EMBRYO album cover Live, 2008
4.00 | 10 ratings

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Wiesbaden 1972
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is an archival live document of EMBRYO playing in Wiesbaden back in 1972 but not released until 2008. We get the legendary duo of Roman Bunka and Christian Burchard, the latter I just found out passed away a month ago sadly. Dieter Miekautsch plays electric piano mostly. He played as well with MISSING LINK and MISSUS BEASTLY. Hansi Fischer from XHOL CARAVAN and XHOL plays sax on that last 21 minute plus track. Klaus Gotzner adds percussion he would go on to play drums in TON STEINE SCHERBEN. It was strange reading all these song titles and not recognizing them but Uwe points out in his excellent review that some of these songs and sections would appear later under different names. By the way, if you don't have EMBRYO's first six studio albums you need to rectify that, all classics. Happy birthday Uwe!

"Ouverture Marimbasaz" is as the title suggests filled with lots of marimba from drummer Burchard along with saz from guitarist Bunka. A very ethnic sounding track that blends into "Sunrising" where the saz and marimba continue. Drums arrive around 3 1/2 minutes as they continue to jam. Like SOFT MACHINE they go from one song to the next in this live setting without missing a beat. It blends into "Dieter Plays" where we get guitar after 2 minutes as the drums pound away, bass too then keyboards from Dieter. So the first three tracks really aren't my thing but man these last four songs are very much my thing.

"Space To No Place To Go" features drums and guitar leading the way making this more my thing. I like that sound a minute in with bass and drums as the guitar solos over top. Really good! Check out that guitar 2 minutes in, oh my! A calm after 3 minutes with guitar expressions and atmosphere. The bass starts to come to the fore. Some spoken words before 5 1/2 minutes and then it kicks in again before 6 minutes, vocals too. The guitar lights it up 6 1/2 minutes in.

"Andalucia Si" continues with the bass, guitar and drums as keys join in quickly. This sounds amazing. It settles after 2 1/2 minutes with some impressive guitar. Some vocals then it starts to build. So good! A jazzy section that I recognize takes over after 4 minutes. Not worthy as we get more vocals. Guitar to the fore 5 1/2 minutes in. Love this relaxed jazzy sound, reminds me of NUCLEUS.

"Master Plan Of Pharoa" features bass and drums with guitar playing over top. The guitar actually reminds me of Carlos Santana here. And man that guitar really steals the show on this 9 1/2 minute track. Keyboards before 2 1/2 minutes as the guitar steps aside. Vocals after 3 1/2 minutes and they will come and go. Love that guitar 7 minutes in and there's a jazzy section a minute later.

"Pygmaen Uberall/ Back From Africa" ends the album with a 21 plus minute tour de force. Bass, percussion, drums and more to start. Guitar just before a minute and it will impress as this plays out. Sax from Hansi arrives before 7 minutes and continues until 9 minutes in when the guitar takes over. Sax is back before 11 minutes then we get drums only after 11 1/2 minutes then bass and more as it builds. The guitar really shines the rest of the way, man Roman has some skills. Some fuzz 19 minutes in as it settles back. Some vocals after 20 minutes as it comes to a close.

A really excellent archival release as we get both their World Music leanings along with classic sounding EMBRYO. While I prefer the latter by far this is a really solid album. And it's pretty cool to get all these songs I haven't heard before but there is some familiarity regardless.

 Embryo's Reise by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.20 | 46 ratings

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Embryo's Reise
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The ultimate prog rock journey to Asia

"Reise" is the German word for "Travel", and that's exactly what the album has to offer here: a genuine musical journey... to the East. After the band's average jazz/rock/world releases during the second half of the 70's (last good album being 1973's "We Keep On"), EMBRYO's leader Christian Burchard decided to save his baby and brought with him the other members for a long trip, from Middle-East to India. During their journey, they met various local musicians, played jam sessions and recorded tracks in their company.

Instead of the band's initial jazz/rock/ethnic approach, the music is clearly oriented towards middle-eastern, oriental and Indian styles this time. Most compositions combine these genres with progressive rock (like the great "Kurdistan" and "Farid"), or even punk ("Eis Ist, Wie's Ist"), while others are fully oriental (like the Indian "Chan Delawar Khan" and "Rog de Quadamuna Achna"). As you may expect, the palette of instruments used is very large. The result is astonishing and mesmerizing. This fusion of musical genres was quite original at the time. Furthermore, there are no weak on the record. Such a little treasure will make you travel from desert sands to ancient Asian temples, through mystical lands.

This 1979 opus was the first double album of the band. However, the most common released version nowadays is the single CD edition, which does not include the songs "Paki Funk", "Maharaj" and "Lassie, Lassie", but this does not matter much.

"Embryo's Reise" is one of the finest examples of "world music", presenting a genuine and unique crossing of Occidental and Eastern genres. Even 40 years after, such mastery in mixing these musical ingredients from opposite origins remains still rare. Highly recommended if you enjoy middle-eastern and Indian music! Simply one of the best albums from EMBRYO!

 Opal by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.79 | 66 ratings

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Opal
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Igor91

4 stars The German band Embryo is labeled Jazz rock/fusion here on PA, and based on their total output, that label is pretty accurate. However, Embryo's debut, "Opal," is the lone true Krautrock album of the band's career. That's not to say that none of their other works contain elements of Krautrock, but "Opal" is by far the furthest they went in that direction. Each song is jazzy, but the Krautrock vibe is dominant here. Lots of cool sax and violin are in the mix, and the splendid guitar work of John Kelly (also of Ten Years After fame) really gives the tunes a good heaping of late 60's Anglo-American psychedelic rock influence, but filtered through the West German sensibilities of the time. While mostly instrumental, the first two tracks, "Opal," and "You don't know what's Happening" both include the unique singing styles that are a bit of an acquired taste, and "End of Soul" has cool, quirky, spoken word parts that are quite humorous. I have the Materiali Sonori CD version of this, and it includes 2 bonus tracks that are basically endless jazzy noodling (clocking in at about 30 minutes) that don't offer much additional substance to the album, at least in my opinion anyway. All in all, a wondrous, jazz-tinged, psychedelic/Krautrock, opus that I highly recommend to anyone who can appreciate that eccentric genre that came out of West Germany in the late 60's/early 70's. 4 stars.
 We Keep On by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.08 | 66 ratings

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We Keep On
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by justaguy

1 stars This album would probably do nicely for a jazz jam lovers, but mostly uncompehesible for a normal prog head guy like me. Indeed, well played, but not very special. there are millions of jams out there like the ones on this record. Certainly not essential, I wpuld rather say, only for completioners. No way this offering can stand near early works of Chick Corea, Mahavishnu or Weather Report. Sometimes sax sounds like Jan Garbarek, and sometimes the guitar spunds like Steve Hillage, but that's it then. I would rather go for the originals :-). Not worth investing space in your cd drawer, only if you are crazy about raw and technical jazz improvisations.
 Steig Aus [also released as: This Is Embryo] by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.79 | 78 ratings

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Steig Aus [also released as: This Is Embryo]
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars As already mentioned, during the opening months of 72' Embryo had enough material to release a double album.They refused to do so by releasing ''Father, son and holy ghosts'', but at the second half of the year comes a second set of recordings under the title ''Steig aus''.With United Artists loosing interest in the band, they were picked up by the legendary Brain label.This release features a rather different core compared to ''Father, son and holy ghosts'' with Burchard and Hofmann now perfoming with both Dave King and Jorg Evers on bass, Roman Bunka was the guitarist, Jimmy Jackson played the Mellotron and organ next to American Jazz pianist Mal Waldron (with whom Burchard was jamming already since late-60's and the pre-Embryo days).

The 10-min. opener ''Radio Marrakesh / Orient Express'' is absolutely representative of its title, the Arabic and African echoes during the opening minutes set a mood for another Folk Fusion experience, however the following parts would proove to be much different.This one ended up to be a reckless jamming session by Embryo with schizophenic electric solos, fiery drumming, funky bass lines and some superb Mellotron grooves and organ smashing by Jackson, definitely one of the most dynamic executions ever recorded by the band.The 10-min. ''Dreaming girls'' is more of a Psych Fusion affair with the typical Kraut edges, Waldron now takes its place behind the hypnotic electric piano and Hofmann delivers crying, depressive, slow-motion violin solos over a muddy, narcotic rhythm section.The mood rarely changes from its initial melancholic basis, thus this sounds a bit overstretched and not overly convincing.The flipside is totally captured by the 17-min. ''Call'', which pretty much defines what Kraut/Jazz Rock is all about.From the 60's-sounding opening organs to the blistering rhythms with Hofmann's violin shining through and from the chaotic jamming sessions with the electric piano, Hammond organ and Mellotron all thrown in a long execution of abstract, rhythmic masturbations to the spacey farewell minutes with the light electric guitars and Bunka's saz soloing, this is impressive Jazz Rock with a strong psychedelic flavor and series of instrumental madness.

''Dreaming girls'' is the weak link of this release, the pair of other tracks is absolutely efficient, dominating and angular Kraut Fusion, which belongs among the classics of the genre.If you find ''Dreaming girls'' more interesting compared to my ears, then you should add an extra point and place this one at the top of Embryo's releases.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Bad Heads and Bad Cats by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.82 | 23 ratings

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Bad Heads and Bad Cats
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars For most prog listeners the best albums by this Munich-based band (which is often seen as part of "Krautrock", at least in the wider sense of the term) are clearly from the early 70's. Like the preceding album Surfin' that has gained very negative reception, the jazz-rock of stupidly named Bad Heads and Bad Cats is coloured with funk flavour and slight ethnic elements. This album is however much better, if not exactly what progheads would prefer to hear from Embryo.

My fave track is the lively 'After the Rain' which has deliciously fresh contributions of reeds and keyboards, but on many other tracks the light-hearted wandering remains more boring. It feels like the group of seven musicians was preventing the music to really take off the ground. The same criticism concerns the two bonuses on the Garden Of Delights edition, but on the other hand they don't pale at all in comparison to the main album. The CD is nicely boosted to 64 minutes. Also the leaflet with lots of pictures (including album covers) must be thanked for. My 2 stars can be rounded upwards.

[This poor, nothing-better-to-do-at-the-moment sort of review is based on my prog magazine article which dealt collectively several Garden Of Delights re-releases. I hope this explains the lack of depth; I haven't actually listened to the music since April.]

 Father, Son And Holy Ghosts by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.67 | 55 ratings

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Father, Son And Holy Ghosts
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In search of a bassist Embryo would recruit Dave King, who would later appear in several Kraut/Jazz Rock bands, with Bunka focusing on guitar.Recordings for a new album begun already from September 71', but Embryo's label United Artists, afraid that the fresh material would be a commercial failure, refused to release it, somehow forcing the band to smoothen their style.By the dawn of 72' there was enough material for two album, but Embryo kept producing music, now having joined forces with talented guitarist Sigi Schwab with Bunka remaining behind the scenes.Eventually the album, which was to be titled ''Father, son and holy ghosts'', was along the strict lines of Embryo's label and it was eventually released in 1972.

It is quite hard to imagine what really turned off the management of United Artists, because Embryo's third effort sound no less complex than their previous releases, maybe the addition of a pair of happier or more funky tunes was enough for them to keep the whole thing rolling.Otherwise ''Father, son and holy ghosts'' sounds quite close to Embryo's previous efforts with enigmatic spaced-out experiments, lots of Ethnic tunes and a fair dose of complicated, twisting grooves with powerful, psychedelic tones.Once more the ability of the band to deliver stretched, instrumental themes with long sax solos and elaborate passages with archaic flute drives displays their talent on Ethnic Jazz/Fusion.Schwab's freaky guitar solos is a new element in Embryo's style, but generally the Germans managed again to create a diverse and interesting album, which gets the principles of Kraut/Psychedelic Rock, passes them through Ethnic filters and put it up there with the freedom of Jazz.The result is often outstanding, featuring extended instrumental exercises with only sporadic vocals, either led by the jazzy saxes, the elegant flutes or the folky violins, powering them finally into majestic experiments, full of loose solos, intense bass playing and drumming and hypnotic rhythms.They still lack the more emblimatic moments of the previous album, but nevertheless this is a very dynamic Kraut Rock album with tremendous changing moods.

Add another winner in Embryo's discography.Apparently the band was in an orgasmic inspiration with tons of material written in 1971/72, some of it ended up to be this cool release.Strongly recommended, Garden of Delights' CD reissue features also an extended version of Embryo's classic ''You don't know what's happening''...3.5 stars.

 Ni Hau by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.40 | 11 ratings

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Ni Hau
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars Chinkrock

This is my first venture into latter day Embryo, and truth be told, I was a little wary about this acquisition. Chinese fusion? I must be crazy...

Well part of me is a little bonkers, and whether or not that colours my views on music or not, I leave entirely up to someone else. Well you certainly don't need to be mad to enjoy this music. Ni Hau is through and through a highly melodic album. The real part of the genius though, is how these melodies are crafted. Main man Christian Burchard, whom I've always had a huge sweet spot for, has for this 1996 recording assembled all kinds of exotic percussionists and endemic Eastern instrumentalists. This isn't just Chinese infusions we get here, there's also oud, tabla, tavil, nai, harmonium, marimba and the list literally goes on and on.

Chinese musician Xizhi Nie is in charge of baffling instruments such as ehru, muy, sheng and gaohu. Now I have absolutely no idea what these instruments look like, but I'm guessing that these must be the ones responsible for the musical phrasings that take me straight to the heartland of the panda.

All in all Ni Hau is a real get together of incredible musicians from across the world. Burchard's even managed to shanghai fellow German compatriots Roman Bunker on sitar and oud, who also played with the group on their seminal We Keep On, Chris Carrer on oud, as well as legendary synth and electronics wizard Peter Michael Hamel off of experimental act Between. So basically what we have here is some kind of Krautrock super-group coming together in order to make music deeply inspired by the cultures of China and Mongolia. There's still an ounce of fusion in here though masked incredibly well behind that easterly silk veil.

A track like Sehen/Sikahbines in Shan Dong brings in one Chuck Henderson and his soprano sax, which he plays like a frantic snakecharmer with a cobra in his trousers. Suddenly we get real tangible "jazz-rocking" textures - Burchard starts a whirlwind on the cymbals - the viola develops a snarling feel - the bass gets right up in your face, while the rest of the band joins in to create a tantalising slice of ethnic fusion that entices you for nearly 10 minutes. To the top of the yellow mountains and back.

As with most of Embryo's output since the ethnic powerhouse album of Reise, Ni Hau is fuelled by rhythmic instruments. Burchard, in particular, has an ingenious way of playing that comes off so fluently, that it'll have a dudette like Ruth Underwood running for the bushes. It's uncanny just how much umphh and zing you get from his marimbas. Coupled together with a precise, and at the same time, constantly shifting tidal wave of galloping percussion features, this album mimics the ever beautiful shades of the far east in rhyme and reason, even if one leg at all times seems to be heavily planted in the Embryo past. I'm not sure how else to describe it, but Embryo's key feature was always that unique way around rhythms and melody. On Ni Hau this feature feels forever multiplied in a gorgeously vast oceanic landscape, where majestic water buffaloes peacefully roam the mosaic beauty of the rice field terraces. 3.5 stars.

 Opal by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.79 | 66 ratings

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Opal
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BORA

4 stars Embryo is undoubtedly one of the leading bands "parked" under the Krautrock umbrella. The reality is that we are talking about an extremely versatile bunch of artists whose overall output is closer to Jazz-Rock/Canterbury than to any other genre. (Well, until much later when they'we embraced Ethnic music almost exclusively.)

For a first album "Opal" is a rather courageous approach, incorporating Psychedelic elements with a definite leaning towards Jazz. Virtually instrumental with lots of unhurried improvisations. We are in 1970 and at times there is also a definite R&B influence, not unlike John McLaughlin and Jack Bruce collaborations of that era.

The album has a charming feel as if it was recorded in a small club in front of a sympathetic and carefree audience where the band is not constrained by precious studio time. Chances are that the tracks would have been recorded in a studio as in a one-take, anything goes manner.

"Untamed" is the expression that springs to mind and thankfully, the band has retained that sense of artistic freedom for many years to come. People who are not adverse to jazzy elements will find Embryo an interesting band to further explore.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to easy livin for the last updates

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