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EMBRYO

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Germany


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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 Glück" ('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 DÜÜL 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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RocksessionRocksession
Brain / SPV 2008
Audio CD$68.40
$49.95 (used)
Embryo 40Embryo 40
Import
Trikont 2010
Audio CD$17.90
$18.71 (used)
Embryo's RacheEmbryo's Rache
Import
Materiali Sonori 2010
Audio CD$16.65
$61.54 (used)
Father, Son and Holy Ghosts plus 1 bonus trackFather, Son and Holy Ghosts plus 1 bonus track
Garden Of Delights
Audio CD$18.08
$17.99 (used)
LifeLife
Import · Remastered
Disconforme SL 2003
Audio CD$103.30
$34.98 (used)
OpalOpal
Import
Materiali 2007
Audio CD$16.60
$24.06 (used)
For EvaFor Eva
Import
Disconforme Spain 2003
Audio CD$48.76
$29.99 (used)
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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 | 47 ratings
Opal
1970
4.10 | 50 ratings
Embryo's Rache
1971
3.65 | 42 ratings
Father, Son And Holy Ghosts
1972
3.78 | 62 ratings
Steig Aus [also released as: This Is Embryo]
1973
4.04 | 50 ratings
Rocksession
1973
4.07 | 55 ratings
We Keep On
1973
2.81 | 20 ratings
Surfin'
1975
2.77 | 19 ratings
Bad Heads and Bad Cats
1976
2.62 | 17 ratings
Apo-Calypso
1977
4.11 | 30 ratings
Embryo's Reise
1979
3.20 | 5 ratings
La Blama sparozzi - Zwischenzonen
1982
3.78 | 9 ratings
Zack Glück
1984
3.67 | 3 ratings
Embryo & Yoruba Dun Dun Orchestra
1985
3.33 | 3 ratings
Africa
1987
3.25 | 4 ratings
Turn Peace
1989
3.80 | 5 ratings
Ibn Battuta
1994
3.33 | 8 ratings
Ni Hau
1996
3.80 | 6 ratings
Invisible Documents
1999
5.00 | 1 ratings
Freedom In Music
2008

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

4.07 | 6 ratings
Live Embryo
1977
2.91 | 9 ratings
Life - Karnataka College of Percussion
1980
4.00 | 2 ratings
Live In Berlin
1998
4.50 | 2 ratings
Istanbul-Casablanca - Tour 98
1999
3.00 | 2 ratings
One Night At The Joan Miró Foundation
1999
2.87 | 7 ratings
For Eva
1999
4.00 | 3 ratings
2000 Live Vol. 1
2000
3.75 | 4 ratings
2001 Live Vol. 1
2001
3.00 | 1 ratings
Hallo Mik - Live recordings 2002-2003
2003
3.96 | 13 ratings
Bremen 1971
2003
3.09 | 3 ratings
Live Im Wendland
2007
3.00 | 2 ratings
Live At Burg Herzberg Festival 2007
2008
3.96 | 7 ratings
Wiesbaden 1972
2008

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

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

3.00 | 1 ratings
Classic German Rock Scene - Embryo
1975
3.00 | 1 ratings
Embryo - Anthology
1980

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

EMBRYO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Opal by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.79 | 47 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.

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 We Keep On by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.07 | 55 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.

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 Steig Aus [also released as: This Is Embryo] by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.78 | 62 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.

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 Bad Heads and Bad Cats by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.77 | 19 ratings

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Bad Heads and Bad Cats
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

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 2½ 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.]

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 Father, Son And Holy Ghosts by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.65 | 42 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.

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 Ni Hau by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.33 | 8 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, muyü, 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.

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 Opal by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.79 | 47 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.

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 Embryo's Rache by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.10 | 50 ratings

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Embryo's Rache
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Embryo were not only experts in changing their musical moods but also the record labels.By 1971 they left the Ohr label to move to United Artists Records and release their sophomore album ''Embryo's Rache''.The leading trio of Christian Burchard, Edgar Hofmann and Hans Fischer were now joined by legendary bassist/guitarist Roman Bunka, while the album features guest appearances by Jimmy Jackson and Hermann Breuer on keyboards as well as Franz Böntgen on voices.

Embryo's debut was challenging, innovative and powerful and ''Embryo's Rache'' marks no significant changes.The sound remains a highly energetic, loose and deeply jazzy Kraut Rock full of bizarre experiments, free improvisations but also very tight performances with the rock instrumentation constantly supported by tons of organ, sax, percussion, violins and flute solos.This time though things seems a bit more focused.The groovier parts with the pounding rhythm sections are accompanied more or less by excellent flute drives, dynamic and solid percussion rhythms and abstract sax solos, which deliver a unique atmosphere only Kraut Rock bands could create.On the other hand the improvised passages are covered by extreme keyboard workouts and the massive organ solos flirt often with the Canterbury school of Jazz- Rock.If you search though for one and only very tight composition in the album this would be certainly the 11-min. ''Espagna si, Franco no'' with its varied instrumentation and haunting moods, where Embryo surface from spacey themes to hypnotic rhythms and back, while the track offers plenty of great Mellotron, electric piano jams and some furious interplays.

Great Kraut/Jazz-Rock of high quality.Recommended to all fans of experimental, adventurous, intricate and trully progressive listenings.

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 Embryo's Rache by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.10 | 50 ratings

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Embryo's Rache
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

5 stars One of Germany's premier experimental outfits, Embryo have carved out a long and colourful career out of blending psychedelic and jazz flavours into a whole world(literally) of ethnic styles and sounds, something they've been doing now for four decades. However, whilst their love of African, Indian and Asia music would come to characterise their later works, Embryo's earlier albums would prove to be some of most innovative examples of the burgeoning 'krautrock' movement that stretched across Germany during the heady days of the late-sixties and early-seventies. After the difficult, mysterious and, at times, rather inaccessible 'Opal' - the group's debut - came 'Embryo's Rache', a wonderful, hyper-kinetic mixture of jazz, afrobeat, avant-garde soundscapes and psychedelic rock, an album that has come to be regarded as one of the best representations of the outstanding Embryo ethos. Similar to the superb, cosmic fusion albums 'Steig Aus' and 'Rocksession', this 1971 album weaves a dense and intoxicating tapestry of exotic flutes, fuzzy organs, lysergic saxophone breaks and tribal percussion, almost as if someone had shoehorned the likes of Miles Davis, Fela Kuti and Amon Duul II into a smoky, incense-filled room for a never-ending jam. Those with an ear for free-form sounds should find a world of happiness here, the only real disappointment being that 'Embryo's Rache' has to, unfortunately, come to an end. An effortless, flowing collection of long, trippy and vibrant compositions filled with all sorts of strange instrumental detours, this is a wonderful album from a much underrated group. Fabulous late-night entertainment.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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 Embryo's Reise by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.11 | 30 ratings

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Embryo's Reise
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars After 2 disappointing releases and right before they would dive into the 80s (and go under in the process), Embryo made one last solid musical statement, a 2LP representing a total mix of all sides of Embryo: fusion, punkish krautrock, jamming, funk, world music and experimentation.

The only version you are likely to get hold of these days is the 1CD release, an issue missing 3 tracks of which the master tapes have gone missing. The flow of the album is quite strange, with some strange jumps between styles, sometimes within one single song such as the bare kraut-punk of 'Er Ist Wie's Ist" that is cut up with a relaxed middle-eastern jam with tablas and flutes. I usually reshuffle the order to be able to start off with the more rocking material and leaving the world music improvisation till the end. Whatever the style they do the quality remains fairly good, but the peaks into excellence are the instrumental tracks such as the world-beat/funk/rock of 'Road to Asia' and the entrancing percussion fired jam of 'Farid'.

A great return to form that ends just slightly under their many excellent releases from the first half of the 70s. 3.5 stars it is. Recommended to fans of percussion and middle-eastern world music traditions especially.

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