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KALACAKRA

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock • Germany


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Kalacakra biography
A very odd band formed by the duo Claus Rauschenbach ("guitars, kongas, percussions, vocals, harmonica, slentem") and Heinz Martin ("electr. guitars, flute, piano, vibraphon, schalmi, cello, violin, synthesizer"). The band released only one album in its all career. The name KALACAKRA refers to one of the main Tantric deities of Vajrayâna Buddhism which means "wheel of time". Their sound can be called as "mantric" acid folk. Thus the compositions have a heavily eastern influence (near to "raga" rock experiences) with a lot of flute, sitar and percussions. This meditative musical background provides a few musical interludes quite charming and dreamy. The general mood of the album is dominated by solid blues guitar sections accompanied by stoned, depressive vocals (in German) and many freak out, psychedelic rock sequences. The atmosphere of Kalacakra's musical universe is rather mysterious, sinister with a few humorous accents. Consequently it is an other acid trip from the early German underground, a good mixture of prog / psych and folk ingredients.

Similar bands: MYTHOS, HOELDERLIN, WITTHUSER & WESTRUPP, YAHOWAH 13

: : : Philippe Blache, FRANCE : : :

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KALACAKRA discography


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

2.75 | 31 ratings
Crawling To Lhasa
1972
3.80 | 5 ratings
Peace
2002

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KALACAKRA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Crawling To Lhasa by KALACAKRA album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.75 | 31 ratings

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Crawling To Lhasa
Kalacakra Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

3 stars Essentially the duo of Claus Rauschenbach (guitar, congas, percussion, vocals, harmonica, slentem) and Heinz Martin (guitar, flute, piano, vibraphone, shawm, cello, violin, synthesizer) from Duisburg, Germany, KALACAKRA was yet one more obscure act to emerge during Krautrock's fertile first wave, released a sole album and then disappeared into the haze. CRAWLING TO LHASA came out in 1972 during the peak years of progressive rock and while many paths were taken once on the Krautrock highway, KALACAKRA unleashed a bizarre blend of psychedelic folk mixed with the more Amon Duul II side of the Krautrock scene ("Yeti" era) but also added the mystique of raga rock despite the lack of oriental instrumentation.

Living up to its legendary status as one of the most bizarre German acts to drop an album during the early Kraut years, CRAWLING TO LHASA is a tripped out meditative journey that mixes mystical soundscapes with creepy repetitive grooves, whispered German lyrics and surreal allusions to Tibetan Bhuddism. The name KALACAKRA comes from the Tibetan polysemic term in Vajrayana Bhuddism which means both "wheel of time / time cycles" and "patron tantric deity." This music is almost like drifting dirges of smoke fueled sounds that lament the physical state and glorify the states of consciousness beyond the limitations of bodily incarnation.

Despite the rather monotonous procession of grooves, the musical motifs are adorned with a plethora of instrumentation which includes hypnotic guitar grooves, sensual flutes and tortured strings sounds from a cello and violin. Starting off rather slowly, the pace quickens in the middle with "Raga No 11" with fast receptive loops of sound accompanied by crashing cymbals and accented percussive bombast. Ethnic sounds are derived from the Indonesia slentem, a metallophone which looks like a xylophone as well as the medieval shawm which is a double-reed woodwind instrument that was more common in the Renaissance. What seems to be missing is a bass guitar and rock drumming other than cymbals. Percussion if present at all usually is derived from congas and other tribal drumming. Guitars are acoustic.

Sounding closer to medieval folk than raga rock KALACAKRA still carried a vibe heavily steeped in Eastern influences and has been referred to as mantric acid folk. The album is also primarily instrumental with only a few moments when vocals appear. The album is disjointed as the first half of the album is much more interesting than the second which devolves into simple acoustic guitar strumming and flute sounds as well as an unnecessary blues guitar and harmonica number on "Arapaho's Circle Dance." The final "Tante Olga" takes things even further into blues rock territory and by this time these guys seem to have given up CRAWLING TO LHASA and sound more like Captain Beefheart on a drunken binge.

CRAWLING TO LHASA on original vinyl has been quite a collectible since it emerged in the early 70s but has been reissued on CD and vinyl numerous times. This is one of those albums that shows promise but fails to deliver on expectations. The album starts out promising with the opening "Naerby Shiras" and continues for several tracks on a true mystical journey but the album doesn't stay on the oriental express and instead turns into some cheap sounding Krautrock by the album's end. Overall this is certainly one of those obscurities that is well worth checking out. There are some brilliant ideas on here and nothing is inherently bad and unlike many i don't even find it boring. What i do take issue with is the inconsistency of quality as music like this is very easy to derail an intended vibe. Not one i'm going to pay a fortune for but a sporadic listen every few years is totally warranted for the weirdness factor alone.

 Crawling To Lhasa by KALACAKRA album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.75 | 31 ratings

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Crawling To Lhasa
Kalacakra Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

1 stars An extremely unimpressive album that sounds as black and white as the cover looks. Quite similar in sound to Amon Duul's 'Paradieswarts' but no-where near as much fun.

'Crawling to Lhasa' does have its moments, but only on the first track 'Naerby shiras' which has some nice 'n creepy whispered German vocals. However, the recording sounds primitive which you'd think would add to the atmosphere. Unfortunately it doesn't. It just sounds cheap and trashy.

Kalacakra' approach to this recording is almost 'blues' in nature. It's such a pity then, that it all sounds like a teenagers bedroom recording from the early 70's.

'September Fullmoon' is certainly the dullest tune on the album, with repetitive acoustic guitar strumming that leads nowhere. Flutes float around at the same time in a very non spectacular way just following the guitar for no other reason than that it's there. This whole track sounds wobbly and off key which just goes to highlight the production failures. Ten whole minutes of this have to be endured before we can continue into choppier waters.

A harmonica rears its ugly head in 'Arapaho's circle dance' which sounds like a bored Captain Beefheart first take from 'Strictly Personal'. I'm afraid it's all downhill from here with an ever increasing blues feel which negates the rather promising opener.

The second half seriously runs out of steam and ideas, where they just seem to repeat themselves. Eastern influences are prevalent during the first half with lots of bongos pitter pattering away as if they have a life of their own but are happily oblivious to what else is occurring around them.

Just when things couldn't get much worse, we're subjected to the jarringly awkward shift into 1980's territory with 'Vamos', which is completely out of place on this recording with its mid eighties funky bass, drum machine and ugly guitars. And by God - it's repetitive!

The nadir is left for last with 'Deja vu' - a track so uninteresting with the aforementioned faults that it's enough to make a grown man burst into tears... Truly awful...

 Crawling To Lhasa by KALACAKRA album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.75 | 31 ratings

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Crawling To Lhasa
Kalacakra Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

1 stars This German take on raga-influenced psychedelic jamming is unfortunately probably one of those obscure releases which is obscure for a reason. To be blunt, the album is just kind of boring. Between tracks like September Fullmoon, which take a simple musical idea and then drive it right into the ground by repeating it over and over again without variation, and misguided experiments like Tante Olga, which sounds like the Mothers of Invention parodying the blues (except Zappa and the Mothers wouldn't keep that joke going for over 7 minutes), it's just one botched effort after another. Maybe people who really like Indo-prog could get more out of this album (and goodness knows it's one of the least appreciated and least populated subgenres on this site), but I can honestly do without it.
 Crawling To Lhasa by KALACAKRA album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.75 | 31 ratings

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Crawling To Lhasa
Kalacakra Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

3 stars This is not the sole album from this band as such, but the one and only worked out in the 70's by the acid krautrock duo Heinz Martin and Claus Rauschenbach coming from Duisburg/Germany. Both were autodidacts with a freaky approach and used a lot of indo/raga elements. At first completely underrated 'Crawling To Lhasa' is an attractive collectors' item today ... at least when it comes to the original vinyl print. The songs were recorded by Willy Neubauer in his Düsseldorf studio during two days. Whatsoever has survived about the circumstances - they performed in a totally spaced out mood for sure, obviously inspired by Buddhistic mantras.

The trippy meandering Nearby Shiras opens the album, reflecting a multiple catastrophe, the Black Plague, coming over the Persian town called Shiraz hundreds of years ago. A sinister creature ... probably a witch ... is whispering and shouting some rezitative, repeating 'morgen kommt die Schwarze Pest' (tomorrow comes the Black Plague) all the way through. Definitely frightening and provided with some infatuating dramaturgy - however the instruments are also smooth on the contrary, speaking of flute, cymbal and acoustic guitar. And all this is made with a significant eastern touch.

On Jaceline Martin's vibraphone is striking, it serves a pleasant spacey/ambient atmosphere. Possibly improvised from start to finish, the lyrics about a girl seem to be completely pointless. The trance-like Raga No.11 features the Minimoog synthesizer, a novelty because nearly uncommon at that time in Europe. A nice song including electric guitar which has some speed this time and proves their technical skills. As from now it all runs out of inspiration a bit with simple folk impressions mainly ... until the blues based Tante Olga shows some new crazy weird vocal ideas, for example including Captain Beefheart reminiscent vocals in English.

That's it ... concerning the original vinyl. The digital releases additionally cover two songs from 1993 recorded by Heinz Martin with a better sound quality. The acid blend of folk, psych and raga is completely missing here to the benefit of a spacey new age atmosphere where Vamos is definitely enjoyable. The Garden Of Delights re-issue of this ethno trance effort is featuring a detailed history of the band and their community in Duisburg including several pictures, which are reflecting the stoned atmosphere of the recording sessions. Not a ground-breaking album because running out of breath in between - nevertheless a worthwhile purchase for krautrock and indo/raga lovers.

 Crawling To Lhasa by KALACAKRA album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.75 | 31 ratings

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Crawling To Lhasa
Kalacakra Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by JohnnyC

4 stars Very well done psychedelic German album with plenty of eastern influences. Really stoned at times, even the new recorded tracks are great bands. If you'r into early AMON DUUL, around "Para dies wärts duul", this is a great and recommended album. Not all tracks are fillers, but still a very enjoyable album !
 Crawling To Lhasa by KALACAKRA album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.75 | 31 ratings

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Crawling To Lhasa
Kalacakra Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by philippe
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Really gorgeous eastern psychedelic kraut (related) improv in the mood of Siloah, Parson Sound, Lamp of the Universe, Dom.Some sections contain primitive, blues damaged folk jams. The result is astonishing, highly mysterious and luminous. "Naerby Shiras" is an acoustic, repetitive, dreamy and druggy little piece, dominated by simplistic but efficient guitars motifs, some dancing flute lines and discreet narrations at the end. Really warm & acid stuff. "Jaceline" is a percussive, floating ballad within a forest ambience, accompanied by voices and words, violin contrasts and vibraphone. The "pastoral" acoustic guitar parts always prevail. "Raga no 11" features an intense, chanting like raga improvisation with rhythms and "mantra" sonorities. "September full moon" contain folkish strings and rhythms for a rather light, bucolic composition. "Arapaho's dancing dance" is bluesy like tune with circular rhythms, evasive guitar parts and kinda folky harmonica arrangements. A charming artefact with some tripped out moments!
 Crawling To Lhasa by KALACAKRA album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.75 | 31 ratings

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Crawling To Lhasa
Kalacakra Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars One of those rarities that came from early 70's German rock presenting a psychey-hippy folk-blues laced with eastern wisdom. The Garden Of Delights label did as usual a very fine job of reissuing this under the cd format , to soothe many collectioners's curiosity . This album was counterfeited a few times and still fetched astronomical prices, due to this album's reputation.

The music developped here is certainly very worthwhile if you enjoy acoustic psychadelia lacing in folk , blues , strange eastern ranting, relatively poor recording techniques (nowadays we called this Lo-Fi), but good instrumental interplay. This album is certainly worth a few spin to any progheads, but I doubt that they will want to spin this more than a dozen time throughout their lifetime , because of the limited progressive content in this album. The musicianship is excellent but too many times the indulgent jam-like musical extrapolations will annoy very hard-to-please progheads.

The two bonus tracks are somewhat different-sounding to the rest of the album (much better produced) but remain within the psychey folk-blues spectrum of the album, adding up real value to the original album. Something rare enough to point out. Hardly essential for demanding proghead but nevertheless quite pleasant and worth hearing at least once in your lifetime.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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