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A.R. & MACHINES

Krautrock • Germany


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A.R. & Machines biography
Achim Reichel, born 28 January 1944 (Hamburg, Germany) -

Producer, composer and musician, Achim Reichel is a key figure in the explosion of krautrock. Reichel was first a founder member of "The Rattles" at the beginning of the 60's. In 1968 he formed the "Wonderland band" with the drummer Frank Dostal. Late 60's he launched his first solo musical project called A.R and the machines. Musically it provides a supreme sonic musical voyage turned to cycled psychedelic guitar playing with lot of echoes and delay. The first album was published in 1971 in collaboration with Frank Dostal. The album presents an ambitious collection of spacey rock jams featuring a lot of electronic effects and arrangements. This album prefigures "acid" trips of krautrock guitar / minimal electronic explorers like Manuel Gottsching. The guitar freakouts and the weird imagination of the first effort continue to prevail in the following inspired, confused and various Die Grune Reise, A.R. IV, Autovision (generally a mix between guitar soudscapes and psych pop orientated songs). Reichel decided to abandon the project after 5 studio albums. Today A.R and the machines remains a high class standard of hypnotic space-echo guitar inventions.

: : : Philippe Blache, FRANCE : : :

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A.R. & MACHINES discography


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

A.R. & MACHINES top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 84 ratings
Die Grüne Reise (The Green Journey)
1971
4.02 | 65 ratings
Echo
1972
2.91 | 22 ratings
AR3 [Aka: A. R. III]
1972
4.01 | 58 ratings
AR4 [Aka: A. R. IV]
1973
3.38 | 15 ratings
Autovision
1974

A.R. & MACHINES Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.69 | 10 ratings
Erholung
1975

A.R. & MACHINES Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

3.00 | 2 ratings
Echos Aus Zeiten Der Grünen Reise
1998
0.00 | 0 ratings
Die Grüne Reise - The Green Journey / Erholung
2006
4.05 | 2 ratings
The Art Of German Psychedelic 1970-74
2017

A.R. & MACHINES Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Come On People / I'll Be Your Singer, You'll Be My Song
1971

A.R. & MACHINES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Art Of German Psychedelic 1970-74 by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2017
4.05 | 2 ratings

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The Art Of German Psychedelic 1970-74
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

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

4 stars As the early 70s slowly gave way to a new era, many of the psychedelic and progressive acts of the day had to figure out how to adapt to the changing music world around them. Achim Reichel was no stranger to change. Having emerged as a pop star in 1960s Germany, he left his popular beat band The Rattles behind to join the ranks of the lysergic tripping music that would become known as Krautrock to the rest of the world. After five studio albums and another live with his band known as A.R. & MACHINES, Reichel ultimately came to the conclusion that his days were numbered with such lofty ambitiousness in sonic form and once again moved on into new musical territories that would lead him into traditional German folk music. As hard as he tried to bury the past and leave it behind, eventually the fanbase he had hoped to evoke during the MACHINES heyday had finally come to roost in the era of the internet and world wide communications. This realization hit him hard when a 20 year old girl in the 21st century was touting how cool an album called "Die Grüne Reise" was and that it is quite popular amongst her friends.

Lo and behold the band known as A.R & MACHINES emerges again, not delivering a brand new album of material (well, we can hope) but as a stunning 10 CD box set of the band's entire output with craploads of unreleased material and a 96 page hardcover book narrating the entire history of the Achim Reichel's ascent into the world of kosmische Krautrock and the journey that he with his band embarked upon during a short five year stint between 1970 and 1974. Finally in 2017, the complete works under the title THE ART OF GERMAN PSYCHEDELIC 1970-74 hits the market and let me tell you, this is exactly how a band should release its entire output. Everything about this one is outstanding including the artwork, artist liner notes that narrate the band's history in a diary type format (in both German and English) and the beautifully fully remastered discography of all the bands work including four CDs of unreleased and remixed material. While much of this material has been hard to come by in legitimately released formats, this one is fully sanctioned by Reichel himself who had his hand in its creation. Oh, and the box is the size of an LP as is the book inside. Another LP sized book contains the 10 CDs in slots and all is decked out with amazingl psychedelic colors like the early 70s never ended!

CD1: Die Grüne Reise. This one appears exactly as it did in the original pressing only it is completely remastered.

CD2: Echo. This too is the original double album in its entirely and remastered to modern day splendor.

CD3: AR3. Also a faithful presentation of the original album in remastered form.

CD4: A.R.IV. The "Vita" and "Acqua" suites find new life in the totally remastered forms and this disc also includes "Live In Studio" bonus tracks.

CD5: Autovision. The remastered version of the album in its entirety.

CD6: Erholung. The first official release of this rare live album in its entirety meaning it contains the extra two tracks deleted from the original release of this 1973 concert in Krefeld.

CD7: The Cologne Concert. In 1973 the band was asked to play in the local series "Nachtmusik in WDR (Night Music in WDR), a radio station that was famous for recording acts of the day. This one contains two lengthy tracks that showed the band in their full power.

CD8: Transformation. Remixes. This one contains modern day electronic remixes of some of the band's material. Startlingly different as the complex percussive drive of old has been replaced by electronic beats and atmospheres. Some of this actually sounds more like Buckethead's electronica meets rock albums than A.R & MACHINES. This is a worthy experiment but probably my least favorite aspect of this box as it sounds like it's trying to hard to fit into the modern world.

CD9: 14 Pieces For Guitar And Echo Chamber. Having survived countless moves over the years, Reichel located his huge stash of practice tapes from which he painstakingly sifted through to find the best material to include as unadulterated bonus material. This is basically Reichel playing around with his guitar loop echoes and creating the most tripped out melodies allowed. Perhaps a bit too much for a single listen but definitely excellent for unreleased bonus material.

CD10: Virtual Journey. DJ Aspects. Despite the title of this one, it's not like the remix CD but rather indicates Reichel getting his feet wet in the world of modern day technology and creating a few new musical numbers in the spirt of the old but with the modern day luxury of recording standards. This one sounds exactly like what you would expect from the classic period yet does indeed have subtle production techniques employed to bring it into a new millennium.

THE ART OF GERMAN PSYCHEDELIC 1970-74 is a must if you are an A.R. & MACHINES fan whether you own all of the original albums or not. The remastering is impeccable and breaths new life into timeless classics. The extra material, while not OMG essential is definitely an interesting supplemental supply of behind the scenes and unreleased Krautrock magic. This is one of the best box set releases i've ever seen for an artist from the golden era of progressive rock with stunning artwork, extraordinarily detailed historical dialogue and of course, beautifully restored music magic. This one is highly recommended and the only legit way to obtain some of the original albums.

 Erholung by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Live, 1975
3.69 | 10 ratings

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Erholung
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

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

4 stars After Achim Reichel recorded his last Krautrock oriented album with members of his A.R. & MACHINES band on "Autovision," he was signaling to the world that he was moving on to more profitable arenas by firstly releasing that work under his own moniker and secondly by ending that album with a snippet of traditional German folk music that would signal his next career move which would be to record and perform more traditional regional folk music that would occupy him until the 21st century revival of interest in all things progressive from the 60s and 70s. Tucked in between the MACHINES era and his less adventurous followup years was this sole LIVE release titled "ERHOLUNG" which means "recuperation" and emerged in 1975 on the Brain Record label. This wasn't really a planned album at all but rather one that was bootlegged by Kurt Mitzkatis who recorded the entire performance on a hand-held battery operated tape machine and then later released officially.

The event took place at the German Rock Festival at the Eisstadion in Krefeld, German on 16 September 1973 after the release of Reichel's entire output as A.R. & MACHINES. Just to give you an idea how popular the Krautrock scene was in Germany at the time, Reichel only appeared in tiny print at the bottom of a poster that displayed the multitude of bands who were playing. This excellent list (wish i could've been there!) includes Birth Control, Triumvirat, Doldinger's Passport, Guru Guru, Wallenstein, Embryo, Ihre Kinder, The Soundedge, Amon Düül II, Udo Lindenberg, Atlantis, Nectar, Karthago, Chris Braun Band, Emergency, Abacus, Randy Pie, Franz K, Eloy, Jack Grunsky and Achim Reichel under his own moniker with help from three of the MACHINES crew. This three guys included only Peter Franken on drums, Olaf Casalich on more percussion and Jochen Petersen alternating between saxophone, flute and maracas. Reichel himself cranked out the guitar with the famous echo effects and other various noises from tape.

The original 1975 LP has ever only found one legit release (as mentioned on the Brain Record label) and it contained four tracks that lasted almost 38 minutes in length, however the actual playing time was nearly twice that length with the other two tracks being lost to the history books until the recent 2017 boxset "The Art Of German Psychedelic 1970-74" which set out to rectify this injustice by releasing every possible work that was remotely A.R. & MACHINES related. In this format, the original is not only remastered to stunning effect but also includes the two extra missing tracks thus presenting the album as originally intended if only success hadn't eluded the band and releasing a double album was a viable choice. This one has pretty much been brushed aside with much of the Kraturock world focusing on the four albums that actually displayed the A.R & MACHINES moniker but this LIVE album is for all intents and purposes a bona fide band effort albeit a truncated version of their earlier days.

Songwise, this one is somewhat unique as the titles of the songs appear on no other Reichel album that came before. All the songs have new titles and the compositions are not really adherent to what came before either but are rather loose jams that include elements from the albums that preceded. ERHOLUNG is very much in the vein of "Echo" and "A.R. IV" which shows the musicians meandering down psychedelic alley with long drawn out jams that find a steady percussive groove as the backbone and the other instruments taking turns fluffing up their freakiest feathers to take off into the clouds. For a hand-held device, it's amazing how good this sounds even before the remastering process. The album sounds like a bona fide studio release actually and except for the audience noises between tracks and the dialogue in German speaking to the audience, this doesn't sound like a crappy live album at all but is quite transcendent in nature and could quite rightfully be considered the bands "sixth" album of sort. The performances are quite relaxed and create a satisfying head-in-the-clouds experience. This one can be quite pricey to track down an original LP but more recommended to obtain as a part of the stunning boxset which doubles its playing time. Even in the original form however, this one is excellent.

 Autovision by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.38 | 15 ratings

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Autovision
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

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

4 stars By 1974, the times were a-changing as the psychedelic and progressive rock that exploded onto the scene just a few years earlier was already starting to collapse under its own overindulgence and Germany's burgeoning Krautrock scene was no exception to this phenomenon. Whereas some bands kind of burst onto the scene and exited without a trace, Achim Reichel had a gentler approach. While he started out as a fairly successful pop star in 1960s Germany, he transitioned into the psychedelic prog world without jettisoning his pop creds right away. Instead he kind of fused the two together on his first album"Die Grüne Reese" before jumping all the way into the more elevated freeform psych jam sessions that led him all the way to "A.R. IV." Around the time of the recording of that album though, Reichel knew that the days of his A.R. & MACHINES phase were coming to a close. Not only were times a- changing but the band never really courted the success they had hoped to achieve. In retrospect, Reichel deemed the whole period as a self-reflection in a sonic form event that would be years ahead of the public's musical tastes.

For the next phase, Achim Reichel would release the next album "AUTOVISION" under his own name however this was very much an A.R. & Machines album bringing back four of the most prominent players in that period. "AUTOVISION" is very much a transition album in Reichel's career and simultaneously pays tribute to his final Krautrock phase as it does give clues to his next move in the music industry. In some ways, this album is sort of a combo effect of the entire A.R & Machines historical overview with elements from the four albums prior coming together in one big farewell shebang. While the debut focused on pop-oriented songs based on the rhythmical relationships between echo loops the next three albums meandered more into extended jam sessions that displayed more interaction between the large pool of musicians. On "AUTOVISION," Reichel marries the echo loop guitar effects so prevalent on the debut with the improvisational jams that characterized the feel on the "Echo" and "A.R. IV" albums. The track "Turbulenzen" celebrates most enthusiastically the echo loop guitar effects and revisits the ethnic percussion days with in a more hyperactive mode.

Reichel explains that at this period in his life, he was studying at The Academy For The Development Of Personality where he was living in a small room with a daily practice of meditation and yoga. Beside his bed he kept his recording equipment and found that the best time to grab his instruments and lay down some tracks was after the practice of meditation, thus displaying a musical glimpse of that world that lies between two distinct layers of consciousness. The music very much feels different than the previous albums with a more energetic drive that is both somewhat more improvisational and yet somehow a bit more focused with the compositions differing more than "A.R. IV." Basically this is a Reichel solo album in composition with the Machines crew joining ranks to carry the sound into the recording studio. This one only has four musicians in addition to Reichel which gives it a somewhat stripped down feel from the previous albums but overall has the same tripped out lengthy sonic journeys into that zone between worlds.

One of the most noticeable differences on "AUTOVISION" is in the percussion department. The standard rock drumming is more prominent with the congas and ethnic influences having dispersed into the ethers however the vibraphone effects are back (with the exception of "Turbulenzen"). The jazzy touches are back but are less jazzy and more light and fluffy and merely subordinate to the guitar echoes and are too quite echoey in the production department. Personally i like this one quite a bit and unlike most Reichel fans find this one to be more dynamic and diverse than anything since the stunning debut as "AUTOVISION" as it simultaneously reflects on the short but mind-expanding career of the band and also looks to the future as displayed by the short but prescient "Kopf In Den Wolken - Beine Auf Der Erde" (Head in the clouds - feet on the ground) which is a tiny snippet of German folk music which ushers out the Krautrock leaning album and indicates to fans that this is the next step on the Reichel Reise (jounrey). This is probably one of the most under-appreciated Reichel albums in his A.R. & Machines Krautrock days most likely due to its scarcity but there is nothing on here to prevent you loving it like the rest. Another obscure gem in the world of 70s progressive rock from Germany.

 AR4 [Aka: A. R. IV] by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.01 | 58 ratings

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AR4 [Aka: A. R. IV]
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

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

4 stars As most Krautrock enthusiasts are aware of, Achim Reichel was one of Germany's biggest pop stars in the 60s before he dived headfirst into the burgeoning psychedelic scene that turned progressive as the 70s hit, however on his debut album with A.R. & MACHINES, "Die Grüne Raise," the songs still had a lot of pop compositional style wrapped up in extended psychedelic tripped out effects and more lingering passages that qualified them as progressive. On "Echo," the band dropped a lot of the pop influences and instead opted for longer sonic journeys into blissful psychedelic jams that found subtle instrumental interactions slowly parade into infinity. On "AR3," Reichel attempted to bring back more conventional song structures, perhaps missing the instant gratification of pop stardom but fell short as the band had lost their hit making mojo and watered down the Kraut aspects a wee bit too much.

As most Krautrock enthusiasts are aware of, Achim Reichel was one of Germany's biggest pop stars in the 60s before he dived headfirst into the burgeoning psychedelic scene that turned progressive as the 70s hit, however on his debut album with A.R. & MACHINES, "Die Grüne Raise," the songs still had a lot of pop compositional style wrapped up in extended psychedelic tripped out effects and more lingering passages that qualified them as progressive. On "Echo," the band dropped a lot of the pop influences and instead opted for longer sonic journeys into blissful psychedelic jams that found subtle instrumental interactions slowly parade into infinity. On "AR3," Reichel attempted to bring back more conventional song structures, perhaps missing the instant gratification of pop stardom but fell short as the band had lost their hit making mojo and watered down the Kraut aspects a wee bit too much.

On "A.R. IV", Reichel and his Kraut crew once again revert back to the long sonic journeys that delve into long psychedelic meandering jams that carry a somewhat funky groove as the backbone. While the album was broken down into four tracks, the first three constitute the "Vita" suite that allowed a strong bass groove and overabundance of percussive drive to meander on for over twenty minutes with a series of ethereal flute and jazzy sax to give it a multidimensional feel. The electric piano and keyboard effects kept it grounded into the progressive world of psychedelia as the tracks, while technically separate actually run together seamlessly and generate an instrumental journey into total blissful escapism. While vocals are scarce, there are segments where Reichel belts out some lyrics but thankfully these passages end quickly as i find them to be the weakest link of the band's unique musical journey.

The finale is saved for the super long twenty-three minute suite "Aqua" which consists solely of the track "Every Raindrop Longs For The Sea" that finds an extended groovy psychedelic jam sallying forth like there is no end to time. The formula is the same as side one with an energetic bass and percussion section accompanied by the driving rhythmic force with healthy doses of electric keyboard runs, blues funk guitar and the airy flutes and a constant background sound of ocean sounds including seagulls lurking in the distance. The sax also returns for the extra jazzy touch. There is a very carefree vibe to "A.R. IV" with little or no attention paid to any sort of compositional style whatsoever. It is simply the sort of heady improvisational psychedelic jam that was common for the days. While personally i prefer the debut to any of the other albums, "A.R. IV" is a massive improvement over the mediocre "AR3" as it captures the mood of the experimental sound journey that was intended. This is one that is a nice free floating escapist's journey into the clouds.

This is the type of music that isn't made to blow you away. This is very much an introspective journey that builds through a solid rhythmic flow that allows an atmospheric backdrop to shape shift much like clouds slowly changing shape as they roll by in the sky. "A.R. IV" was basically a group of ten musicians getting together (granted not all at the SAME time) and trading off licks around a solid groove. While this album doesn't have the same compositional prowess as other prog outfits of the day, there's something very soothing about it that makes me feel one with the universe. At this time Reichel was heavily into spirituality and yoga practice and that's exactly what emanates from this long drifting odyssey in musical form. "A.R. IV" would also find the band A.R. & MACHINES winding down as Reichel would continue as a solo artist, releasing one more psychedelic Kraut album before drifting into traditional German folk music.

 AR4 [Aka: A. R. IV] by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.01 | 58 ratings

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AR4 [Aka: A. R. IV]
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In his all-too brief psychedelic heyday Achim Reichel didn't sound like anyone else in the Krautrock universe. The guitarist seemed content to chart his own singular path through the cosmos, isolated from his closest aesthetic contemporaries (Manuel Göttsching, Günter Schickert), and never straying too far away from Planet Earth.

This might be the most balanced of the albums he recorded as A.R. & Machines, blending the dense artistry of "Echo" with the skewed songwriting of "Die Grüne Reise". The echo on his guitar, accomplished using a simple reel-to-reel tape deck (and pre-dating the similar but less accessible Frippertronic effect) once again sets up the groove. Everything else - drums, vocals, saxophone etc. - was layered carefully on top, flowing dreamlike into and out of a very busy mix.

The technique works best on Side One ("Vita"), in three long, overlapped tracks approaching something that might almost be classified as hypnotic pop. The album's flipside ("Aqua") shows less focus, but not inappropriately for a 23-minute suite titled "Every Raindrop Longs for the Sea (Jeder Tropfen Träumt Vom Meer) H₂O". If nothing else, the meandering rhythms work like a new and short-lived form of nervous, jerky ambient musik.

Altogether the LP was a welcome rebound from the unmotivated "AR3" album. But in retrospect the effort can't transcend a nagging sense of redundancy: after three previous AR&M sessions, it had all been heard before.

(Consumer Postscript: the album has never been officially reissued since its original vinyl release in 1973. Reichel has apparently disowned this entire chapter of his career, which leads me to wonder how committed he was to the music in the first place)

 AR3 [Aka: A. R. III] by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.91 | 22 ratings

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AR3 [Aka: A. R. III]
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The innovative echo-guitar of Achim Reichel could only be spun so far before the novelty grew thin. And on his third AR&M record he crossed that invisible threshold separating true exploration from aimless jamming.

The album restored the more song-based, psychedelic pop of "Die Grüne Reise" (his thrilling 1971 debut), but this time without the same stable underpinning of purpose. There's a conspicuous lack of direction over the LP's two sides, making it sound like a collection of random outtakes and studio rehearsals, spliced neatly together. The music comes to life only during the occasional hypnotic groove, most of which are perversely allowed to evaporate just as they reach cruising speed.

Apparently the guitarist made his point too well on his previous albums, and ran out of new things to say. That exhilarating sense of weightless flight was gone, leaving Reichel and his Machines in temporary freefall before deploying a belated parachute in "A.R. IV".

 Echo by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.02 | 65 ratings

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Echo
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The ambitious follow-up to his playful "Die Grüne Reise" (1971) stretched Achim Reichel's echo-guitar technique almost to its breaking point, and might have the same effect on the patience of any listener with a low attention span. The guitarist would later say the debut album represented his "künstlerische pubertät" ("artistic puberty", translating from his own web site). Which would make this one his creative coming of age, marking a dramatic leap to conceptual maturity from the goofy avant-pop exuberance of the first AR&M experiment.

The music this time was allowed more room to breathe, in longer instrumental workouts evolving over each side of the original twin-LP (to date, and somewhat amazingly, never officially released on compact disc). The rock 'n' roll energy of the earlier record was muted here in favor of a richer, more adventurous sound, still urgently rhythmic but enhanced by the occasional lush orchestral arrangement, and by contributions from a small battalion of collaborators, including percussionist Hans 'Flipper' Lampe of LA DÜSSELDORF fame: another link in the six-degree web of Krautrock separation.

Anyone expecting self-restraint or structure is encouraged to look elsewhere. It requires a long habit of passive concentration (not an oxymoron, for Krautrockers) to fully appreciate the slowly unfolding cycles of melodic arpeggios, superficially resembling the knotted synths and sequencers of early Virgin-era TANGERINE DREAM but performed on guitars, with a more human touch. The arrangement of music was tightly controlled throughout, but like all great cosmic voyages expressed a fearless resolve to embrace unknown vistas and infinite horizons.

Each side of vinyl, after the twenty-minute "Einladung" (Invitation), was given a suitably portentous title: "The Echo of the Presence"; "The Echo of the Future", and so forth, all with elaborate sub-chapters hard to pinpoint within the continuous flow of music. But it's the last side of LP2, "The Echo of the Past", that pushes the album close to five-star territory, in another wild, ZAPPA-influenced kitchen-sink collage, hypnotic and hilarious at the same time.

The effect of this final track is like being mesmerized by a clever circus clown, and at first exposure I found myself laughing as hard as I was listening, reminded (in a good way) of THE BEATLES and their notorious "Revolution 9", albeit assembled with discipline and wit.

The same comparison probably crossed Reichel's mind, too. In an unconscious reflection of the album's title, his career to that point had closely 'echoed' the Fab Four, dating back to his stint with The Rattles at the Star-Club in Hamburg. Much like The Beatles during their more exploratory later years, Reichel in his Krautrock prime still had the heart of a pop star, but the head of...well, a Head.

 Die Grüne Reise (The Green Journey) by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.00 | 84 ratings

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Die Grüne Reise (The Green Journey)
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A.R. was Achim Reichel: celebrity pop star, producer, and Liverpool beat band copycat, who in the early 1970s either rebelled against the commercial success he enjoyed with The Rattles or (from another vantage point) jumped aboard a fashionably far-out bandwagon. I'm inclined to suspect the latter, but in no way does that diminish what he was able to achieve with little more than a guitar and his trusted Machine: an Akai X-3300 reel-to-reel tape deck, capable of producing (in his words) "endless echo cascades" of pulsating, hypnotic sound.

He might have only been a casual tourist on a psychedelic holiday, but the trip he took on the AR&M project was adventurous, to say the least...although it's hard to know who was really in charge: A.R. or his machines? At times it seems like the studio echo technology was determining not only the style but the actual composition of the music, with Reichel dragged willingly along for the ride.

The first Machines album, from the Krautrock miracle year of 1971, shows less depth than its monumental sequel "Echo" (1972), but is far livelier, and way more fun. You can still hear the pop music idol at work behind the weirdness, in catchy tracks like "Come On People" and "I'll Be Your Singer, You'll Be My Song" (released together as an unlikely 45 rpm single). Here and elsewhere, Reichel succeeded in proving how easily popular music could be psychedelicized into a whole prism of colors, beyond the usual blues. The tapes were then spliced into an exhilarating, not-quite-random medley, with the expected anchor of a legitimate verse or chorus always lurking somewhere just beyond earshot.

In the end the music devolves into a fantastic Zappa-like collage of looped voices and effects, not unlike "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet" but organized with an almost stereotypical sense of German order and efficiency. That's not a lazy comparison: The Mothers of Invention were one of the essential midwives of Krautrock. But I don't recall even a tongue-in-cheek iconoclast like Zappa ever choreographing a repetitive chicken cluck or simulated sneeze (...gesundheit... gesundheit... gesundheit... gesundheit...)

The calibrated overlapping sounds gave the experiment a semblance of real music. But it really wasn't anything more than Reichel goofing around in the studio, just to hear what popped out the other end, refining to cyclical perfection the similar rhythmic effect of Roger Waters' "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict". The echo process makes it seem as if Reichel's guitar is actually giggling at you, so it's only fair to return the favor, by listening to the album with a stupid grin spread across your face.

 AR3 [Aka: A. R. III] by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.91 | 22 ratings

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AR3 [Aka: A. R. III]
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

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

3 stars On AR3 Achim Reichel led his A.R. & MACHINES band into a jazzier straight forward almost pop song realm. The head-in-the-clouds trippiness from the first two albums has been suppressed to the point that the echo guitars and other sound embellishments have been tamed and only act as a subordinating sound for the songs. The songs on this third release are merely ok and I have a hard time getting into this one. The vocal tracks really rub me the wrong way. Did anyone practice or was this just thrown together in the wee hours of the night? There are some nice tracks that evoke the spirit of the first two albums but overall in every way this album is inferior to what came before and the two that come after.

The horn backup is a nice touch and it's not the idea of how to direct the band that is the problem, it's the execution. Luckily these ideas would come to fruition on the next album "A.R. IV" which I would recommend over this one any day. However, as a fan of this sound I am more than happy to give this a spin every now and again because it does signify a major shift in the band's approach to their music. As always there are countless musicians helping out and the woven tapestry of sound is a pleasant one but unless you are a major fan as I am you will probably be more interested in "Die Grüne Reise (The Green Journey)," "Echo" or "A.R. IV."

 Echo by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.02 | 65 ratings

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Echo
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

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

4 stars Krautrock is a strange little subgenre in the world of progressive rock. I am utterly amazed at how varied it is. Bands have distinctly different approaches leading to their strange tripped out worlds. With Can the focus is on the rhythm and percussion, with Agitation Free on the electronic effects and percussion, with Amon Duul II the pummeling bass, hypnotic guitar and crazy vocal antics. Despite all these different strategies the final outcome must be spacey, psychedelic and tripped out. No one achieved that better than A.R. & MACHINES in my opinion. True I have not experienced every single Krautrock band at this point but I have at least sampled quite a few and fully dived into countless others and as of this day no one takes me to Strawberry Fields more than this band led by the former German pop star turned tripmeister extraordinaire.

On the first album "Die grüne Reise - The Green Journey" the band already succeeded in making one of the trippiest albums I had ever heard but they still included some of the pop song structures from the Rattles days and twisted and echoed them into a somewhat familiar trippiness. On ECHO they let all that go and focus on the most surreal soundscapes they can muster up. Many of the same sound effects can be found on this second release. There are echos and feedback, vocal craziness and pleasant melodies, loops and insanity galore, however these five tracks are long sprawling epics that have distinct segments that morph into one another.

The long list of instruments come and go as they please. Often they are on the playground together doing their thing in total unity and then one might just drop out and then another join in. It's all very random but at times very disciplined. Have I mentioned this is turned up to 11 on the trippiness scale? At times this reminds me of proto-psybient like the Shpongle of the 70s. If you like trance inducing soundscapes then check this out. If you can't deal with repetitive almost drone-like at times instruments pummeling notes into strange patterns then you probably should look somewhere else, but I on the other hand find this hypnotizing and finding myself wanting to listen to this while watching "Alice In Wonderland" on a 3-D TV.

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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