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A.R. & MACHINES

Krautrock • Germany


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A.R. & Machines biography
Producer, composer and musician from Hamburg (Germany), 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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Echoes From Times of the Green Journey / Echos Aus Zeiten Der Grunen ReiseEchoes From Times of the Green Journey / Echos Aus Zeiten Der Grunen Reise
Import
Polydor 1998
Audio CD$49.95
$46.80 (used)
Die Grune Reise: Green JourneyDie Grune Reise: Green Journey
Import
Tangram 2010
Audio CD$17.16
$16.75 (used)
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A.R. & MACHINES discography


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

3.99 | 74 ratings
Die Grüne Reise (The Green Journey)
1971
3.99 | 55 ratings
Echo
1972
2.86 | 18 ratings
A.R 3
1972
3.98 | 51 ratings
A.R. IV
1973
2.90 | 12 ratings
Autovision
1974

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

2.57 | 7 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

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
 A.R. IV by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.98 | 51 ratings

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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)

 A.R 3 by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.86 | 18 ratings

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A.R 3
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
3.99 | 55 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
3.99 | 74 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.

 A.R 3 by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.86 | 18 ratings

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A.R 3
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

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
3.99 | 55 ratings

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Echo
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

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.

 Die Grüne Reise (The Green Journey) by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.99 | 74 ratings

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

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars This is definitely Krautrock but unlike most contemporaries that were distancing themselves from the blues and rock influences of the 60s, A.R. & MACHINES fully utilized a blues based guitar sound on this album. What makes this so trippy is that they added guitar loops, effects and feedback like there's no tomorrow. It can sound like a very accessible sound one moment and then suddenly burst into extremely trippy worlds where the only thing that's for sure is that echos and feedback are plentiful, but all with an underlying catchiness.

Achim Reichel (A.R.) started out in Germany quite innocently as a pop-star in the beat group The Rattles in the 60s and actually played alongside The Beatles at a few points. They were successful on the charts in several countries and were the first German group to ever hit the charts in the US. After many years of doing the pop thing, Achim opted for something different. Something very different. Taking with him the pop sensibilities of his past, he added a healthy dose of surreality and trippiness making this debut as A.R. & THE MACHINES one strange bird.

This was an instant classic for me as I love the combo effect of the accessible and the strangeness. The highlight for me is the final cut Wahrheit Und Wahrscheinlichkeit (Truth And Probabilty) which has to be THE most tripped out piece of music ever. It is all echo all the time with Mr Reichel basically yelping out whatever strikes his fancy at the moment with the occasional guitar breaking in for a little break. This fantastic album satisfies my innermost psychedelic needs time and time again. One of the most tripped out albums in existence!

 A.R. IV by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.98 | 51 ratings

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A.R. IV
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is Achim Reichel's fourth album released in 1973. It's not as experimental or "out there" as his double album "Echo" but we do get a long lineup of musicians like we did on "Echo". This record is divided into two long suites.

The first suite is called "Vita" and it's divided into three tracks that blend into one another. "Cave Explorers And Birdmen" has this rhythm that eventually kicks in and builds. Vocals 4 1/2 minutes in but they don't hang around long as the band gets back to jammin'. It blends into "The Man In The Kidleather" where we get such a great sound as they continue to jam. It starts to settle back 7 1/2 minutes in and blends into "Thin Is The Skin Of Ecstacy" . It settles back quickly with guitar then that rhythm kicks in with recorder and vocals before a minute. It settles down after 4 minutes to a calm.

The second side long suite is called "Aqua" and the song is titled "Every Raindrop Longs For The Sea". Thunder and rain dominate the sound here as gentle guitar and recorder join in. The storm subsides before 2 minutes and you can hear the birds singing 2 1/2 minutes in. Some strange sounds join in before 13 minutes and we also can hear the waves. Keyboards around 16 minutes as the waves continue with percussion. Sax after 19 minutes. The song starts to wind down after 21 minutes. The sea gulls and waves become more prominant here.

This is my second favourite A.R. & MACHINES record after "The Green Journy". A must for Krautrock fans.

 Echo by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.99 | 55 ratings

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Echo
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Achim Reichel's second album from 1972 is a double released the year after "The Green Journey". This isn't as good in my opinion and despite the fact there are a lot of guests helping out it doesn't feel like it. It's not really that samey and repetitive (although there is that) but it does have the same mood and vibe throughout. It's somewhat spacey with acoustic and electric guitars leading the way with percussion. There are vocals at times including Klaus Schulze of all people. We get clarinet, sax, jew harp, orchestration and samples. "The Green Journey" was love at first listen while this one is less dynamic and more hypnotic and trippy.

We get five long tracks over two albums resulting in over an hour and twenty minutes of music. I'll use the English song titles. "Invitation" opens with sounds that pulse and echo as picked guitar helps out. Strummed guitar joins in before 1 1/2 minutes. It builds some. This is good. A calm 5 1/2 minutes in with liquid sounds, vocal expressions and other psychedelic meanderings. The guitar is back after 6 1/2 minutes as a dark atmosphere comes in. Strings 8 minutes in as orchestral sounds follow. A beat 10 minutes in with eerie spacey sounds. Dissonant sax joins in as the tempo picks up. Guitar too. Great sound before 17 1/2 minutes as the guitar rips it up. It's haunting before 19 minutes as it calms right down.

"The Echo of The Presence" has these mellow sounds that echo as vocal melodies join in and percussion follows. It picks up with strummed guitar and intricate sounds. Vocals before 4 minutes. It settles after 6 minutes as the vocals continue. It's spacey too. Vocals stop around 8 minutes as the sound settles back eventually. Spacey sounds pulse to end it. "The Echo Of Time" opens with children talking and their voices echo then the music takes over with guitar out front. Percussion joins in and vocals arrive after 4 minutes. A change 6 1/2 minutes in as heavier guitar with twittering sounds and drums take over. The guitar starts to solo over top. Strummed guitar follows. A calm with guitar 9 minutes in. It turns spacey and haunting 11 1/2 minutes in with children's voices too.

"The Echo Of The Future" has these sparse sounds that come and go then it starts to pick up before 2 minutes. It settles back before 6 minutes with vocal melodies as the guitars are strummed and picked then it picks back up again. A calm before 7 1/2 minutes as spoken words and vocal melodies take over. The guitars and percussion join in as the vocals continue and then the vocals stop as music continues. A haunting calm before 13 1/2 minutes. "The Echo Of The Past" ends it. This is a bizarre tune as we get lots of vocal expressions where they are the focus. It's especially strange before 6 minutes with all these vocal sounds. It turns spacey late which I like better.

A solid 4 stars and a must for Krautrock fans out there. Listen to the echo.

 Echo by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.99 | 55 ratings

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Echo
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

Review by James Lee
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Discipline, structure, and focus. If that's what you adore about progressive rock, run like hell from A. R. & Machines. If, however, you prize prog's ability to wash over you with waves of weirdness until your astral form winds up light years away from your physical body -- perhaps having forgotten that said body ever existed, you know man, in the really real sense -- then Echo may be the lost classic that you've been waiting for.

This is especially true if your soul happens to respond to the unique conjunction of cosmic forces that resulted in a seemingly infinite universe of obscure vinyl treasures between roughly 1966 and 1977. Germany didn't have a monopoly on spacey pagan psychedelia by any means, but there's enough of a concentration of unrestrained genius in that extended circle to assure that most of us are still rediscovering the many facets of Krautrock at this late date -- and, it must be said, the same probably goes for many of those who made the music to begin with.

I don't know that Achim Reichel (let alone Herr Schultze) ever takes a spare hour and a half to revisit Echo. He may (like the vast majority of my esteemed prog contemporaries and probably the world at large) only think of Echo to dismiss the album as an incoherent and self-indulgent soup of delay effects and cryptobabble. Fair enough, but I've tasted a lot of bad soup, and even more bland soup, and this is neither of those recipes.

For one thing, the music is genuinely but non-specifically evocative -- one of the essential keys to the gate of transcendence, so to speak. It'll put you on the road without really suggesting a direction, but this is no spineless New Age ambient wallpaper; Echo will assert itself on a regular basis to give your mind something unexpected to work with.

The minimalist, minor-key repetitions have the same moody trance-inducing quality of Cluster and Eno, but with an acid rock foundation rather than an ambient synth framework. Einladung (Invitation) is all about guitars and drums.. and water, and drawn-out flange sweeps. If I say the word 'cave', am I forcing my authority on the chaotic freedom of your mind's drift, man?

It's sometimes hauntingly beautiful, too, and surprisingly powerful.

And it gets funky like only Krautrock can, taking all of the acid dance freakout fun of Velvet Underground meets swinging London meets Haight-Ashbury and turning it into a cosmic party cruise attended by Teutonic stewardesses. And then Carlos Castaneda appears, with pre-electric Marc Bolan as his spirit guide, and everything disappears into the forest primeval. And you're STILL only on the second song, Das Echo Der Gegenwart (The Echo Of The Present). Lucky for us, the present was 1972, which was a far more timeless present than our current future, which so much more quickly slips into the past.

If you haven't given up by the point that Das Echo Der Zeit (The Echo Of Time) arrives, you're in for a Throbbing Gristle of a treat. Never has there been such difficulty telling novelty from consistency. Baby voices and more layered, echoed guitars. Native chanting and drumming. Comus enters a chrysalis and emerges as Aphrodite's Child. All of the seats were occupied (by layers of echoing sound).

To be fair, the musicians are pretty tight for all of their looseness, and the sections and transitions possess a lot more dynamic discipline and distinctiveness that it seems. This stands out from a slew of psychedelic-era concept albums that amount to little more than throwing sounds at the wall to see if anything sticks. Speaking of which... I hate to make enemies, but I'd rather hear the 43 minutes of Das Echo Der Zukunft (The Echo Of The Future) once a week for the rest of my life than EVER hear Tubular Bells again.

Das Echo Der Vergangenheit (Echo of the Past) is probably my least favorite, due to the disjointed a cappella / spoken section -- but it may be your MOST favorite, especially if you have a fondness for RIO and / or experimental composers of the Charles Dodge variety. It's certainly not out of character with the rest of the album, at any rate. And the symphonic conclusion threatens to take us out on a surprisingly Alpine soundtrack note, until the shimmering and ringing drones of pure ambient bliss soothe our eternal night of lucid discovery gently back into the sunlit sleep of waking.

Rare, beautiful, weird, and utterly immersive in a very unique way.

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition.

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