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GROBSCHNITT

Symphonic Prog • Germany


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Grobschnitt biography
Formed in 1970 the band existed till 1989, GROBSCHNITT (which translates to ROUGH CUT) was the best German band from the mid-Seventies (ELOY were then in a more PINK FLOYD... and ambient style). All of the members of the band adopted pseudonyms, namely "Eroc", "Mist", "Wildschwein", "Lupo" and "Popo". The band was created by Joachim "Eroc" Ehrig (drums, percussion), Stefan "Wildschwein" Daneliak (guitars & vocals), and Gerd-Otto "Lupo" Kühn (guitar, vocals). This nucleus was later completed by Wolgang "Popo" Jäger (bass) and Volker "Mist" Kahrs (keyboards, Mellotron, synthesizers). They were best known as a clone of YES (symphonic progressive group), but they also explored other progressive rock styles (either psychedelic prog or more cohesive "Krautrock" with some stunning instrumental passages that will be familiar to anyone into the likes of MAN, AMON DUUL II, WISHBONE ASH and many similar bands). Their sound was characterized by sometimes long suites allowing ambitious composition developments, with intermingled themes, rhythms, climates changes and symphonic passages. A VERY COMPELLING BRAND OF MUSICAL MOODS: haunting melodies, funny voices (by Eroc), wonderful guitar work, great synthesizer sounds, strange drumming/effects man, and sophisticated arrangements. This eclectic German band became one of the most popular live acts in German history.

The group released about fifteen albums and added touches of absurd humor to their records and live shows. Their first five albums are all classics. Vocals are mostly in English, although some albums were released with German vocals for the home market and English vocals for export. "Ballermann" (1974) consisted of two LP's, one filled with symphonic progressive rock, and the other that contained a space rock suite... the original version of "Solar Music". "Rockpommel's Land", the fourth studio album exhibited intricate ensemble work, delicate dual lead guitars and theatrical vocals which dominate the music. A solid concept album in the YES/GENESIS tradition, the record told the story of a boy's adventures in a strange land and ultimately finding some sort of wisdom about human nature, as well as piece of mind. The beautiful cover painting looks exactly like an early Roger Dean cover. "Solar Music Live" (1978) is sometimes considered one of the best live albums of all time (similar to early PINK FLOYD's albums in space/cosmic rock).

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GrobschnittGrobschnitt
Import
Universal Import 2010
Vinyl$24.37
$23.45 (used)
Rockpommel's LandRockpommel's Land
Import
Universal Import 2009
Vinyl$23.80
$26.49 (used)
International StoryInternational Story
Revisited Records 2006
Audio CD$11.47
$9.45 (used)
Kapelle Elias Grobschnitt (Die Grobschnitt Story 0)Kapelle Elias Grobschnitt (Die Grobschnitt Story 0)
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2012
Audio CD$9.28
$17.60 (used)
2008 Live 20102008 Live 2010
SIREENA RECORDS 2011
Audio CD$11.44
$10.44 (used)
IllegalIllegal
Brain / SPV 2009
Audio CD$45.90
$41.35 (used)
JumboJumbo
Brain / SPV 2007
Audio CD$54.66
$46.45 (used)
Symphony Live 2012Symphony Live 2012
Single
SIREENA RECORDS 2013
Audio CD$4.42
$3.42 (used)
2010 Live2010 Live
Double LP
SIREENA RECORDS 2011
Vinyl$18.30
$34.21 (used)
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GROBSCHNITT discography


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

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

3.85 | 109 ratings
Grobschnitt
1972
3.65 | 103 ratings
Ballermann
1974
3.48 | 73 ratings
Jumbo
1975
3.85 | 175 ratings
Rockpommel's Land
1977
3.16 | 40 ratings
Merry-Go-Round
1979
2.83 | 36 ratings
Illegal
1981
1.89 | 19 ratings
Razzia
1982
1.64 | 18 ratings
Kinder + Narren
1984
1.58 | 12 ratings
Fantasten
1987

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

4.53 | 145 ratings
Solar Music - Live
1978
2.56 | 20 ratings
Volle Molle
1980
3.08 | 12 ratings
Sonnentanz - Live
1985
2.40 | 11 ratings
Last Party - Live
1989
4.72 | 11 ratings
The Grobschnitt Story 4 (Illegal Live)
2003
4.17 | 12 ratings
Grobschnitt 2008 Live
2008
3.80 | 10 ratings
Grobschnitt 2010 Live
2010
3.00 | 4 ratings
Live Brunsbüttel 1973 - 1
2012
2.75 | 4 ratings
Live Kassel 1978 - 2
2012

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

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

4.50 | 17 ratings
Die Grobschnitt Story 1
1994
1.64 | 6 ratings
Die Grobschnitt Story 2
1998
4.70 | 14 ratings
The History Of Solar Music Vol. 1
2001
4.02 | 5 ratings
The History Of Solar Music Vol. 2
2002
4.04 | 4 ratings
The History Of Solar Music Vol. 3
2002
3.00 | 2 ratings
The History Of Solar Music Vol. 4
2003
3.50 | 2 ratings
Die Grobschnitt Story 5
2004
2.00 | 2 ratings
The History Of Solar Music Vol. 5
2004
3.76 | 27 ratings
The International Story
2006
3.33 | 3 ratings
Story 6 - Rockpommel's Land And Elsewhere...
2006
3.75 | 4 ratings
Die Grobschnitt Story 0
2010

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

4.00 | 1 ratings
Another Journey
2008

GROBSCHNITT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Illegal  by GROBSCHNITT album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.83 | 36 ratings

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Illegal
Grobschnitt Symphonic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Although post 'Solar Music Live'-era Grobschnitt doesn't quite match up to the group's classic 1970's offerings, there are still occasional nuggets to be unearthed by those who take the chance. Issued in 1981, 'Illegal' pretty much marks the end of Grobschnitt as a 'progressive outfit', though despite the hardening of the group's overall sound, this still features some crackers in the form of both the awe-inspiring 'Mary Green' and the effects- stuffed title-track, two tracks that swap the symphonic grandeur of 'Rockpommel's Land' and 'Jumbo' for a meatier, rockier and sharper metal-flecked sound that really does leap from the speakers thanks to a supremely-slick production sheen. Fans of 1970's-era Grobschnitt may find it all a bit aggressive at first, though thankfully relief is offered up in the form of the gently-lilting 'Silent Movie' and, in very un-Grobschnitt style, the pretty acoustics of the charming closer 'Raintime'. In fact, give 'Illegal' several listens and it really does grow on you, showcasing the musicians skilful chops and a confident new streak perfectly suited to the new decade. It may not scale the lofty heights of their very best material, though in the grand scheme of things 'Illegal' does prove a rather nice surprise. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2013

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 Rockpommel's Land  by GROBSCHNITT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.85 | 175 ratings

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Rockpommel's Land
Grobschnitt Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I realize a lot of Grobschnitt fans prefer the band's earlier albums, and argue that exposure to YES cost the group a large measure of individuality. It's a valid criticism, but my knee-jerk counter-argument is two-fold.

Firstly, most of that early individuality never really existed. The debut Grobschnitt albums may have been less derivative, but also had far less character, with no distinct style (original or otherwise) to grab hold of. And secondly, while the band's Prog Rock period may have been (check that: was) influenced by established English role models, they were certainly no Yes clone, even with the second-rate Roger Dean gatefold artwork for this LP.

What the two groups had in common was a musical optimism flying in the face of current events (the late '70s erosion of hippie idealism, so forth), expressed here in a somewhat awkward fantasy narrative about a lonely young boy and the giant pipe-smoking bird who becomes his companion. The escapism of the storyline sounds a little contrived today, but the music survives as a quintessential sampling of Symphonic Prog Rock from the absolute apex of its Golden Age.

The band's newfound melodic flair, originally hatched during the sessions for their 1974 album "Jumbo", reached its full maturity on this project. It's true some of Gerd-Otto Kühn's guitar runs were unmistakably Steve Howe inspired. But there's real magic here, from the uplifting chime of the 12-string album intro to the gorgeous orchestral finale closing the side-long title track. And the CD bonus "Tontillon" adds a fitting epilogue to the saga, with a lovely, loose improvisation of a theme from the song "Ernie's Reise".

That track title is, by the way, the one exception to the convenient Anglicizing of the entire album: a common practice among Continental Proggers at the time. In this case I suspect it was rendered in German because a direct translation ("Ernie's Journey") might have suggested an episode of Sesame Street.

Okay, I guess there's a third point to make after all. Grobschnitt needed to pass through this symphonic portal before they could revisit their epic "Solar Music" jam and nail it in vinyl on stage the following year. The earlier, heavier (and to my ears more ponderous) Grobschnitt showed only one face of a two-sided musical coin, and by exploring another, more delicate aspect of their personality the band was finally able to establish its own holistic identity, and better late (almost too late, by 1977) than never.

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 Grobschnitt  by GROBSCHNITT album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.85 | 109 ratings

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Grobschnitt
Grobschnitt Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The first Grobschnitt was a different, heavier ensemble than the band that would record the popular "Rockpommel's Land" a half decade down the road. Unlike the textbook Symphonic Prog of that later album, their debut LP was closer to Floydian Space Rock, but it was Space Rock in low Earth orbit at best, never quite achieving the impetus or elevation needed to break free of its own gravitational tug.

In other words, don't expect to find any "Solar Music" here, although you might discern a hint of the band's trademark jam cycle on occasion. A flare or two erupts in the Dave Gilmour-like guitar runs of Gerd-Otto Kühn (alias Lupo), notably during the slow but powerful Variation and Finale sections of the 13-plus minute "Symphony". And the epic Old Testament parable of "Sun Trip" shares even more DNA with the "Solar Music" suite, but only in a very embryonic form, not unlike a hastily molded, rough clay model of a proposed future masterpiece.

At this early stage of their career the line-up was still uncertain. The album lacked the more delicate touch of keyboard player Volker Kahrs (aka Mist, who would join the band for their second studio album in 1974), and the valiant efforts of percussionist / clown Joachim Ehrig (Eroc) were diluted by the superfluous addition of a second drummer.

The emphasis is tilted instead toward Lupo's electric guitar machismo, although I'm guessing the obvious Santana parallels (best heard in the song "Travelling") were coincidental. The similarities are even noted in the CD-reissue booklet, but no direct influence is claimed.

Either way it's a strong first effort, from a young band still trying to find its stylistic feet. Even better, the vaudeville buffoonery of their stage shows was kept (mostly) in check, giving listeners a rare glimpse of what could have been an alternative, less irreverent Grobschnitt.

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 Grobschnitt  by GROBSCHNITT album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.85 | 109 ratings

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Grobschnitt
Grobschnitt Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Although more associated with their later spacey and loopy cosmic prog, most of the self titled debut album from Grobschnitt is exciting, intelligent and forward-pushing 70's rock in the tradition of the earlier albums by fellow German acts Eloy, Jane and Birth Control, with a healthy dose of the Santana band and Pink Floyd. The music has quite a basic, plodding and repetitive sound, but filled with lengthy structured themes and jam- based parts. The lyrics are grounded in very human concerns like love, peace, romantic obsession and war, which makes the album easy to relate to and connect with. There's also something oddly upbeat and hopeful amongst the more somber moments throughout the album.

Opener `Symphony' has a grand and frequently repeated main theme, with slight Santana band influences in the electric guitar and organ washes, some urgent percussion, gorgeous mournful Rick Wright-styled organ and piano in the moody middle section with restrained and tasteful strings. All this before forceful percussion, commanding bass work and a near five minute extended Gilmour-esque epic guitar solo wrap up the piece amongst swirling electronic and cosmic effects! There's some very amusing fractured English lyrics translations, which I assume were not on purpose? For instance, "I am going, going to get you, trying to get you with my eyes, going to make you with my mind..." is brilliant and sweetly naive nonsense! Not sure if it's the band getting in early with their sense of humour or just badly translated, but it's strange that much of the rest of the album lyrics are fairly grounded!

The intro of `Travelling' has booming and very intimidating drums before heavy guitar strums transform the song into a upbeat and frantic cross between the mediterranean guitar style of Eloy's `Floating' and the screaming guitar runs of the early Santana albums. Shame about the rather abrupt fade out mid solo!

`Wonderful Music' is a hazy and sprightly foot-tapper with a folky acoustic guitar and flute dancing around the warm and heartfelt crooned vocals from Stefan Danielak. Still, there's something slightly haunted and reflective in his voice that gives the track a slightly uneasy feel, too.

Plodding bass and thunderstorm effects swirl around a foreboding bible passage read in German before dirty sprawling metallic riffs and militaristic marching drums stomp in. The piece becomes faster amd more uptempo with melodic guitar runs and passionate yet restrained vocals. "Sky is blue, but rain is whispering..." is a surprisingly lovely but ominous lyric. Shimmering organs before a very effective change of direction, slowing right down to the moody and spacious middle. Like the dark ambience of early 70's Floyd live, the low- key organ, spectral vocals and gentle guitar strums float around sounds of warfare and battle, before snappy percussion and quirky effects kick back in before a hugely emotional long bluesy guitar solo tears it's way through the rest of the piece.

I've been reviewing my LP copy, but apparently the remastered CD comes with a thirty minute bonus track that is a live interpretation of the opening piece with long and heavy improvisation sections. Maybe look into that version.

Really glad I kept at this one after being initially quite uninterested and let down by it. Now after flogging the heck out of it, playing it over and over to let it sink in, I've come to find it a hugely charming and energetic release. It's also become an album I play on drives all the time, so it's always in the car waiting for when I need a quick fix!

An easy four stars.

By the way, I'd love an interpretation of the striking front and back LP covers too, if anyone can offer some opinions!

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 The History Of Solar Music Vol. 1 by GROBSCHNITT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2001
4.70 | 14 ratings

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The History Of Solar Music Vol. 1
Grobschnitt Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars GROBSCHNITT are a band I place a notch down from my favourite Krautrock bands simply because they are more in the Symphonic realm as opposed to say AMON DUUL II and the like who play more of an underground psychedelia. Still I do really like this band and consider their debut a masterpiece. They do play a spacey and somewhat jamming style that I like. Many consider their "Solar Music Live" record from 1978 to be the greatest live album ever recorded. For me it's a 4 star recording much like this one. This release has an almost 56 minute version of "Solar Music" plus another two versions of that song on disc two both around the 30 minute mark. And if you know this band you know they have released a lot of archival material including many versions of "Solar Music" which might seem redundant except they seem to change that song everytime they perform it.

"I Walk The Line" is a short instrumental nod to Mr. Cash. While the closer on disc one called "Zugabe" kicks in quickly with drums and organ. Love the organ here. The guitar starts to solo 1 1/2 minutes in then the piano replaces the guitar. Vocals and guitar lead 3 minutes in. In between these two tracks I just mentioned is the sprawling "Solar Music Warburg '78" recorded the same year as their famous live album but at a different time and place. They have borken this down into 7 songs I guess to make it easier to find certain sections but the music all blends together. This one kicks in right away and turns heavier with some ripping organ. A calm follows as they seem to meander and we get samples of birds singing and dogs barking. It picks up as the guitar starts to solo. Great sound here. Synths then take over with some prominant bass as well. The next section has this coughing and speaking reminding me very much of Calvert's "Captain Lockheed & The Starfighters" album. Funny stuff. The music kicks into gear and the guitar proceeds to light it up. The final section is my favourite as the guitar takes a prominant role at times.

If your a big GROBSCHNITT fan you must be in heaven with all of the double cd releases of older material that keeps coming out. Without question I do recommend you get your hands on this one.

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 Merry-Go-Round  by GROBSCHNITT album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.16 | 40 ratings

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Merry-Go-Round
Grobschnitt Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The last true Grobschnitt album before Eroc left the band a year after, even they left the sympnonic prog atmosphere from previous release to a more accesible prog rock with shorter pieces and rockier passagages. Merry go round issued two years after excellent Rockpommels land, in summer of 1979. Well , I surprised to see that this is not so bad as many considered to be, ok is not a fantstic one either and is little far then previous one in musical terms, but has some good parts. ZSome good moments one Du Schaffst Das Nicht, an almost entirely instrumental track of 9 min long with very nice parts wheere we can see thet they still keep the symphonic atmosphere like on previous effort, nice and well crafter tune. The title track is ok even no spectacular moments to be found, with more edgy guitar sound. Overall listenable, quite ok but far from the greatness of Rockpommel's land, less spectacular arrangements and less complex and inventive. 3 stars to this one.

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 Rockpommel's Land  by GROBSCHNITT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.85 | 175 ratings

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Rockpommel's Land
Grobschnitt Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Grobschnitt - Rockpommel's land from 1977 is considered by many their peak, I'm agree with that, keeping in mind that this album is the most symphonic release they ever done. Better in any aspect then previous Jumbo this album keeps the flag high in prog music. With this offer Grobschnitt turns from a krautrock band with edhy passages from early years into some symphonic band very similar in aproch, musicaly and visualy in the end with Yes same period. Complex arrangements with one big pieces the title track clocking around 20 min is a true testament left by the band in the golden era of prog. Very discred musicianship but well performed , they never burst in some fascinating parts but manage to keep the listner intrested on whole album. Another highlight of the album, is to me Severity town , with great druming, good harsh vocals and pleasent keyboards passages. I do not consider this one amomg my fav album from that period or in general but I like what I've heared here, is more then usual stuff for sure. The music is grandious, not to flashy but aswell not monotonous with plenty of memorable passages. I think one of the better album coming from Germany from that period in prog music. 4 stars, the similarity with Yes album Dean era are more then obvious here.

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 Grobschnitt  by GROBSCHNITT album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.85 | 109 ratings

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Grobschnitt
Grobschnitt Symphonic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Before Grobschnitt conjured up the thick symphonic sound that adorned such classic albums as 'Ballermann'(1974) and 'Rockpommel's Land'(1977) they sported a kind of psychedelic rock style closer in spirit to the likes of Santana than to the British progressive outfit's such as Yes and Genesis that would influence their sound further down the line. A less polished release, this self-titled debut from 1972 was issued on the underground Brain imprint whilst the German group were still trying to find a settled line-up, hence the stylistic difference between this and the rest of their 1970s output. However, this is still recognisably Grobschnitt, only without the glutinous keyboards, overt fantasy themes and surreal teutonic humour that would soon become their trademarks. Instead, Stefan Danielak's piercing guitar is the main weapon of attack here, on an atmospheric and rather lengthy opus featuring just four - albeit extended - tracks, whilst fans of the group will be especially keen on experiencing closing piece 'Sun Trip', an unfinished, eighteen-minute-long space-rock marathon that would constantly evolve over the intervening years, quickly becoming one of Grobschnitt's most enduring and popular compositions(thanks to the fact that it was played in versions lasting upto anb hour long at the end of every Grobschnitt concert) and morphing into the thirty-three minute long super-epic 'Solar Music', an extended re-working that would initially make-up the entire second disc of the follow-up double-album 'Ballermann' before taking on a life all of it's own and eventually becoming an album in it's own right in the shape of the superb, career-defining 1978 double-live offering 'Solar Music Live'. Of course, the version here differs considerably from the (many) later versions, though the basic musical elements and cosmic ambience are already well in place. The rest of 'Grobschnitt' also furrows a similar sonic pathway, with slow-burning, sound-effects filled moments of calm building up to frantic passages of impressive instrumental excess. And the Santana connection is not a tenuous one either. Both the opening gambit 'Introduction' and follow-up 'Symphony' exhibit strong latin-spiced guitar solo's fastened onto psych-rock soundscapes, whilst delicately-played flute runs kick-start the almost medieval-sounding 'Wondeful Music'. Finally, in all it's cosmic glory, we have the album's piece-de-resistance in the form of 'Suntrip'. A powerful, multi-layered epic, 'Suntrip' finds Grobschnitt at their most ambitious, blending hard-rock riffs, strange spoken-word interludes(in thick Germanic tones) and bristling space-rock to almost celestial effect. Part psychedelic odyssey, part prog-rock concept piece, 'Grobschnitt' is a real statement of intent from a hungry young group that more than rivals their later, more famous albums. Blending the sonic sprawl of early Eloy, the fiery passion of Santana and the expansive instrumental scope of Pink Floyd, this is a remarkable debut indeed.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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 The History Of Solar Music Vol. 1 by GROBSCHNITT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2001
4.70 | 14 ratings

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The History Of Solar Music Vol. 1
Grobschnitt Symphonic Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

5 stars Paper balloons

One of my favourite writers on PA just reviewed Grobschnitt's legendary Solar Music Live, and today I thought I'd pitch in in order to help this magnificent piece of work gain some new listeners. Now normally I don't do compilation albums, mostly because they contain tracks that already feature elsewhere in the given artist's catalogue. Yet this monster of a double cd sports 3 different versions of a killer track, and no-where does it feel like too much. In no way whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I can listen to this stuff all day long.

Solar Music is like the love child of Grobschnitt. It is a track that has evolved from a few chord progressions back on their debut, (and I believe even earlier still there were signs of this psychedelic masterpiece) - to the studio version featured on Ballerman, and then again to the hour long live performance it suddenly transformed into. Personally I feel it's like watching a kid grow up, and on these releases - you can actually spot the differences, the pimples, the adolescence and a certain maturity unfold right before your very ears.

On this compilation you get an astonishing version of the track during their famous 78 tour of Germany. This one spans nearly 56 minutes, and it quite simply takes your breath away. On top of that you also get a half hour version from the following year, that is every bit as vibrant and heartfelt. Then you are treated to a long overdue remastering of the original track off Ballerman, which sounds crisp and organic - yet without ever loosing the feel of the real thing. Some times these remastering geniuses manage to erase that special something that made the original track what it was, but luckily so this is not the case here. Finally we catch a glimpse of the humoristic side of the band, such as the opening cut I Walk the Line(?!!!?). This little ditty always makes me chuckle a bit. Just like their colleagues Guru Guru there was a smile and a smirk - a pitch black humour connected with them. Somehow starting the show with a Johnny Cash classic for then to launch into a nuclear musical space shuttle theme - was like second nature to these guys, and I kind of like that facet of them as well.

Alright, that's about it. But what about the music you say? Well if you've never heard Solar Music before, then imagine a sexual meeting between Bobby Beausoleil's Lucifer Rising, Pink Floyd's Embryo, Steve Hillage and perhaps the gentleness of the Soon bit from Yes' Gates of Delirium. 9 months later this psychedelic freak of nature pops out of momma's baking oven!

Together with Popol Vuh's Einsjäger und Siebenjäger, this track is perhaps the closest you'll ever get to symphonic Krautrock. It conjures up these massive grandiose musical structures with blistering guitar solos, wavering wafting keyboards and a frantic locomotive- like rhythm section, that you at times are in limbo between the psychedelic jam element and the towering musical inferno likening to a symphony orchestra. Somewhere in the middle you find this band - and especially this track. It shifts and alters its presence many times during its life - often reduced to these soft slow passages with ethereal keys and fragile soothing guitar mumblings that together amount to an unspeakable beauty.

Another important thing about this kind of music is the dynamics involved. Much of what makes this improvisational space rock flow the way it does is down to long and twisting build ups. I'd go as far and say that nearly half of the music is based upon the slow gradual increase and decrease in sound. I've heard many bands utilize the same sort of approach, but none with such an impeccable and imaginative impact. Whether it's tiny ricocheting bullet drum rolls from ring leader Eroc, or polyphonic synth washes suddenly popping up in the most wonderful way - these wandering sections between the sonic fireworks are every bit as fantastic and beautiful as the actual climaxes. I guess a lot of the modern post-rock bands work within the same spherical approach, but I've honestly never heard anyone walk this musical path as successfully as Grobschnitt did.

If you've ever watched those spectacular ceremonies from Asia, where you place a lit candle in a square paper balloon and watch it float away - then apply this image to music. Hundreds upon hundreds of these wafting light creatures filling the skies creating a living burning organism of light up there in the clouds. This is what Solar Music feels like to me. It's like floating upwards in one of those paper balloons aiming straight for the stratosphere.

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 Solar Music - Live by GROBSCHNITT album cover Live, 1978
4.53 | 145 ratings

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Solar Music - Live
Grobschnitt Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

5 stars First a personal note: I'm not sure why I waited so long to review Grobschnitt's celebrated 1978 live album, a fixture in my own music library for over three decades (and counting). It might have simply been an act of courtesy, extended to an unmistakable classic obviously not in need of yet another cheerleader. Pardon the clumsy metaphor, but why bother even trying to gild an already five-star, 14-karat lily?

On the other hand, it's a hard album to over-praise. The live Solar Music marked a creative zenith not only for this hardworking German group, but arguably also for Progressive Rock itself in the waning days of its influence and popularity. At a time when most Prog Rockers were already showing symptoms of terminal decadence and redundancy, this unlikely band of Teutonic extroverts managed to organize all their conflicting musical impulses - psychedelia, symphonic rock, vaudeville humor - into an epic 55-minutes of near- miraculous showmanship, actually the second half of a single evening's performance (and what a gig that must have been!)

By this stage in their shifting musical evolution the obvious point of reference was post- "Dark Side of the Moon" Pink Floyd (that barking dog in the distant background of "Solar Music II" recalls an almost identical sound effect from the "Animals" album, released one year earlier). But the comparison needs to be flipped: this is what Pink Floyd should have sounded like in 1978, reaching for the same local star they once set their controls toward, instead of building that clunky, godawful wall.

And unlike the Floyd there's a welcome element of humor in the space rock of Grobschnitt. Note the (deliberate?) false start at about the three-minute mark here, just before the band settles into the first of many killer one-chord jams. And the irrepressible percussionist / clown Joachim Ehrig (alias Eroc) has his finest moment on record when, during an ominous pause in the music, he poses the immortal question, "...would you like to sit on your bum, on the surface...of the sun??" (cue the maniacal shriek and frantic drum roll, please)

Even without the missing visual cues (costumes, props, alarming pyrotechnics during an indoor performance) it's a remarkably sustained piece of music, revised and reworked through constant practice on stage and in the studio until it became a part of the band's collective DNA (see the 1974 album "Ballerman" for a more earthbound version of the same cosmic voyage). The whole thing builds to a fever pitch before resolving itself in a coda of unexpected grace and beauty; later releases (not my Metronome CD, sadly) even include a thirteen-minute encore.

It's difficult to believe a small percentage of Progarchive reviewers rate the album as non- essential, or worse: for collectors only. "Solar Music Live" is one of the pinnacles of the European Prog Rock experience, and in my own collection remains in steady rotation after more than thirty years of ownership, first on vinyl, then on audio cassette (after foolishly selling the LP in my post-punk immaturity), and finally on compact disc, where the complete performance can finally be enjoyed without that abrupt interruption between Sides One and Two. And isn't longevity always the first mark of a true masterpiece?

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