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AGITATION FREE

Krautrock • Germany


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Agitation Free biography
Founded in Berlin, Germany in 1967 - Disbanded in 1974 - Reunited briefly in 1998, 2007 and 2012

A classic of the German space genre. Their current music is a combination of Progressive Rock and New Instrumental Music, with touches of Jazz and passages dedicated to an experimentation near to Ambient. Their originality was due to the blend electronic and repetitive musics with a lot of ethnic elements from North Africa, India, etc. Very much like your early ASH RA TEMPEL, GURU GURU type bands except with a cultural influence.

"Malesch" is an ethic excursion and a clear passion for the European avant-garde with extended guitar solos and mesmerizing atmospheres. "Second" is more Euro-folk inflected, with a stronger use of acoustic guitars and bouzouki. Both "Malesch" and "Second" are excellent space excursions but absolutely brilliant recordings... ESSENTIAL!.

Several AGITATION FREE albums were released after the group's breakup, including 1976's "Last", 1995's "Fragments" and the following years's "At The Cliffs of The River Rhine" (1998). The following year "River Of Return" appeared, featuring the original quartet as well as new members Johannes Pappert and Bernard Potschka. Their aptly titled "Last" is considered by many to be one of the best live space albums ever. Lots of acid-drenched guitar and electronics to really carry you "out there".

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AGITATION FREE discography


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

3.97 | 277 ratings
Malesch
1972
3.83 | 189 ratings
2nd
1973
3.25 | 27 ratings
River Of Return
1999
2.76 | 24 ratings
The Other Sides Of Agitation Free
1999

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

4.05 | 71 ratings
Last
1976
3.81 | 39 ratings
Fragments (Live '74)
1995
4.01 | 59 ratings
At The Cliffs Of River Rhine
1998
3.82 | 27 ratings
Shibuya Nights - Live in Tokyo
2011
3.75 | 4 ratings
1st
2012

AGITATION FREE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

4.75 | 4 ratings
Fragments & Malesch
2000
4.00 | 3 ratings
Last, Fragments & Live '74
2016

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

AGITATION FREE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Malesch by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.97 | 277 ratings

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Malesch
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

4 stars We can feel such a hallucinogenic atmosphere via a combination of free jam sessions and sensitive production. One of Krautrock masterpieces "Malesch" released in 1972 by a German psychedelic giant AGITATION FREE can be called as a supermixture of worldwide music scenes. Apparently in the whole album, weird electronic tendency, tribal oriental melody streams, heavy guitar-based rock vibes, indo-raga moments, heartwarming mellotron buffers, repetitive percussive movements are spread out based upon flexible freaky jamming psychedelic sound ground. In addition, the creation sounds not simply improvised nor inspired but also well planned and calculated ... at least for me. We would get intimidated into silence by their colourful, kaleidoscopic sound variation. Not continuously pushy but sometimes mellow and dreamy.

"Khan El Khalili" is a slowtempo, improvisational jamming with long trippy repetitions mainly by acoustic and electric guitar talks plus smooth rhythmic section plays, upon a keyboard-oriented silky flying carpet. And the titled track also has mysterious melodic dissonance. Such a smoke melodic screen like this is crazy impressive, but wondering why we can accept their tricky, camouflagic attention so easily. On the contrary, the first "You Play For Us Today" is full of indo / raga percussive improvisation, nervous guitar navigation, and sarcastic electronic seasoning ... this soundscape is quite authentic in the Krautrock world. "Sahara City" is a simple, desert, dry-fruity one, that reminds us all of AF members would have played under contemplation. The latter phase has deeply heavy, cool strain atmosphere. The following "Ala Tul" is more and more of inspiration filled with tribal percussion and hazy structure. The last "Rücksturz" is melodic catchy electro-guitar dancing that should be suitable for the epilogue of this fantasy.

Honest to say, this impressive album launched in the early 70s should be more and more appreciated.

 2nd by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.83 | 189 ratings

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2nd
Agitation Free Krautrock

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

3 stars AGITATION FREE formed all the way back in 1967 but didn't really find a unique niche in the Krautrock scene until the members found exotic ethnic influences through the group's travels throughout countries like Eygpt, Greece and Cyprus which led to the unique sound heard on the band's debut "Malesch." The album immediately stood out from the band's Krautrock contemporaries for its bold percussive drive augmented with psychedelic jams and progressive electronic influenced drones and spaced out timbres and tones. The group enjoyed a successful tour and has remained a well-known band because of the interesting fusion of ethnic sounds and the German Krautrock scene.

So cool was the debut that it is quite surprising that the band so radically changed its sound for the sophomore album uncreatively titled 2ND. While the psychedelic freeform jams and experimental Krautrock elements are still in abundance as are the electronica and drones, the Middle Eastern percussive drive had been completely dropped and instead replaced by a rather unimaginative standard rock drumming style and in the process makes 2ND sound a bit more generic than the 1st. Another big change was the replacement of guitarist Jörg Schwenke with Stefan Diez however the stylistic shift goes way beyond just a new member joining the ranks.

Due to the interest and exotic nature of "Malesch" which kept the band on the live circuit, the band had a difficult time finding the time to record 2ND but finally locked themselves away in the studio in July 1973. The band took a completely new approach on this one and focused more on spaced out jam sessions that implemented bluesy guitar riffs lazily flowing along with bass grooves and more standard rock percussion. While the keyboards and mellotrons are still around, they pretty much provide intros and other sections outside of the context of the main jamming sessions and therefore the album feels a lot less integrated than the previous one and without the strong percussive backbone that gave "Malesch" such an exotic feel, this one just seems a bit too free floaty for its own good.

Once again the tracks are completely instrumental with the sole exception of the ending track "Haunted Island" which contains the spoken word vocals of drummer Burghard Rautsch which narrates a tale of what the title suggests. 2ND truly resonates in the heady psychedelic era of Krautrock but for some reason this album doesn't connect with me as much as it does with others. I exponentially prefer the debut release "Malesch" and when it comes to this rather Can inspired groovy form of Krautrock, AGITATION FREE seem a bit amateurish on 2ND. For all its trippiness, the album seems to lose some of its psychedelic affect by the rather standard bluesy rock jamming and the rather uninventive drumming while the rock parts are hampered by the rather unfocused electronic experimentation. It just doesn't sound very dynamic despite nothing resonating as overtly bad.

Personally this one just sounds like a few steps down. The debut featured complex chord progressions that developed into pleasing melodies whereas 2ND just sort of jams along aimlessly with boring blues scales and nonchalant grooves and percussive drive. While the album received critical acclaim during its release and has remained popular in cult circles, the album failed to sell well and the band folded in 1974 although they would reform in 1998. Perhaps the closest track that matches "Malesch" material is the nine minute "A Quiet Walk" which features more experimental touches aside from the predictable jamming and even includes a more dynamic percussive drive not quite adopting the ethnic influences of its predecessor but has the most interesting guitar workouts as it includes not only an electric guitar but also a 12-string acoustic along with the more exotic sounds of a bouzouki.

I've owned both AGITATION FREE albums for many years and i've tried to give this one a fair chance on many occasions as most of the time albums that don't hit me at first have to grow on me, but after every single listen i can only think about how much more i love "Malesch" and during the playtime of 2ND i just sit there and rearrange the album in my own mind to make it interesting. I really don't understand why so many find this album to be so innovative. There were literally many dozens of more interesting Kraut bands cranking out far superior material. After many years of giving this a chance, i have concluded that it's just not an album that deserves all the praise that is heaped upon it. While not outright bad, it's a piss poor followup to one of Kraut's most innovative albums of the early 1970s. For yours truly this one is a major disappointment and to my ears this is the epitome of an AGITATION SPREE.

 2nd by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.83 | 189 ratings

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2nd
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The second Agitation Free record is said to be quite different from the debut, which has some eastern influences. I myself hear a fairly logical continuation in style. Slowly paced instrumental melodic rock improvisations with the sense of 'being in the moment' as their greatest asset. Atmosphere & soul are key, rock is just the sound. With the lush timing of a cool jazz quintet, Agitation Free recorded some of the most relaxing krautrock pieces ever. Opening track 'First Communication' impresses as a classic spacey krautrock track. Love the acoustic guitar in the second halve. When it comes to combining the sound of the different instruments, this song is not representative of what's to come. Still a strong track! The album's center pieces 'Layla part 2' and 'In The Silence Of The Morning Sunrise' are my favorites. They take the listener to a whole other universe without making to much of a fuzz about it. Just a great rhythm, one great melody and two guitar players soloing the blues in the night sky. Lovely organ sounds. This is what world peace sounds like. Somehow it reminds me a bit of 'In A Silent Way' by Miles Davis. The ethnic 'A Quiet Walk' is a nice piece with an Irish Bouzouki. 'Haunted Island' is a bit darker and less remarkable, but still a good track. Whereas the debut album of Agitation Free 'Malesch' would benefit from the brake-out moments, this album sees the perfection of musical atmospheres that are perfect without any contrasts. This is a real treat for home stereo listeners.
 River Of Return by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.25 | 27 ratings

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River Of Return
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Attempting a comeback after 25 years can be a risky venture, especially for an aging band so closely tied to a vanished zeitgeist, in this case the restless counterculture of early 1970s Germany. But Agitation Free got it exactly right for their improbable late '90s reunion, striking an ideal balance between nostalgia and change.

The classic AF lineup last heard in 1974 was still intact, minus keyboard guru Michael Hoenig, who at the time was occupied with crummy Hollywood soundtrack commissions, emulating his idols in Tangerine Dream. His absence would force the remaining players to pursue a bigger, brighter sound, far removed from the band's Krautrock roots but entirely appropriate for the more streamlined musical climate of the 1990s. 'Accessible' can be a dirty word in Progressive Rock circles, but it works here, and the band's jammy instrumental vibe wasn't compromised in the slightest.

The title track opens the album on an unexpected (and very pretty) acoustic guitar phrase, courtesy of Gustl Lütjens. The added saxophone is another surprise, alerting listeners that the band was no longer living in the past. Or at least not entirely: some of that spacey early '70s DNA resurfaces in the awkwardly titled "She Sells Seashells at the Seashore", one of two cuts breaking the ten-minute threshold. The past is likewise present in "Nomads", a groovy dream of Arab caravans recalling the band's travels throughout the Near East before recording their first album in 1972.

Both tracks reference the same cosmic heritage, but without sounding at all retrograde. Ditto the climactic "177 Spectacular Sunrises", closing the album on a drifting meditative note consistent with the band's Krautrock origins, but updated to the uncertain end of a turbulent millennium.

It's too bad that perfectly timed curtain was then spoiled by an atypical bonus track: the hard-rocking encore "Keep On": not a bad song, but all-too conventional after the uncanny voyage preceding it.

The reformation was brief, and another decade would pass before the band was heard again (see: Shibuya Nights"). But if this ends up being the final Agitation Free studio album it'll be remembered as a worthwhile valedictory, especially for a group more than two decades away from home.

 At The Cliffs Of River Rhine by AGITATION FREE album cover Live, 1998
4.01 | 59 ratings

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At The Cliffs Of River Rhine
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The second posthumous live album from the Berlin-based Krautrock jam band is another winner, despite having a more conventional playlist compared to the far-flung explorations of "Last", which appeared shortly after the group first split in 1974.

This one arrived over twenty years later, but the belated release date wasn't accidental. Guitarist Lutz Ulbrich was in the process of getting the band back together in 1998, and dusting off an old concert recording was an expedient way to rekindle interest in a cult act out of the public eye for almost a quarter century.

The live tapes were restored from a much-bootlegged radio broadcast (recorded in Cologne on February 2, 1974, nine months before the breakup), and sound excellent for their age. The setlist, for better or worse, was drawn almost entirely from the band's 1973 sophomore LP "2nd", faithfully reproducing over half the album (and in sequence). The single digression is the album's long, opening improv "Through the Moods": classic Agitation Free, showing the group at its telepathic peak.

It's true that the concert renditions stick pretty close to their studio role models, unlike the extended jams on "Last". But the performances all have that vital spark only attainable on stage, revealed here through the intertwined guitars of Ulbrich and Gustl Lütjens, and held in place by the textured aura of Michael Hoenig's keyboards: otherworldly icing atop an already cosmic torte.

At least one re-issue (the '08 Revisited Records CD, without the original Maxfield Parrish-meets-Roger Dean artwork) includes a nine-minute bonus, "Big Fuzz": an embryonic and at times almost funky jam from a show two years before the Rhine River gig. The sound quality takes a nosedive, but the extra track is a welcome slice of high-water Krautrock, like the full album an unexpected gift to fans, freshly exhumed from the vaults.

 2nd by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.83 | 189 ratings

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2nd
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Nogger

5 stars Agitation Free streamlined its sound for its 2nd long player. In the dust go the middle eastern mystic rhythms that permeated the debut, in come lilting dual guitar melodies and spaced-out harmonics. The result is a crowning achievement for German rock and must have album for progressive rock collectors.

Three compilation worthy cuts - "First Communication", "Laila pt. 2" and "In the Silence of the Morning Sunrise" - highlight this set, with the last two album cuts pushing this record into all time classic territory. The vagina album cover puts it over the top.

Sorely underexposed in the progressive rock arena, all of Agitation Free is recommended, but this one should be on your shelves if you own 100 prog albums.

 Last by AGITATION FREE album cover Live, 1976
4.05 | 71 ratings

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Last
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Found a used CD of this in Eugene, Oregon, which I thought that was great, I've been meaning to get some Agitation Free, but the problems of course, are they are not always easy to get a hold of, although not so if you're looking for a reissue online. I already have Malesch, still don't have 2nd, though. I first knew of Agitation Free back in 1995 when I bought a copy of Michael Hoenig's Departure from the Northern Wasteland (LPs of that are fairly common and cheap, I wouldn't be too surprised if a copy occasionally turns up in a thrift/charity store). Then that year I discovered, before briefly joining Tangerine Dream for a few tours in 1975, he was in Agitation Free.

Last was a live album recorded in 1973 and '74, but it was only released in France in 1976 on the Barclay label at the time. Agitation Free was probably the most clean-cut of the Krautrock groups, in that they had a more polished and professional attitude than many of the others, who took a more rough attitude and approach. This album gives me an impression that they were trying to be Krautrock's answer to the Grateful Dead. Had the Dead been German, chances are the Americana, folk and country elements of the band would be completely absent for a more spacy approach, and that imagination can be fueled on a version of "Laila II" (originally off 2nd), where they go into an extended jam that could remind one of a Krautrock Dead with extended, almost Jerry Garcia-like guitar solos, but with a spacier approach, and lots of spacy synth effects. "Soundpool" is really just an extended version of the last song off Malesch. "Looping" is a more experimental piece, a bit less structured, probably because it was improvised on the spot. It's nice to see live material existing of this band, although it's pretty safe to say by 1976, when this album was finally released, the band was history. Michael Hoenig collaborating with Manuel Göttsching for Early Water (which was never released until 1995, likely to do with the demise of Rolf Ulrich Kaiser's record labels after the Cosmic Jokers lawsuits) and then Hoenig recording and releasing the popular (in EM circles) Departure from the Northern Wasteland before moving to Hollywood and scoring music for film and television. I have to say Last is worth having if you like Agitation Free.

 2nd by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.83 | 189 ratings

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2nd
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Igor91

5 stars For me, Agitation Free's "2nd" is the quintessential Krautrock album. While not as recognized as bands like Amon Duul II, Can, or Faust, Agitation Free was an exemplary Krautrock band. "2nd," being their last album (at least until the 1990's), was their finest moment. Many reviewers have faulted this album because of it's rather recognizable influence of West Coast bands like the Grateful Dead, and the Allman Brothers, somehow making it not "true" krautrock. I wholeheartedly disagree. Yes, the influence of those aforementioned bands are there, but Agitation Free injected a large dose of krautrock weirdness into the mix, and the results are magical.

When I first listened to this album, I knew that I liked it, but once I listened to it in a "different frame of mind," I was completely blown away. It reminded of, many years ago, when I first listened to Pink Floyd's DSOTM in a similar frame of mind. While this album is sonically nothing like DSOTM, it is one of the pivotal albums of it's genre. I won't go into detailed reviews of each song (that has been done at length in previous reviews), but I would best describe the sound of the album as a whole as a very jammy krautrock, with excellent guitar work by short-lived member Stefan Diez. Bassist Michael "Fame" Gunther and drummer Burghard Rausch lock in grooves throughout various moments, while the remaining members' instrumentation float over the top in a hypnotic, spaced-out jam. No boring, overdone freak-outs here, just pure audio euphoria.

The only fault that the album has are the awkward vocal pieces during "Haunted Island," which could have just as well been left out. Not enough to bring it below 4.5 stars, so I easily round the rating to a 5. Highly recommended!

 2nd by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.83 | 189 ratings

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2nd
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Suedevanshoe

5 stars There's a reason this band has so many records in print 40+ years after their debut. Agitation Free is essential Krautrock, essential Space Rock, essential Progressive Rock, essential Rock, and almost essential for those with an interest in the roots of ethnic fusion, ambient, global psychedelia, even industrial and drone rock.

2nd is the height of Agitation Free's powers.

Restrained and elegant (but still loud with some rough edges) Agitation Free tones down the Arabic overtones of their debut, Malesch. It's how they combine rough and smooth that makes their sound classic.

"A Quiet Walk" is a definite highlight. Ambient mixed with hippy folkprog is as easy on the ears as Harmonium's "Histoires Sans Paroles" and Guru Guru's "God's Endless Love For Men".

Superb - one listen and you'll hear why the reach of this album far exceeds its current grasp. The cover makes me laugh and Agitation Free is a terrific name for a band - they are one of the few rock instrumental groups whose song names truly mirror the feeling(s) reflected by the song. Classic.

 Malesch by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.97 | 277 ratings

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Malesch
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Igor91

3 stars Agitation Free's debut album is a fairly celebrated krautrock statement on PA, often mentioning it's Egyptian flavorings peppered throughout. While I like this album, I'm not as impressed as many other reviewers on PA. My largest complaint about Malesch is that there is not enough jamming to be found. It seems that on most tracks you need to wait through several minutes of experimental atmospheres before the tasty jams begin. Then, once they get really grooving, they suddenly fade away or are interrupted by further soundscapes. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy some nice experimental freak-outs within songs, but only up to a point. After 3 to 4 minutes things really need to move on, in my opinion anyway. To sum it up, the psychedelic jams on Malesch are really good, but are interpolated with too many sound experiments, and are often too short. I feel Agitation Free really hit their stride with their follow up, 2nd, when they created a better balance between the music and the spaced-out atmospheres. 3.5 stars.
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