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AGITATION FREE

Krautrock • Germany


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Agitation Free biography
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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2nd2nd
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2012
Vinyl$11.18
$10.59 (used)
FragmentsFragments
Import
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2013
Vinyl$16.08
$30.71 (used)
Shibuya NightShibuya Night
Limited Edition
Made In Germany 2014
Vinyl$18.54
$35.48 (used)
LastLast
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2013
Vinyl$14.25
$9.95 (used)
River of ReturnRiver of Return
Revisited Records 2009
Audio CD$10.54
$8.35 (used)
MaleschMalesch
Revisited Records / SPV 2008
Audio CD$19.60
$44.67 (used)
Last [Live]Last [Live]
Revisited / SPV 2009
Audio CD$14.63
$24.48 (used)
Shibuya NightsShibuya Nights
Imports 2014
Audio CD$14.17
$11.49 (used)
FragmentsFragments
Revisited Records 2009
Audio CD$10.50
$19.68 (used)
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AGITATION FREE discography


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

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

4.00 | 197 ratings
Malesch
1972
3.72 | 130 ratings
Second
1973
2.90 | 16 ratings
River Of Return
1999
2.66 | 19 ratings
The Other Sides Of Agitation Free
1999

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

4.04 | 47 ratings
Last
1976
3.77 | 27 ratings
Fragments (Live '74)
1995
4.08 | 46 ratings
At The Cliffs Of River Rhine
1998
3.80 | 20 ratings
Shibuya Nights - Live in Tokyo
2011

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

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

4.50 | 2 ratings
Fragments & Malesch
2000

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
4.00 | 197 ratings

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Malesch
Agitation Free Krautrock

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

4 stars East meets West on the debut Agitation Free LP `Malesch' from 1972, an album of exotic sounds and spacey atmospheres, as proposed by an improvisation based jam-band. Two identities, two musical sounds seemingly at odds with eachother instead become one unified whole, when it probably should sound very confused and conflicted. The band seamlessly blend eastern styles of the old world with space-rock and plodding Krautrock flavours of more modern eras, and the result is a collection of freeform psychedelic experiments full of mysticism and grooving rock passages. Of particular note throughout is future Tangerine Dream member Michael Hoenig's unearthly, atmospheric and restrained keyboard drones, although to be fair, four of the band members are credited to keyboards here!

There's a scuzzy, uneasy menace to album opener `You Play For Us Today', with splintering heavy psych electric guitar feedback that channels the late 60's Pink Floyd sound, alongside piercing upfront bass and droning maddening organ with an ethereal shimmering tone. `Sahara City' is more ambient and drifting, ethnic market place flavours introduced by acoustic hand percussion, cymbal rises and loopy electric guitar mangling from Jorg Schwenke in the manner of Syd Barrett's distinctive sound. The piece is full of meandering mystery, until it comes together in a shambling, nicely ragged acid-rock driving march in the final minutes, perhaps closer to Can. Burghard Rausch's drumming absolutely purrs on that one too. Searing electronic violations and repetitive hypnotic panning swirling organ permeates throughout `Ala Tul', with thick mumbling bass breaking through tribal percussion, the entire band working up a heady yet joyous intensity.

All the focus is on Michael Hoening's keyboards on the opener of the second side, `Pulse'. It's a bent sustained organ and wavering electronic drone with a maddening repulsive loop that plays over and over into infinity, likely to drive you to madness, brought on even sooner by relentless drum fills. Another droning synth hum pulses away in the background of `Khan El Khalilli', blanketing delirious sighing cries, skittering frantic drumming and chiming acid-folk acoustic guitars. There's a drawling bass plod from Michel Gunter that bursts through some meditative flute and lovely electric guitar soloing that takes flight, leaving the whole piece in a warm toasty haze. After opening with a chirping electronic loop, drums, bass and guitars seamlessly grow in confidence and tempo throughout the title track `Malesch', a never-ending pulsing Hammond organ joyfully noodling away, the whole band bringing a constant and infectious driving energy and whipping up a gentle fury. Sadly the album ends on a scorching rock track that only serves as an interlude at little over two minutes, but it does make for a memorable finale.

By the time their `Second' album came around, the band had abandoned most of the ethnic elements altogether, placing a greater emphasis on melodic, joyful electric guitar soloing and electronic experiments, which only makes this one all the more special. It's just as good, if rather different, to the follow-up, but both are essential chilled-out Krautrock works. It perhaps shares a similar searing spiritual ethnic flavour as the second half of Guru Guru's `Dance with the Flames' album, mixed with the expansive electronics of early Tangerine Dream, but there's always that thrilling sense of exploration and sonic freedom that the Krautrock bands are known for, and `Malesch' is simply beautiful, intoxicating music.

Four stars.

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 Second by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.72 | 130 ratings

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Second
Agitation Free Krautrock

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

4 stars Agitation Free's `Second' album shows the German band moving in even more interesting directions than the ethnic music inspired flavours of the debut, while still bringing the band closer to that daring sense of sonic freedom and exploration that the Krautrock bands are known for. While the roots of the group are still kind of in an old-school jam-band on this one, the middle-eastern atmospheres of the first album are almost totally replaced here with bluesy guitar soloing, cruising space-rock diversions and experimental electronic passages. Perhaps the results are a little uneven, but the majority of the laid-back, sun-kissed dozy jams especially make it an addictive listen.

Album opener `First Communication' couldn't be more blissful. A careful build of liquid murmuring bass, nimble electric guitar soloing that bursts into sprightly life over and over and the most effortless and seamless tempo changes expertly reigned in by the drumming. The entire piece displays a restrained flowing ambience full of spirit, as if you're soaring amongst the clouds. `Dialogue and Random' is a curious, perhaps even slightly nightmarish electronic experiment of cold machine loops and mechanical oscillations. After a coffin-slamming-shut piano boom, the two part `Layla' is an acid-fried bluesy instrumental with electric guitar scorching away, purring bass and warm Hammond organ washes, the piece constantly growing in urgency, and always truly joyous and infectious.

There's a creeping lethargic and sexy groove to `In The Silence of the Morning', the main guitar melody twists around ripples of Hammond organ and flighty electronic shimmers. `A Quiet Walk' comes closest to the raga-rock ethnic sounds of the debut album `Malesch'. Starting as an ambient early Tangerine Dream-styled drone with wavering synths almost resembling running water with rippling synths before ominous Pink Floyd-like organ rises, eventually frantic acoustic guitar runs and pulsating hand percussion take over. It actually reminds me of moments from the Vangelis album `The Dragon', a default Krautrock album if ever there was one. `Haunted Island' is the only piece of have vocals, breathless and ethereal other-wordly rambling steam-of-consciousness voices. Electric guitar bending notes and searing Mellotron veils weave slinking grooves behind a heavy Brainticket-flavoured intensity.

While the album never quite gels perfectly, the warm jamming improvisations quite at odds with the cold electronic passages, there's no denying the inspiration and determination of the band to challenge themselves and listeners. Easy to put on as a background listen and drift away to, `Second' will appeal to fans of the Ash Ra Tempel, as well as those who don't mind more evocative and chilled out Krautrock sounds.

Three and a half stars.

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 Malesch by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.00 | 197 ratings

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Malesch
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A unique and interesting mix of Krautrock, heavy-psych, progressive electronic and Middle Eastern percussion taking us on a mystical desert journey that has been referred to as an unintentional concept album where all the songs flow perfectly into one another. After many listens to this I would have to agree with that conclusion. No vocals whatsoever on this one.

The interplay between the instruments is the beauty of this release in that all instruments play an important part to the overall sound but are delegated to certain roles in the larger piece that come and go at precisely the right time. The drony organ often serves as the backbone while accompanied by either rock drumming or bellydance type percussion with bluesy guitars and sometimes even a zither.

Very spacey, drony and psychedelic but at times can rock. Both highly unconventional yet accessible.

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 At The Cliffs Of River Rhine by AGITATION FREE album cover Live, 1998
4.08 | 46 ratings

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At The Cliffs Of River Rhine
Agitation Free Krautrock

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

4 stars Top down and the open road

This live record features Agitation Free in a thrilling concert at the river Rhine in 1974. A long ways from their Arabian flavoured debut, this record takes their laid back psychedelic guitar driven Krautrock to another level all together.

Apart from the first previously unreleased track, this release concerns itself with their second pinkish album. Enveloped in a delicious Grateful Dead vibe, the music on here takes it's cue from the players and not necessarily the given piece. Sure you're able to spot the different tunes, although they seem to appear in a slightly different dressing.

Boasting a twin guitar attack, meaty drumming, walking bluesy bass lines, and the nervous twitches of electronic gear head Michael Hoenig - this venture drives along like a beautiful black tarmac road. Ever since I first heard it, I pictured myself on an infinitely long and windswept highway doing a 100 miles an hour with chicks, beer and weed in the car. My guess is that it's down to the fluid feel of this baby. The band members seem like they're out of their bodies while performing and some strange alien takeover is in play. Ever get the feeling that your fingers are doing things your mind isn't aware of? Well such is the case here - it certainly feels that way...

With lead guitarist Lutz Ulbrich taking on the role of sonic pathfinder, you effectively get lured into these soaring melodic sections that reek of 1969, San Francisco and acts like the aforementioned Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the more free natured Airplane excursions. If you're an old fart who loves these bands like the very sweater you knitted while experiencing them first-hand, then you could do much worse than picking up this thing.

Backing Lutz up in the guitar department you get the swaying soothing eccentricities of GustI Lütjens. I swear, had this guy been born a couple of decades later, he would surely have been part of the initial crescendo chasing post rock wave. He has a unique way with riffs, and in a live setting he goes from 7 to 32 in a heartbeat(no, I'm not entirely sure what that means either...). Paired up with the remarkable rhythm section of bass man Michael 'Fame' Günther and beats provider Burghard Rausch, the collective forces of this band feel inseparable. If you'd pulled the plug to one of these lads during the concert, my guess is that they'd all fall down in an instant - death by lack of electricity and jam. That's how much they're into one another on a musical level.

I've always pondered how on earth Michael Hoenig went from the quirky style on offer here to his later full on electronic album Departure From The Northern Wasteland. Something drastic must've happened, and while he did make a short cameo in Tangerine Dream in the midst of their velvety Stratosfear era, it still puzzles me a great deal how he managed to go from the avantguarde robotics of Agitation Free to the docile dolphin lotion of his solo album. On this record he wields an entirely original form of synths that more than often has me dreaming up mad images of an electrified coot being stomped on in somewhat rhythmic patterns. Whatever he does, it sure does complement the otherwise suave texture of his surroundings.

This is music for a never-ending road trip in the best Hunter S. Thompson style. Lease the biggest cabriolet you can find, get floral shirts, sunglasses to protect yourself from investigating eyes, and you'll be right as rain and stoked for infinity and beyond. With this release, Agitation Free managed to cook up the musical equivalent to a warm cosy motorway bj. 4.5 stars.

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 Malesch by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.00 | 197 ratings

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Malesch
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Agitation Free - Malesch

No melodies, no song-writing, no lyrical themes - yet this album is filled with nice minimalistic, experimental and atmospheric spacey krautrock. Agitation Free adopted an Eastern or perhaps Egyptian style, which becomes appearant when you look at the art work. The recent vinyl reprint I got from my birtday is wel packaged with foto's and information about the band.

Agitation Free gets its sound with droning moogs, rhythm and blues influences and atmospheric interplay between its members. Some moments are quite mystifying and the record has a sort of continuality that won't be revealed if you listen single songs of the record. The band makes a professional impression and the recording is actually quite good, with a warm yet abstract sound and well pitched instruments. The last track 'Rcuksturz' works a short outbreak of energy, a good ending for this otherwise slowly en gently evolving album.

Conclusion. Interesting record for those who like atmospheric progressive music and ofcourse fans of krautrock and spacerock. I'll give it the big three and a halve stars.

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 Shibuya Nights - Live in Tokyo by AGITATION FREE album cover Live, 2011
3.80 | 20 ratings

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Shibuya Nights - Live in Tokyo
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Old Krautrockers never die, but they do occasionally drift back to Planet Earth from deep space. For Agitation Free, that return to terra firma landed the newly reconstituted band a series of gigs in Tokyo, far removed (in both time and space) from their counterculture barnstorming in late 1960s Berlin.

First the good news: this wasn't another of those strictly mercenary nostalgia tours, featuring only one or two surviving players from the original group. The core of the classic Agitation Free line-up was back, and showing little sign of their advancing age (drummer Burghard Rausch had just turned sixty; the rest of the band wasn't far behind).

They sound incredibly sharp for a bunch of codgers who hadn't shared a stage in decades, showing here what a well-balanced group they could have been with a little more studio time behind them. Keep in mind the band produced only two albums in their heyday; three if you count the 1999 semi-reunion "River of Return". The Tokyo set-list includes a couple of tunes off that later session, but most of the show exhumes their best material from the 1970s, nicely updated to the new millennium.

The Arabic "Ala Tul", for example, re-imagines material from their debut album "Malesch", enhancing Lutz Ulbrich's Krautrock guitar groove with digital sound samples unavailable 25-years earlier. And the newly composed title track is a brooding slice of the same Space Rock Orientalism common in Germany a quarter century ago.

The sound quality of the CD is also thrilling, if somewhat impersonal in its digital perfection. And therein lies my one, nagging reservation about the album: it can be just a little too calculated at times. The crowd is unfailingly polite and attentive; the performances are all but flawless; and the production is so bright and clean it could have earned the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

It's wonderful to hear the band still alive and kicking, and with such youthful vitality. And the album succeeds in providing a comprehensive sampler for newcomers plus an exciting live document for older fans. But the mind-altering exploratory ethos of the early '70s ended ages ago, and (sadly) no one expects to change the world through music anymore. Maybe it's too late in the day to go home again, but here at least is a convincing digital-age facsimile of the original destination.

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 Shibuya Nights - Live in Tokyo by AGITATION FREE album cover Live, 2011
3.80 | 20 ratings

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Shibuya Nights - Live in Tokyo
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. A couple of bands that I have a huge admiration for namely AGITATION FREE and ALPHATAURUS have released live albums recently. Now you have to keep in mind that neither band has released anything of relevance for some 40 years, so lets just say with both bands I was a little skepticle. I certainly didn't rush out and order them, in fact with both it wasn't until I kept reading all these positive comments that I decided to take the plunge. Best dive I ever took. A rich man in Japan is the reason AGITATION FREE's original lineup got back together for three shows in Tokyo. It was their first time playing together in some 35 years, although I have no doubt they practiced a lot before these gigs. The fear of course with a recording like this is that the band may have lost the passion, skills and magic that was there in the early seventies. Well I still can't believe how incredible this band sounds after all these years. I have to say it was an emotional experience for me and that I did not see coming. We get five tracks from "Malesch" and five from "Second" while two are new and two are from the re-union album back in 1999 that Hoenig did not participate in.

The first bit of emotion comes with hearing that familiar conversation from the start of "You Play For Us Today" from the "Malesch" album. The atmosphere rolls in after a minute, then bass followed by drums then guitar. This is so good ! "Sahara City" from "Malesch" was also the second track after "You Play For Us Today" so this is significant for fans. Lots of percussion and a mid-eastern vibe. Lots of atmosphere late. "In The Silence Of The Morning" is a top three for me. This is from "Second" and reminds me a lot of ALCATRAZ's "Simple Headphone Mind" song. Just a feel good groove that is laid back. "Shubya Nights" is new and we get loud drums and guitar eventually leading. "First Communication" from "Second" opens with an explosion then it becomes spacey and atmospheric. Great sound with the guitar as the organ floats in the background. "Dialogue & Random" from "Second" is dominated with drums.

"Ala Tul" from "Malesch" has samples of voices then atmosphere takes over and it's loud. Drums and guitar follow and then it picks up. So much going on. "Laila" from "Second" is a top three and it opens with a loud bang that echoes then the guitar, bass and drums take over. This is so uplifting as the guitar solos over top. A calm 2 1/2 minutes in and then it builds. So freaking good. The guitar rips it up late Santana-like. "Nomads" is from "River Of Return" and has native-like drumming as the guitar comes in and solos. Back to the drums only. "A Quiet Walk" opens with water sounds as the atmosphere rolls in. Sparse sounds and voices too. A beat 3 minutes in then it picks up wirth guitar. Great tune. "Das Kleine Uhrwerk" from "River Of Return" has intricate guitar melodies as a beat joins in. Ukelele before 2 1/2 minutes. it's okay. "Malesch" has floating organ and keys to start but it gets fuller before a minute. Feel good music right there. "Drifting" is new and one of my favourites. The sound is spacey and drifting throughout.. Beautiful. "Rucksturz" from "Malesch" ends it and it's my final top three. Spacey winds to open as a beat comes in then guitar. My God ! So gorgeous.

I will treasure this album and hold it and pet it...er I mean I highly recommend this to AGITATION FREE fans everywhere. A must !

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 Last by AGITATION FREE album cover Live, 1976
4.04 | 47 ratings

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Last
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This (at the time) posthumous live album from Germany's Agitation Free is also one of their best efforts, striking a fine balance between the Kosmische Rock of their 1972 debut "Malesch" and the more easygoing groove of the lamely titled "2nd". Only through constant gigging could the band hope to achieve this plateau of seamless musicianship, daring to explore territory suggested but never fully realized in their two studio albums.

The mood here is darker, heavier, and the absence of any audible crowd gives the performance a curious sense of liberating detachment, as if the band was playing somewhere in the vacuum of deep space. Only three songs are featured, all of them entirely instrumental, despite the credited vocalists. The opening "Soundpool" is exactly that: an ominous free-form puddle of noises, oddly enough introducing the concert with the same trademark melody ("Rückzturz") that concluded the "Malesch" album.

After that the seventeen-minute "Laila II" takes a brief theme from the "2nd" album and expands it into an epic guitar jam, Agitation Free at their quintessential best. But it's the side-long, 23-minute "Looping" that transports the album Beyond the Infinite (borrowing a phrase from Kubrick and Clarke). This is where the band completely untethers itself from the space station and drifts slowly away into the void, enveloped within a nebula of synth drones and hissing cymbals, the latter actually an intrusion on the dreamlike aura of sound.

After a (long) while the ambient mantra is joined by an understated, urgent bass line and distant guitars, becoming subtly more aggressive while never losing sight of the heavenly chords rising from Michael Hoenig's keyboards. This is profoundly healing music: one of the great unsung Krautrock chillouts of all time, and arguably Agitation Free's finest moment on record.

There have been plenty of reunions since 1974, but really this was it: the perfect (if premature) swan song for a band that, in its prime, wasn't around anywhere near long enough.

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 Second by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.72 | 130 ratings

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Second
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Don't let those comparisons to The Allman Brothers or The Grateful Dead scare you away. Agitation Free was indeed an old-school jam band, but in classic Krautrock fashion they raised the convention to a whole new level. I doubt if Jerry Garcia ever transformed a guitar solo into a goofy, extended VCS3 drum break (here titled "Dialogue and Random"), or introduced an energetic instrumental workout with a long, freeform electronic drone-fest before reaching for his bouzouki, as Lutz Ulbrich does here at the start of "A Quiet Walk".

Their bluntly titled sophomore album saw the band reduced from its earlier, more communal seven-man line up to a much leaner quintet, and growing stronger for the loss. A lot of fans prefer the collage of Third World soundscapes on their debut album "Malesch", but this was where Agitation Free discovered its true voice. The music is more relaxed and casual than the cosmic cut-and-paste fusion of "Malesch", and there's an organic unity to this disc lacking from the earlier effort, giving it more of a timeless quality when heard today, nearly forty (!) years later.

From the burst of white noise at the top of the album to the matching explosion in its final moments there isn't a false note to be found. The only hint of the band's hallucinogenic Space Rock origins can be heard in the arctic mellotron and heavily treated vocals on the aptly-titled album closer "Haunted Island": an uneasy epilogue to the otherwise beautiful grooves of "First Communication" or "Laila", and the hypnotic pagan folk-rock of "A Quiet Walk".

The music of Agitation Free may lack the garage band energy of early FAUST or CAN; the single-minded momentum of NEU!; the transcendental mysticism of ASH RA TEMPEL and the kosmische musik groups. And yet this album in particular may be the ideal antidote to all those freakazoid Krautrock alternatives: proof that enlightenment can sometimes be found on the path of least resistance.

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 Malesch by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.00 | 197 ratings

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Malesch
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Agitation Free never quite managed to transcend their era like many of the better known Krautrock bands. But for a second-division outfit they certainly provide a blast from someone's lysergic past (not an old square like me, alas).

The group would eventually distinguish itself as one of Germany's premier jam bands, but their debut album is, for all its otherworldly charm, a bit unfocused. There's an attractive but undisciplined everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to composition and structure here that hasn't aged particularly well, a combination of psychedelic guitar noodling, musique concrete, electronic experimentation, and documentary sound samples from the back alleys of Cairo, Beirut, and Damascus.

The same Arabian-style ragas were of course the bread and butter of every underground band on Earth in the early 1970s. But these guys at least made a real effort to understand their material, travelling all over the Near East in search of inspiration (cultural and chemical, one suspects), before entering the recording studio.

That integrity of purpose gives the finished album its unique aura. And despite the emphasis (innovative, at the time) on Third World sound sources the music remains sehr kosmische, flowing smoothly from one exotic destination to the next until the rather abrupt ending to the energetic curtain closer "Rücksturz", perhaps intended as the musical equivalent of an old television cliff hanger (...tune in next week!)

The album title is apparently a common Egyptian expression meaning, very roughly: It's Cool Man...Stuff Happens, Ya Know? (or something like that). It's a perfect term for this always intriguing but often messy first effort by one of Krautrock's unsung, underachieving ensembles.

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