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THE COSMIC JOKERS

Krautrock • Germany


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The Cosmic Jokers biography
In 1972, Rolf Ulrich Kaiser founded "Die Kosmischen Kuriere" where will be signed all the Cosmic jokers albums. The COSMIC JOKERS is not really a band but a reunion of several German musicians and personalities from the 70s psychedelic and esoteric philosophies (the mystic Sergius Golowin in the Lord Krishna project or the gipsy folk artist Walter Wegmuller in Tarot). The interest of this side project was to create a cosmic music with a virtual musical tribe to develop the world consciousness thanks to LSD. The COSMIC musical team gathered around the same message a bunch of well known musicians from the Berlin scene (Klaus Schulze, Manuel Gottsching...). The COSMIC JOKERS is an extreme musical trip, a unique adventure throw time and space. The music is for a large part improvised with proto-electronic gadgets combined to bluesy & spacey musical sentences built around the talented Manuel Gottsching's electric guitar style (always spacey and bluesy). This is real German acid music, a 'music of paradise', transcending music, breaking of the materialistic world, a protest against the reality. The combination of acid, music and fun acted as a catalyst for Kaiser's visionary powers.

: : : Philippe Blache, FRANCE : : :

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Gilles ZeitschiffGilles Zeitschiff
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THE COSMIC JOKERS discography


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

THE COSMIC JOKERS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.95 | 109 ratings
The Cosmic Jokers
1974
3.71 | 57 ratings
Galactic Supermarket
1974
2.85 | 26 ratings
Planeten Sit-In
1974

THE COSMIC JOKERS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE COSMIC JOKERS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

3.21 | 24 ratings
Sci-Fi Party
1974
2.38 | 13 ratings
Gilles Zeitschiff
1974

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

THE COSMIC JOKERS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Galactic Supermarket by COSMIC JOKERS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.71 | 57 ratings

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Galactic Supermarket
The Cosmic Jokers Krautrock

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If you enjoyed your first trip, you'll enjoy the second one too

3.5 stars

Only a few weeks after the self-titled 'debut' album, Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser released "Galactic Supermarket". Manuel Göttshing supposedly discovered its existence by accident, when hearing the vinyl in a record shop in Berlin. He enjoyed it and naturally asked the shopkeeper what band did the music come from, without even knowing he was a member!

Without surprises, the formula is similar to the first disc: two 20 minutes long 'Kosmische Musik'. However, there is a noticeable difference this time, as both tracks are rather homogeneous, in terms of style and quality. No side is really more rock-oriented, more ambient or more spacey than the other one. The same instruments are used, some additional spaced-out vocals from Rosi Müller (Göttshing's wife) and Gille Lettmann (Kaiser's wife) contribute to the trippy ambiance. The synthesizers are also slightly more present.

"Kinder Des Alles" ("Children Of Everything" in English) can be divided in three parts. The first section is a weird electro-psych rock jam. A little messy but enjoyable. The synthesized second section is my favorite. Maybe this is the soundtrack you hear when you go to heaven. An ethereal and contemplative passage, breathtaking! Then the music becomes more experimental and tense, alternating different improvisations. The ending accelerates and displays mystical sonorities, reminding a little the space-folk of APHRODITE'S CHILD'S "666". Nice and original.

The title track offers roughly the same mixture of instrumentations. A long psychedelic electro-rock'n'roll trance, where keyboards sound either quite strange and ramshackle, or very trippy. Overall pleasant.

Compared to the self-titled first release, "Galactic Supermarket" is a little more psychedelic and less cosmic, a bit less remarkable too, but nonetheless better balanced. To sum up, the tracks are not as memorable as "Galactic Joke", but better than "Cosmic Joy". Therefore, there are no reason to skip this album during your journey into 'Kosmische Musik'.

Krautrock, space rock and ASH RA TEMPEL travellers, be sure to park your spaceship at least one time on the parking of this supermarket...

 The Cosmic Jokers by COSMIC JOKERS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.95 | 109 ratings

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The Cosmic Jokers
The Cosmic Jokers Krautrock

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Ash Ra Tempel's little brother

3.5 stars

Let's go straight to the point: COSMIC JOKERS is what ASH RA TEMPEL would have sounded in 1974 if Manuel Göttsching hadn't change direction after the departure of Hermut Enke: long immersive and trippy psychedelic / space krautrock jamming. Furthermore, the formula is identical: the first side is more rock-oriented, whereas the second side is more ambient and spacey. To be honest, Klaus Schulze's synthesizers are a bit more present, but this was a logical evolution in the genre in the mid-70's.

The two tracks are 20 minutes improvised pieces recorded in 1973 during sessions organized by Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser at Dieter Dierks' studio.

The first side, "Galactic Joke", is undoubtedly a little star in the space rock universe. Mainly dominated by guitars, it features different ambiances: mysterious, spatial, ferocious, and even sounding sometimes like HAWKWIND! You'll travel far far across the universe... The mystical finale is simply stellar! Any krautrock fan MUST hear this. Mindblowing! An excellent soundtrack for exploring the galaxies, with a quality on par with ASH RA TEMPEL's best compositions.

The second side, "Cosmic Joy", is unfortunately not as cosmic as the first one. More driven by keyboards, this ambient track feels rather like strange electronic short passages put together, sometimes nice, sometimes chaotic. It has a few nice moments, however does not really succeed at building something. Although the sonorities can remind Klaus Schulze's early solo works, the entire piece lacks overall musical direction. A bit deceiving after the galactic journey of the first side.

Keep in mind that "Cosmic Jokers" consists in improvised sessions, which were not supposed to be officially released as a studio album, not more from under an official band name! Despite all this, you can see the performers' talents, as this disc offers one of the finest example of 'Kosmische Musik'.

Recommended to space rock and krautrock fans, and simply essential for ASH RA TEMPEL lovers!

 Sci-Fi Party by COSMIC JOKERS, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1974
3.21 | 24 ratings

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Sci-Fi Party
The Cosmic Jokers Krautrock

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Strangely disturbing faces gaze out from the sleeve at me as I try to think of some words of wisdom to put down whilst listening to this 'Kosmische' album. Sci-Fi Party is actually pretty good all round if you've not heard any of their other albums. If you have, then you'll realise quite quickly that this is basically a re-mix of their previous albums, hastily cobbled together for a quick buck. And therefore is pretty much a waste of time for fans.

The gang are all here - young Klaus Schulze with his 3 chords per minute keyboard notes, Old Harald pumps away uninhibited at his treated drums. Dieter Dierks competently produces and records despite his association with 'The Scorpions' and Manuel Göttsching as ever, twangs those guitar strings as he did ever so well with "Ashra Tempel".

The good thing here, as on all Cosmic Joker albums is that literally everything is put through some weird effect unit creating a sound unlike anything around at the time. This is where the 'Kosmische' moniker originates.

The bad thing is that it's all been heard before on their far superior self titled album and 'Galactic Supermarket'.

So do yourself a favour, seek out the aforementioned and give this one a miss. This is a cash cow.

 The Cosmic Jokers by COSMIC JOKERS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.95 | 109 ratings

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The Cosmic Jokers
The Cosmic Jokers Krautrock

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

4 stars A collaboration of members of Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel and Wallenstein, the self- titled album `The Cosmic Jokers' is an immersive psychedelic space-rock album, comprised of two side-long pieces that takes the listener on a journey through the most wondrous and loneliest corners of deep space. A voyage of innermost discovery, filled with the most amazing sensations of wonder and, eventually, feelings of come-down and cold isolation. The album can be compared to various works of the above mentioned artists, as well as lost-in-space albums such as `Dom - Edge Of Time'.

Like early `Saucerful'-era Floyd live, Side A's `Cosmic Joke' has a dark drama, a definite sense of unease contrasted with moments of real joy and comfort, provided by Manuel Gottsching's lilting and gentle guitar melodies that twinkle and shine like the surrounding stars. Dieter Dierks' drifting and plodding bass is hypnotic, while Harald Grobkopf's percussion and drum-work is gentle and light. Very low-key synths from Klaus Schulze dance in the background, but they're eerily present at all times. He has a much more prominent role on the second side. The second section has strange bubbling and echoing electronics that are instantly uneasy, the drama raised by the now chugging guitar and bass and heavier commanding drumming. The final part has a constantly sluggish and ambient tone, with dreamy drawn out bass notes that make your mind feel like it's moving in slow-motion. Some more typical melodic and gentle guitar from Manuel, before some very threatening keys from Klaus that are almost gothic in their grandeur, very unsettling with a hint of mystery and threat in them. He then adds some stabbing and whirling synths, and the track falls away on a fadeout after an oppressive robotic voice.

Side B's `Cosmic Joy' is anything but that to my ears! A predominantly Klaus Schulze electronic based piece, it's more ambient, freeform and abstract like his early solo work, and also just as frequently terrifying and oppressive. Beginning with ghostly spectral synths that envelope the listener, Schulze brings in harsh shimmering electronics amongst howling winds and mucky far-away bass. It creates a very isolating, sinister atmosphere. Eventually the synths form into monolithic glacial walls of stone that surround and trap the listener. The murky distorted tuneless bass is repulsive, backed with cold, distant, almost tribal drumming. The final section sounds like it's performed underwater, with a fierce thunderstorm booming overhead. The most maddening dirtiest bass, vile and gloomy muted drums and punishing bass sounds truly apocalyptic. Although the piece ends on a ghostly and spectral melody, it's a lovely escape from the suffocating horror of the second side overall!

The album offers two very different sides of space music to appreciate - the dreamy and floating first side, with the gloomy and oppressive second side. It's not an album you'll play all the time, but one that will haunt you when you do dig it out. It's a hugely emotional and refined musical work that's endlessly fascinating.

Four stars.

 Planeten Sit-In by COSMIC JOKERS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.85 | 26 ratings

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Planeten Sit-In
The Cosmic Jokers Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars If the musicians whose efforts were illegally sold by Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser (according to legend, at any rate) had any misgivings about the first two Cosmic Jokers albums, they must have been livid about this one: number three in the series, not counting the ersatz Kosmische Kuriere sampler "Sci-Fi Party".

Never mind the not unjustified legal complaints; this barely organized hodgepodge of musical snippets, effects, and fragmentary jams (half of the tracks hardly crack the one-minute mark) is the sound of R.U. Kaiser scraping the bottom of the Krautrock barrel. Clearly by this stage of the supergroup sessions the drugs had kicked into (appropriately) high gear: a good deal of it sounds like the players trying to simply tune their instruments, apparently not the easiest task when under the influence of LSD.

A couple of worthwhile grooves finally emerge in the last ten or twelve minutes of the album, during the haphazardly titled "Interstellar Rock: Kosmische Musik" and "Die Planet des Sternenmädchens". But by then it's too little too late, and I doubt even the novelty of quadraphonic sound was enough to save it at the time.

And yet the ringleaders of this cosmic circus deserve a lot of credit, for thrift and economy if not for musical unity. The original AMON DÜÜL only managed to squeeze three albums from a single 1968 jam session; R.U. Kaiser stretched his exploitation to five LPs before being hounded out of the business by legal action and negative press.

Questions of ethics aside, the first Cosmic Jokers album had some phenomenal music on it; "Galactic Supermarket" was almost as good; but this one is strictly for hardcore fans willing to overlook its obvious shortcomings. Four Stars to Three Stars to a very generous Two Star rating...you can see a trend here, and I wouldn't want to compromise my admiration for the whole misguided Cosmic Jokers experiment by delving any deeper into their catalogue.

 Galactic Supermarket by COSMIC JOKERS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.71 | 57 ratings

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Galactic Supermarket
The Cosmic Jokers Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Krautrock guru Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser's bid to save the world through music and LSD reached critical mass with the Cosmic Jokers project in the mid-1970s: a series of informal jam sessions packaged and sold without consent from the musicians involved. Or so goes the accepted legend, disputed by at least one participant: Manuel Göttsching of ASH RA TEMPEL, who later claimed he always had a contract and did in fact receive token royalties (he also said there weren't any hard drugs involved).

Sounds to me like a retroactive whitewash. On the other hand, it pays to be skeptical these days, and who can really say how much of the Cosmic Jokers myth is Internet-Age hearsay: another web-fed rumor with a viral life of its own?

The only sure thing about the whole messy episode is the music left behind, in many ways a goldmine for Krautrock anthropologists and armchair astral travelers. The first Cosmic Jokers album (all five were released in a single calendar year) remains a certified kosmische classic, but some of that magic was conspicuously missing the second time around. Obviously the highlights of the studio jams plundered by R.U. Kaiser were reserved for the first LP; this one is a little more fractured and episodic, presented (like much of the best Krautrock) in a pair of monumental side-long tracks but assembled with less underpinning or purpose.

Still, enough momentum was carried over to ensure a good trip. The album opener "Kinder des Alls" leaps immediately forward on the strength of Manuel Göttsching's distinctive psychedelic-blues guitar, played in a more recognizably rock-based manner, up to a point anyway, before the music gradually collapses and coalesces elsewhere. WALLENSTEIN's Jürgen Dollase is a stronger presence on this album, with his heavenly mellotron chords and cascading grand piano pushed forward in the mix, often overpowering the desultory synthesizer outbursts from Klaus Schulze.

The title track holds together with a little more coherence, thanks in large part (once again) to some heroic riffing by M. Göttsching (keep in mind 'coherence' was always a relative measure with this group...) And for the first but certainly not last time on a Cosmic Jokers album the stoned whispers and shrieking of Kaiser's girlfriend Gille Lettman (aka 'Starmaiden') can be heard, as always through several layers of echo effects, for that maximum lysergic headrush.

The truth about what actually transpired at the Cologne studio of Dieter Dierks may never be known. But when considering the balance of the Cosmic Jokers catalogue this much is obvious: after the second album R.U. Kaiser should have quit while he was ahead.

 The Cosmic Jokers by COSMIC JOKERS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.95 | 109 ratings

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The Cosmic Jokers
The Cosmic Jokers Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The sordid tale of The Cosmic Jokers is well known by now: how producer/svengali Rolf- Ulrich Kaiser organized several LSD jam sessions with members of ASH RA TEMPEL and WALLENSTEIN, and then began releasing LPs without permission from (or the knowledge of) the musicians themselves.

Not lost in the resulting scandal was the awkward fact that at least on this first album the Jokers played some of the most urgent and exploratory Space Rock ever heard, in Germany or anywhere else. If the whole thing had been legitimate from the start The Cosmic Jokers would now be recognized as Krautrock's ultimate supergroup, instead of a strictly makeshift party of psychedelic moonlighters exploited by a misguided visionary with a weakness for hallucinogenic drugs.

Fans of early Ash Ra Temple will feel right at home, especially since the album follows the same blueprint as that band's better efforts: one LP-side of energetic jamming; the other a long, ambient chill-out. Both halves include some of guitarist Manuel Göttsching's most inspired soloing, subtle and intense at the same time, with the meaty subterranean bass of producer/engineer Dieter Dierks giving the music its ominous momentum, embellished by what sounds like every flanger and phase effect filter in West Germany at the time.

Klaus Schulze's contributions are less obvious, or at any rate less distinctive for an artist of his ambition and influence, limited more or less to vague atmospherics and the occasional eruption of synthesized noise, perhaps one reason why he always regarded these sessions with such outspoken disdain. But he would soon afterward re-team with drummer Harald Großkopf for his own solo variation of the same kosmische voyage, on albums like "Moondawn" and the "Body Love" soundtracks.

The Cosmic Jokers quickly attained an almost mythic status as the classic Krautrock band that never was. Even today there's something very compelling, very unsettling about this music, and it isn't just the underhanded way it was recorded and sold. If R.U. Kaiser was truly hoping to capture some sort of blissfully altered cosmic consciousness he missed by a light year, tapping instead into an altogether darker corner of the counterculture experience. And the joke was ultimately on Kaiser himself, who quickly found himself facing legal action, ignominy, and exile.

But this one album, by itself, may have been worth a lot of his subsequent grief. And while I would never argue that the ends in any way justified such unethical means, the evidence here suggests there may have been at least some method to his madness.

 Galactic Supermarket by COSMIC JOKERS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.71 | 57 ratings

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Galactic Supermarket
The Cosmic Jokers Krautrock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Galactic Supermarket sounds a lot like the first Cosmic Jokers album - no surprise, given that they came from the exact same informal jam session that was secretly recorded and released without the artists' permission by Cosmic Couriers head honcho Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser. It's just as good as the previous album, though I would say this and the self-titled debut are the only Jokers albums you really need - Planeten Sit-In covers inessential scraps from the legendary session, whilst the other two albums consist of tracks from other Cosmic Couriers label artists edited (and, in the case of one of the albums, with Kaiser's girlfriend singing over them). In short, they're for collectors only, whilst this album and the first one covers all the Jokers material that's worth actively seeking out.
 The Cosmic Jokers by COSMIC JOKERS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.95 | 109 ratings

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The Cosmic Jokers
The Cosmic Jokers Krautrock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If we gave stars for ethics, we'd have to give this one 0 out of 5 - but other contributors have already outlined the dodgy history behind this recording. Regardless of whether the artists involved knew that their private jam was going to be turned into an album or not, the fact is that the debut Cosmic Jokers album delivers the absolute cream of the crop from that legendary session, and presents a Krautrock fan's dream lineup in the performance. Not quite fitting the sound of any of the members' "day jobs", it's worth a listen to anyone who's a fan of Ash Ra Tempel or other artists from the Cosmic Couriers stable.
 Sci-Fi Party by COSMIC JOKERS, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1974
3.21 | 24 ratings

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Sci-Fi Party
The Cosmic Jokers Krautrock

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

1 stars If you got as far as this one in the Cosmic Jokers series then the story behind these releases must be well known. If not, feel free to focus your attention on their first two albums instead. But when it comes to this album there still seems to be some misunderstandings, and fans of the Cosmic Jokers should take extra care with this. In fact, this isn't a Cosmic Jokers album but a sampler containing previously released tracks from different bands on Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser's record labels.

Im Reich Der Magier is simply Galactic Joke part III from the first Cosmic Jokers album, it has been given another title in an attempt to awaken your interest. There are some over-dubbed vocals added, some of those from producer Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser himself. They don't add anything. Also Kinder Des Alls I & II and Planeten Sit In were taken from previous Cosmic Jokers albums.

The remaining 15 minutes are from other bands, Der Herrscher from Walter Wegmuller, The Cosmic Couriers meet Philly Willy from Wallenstein, and Electronic Scene and Interplay of Forces from Ash Ra Tempel's Seven Up and Starring Rossi.

Without mentioning so, this is a compilation of previously available material from different bands, released under the Cosmic Jokers name in order to generate sales. It has deliberately altered track titles and unneeded overdubs and remixes. Really, this time Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser was not only cheating his musicians but also every fan buying this album. I don't think I've ever seen a clearer definition of a total rip-off.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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