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GILA

Krautrock • Germany


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Gila biography
Founded in Stuttgart, Germany in 1969 (as Gila Füchs) - Hiatus from 1972-1973 - Disbanded in 1974

This band managed just two studio albums before splitting. Their guitarist leader Conny Veit will be known latter as collaborator of both POPOL VUH and GURU GURU, but this is another story.

Their first highly ambitious album - and one of the more important albums to come out of Western Germany - had a very odd concept to reflect the group's progression from aggression to communication. Quite a bloody program and I can assure you that they succeed quite well. The music on their debut runs continuously through the tracks is very trippy and atmospheric but not space rock either, In that regard , one thinks of PINK FLOYD. Their second album is very different and depicts the last and worst Indian massacre (native Americans) back in the early 70's.. The live album is posthumous but worthy of them.

In spite of their short discography, GILA is a very important group in the history of Krautrock and highly recommended to anyone looking for adventurous music.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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GILA discography


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

4.07 | 193 ratings
Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound]
1971
3.58 | 72 ratings
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee
1973

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

3.37 | 38 ratings
Night Works
1999

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GILA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound] by GILA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.07 | 193 ratings

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Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound]
Gila Krautrock

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

3 stars Once the German Krautrock scene got underway in 1969 it immediately started splintering into myriad directions with some acts like Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh rocketing straight into outer space with trippy ambience and synthesizer excesses while others like Can developing its own unique stylistic approach such as the avant-funk that led to its lauded "Tago Mago.". Others still tried to emphasize the rock aspects and while very much exercising the liberating forces of the modern day sounds of synthesizers, organs and mellotrons, still focused primarily on the traditional rock instrumentation of guitar, bass and drums. Others yet just went plain nuts and alienated even the hardcores. Some bands took the sensible route and took the more accessible path. 
GILA was one such act that emerged from Stuttgart in 1969 after dropping the initial provocative moniker Gila Fuck which seemed to attract law enforcement harassment in favor of a less confrontational name. The early group was formed by Fritz Scheyhing (mellotron, organ) and Conrad "Conny" Velt (guitar vocals) with Swiss drummer Walter Widerkehr and French bassist Daniel Alluno. Known as one of the primary descendants of Pink Floydian space rock jams, GILA was a staple in the early 70s playing numerous gigs and considered one of the more accessible acts to follow with a clear vision of simple repetitive bass grooves accompanied by trippy guitar assaults and the expected organ drenched freakery that was all the rage in the world of Krautrock.

Somewhat in the playbook of Ash Ra Tempel and Manuel Göttsching's solo works, GILA released its self-titled debut album in the summer of 1971 and focused on lengthy drawn out instrumental jamming sessions periodically punctuated by Veit's somewhat less than desirable vocal performances. The focus of GILA was clearly hypnotic bass-driven grooves with jazzy drumming that included the ethnic percussive sounds of bongos and the tabla along with a range of psychedelic guitar trips heaped full of massive amounts of organ runs, electronic embellishments and gusts of mellotron majesty. Unlike many of the era, GILA opted to release the album with German titles as well as providing both sung and spoken lyrics in the mother tongue as well.

The album consisted of six tracks hovering close to 40 minutes long and sounds like it was primarily inspired by Pink Floyd's "A Saucerful Of Secrets" track featured on the album of the same name however GILA wasn't particularly inventive in its approach and relied on a fairly standard methodology of jamming over a hypnotic bass groove and then embellish with guitar licks, lush organ sounds and sound samples ranging from spoken word moments to a baby crying, the latter of which is totally irritating to my ears. While the tracks all drift on in similar fashion perhaps the best aspect of GILA's debut is the ominous organ sounds in conjunct with the terrifying guitar glissandos and creeping bass grooves that slink along in tandem.

While Krautrock successfully captured a wide range of differing approaches, some appeal to certain fans more than others and for some reason GILA has just never really clicked with me. Existing somewhere between the farthest out there trips and a more typical jam band tinged with lysergic accoutrements, GILA certainly managed to walk the tightrope act between standard rock jams and the more adventurous Krautrock excesses of the era but for whatever reason just sounds like one of the more average examples of the era in comparison to other bands that were bursting with creativity. This one is usually near the top of many fans' Kraut album lists of the early 70s for my ears i just find GILA's debut album OK and nothing to get to excited about. It just doesn't take the psychedelic moments far enough for me and the overall jamming aspects aren't very compelling. Oh well, we all can't love everything. Decent but not to die for.

3.5 but rounded down

 Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound] by GILA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.07 | 193 ratings

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Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound]
Gila Krautrock

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Gila is sort of krautrock classic of the space rock & psychedelic jam band type. Slightly vague, druggy and lo-fi, it has everything to evoke that mysterious feeling of not being able to picture what you're actually listening to. The album has little avant-garde moments (except for that horrible crying baby) and because of its slow-paced jams it is kind of relaxing and accessible. I can see why people would name this a good entry for a beginners journey into krautrock. If you've enjoyed Pink Floyd's Meddle before you should do fine. The sound of those early organs reminds me of Arzachel, the first two Pink Floyd albums and VdGG's debut ('Octopus' comes to mind). The electric guitars are obviously inspired by David Gilmour, both clean and with fuzz. The band equips sound-effects and recordings to enhance the psychedelic vibe and the intro of 'Kontakt' gets quite dark before evolving into a rather pleasant ethnic folk krautrock piece. Non of the pieces are going anywhere and there's little melody to be found here, but basically a record like this is like an audio documentary of a time & vibe long gone. I think Gila's 'Free Electric Sound' is slightly less interesting (and well-produced) than for instance the first two Agitation Free albums - to which it holds most likeness. It has a charm of its own and the Second Battle vinyl reprints are well made and include a booklet and poster. I would give it 3,5 stars.
 Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound] by GILA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.07 | 193 ratings

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Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound]
Gila Krautrock

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

5 stars A Krautrock kingship based upon improvisational sound flexibility released in 1971, a golden year for progressive rock scene. As every Krautrock fan knows, GILA were one of Krautrock legends around 1970 regardless of their short activity. They played in the same vein of other German psychedelic improvisation units in those days (especially in the longest track "Kommunikation" founded as a spacey jam with low-fi shoegaze electric guitar madness and lazy rhythm section production), but they added not only electronic texture but also colourful sound / melody variations to their vision. The epilogue "Kollektivitat - Individualitat" has pleasant electric guitar-oriented ethnicity in the former part and rich improvised soundscape via spiritual inspiration plus volume of electronic weirdness in the latter. In "Kontakt" are two important, impressive exhibitions - heavenly ambience mainly by avantgarde mellotron plays and repetitive, hallucinogenic acoustic guitar-based comfort. "Kollaps" sounds just like a sequential collapse in the whole life of human beings - a baby's crying should be quite effective here. "Agression", just as the title says, is sorta active and aggressive one featuring flexible and delightful keyboard excess blended with powerful ritualistic guitar sounds. Various sound appearances you can hear via "Free Electric Sound" recommended for all progressive rock fans.
 Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound] by GILA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.07 | 193 ratings

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Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound]
Gila Krautrock

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

4 stars German band Gila was formed in 1969 around guitarist Conny Veit, a Krautrock notable who would also go on to contribute to the music of Popul Vuh and Guru Guru. Their debut `Gila (Free Electric Sound)' arrived in 1971, a predominantly instrumental disc with a refreshing raw sound of spacey rock improvisations, lengthy psych guitar solos backed by plenty of organ, and it frequently reminds of the psych/acid/space early period of Pink Floyd with its fuzzy meandering atmospheres, as well as touches of Dom and Agitation Free.

An early Guru Guru and Hendrix acid rock style permeates opener `Aggression', all Conny's plodding and grooving heavy guitars, Daniel Alluno's rambunctious drumming, murky slithering bass with tickles of Hammond organ rolling around the background, and there's just a touch of spacey echoing in the final moments to hint at what's to come. The nearly thirteen minute cosmic jam `Kommunikation' weaves through everything from acoustic acid-folk shambles, distortion- heavy drones, sudden tempo changes, Embryo-like ethnic flavours and endless drowsy guitar strains with a touch of that mellow bluesy tone and those shimmering reaching piercings that David Gilmour perfected on the early Floyd albums. Walter Wiederkehr's punctuating bass is thick and fluid, Fritz Scheyhing subtly employs runaway electric piano tiptoes and panning organ swirls, and there's even brief ethereal treated vocals and wasted spoken word passages to end a killer first side.

The mantra-like `Kollaps' is all humming feedback droning, whirring Hammond organ, mysterious creeping bass and dreamy weeping guitar tendrils that turn rumbling and splintering, reminding very much again of the early psychedelic Pink Floyd works. `Kontakt' opens as a disorientating collage of shuffling mucky distortion and eerie voices before coming down as an early Deuter-like acid/folk Eastern-flavoured acoustic guitar meditation. There's shades of German band Agitation Free's blend of electronics and ethnic elements in the ten-minute two-part finale, `Kollektivitat' first starting life with reflective and joyful Hammond organ soloing, subdued drumming that carefully builds, seductive purring bass and chiming guitars with bluesy tinges. The Hammond eventually turns scratchy laced with dangerous quickening drums and manic twisting guitar jangles before `Individualitat' dissolves into furious tabla and distortion, although the mere fade-out to close the whole album is a bit of an uninspired letdown!

`Gila' is perhaps similar to an album like, say, the self-titled first Cosmic Jokers album from 1974 that offers many textbook examples of that would be recurring sounds and styles on the Krautrock- flavoured works, but without the more uncompromising and abrasive harder qualities that make up many of those discs, so this could appeal to newcomers and be an ideal introduction. There's certainly more important, experimental and ground-breaking Krautrock discs to explore, but there's not a poor second of music on `Gila', and it definitely deserves to be a proud part of any Krautrock collection.

Four stars.

 Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound] by GILA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.07 | 193 ratings

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Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound]
Gila Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Free Electric Sound: an ironic title for an album that survived many years only as an expensive prize for Krautrock treasure hunters. And in retrospect that rarity might have been the best thing about it. The music alone isn't very challenging, but it's all dynamic stuff: energetic guitar jams with more than a whiff of late '60s psychedelia, sounding not unlike early ASH RA TEMPEL but with one foot on terra firma (at least some of the time).

The aptly-titled "Aggression" raises the curtain in rip-roaring fashion, with lots of Hendrix- inspired riffing and some filthy organ runs. Little of what follows was able to match the same level of intensity, and the whole thing is perhaps too indebted to PINK FLOYD, like a lot of Krautrock in 1971. But it was the younger, more dangerous Floyd, circa "Ummagumma" (the live disc, thankfully) that inspired these grooves, filtered through the multi-colored creative sieve of radical German youth culture.

Thus, the blitzkrieg effect in "Kollaps", although it's the eerie sound of a crying baby later in the same track that never fails to send a shiver down my spine. Or the free-form collage introducing "Kontakt", just before the music blossoms in a gorgeous, Eastern-scented acoustic guitar episode. The last four cuts (Side Two, on the original vinyl) blend into a single, meandering space jam, like most of the album pleasantly unfocussed but played with conviction.

Guitarist Conny Veit was the hero of the set. His fluid technique and assorted effects helped lift what could have been a merely half-hearted freakout to near cosmic altitudes (he also sang, briefly and unintelligibly, in the 12-plus minute mini-epic "Kommunikation"). Under his able guidance there isn't a dull moment throughout the album's 37-whirlwind minutes. But at the same time it never quite managed to step forward from the middle of a very crowded Krautrock pack.

The original line-up didn't survive long enough to make a second album, and it was a very different band that returned two years later with the same name. Too bad, because with a little time and effort Gila could have easily made the leap into the upper ranks of Krautrock divinity, instead of settling for the diminished afterlife of a much coveted collector's item.

 Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound] by GILA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.07 | 193 ratings

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Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound]
Gila Krautrock

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars Gila's 1971 semi-eponymous debut contains numerous psychedelic jams, exotic textures, and mystic passages. It does possess a fair deal of repetition, and the final track is essentially a drum solo. With that said, this is a great album that would please not only most fans of Krautrock, but fans of space rock too.

'Aggression' Following stormy atmospheric sounds, a spunky bass groove appears, bringing in a psychedelic jam. The organ quivers, blasting in here and there.

'Kommunikation' Dark noise and a Tex-Mex guitar tone introduce a thudding bass and easygoing percussion. I am reminded in some respects of Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden. There are some distant vocals, but primarily the piece stays in jam band mode, letting the lead instruments experiment over the same bass riffs. The final passage, tacked on to the end, has several Mellotrons and spacey slide guitar. The end is spoken word moving from right to left, almost a chant.

'Kollaps' Quieter and more mysterious, 'Kollaps' this has mythical organ and percussion, the Tex-Mex guitar tone, and the cry of an infant (which can be disconcerting if one has, say, delivered his own son four days ago). In a way, it makes me think of 'Magnum Opus' by Kansas, specifically the 'Father Padilla Meets the Perfect Gnat' segment.

'Kontakt' Another dark piece, this eventually brightens up with acoustic guitars.

'Kollektivitat' The acoustic guitars evaporate, leaving a low organ and a guitar fed through a wah pedal alone. The piece develops structure with the inclusion of exotic drums and lead guitar. The Eastern flair remains as the music flows from one rhythmic oasis to the next.

'Individualitat' The music from before fades like a mirage in the thirsty desert, leaving only the drums behind. It is very tribal, with jungle-like sounds and minimal input from the more traditional rock instruments.

 Night Works by GILA album cover Live, 1999
3.37 | 38 ratings

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Night Works
Gila Krautrock

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

4 stars Milk and honey

When I think of the Krautrock movement, I often find myself dreaming up pictures of the rock n roll scene of the 60s - the wild appearances with long facial hair and some kind of installed antenna-bush instead of hair - but first and foremost, - it makes me think of the newly found appreciation of music. The magic of music - the thought that it could be something more - something beautiful and free - an epiphany in sound speaking of whatever you wanted it to describe. The empty spaces between people, events, spirituality or maybe just the local giraffe in your backyard.

This album by Gila is a live one with wild jams and lots of space to go mental, not that you´d notice it, because it is in fact recorded from the insides of a radio studio in down town Cologne, excluding any traces of an audience to go "clap clap". If the exteriors of the Krautrockers evoke those pictured in the Woodstock flick, the music on the other hand does its very best to keep up with it. Certainly bands like Agitation Free and Gila seem like the German counterparts of those bluesy, psychedelic, jamming, drug infused and tireless acts like The Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger. I hear some similarities yeah, but that isn´t to say that Gila sound like a second hand version of a 1969 band that just woke up on the lawn after 3 years - with a massive hangover thinking: How did we get home from Woodstock - and how come we´re in Germany?

This music is an enchanting amalgamation of snarling and fiery guitar, fuzzed and trippy - wielded by the brilliant Conny Veit who has played with both Popol Vuh and Guru Guru. On this live album he sounds like he´s out of his mind, and most likely has a head full of acid, but then again who am I to judge anyone who can play like this - as if he´s trying to tame a psychopathic fire-hose with his guitar? Blended nicely in a big blurry cocktail along with the sizzling organs, the robust and hammering bass and the boom boom boom of the drums - the guitar feels at home, and if you´re into this band´s legendary debut album, you should feel right at home in this psychedelic milk and honey land.

I recommend this album(and their debut as well) to anybody who thinks that Pink Floyd should have made another More album - or maybe just recorded Embryo in a studio. It´s music for the desert, for walking barefooted in orange sand. It´s music for a quiet evening in Ali Baba´s cave with a drunk Elvis on your lap - humming El Dorado with a wah wah pedal attached to his throat.

 Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by GILA album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.58 | 72 ratings

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Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee
Gila Krautrock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Gila guitarist Conny Veit's new boss Florian Fricke (from Veit's day job in Popol Vuh) sits in on the recording of this last album from a briefly reunited Gila. It's certainly an odd little proposition - with more in common with psychedelia-tinged Americana than Krautrock - but an uninspiring production job combined with a lack of focus (despite the concept) yields a boring listen that doesn't much sound either like Gila's previous work or like Veit's excellent collaborations with Fricke over in Popol Vuh. The Gila project would go dormant after this brief sputtering into life, and I can't say a whole lot was lost - especially since this entire lineup (bar the vocalist) ended up making wonderful music together as Popol Vuh anyway.
 Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound] by GILA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.07 | 193 ratings

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Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound]
Gila Krautrock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Yet another free jam freakout band from the Krautrock scene, Gila's Free Electric Sound begins with the dynamite Aggression, which combines hard rock guitar and heavy funk basswork with a typically psychedelic Krautrock format. The subsequent tracks do not quite manage to show the same level of innovation, and to be honest don't hold my interest to the same extent, though Conny Veit's guitar work is without a doubt the best asset the band had - no wonder Florian Fricke invited him into Popol Vuh! On balance, a good second-tier Krautrock album, but hardly a high priority for those beginning to explore the genre. I'd exhaust the outright classics of the field before turning my attention to this one, personally.
 Night Works by GILA album cover Live, 1999
3.37 | 38 ratings

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Night Works
Gila Krautrock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Taken from a live-in-the-studio performance for radio from 1972 the all-new tracks on Night Works more or less make up Gila's second album, as it might have sounded has the group not split up later that year. (They'd reform in time to make Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.) It's a fairly typical Krautrock jam session, distinguished mainly by an interplay between Scheyhing's organ work and Conny Velt's guitar riffs that's more than a little reminiscent of Deep Purple from the In Rock period. This is most evident on The Gila Symphony, but throughout the album Velt's guitar sound is heavier and more closely aligned with hard rock from the era than most of his contemporaries in the Krautrock scene. This fusion between cosmic rock and classic rock is interesting, but isn't quite enough to elevate the album beyond being an interesting piece for Gila fans which won't get as much play in most people's collections as Free Electric Sound.
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