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Hedersleben - Upgoer CD (album) cover





3.92 | 10 ratings

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4 stars If you don't know Hedersleben, then you're in for a real treat. They hail from California (by way of the UK & Germany) and they do an interesting and fresh take on krautrock & psychedelic rock without sounding at all derivative or phony. Led by guitarist Nicky Garratt, each album sees the band taking off on almost completely different directions from the previous one, while still maintaining a signature sound all their own, mostly driven by drummer Jason Willer and organist Kephera Moon. While "Upgoer" is Hedersleben's debut album, this is also their most avant-garde, freeform and somehow funkiest release. The titles and musical themes of this album almost suggest a nautical journey as opposed to the more space and time themed fare of their next 2 albums. In the opening "Upgoer, Pt. 1", we're greeted by a somewhat atonal intro filled with distant narration underpinned by waves of synth bleeps and bloops and organ drones. Then as the drones start to build and build, all of a sudden the drums kick in and we get that sense of movement we've been waiting for and within the next few minutes of the piece, we get a few different iterations of a single theme built on variations of the G scale. First we get the main iteration on organ, chugging rhythm guitar and whispered vocals, then changing gears quickly to an almost James Brown kind of guitar chord, and then again to a complete change of scenery to what I can only describe as a kind of Arabian ashram freak-out. As the last chords of "Upgoer, Pt.1" fade away into some well-placed sound effects of what I assume is grave-digging, we enter into the sound of thunder and the true centerpiece of the album, "Der Donnervogel". Sad & moody rainy day music built on an off-kilter A minor guitar arpeggio and a drum beat creating a waltz feel out of 11/8 and lead by the kind of organ sound that suggests influence from Rick Wright's Farfisa odysseys, but a tad edgier and more focused in Moon's approach to the instrument. Side 1 closes with "Dark Nebula", another short song graced by spoken word, bringing back the same funkiness that we first felt in "Upgoer, Pt. 1". But before we know it, the drums disappear completely into a pleasant bit of respite with a doubled piano sequence and some bluesy guitar punctuation on the fade out. Being the shortest track on the album, "Dark Nebula" seems to end all too suddenly, but the positive is that the theme and style of this particular tune would be greatly expanded upon on their next album, "Die Neuen Welten". Side 2 opens with "Upgoer, Pt. 2", and it's even more unsettling than it's counterpart. More atonal organ, assorted percussion and a curious violin sample that to my ears suggests the want for a real violin, which wouldn't come into play in Hedersleben's sound until their 3rd album "The Fall of Chronopolis". A slight re-imagining of the main theme of Pt. 1 enters, this time underpinned by 12-string acoustic guitar before everything falls apart into an almost bluesy 12/8 breakdown, before settling back into the 12-string theme again for the finale. The album closer "End of Love" is certainly the mellowest song on the album, it's also the most straightforward, percussion abounding with all sorts of cymbals, gongs, bells and whistles, while the guitar holds down the rhythm, re-iterating the off-kilter fingerpicking from "Der Donnelvogel", but this time in a major key, and graced by the presence of Nik Turner's flute intertwining with flute samples. It closes the album on a bit of lull, but that's not to say the piece is a downer, more like it's just a nice & meditative. The perfect thing to bring the listener back down to the ground after exploring much rockier territory. Overall, while it's certainly not Hedersleben's strongest effort, it's a damn fine debut album, and certainly a worthy addition to your record collection.
WizardHat87 | 4/5 |


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