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A.R. & Machines - AR4 [Aka: A. R. IV] CD (album) cover

AR4 [AKA: A. R. IV]

A.R. & Machines

 

Krautrock

4.00 | 61 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars As most Krautrock enthusiasts are aware of, Achim Reichel was one of Germany's biggest pop stars in the 60s before he dived headfirst into the burgeoning psychedelic scene that turned progressive as the 70s hit, however on his debut album with A.R. & MACHINES, "Die Grüne Raise," the songs still had a lot of pop compositional style wrapped up in extended psychedelic tripped out effects and more lingering passages that qualified them as progressive. On "Echo," the band dropped a lot of the pop influences and instead opted for longer sonic journeys into blissful psychedelic jams that found subtle instrumental interactions slowly parade into infinity. On "AR3," Reichel attempted to bring back more conventional song structures, perhaps missing the instant gratification of pop stardom but fell short as the band had lost their hit making mojo and watered down the Kraut aspects a wee bit too much.

As most Krautrock enthusiasts are aware of, Achim Reichel was one of Germany's biggest pop stars in the 60s before he dived headfirst into the burgeoning psychedelic scene that turned progressive as the 70s hit, however on his debut album with A.R. & MACHINES, "Die Grüne Raise," the songs still had a lot of pop compositional style wrapped up in extended psychedelic tripped out effects and more lingering passages that qualified them as progressive. On "Echo," the band dropped a lot of the pop influences and instead opted for longer sonic journeys into blissful psychedelic jams that found subtle instrumental interactions slowly parade into infinity. On "AR3," Reichel attempted to bring back more conventional song structures, perhaps missing the instant gratification of pop stardom but fell short as the band had lost their hit making mojo and watered down the Kraut aspects a wee bit too much.

On "A.R. IV", Reichel and his Kraut crew once again revert back to the long sonic journeys that delve into long psychedelic meandering jams that carry a somewhat funky groove as the backbone. While the album was broken down into four tracks, the first three constitute the "Vita" suite that allowed a strong bass groove and overabundance of percussive drive to meander on for over twenty minutes with a series of ethereal flute and jazzy sax to give it a multidimensional feel. The electric piano and keyboard effects kept it grounded into the progressive world of psychedelia as the tracks, while technically separate actually run together seamlessly and generate an instrumental journey into total blissful escapism. While vocals are scarce, there are segments where Reichel belts out some lyrics but thankfully these passages end quickly as i find them to be the weakest link of the band's unique musical journey.

The finale is saved for the super long twenty-three minute suite "Aqua" which consists solely of the track "Every Raindrop Longs For The Sea" that finds an extended groovy psychedelic jam sallying forth like there is no end to time. The formula is the same as side one with an energetic bass and percussion section accompanied by the driving rhythmic force with healthy doses of electric keyboard runs, blues funk guitar and the airy flutes and a constant background sound of ocean sounds including seagulls lurking in the distance. The sax also returns for the extra jazzy touch. There is a very carefree vibe to "A.R. IV" with little or no attention paid to any sort of compositional style whatsoever. It is simply the sort of heady improvisational psychedelic jam that was common for the days. While personally i prefer the debut to any of the other albums, "A.R. IV" is a massive improvement over the mediocre "AR3" as it captures the mood of the experimental sound journey that was intended. This is one that is a nice free floating escapist's journey into the clouds.

This is the type of music that isn't made to blow you away. This is very much an introspective journey that builds through a solid rhythmic flow that allows an atmospheric backdrop to shape shift much like clouds slowly changing shape as they roll by in the sky. "A.R. IV" was basically a group of ten musicians getting together (granted not all at the SAME time) and trading off licks around a solid groove. While this album doesn't have the same compositional prowess as other prog outfits of the day, there's something very soothing about it that makes me feel one with the universe. At this time Reichel was heavily into spirituality and yoga practice and that's exactly what emanates from this long drifting odyssey in musical form. "A.R. IV" would also find the band A.R. & MACHINES winding down as Reichel would continue as a solo artist, releasing one more psychedelic Kraut album before drifting into traditional German folk music.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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