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Ash Ra Tempel - Starring Rosi CD (album) cover

STARRING ROSI

Ash Ra Tempel

 

Krautrock

3.12 | 88 ratings

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patrickq
Prog Reviewer
1 stars Starring Rosi was recorded by a lineup of Ash Ra Tempel very different from the group that had released Join Inn earlier the same year. Here Ash Ra Tempel is effectively a duo of Manuel Göttsching, who plays guitar, keyboards, and bass, and Rosi Müller, on vocals, vibraphone, and harp. They are joined by the famous Krautrock dummer Harald Großkopf and equally renown Krautrock record producer Dieter Dierks, who plays bass on the final song.

Stylistically, Starring Rosi is all over the proverbial map - - as exemplified by the three instrumental pieces on the album. "Laughter Loving," inexplicably to me at least, is a country-western instrumental with Göttsching playing a twangy lead, a strummed rhythm guitar, a suitable bass part, and one (or more) freestyle parts in the back of the mix. Großkopf pounds away throughout. The slower, darker, and decidedly non-country "Schizo" has a similar structure, but with much less of Großkopf. "The Fairy Dance" is more ambient, although not much like the atmospheric pieces on Ash Ra Tempel ("Traummtaschine") and Join Inn ("Jenseits"), insofar as "The Fairy Dance" has comparably substantial structure. It's a bit like synth-based new-age music of the 1980s and 1990s.

"Day Dream" and "Interplay of Forces" are the two songs with substantial vocals. I don't say "substantial singing," because throughout the album Müller speaks most of her parts. Each of these songs has a repetitive aspect. On "Interplay," after reciting each couplet in German, Müller recites an English translation; on "Day Dream," Göttsching sings each line after Müller says it. As it turns out, Göttsching is a pretty good singer.

Two other tracks are largely instrumental, with Müller contributing a few vocal lines. "Cosmic Tango" returns to the "Laughter Loving" sound, this time with pre-Beatles rock & roll guitar soloing over a galloping beat - - reminiscent of surf-rock. Müller recites the lines "ready, steady, go," "far out," and "cosmic tango." On the closing number she recites a brief poem centering on the lines "the moment I met you / I knew you'll bring me up." In another example of repetition, she later backs Göttsching as he sings those same lines at the end of the song. "Bring Me Up," a Santana-like rocker, is the most commercial song on Starring Rosi, and also the only one I find enjoyable.

I ordinarily don't give much consideration to an album's title or artwork when writing a review. But I have wondered why this album is called Starring Rosi when Göttsching is clearly the star. The title has to create an expectation among listeners that Müller's contribution will be substantial, and it must have been obvious that this expectation would not be met. This brings up the question: why not just call this a Göttsching solo album? Or why not Starring Harald?

Anyway, the album's title is not the only source of my confusion over Starring Rosi. Where Join Inn was spontaneous, Starring Rosi seems calculated. And although Join Inn (1973) was similar stylistically to the band's 1971 debut album, it still sounded experimental and innovative. Much of Starring Rosi sounds derivative by comparison. Or maybe it's fairer to call Starring Rosi a failed experiment in interpreting popular music styles. At any rate, I really can't recommend this album. "Bring Me Up," if available as an inexpensive, standalone download, wouldn't be a bad investment, but otherwise, I wouldn't suggest spending time or money on Starring Rosi that could be spent on Ash Ra Tempel, or especially on Join Inn.

patrickq | 1/5 |

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