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Gila - Gila [Aka: Free Electric Sound] CD (album) cover





4.06 | 203 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
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

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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