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Amon Düül II - Wolf City CD (album) cover


Amon Düül II



3.98 | 264 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If I tell you that "Wolf City" is a brilliant amalgam of blazing acid rock, authentic eastern influences, lush gothic menace, and deceptively simple krautrock fun, you'll still never imagine what it actually sounds like. Simultaneously harrowing and lighthearted, each song (minus one, but we'll get to that later) is a wild ride within you and without you; various trippy and evocative passages come together to create an album that both defines, and strays from, the Krautrock ideal.

"Surrounded by the Stars" is a lovely, schizophrenic piece that careens between bleepy synths, raga-like jamming and rollicking folk rock. "Green Bubble Raincoated Man" almost fails due to the almost non-stop shrill vocals and heavyhanded cymbals, but the instrumental work redeems it in classic tight-but-psychedelic Krautrock style. "Jailhouse Frog" gets nice and heavy, almost to the point of self-parody, before dropping us into an inscrutable ambient passage full of echoing effects and a bare bouncy piano- this section descends by degrees until you're on the edge of your seat wondering if it will all end in tears or laughter...but unfortunately it simply strikes out into a jam and fades. Perhaps a lost chance for drama, perhaps a calculated withholding of resolution?

"Wolf City" is one of the few stylistically static works on the album, a driving acid rock backing to a spoken poem and eponymous refrain. I'm still not sure what he's on about, but it sounds very dark and possibly laden with social commentary. "Wie der Wind" is an absolutely perfect jam that dissolves blissfully into sample-and-hold burbles and insistent tabla patterns- the kind of east-meets-west experimentation that Amon Duul II does better than anyone, and surprisingly free of the gothic undertones of much of the rest of the album. To compensate, we're then given "Deutsch Nepal", which is deliberate, dark, and heavy (ah, that distorted VDGG-type organ- if only there was more!)...and it's all just tongue-in-cheek enough to remind you that this is no over-the-top MAGMA-type processional. Finally, the exquisite capstone that is "Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge"- I fell in love with the band from this song alone, though as it turned out it was not quite representitive of their sound...well, anyway, it's definitely not to be missed.

This album is part of the raw guts of prog, true to the genre's primal psychedelic roots. In very basic terms, it has far more in common with early PINK FLOYD (or even with JEFFERSON AIRPLANE) than ELP or any of the heavily jazz-influenced bands. If it was just a little more cohesive or instrumentally impressive, it would undoubtedly be a masterpiece...but the rough edge is an essential part of the album's appeal for me. I can't promise you'll love it like I do, but with all the territory "Wolf City" covers, there's almost no way you won't hear something about it that you'll like.

James Lee | 4/5 |


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