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Grobschnitt - Solar Music - Live CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.56 | 199 ratings

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3 stars Set The Controls...

An iffy opening to this above average Krautrock offering, replete with audience participation builds to a superb soundscape, for a live act - that even beats many studio recordings from some bands - with a lovely rich and sonorous bass sound, a drum sound that's crisp but lacks midrange, vocals that keep dropping off the soundboard (maybe intentionally) and wierd "noises off", and clean, well-balanced and direct guitar tones.

Spatial Awareness

There's a very spontaneous feel to these compositions that casts them in the Krautrock mould very firmly, but the pitfall of live improvisation is falling into monotony, which unfortunately happens many times on this album.

Although Grobschnitt manage to dig themselves out of these holes reasonably well, the continuity is badly affected, and the actual structuring of the compositions doesn't help either - there is little or no flow from one track to another, and the whole product feels rather hiccupped in places and directionless in others.

Burning Up

The whole atmosphere hearkens back to Pink Floyd's Solar masterpiece "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", with similar minor key flavours overlaid with pentatonic scale solos that show their Gilmour inspirations frequently, with almost note- for-note quotations from "Animals" thrown in for good measure.

The playing is good and tight though, and when Grobschnitt enter a groove they work it well to produce a captivating sound that is drenched in psychedelia - it's so tight, in fact, that one might suspect that they took the recording into the studio to "tidy up" some of the parts...

Feel the Heat

Since this is largely improvisation, analysis would be somewhat pointless - but there is a great deal to enjoy here if you appreciate improvisation-based music that doesn't sound like a 1960s throwback - which this most certainly does not: There's a quite wonderful andn humourous surprise lurking in the middle of "Mühlheim Special", even if it is followed up with a riff that Hawkwind probably considered at one point in the early 1970s but rejected.

The keyboards in "Otto Panckrock" are notable, with Rick Wright flavours, and melody lines that clearly inspired Marillion's Mark Kelly, but overall, this track is a bit of a waste of space.

Crash and Burn

The overall soundscape is a very narrow Space Rock style of sound, except for some nice diffences in keyboard voices and synthesiser effects that are quite distinct from the usual tone and frequency generators you normally hear.

The time signature does not vary from 4/4, rhythmically, all the ideas have come from Pink Floyd or Hawkwind, and melodically speaking, there are few surprises - everything wanders up and down the scales as you would expect in this genre.

The bass is fairly notable, and reminds me very much of Marillion's Peter Trewavas in places, but despite the accuracy and great flow in the playing, the tendency is to follow the root notes, rather than suggest inversions or modes, and even basic ideas of interest like the use of pedals (the musical variety or the Taurus variety!) are not used.

This evidence is presented to indicate just why I do not consider this a Prog Rock album of the upper tiers - or even part of the Prog Rock genre.

Sunspot Summary

There is much to like, and many well structured and carefully composed delights within these grooves, and a lot of fresh-sounding and surprisingly well-produced space-rock improv, but there's also an awful lot of aimless noodling and directionless twaddle with nothing much to say or add - except for padding.

Overall, a nice addition to anyone's Prog Rock collection - but non-essential.

Certif1ed | 3/5 |


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