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Amon Düül - Psychedelic Underground [Aka: Minnelied] CD (album) cover


Amon Düül



2.37 | 63 ratings

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2 stars I think a new rating benchmark needs to be established for the debut Amon Düül album. Instead of the usual stars, how about five energy-sucking black holes, denoting an absolutely essential but altogether unlistenable Prog Rock experience?

The First Amon Düül didn't even consider themselves a musical group. They were all simply fellow travelers in the same radical-political Munich commune, who liked to make a lot of noise together...maybe too much, considering their association with the Baader- Meinhof Gang. Eight credited musicians (and I use the term very loosely) were involved in this mess, the end result of a single 1968 jam that provided enough material for two other albums as well, one of them a double disc.

The multitude of talent (and I use the term even more loosely) sounds impressive until you realize six of them, including '60s sex kitten Uschi Obermaier, were strictly amateur drummers, flailing away on an assortment of toms, bongos, and at least one blacksmith's anvil (!) So it's hardly surprising to hear the album open with an unrelenting 17-minute percussion orgy, setting the mood for an album-long train wreck of Neanderthal grooves and haphazard edits, with lots of Dionysian pounding and shouting.

Half the track titles reference the Sandoz Laboratories, manufacturers of the first LSD, making the album more of a stoner homage to altered consciousness than a commercial music venture. In its own crude way the effort was more honest and effective than the later Ash Ra Tempel / Timothy Leary acid epiphany of "Seven Up", with a certain integrity all its own: totally primitive to be sure, but still intact. The raw, lo-fi sound of the LP is part of its enduring mystique, although the 'Underground' of the title might have been literal: it sounds like the microphones were buried under several feet of loose clay.

If you subscribe to the Philosophy of the World articulated by The Shaggs (see my PA avatar) you'll know that technical ability isn't always a requirement for musical expression. In other words, it's sometimes what you say, not how you say it, and the message here was one of pure anti-establishment vitality (i.e. noise).

In its own barbaric way it's an astonishing document, almost singlehandedly birthing the entire Krautrock scene. But that doesn't make the album any easier to sit through. And because my innovative gravity-well rating idea will probably never fly, I'm leaning toward a more wishy-washy compromise: two conservative but entirely respectable stars, for diehard Krautrock scholars and other masochists.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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