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KRAUTROCK

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Krautrock definition

Krautrock (also called "Kosmische musik") is a German avant-garde / experimental rock movement that emerged at the end of the 1960's. It was intended to go beyond the eccentricities developed by the wild psychedelic rock universe of the US, by giving a special emphasis to electronic treatments, sound manipulation and minimal hypnotic motifs (continuing the style of "musique concrete" and minimalist repetitive music but within a more accessible environment).

Krautrock put the emphasis on extended and ecstatic instrumental epics, neglecting the format of conventional psych-pop songs. The term Krautrock was first used by the British music press in a very derogatory way. The term rapidly found a better reputation in underground music circles and finally gained a certain popularity (thanks to the Brain-Festival Essen...)

The Krautrock movement is widely associated with notorious bands such as Popol Vuh, Amon Duul, Faust, Neu!, Ash Ra Tempel, Agitation Free, Guru Guru, etc. With their own particular artistic expression, these musical collectives provided rocking psychedelic incantations, mantra like drones, melancholic lugubrious atmospheres, long and convoluted collective improvisations, binary repetitive drum pulses, fuzz guitars, feedback, primitive electronic noises, hallucinatory ballads, and garage blues rock trips. Krautrock can be described as an anarchic, intense, acid, tellurian, nocturnal, spacey, dark and oniric "adventure" through rock music.

The most consistent years of the Krautrock scene cover a relatively short period from 1970 to 1975. After their first spontaneous, hyperactive and psychedelic efforts, the bands generally split up or declined into other musical sensibilities, more in line with mainstream rock or with ambient soundscapes.

Each region develops its particular musical scene, interpreting differently the Krautrock musical structure. For instance the Berlin school focused on "astral" synthscapes, weird electronic experimentation and acid jams (Ash Ra Tempel, Agitation Free, Mythos, The Cosmic Jokers, Kluster...), The Munich scene offered fuzzed out (Eastern) psych rock mantras with some folk accents (Popol Vuh, Amon Duul, Gila, Guru Guru, Witthuser & Westrupp...). Cologne and Dusseldorf underground scenes focused on happenings, political rock, electronics, pulsating rhythms and clean sounding Krautrock (Floh de Cologne, La Dusseldorf, Neu! Can...).

This musical cartography is correct in the absolute but naturally reveals some variations and exceptions. This intriguing and freak 'n' roll 1970's German scene enjoyed a rebirth in recent years thanks to a large number of reissues (of long lost classics) published by several independent labels (Spalax, Garden of Delights, Long Hair Music...) as a direct result of Krautrock's musical inspiration of modern post rock bands. There are actually some neo psychedelic rock bands who try to hold up Krautrock, and who notably find a major place to express themselves during the historical Burg Herzberg Festival in Germany.

Philippe Blache
December 2007



The responsibility for the psych/space, indo/raga, krautrock and prog electronic subgenres is taken by the PSIKE team,
currently consisting of
- Sheavy
- Meltdowner
- siLLy puPPy
- Rivertree



handbook

Krautrock Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Krautrock | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.20 | 246 ratings
HOSIANNA MANTRA
Popol Vuh
4.15 | 330 ratings
ASH RA TEMPEL
Ash Ra Tempel
4.10 | 402 ratings
YETI
Amon Düül II
4.23 | 102 ratings
EDGE OF TIME
Dom
4.06 | 471 ratings
FUTURE DAYS
Can
4.63 | 31 ratings
EISZEIT
Gam
4.06 | 294 ratings
NEU!
Neu!
4.07 | 286 ratings
TANZ DER LEMMINGE (DANCE OF THE LEMMINGS)
Amon Düül II
4.10 | 155 ratings
GILA - FREE ELECTRIC SOUND
Gila
4.16 | 103 ratings
LETZTE TAGE - LETZTE NÄCHTE
Popol Vuh
4.02 | 361 ratings
PHALLUS DEI
Amon Düül II
4.12 | 103 ratings
VOLUME 10
Electric Orange
4.09 | 111 ratings
SELIGPREISUNG
Popol Vuh
3.95 | 546 ratings
TAGO MAGO
Can
3.99 | 231 ratings
MALESCH
Agitation Free
4.01 | 171 ratings
ELECTRIC SILENCE
Dzyan
4.06 | 111 ratings
KÄNGURU
Guru Guru
4.44 | 29 ratings
OUTSIDE THE DREAM SYNDICATE
Conrad, Tony
4.02 | 122 ratings
AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD
Popol Vuh
3.98 | 155 ratings
IN DEN GÄRTEN PHARAOS
Popol Vuh

Krautrock overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Krautrock experts team

TERRA INCOGNITA
Metabolismus
FORGET YOUR DREAM!
Pacific Sound
4 TIMES SOUND RAZING
Silberbart
MAGIC THEATRE
Drum Circus

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Latest Krautrock Music Reviews


 Upside Down by EXPONENT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Upside Down
Exponent Krautrock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

— First review of this album —
3 stars Reminded me of sharp-edged EILIFF or ZWEI, a keyboard-based psychedelic Krautrock on a regular basis. EXPONENT have been founded as an unknown, short-lived Wuppertaler rock quartet in 1974 and disbanded in 1976. They recorded some material for only one album titled "Upside Down" veiled in a horrible sleeve in 1974 (not released in those days sadly) and the tracks saw the light as an LP via an independent / personal label named Korusuro in 2014, and as a CD via Garden Of Delights in the following year.

From the very beginning quiet, surrealistic atmosphere with no good voices we can receive ... in every track, pop and dreamy, a tad danceable (usually swift) mellotron works are thrilling and delightful in a sense but simultaneously we get tired with greasy, sticky, and stubborn phrases like tons of butter rice. Sometimes complex components blended with colourful rhythmic accents can be touched as old-fashioned psychedelia. On the other hand, aggressive, repetitive, and helical melody convolutions with massively complicated pitch deviations should remind us of German Psych in early 1970s.

Although not enough Neues we can feel via this album, it might be our slight pleasure such an obscurity we find. The sleeve is addictive too.

 Ausschuss by EULENSPYGEL album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.88 | 23 ratings

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Ausschuss
Eulenspygel Krautrock

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Germany played host to a myriad of bands in the 70's, all sporting different directions and styles, yet bundled together in the cramped box labelled krautrock. I find the term somewhat narrow and it may be that the term simply means "progressive rock from Germany". If so, I'm fine with that. As far as genres are concerned Germany was just as exploratory and/or adventurous as any other country.

I have always enjoyed the jazzier side of rock. It is something dear to me. Eulenspygel was exactly that, jazzy and hellbent on creating the perfect blend of progressive rock where jazz takes a prominent role. In their attempt to do so, they created one of the greatest albums to ever emerge out of Germany in the 1970's.

Though their first album may be a more cohesive affair I think that "Ausschuss" really is the Place to start, since it boasts the 22- minute epic of "Abfall". That song or suite is one of the most accomplished pieces I have ever heard. Simply outstanding. Everything just falls into place, melding and forging the elements into something out of this world. The vocals are emotional, the organ majestic and the overall orchestration flawless. It's certainly raw but not as in unrefined. Simply delicious. The opening mellotron is just thrilling and eerie.

It's hard to follow up on a track like that and subsequently the remaining tracks seems less brilliant, while they're actually not. They are all very good. "Menschenmacher" is very much a riff-driven track and "Teufelskreis" acoustically performed. The songs are all very good indeed but in comparison to the magnum opus inferior. What else is there, really, to expect?

The vocals are all performed in german but don't let that hinder you. The lyrics are politically left-winged and performed with passion.

This is an amazing album and really Worth checking out. I love it to bits, especially "Abfall".

 Musik Für Alle  by ANIMA-SOUND album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.10 | 2 ratings

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Musik Für Alle
Anima-Sound Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Anima-Sound was one of many also-rans in the Krautrock derbies of the early 1970s, in retrospect galloping so far in a contrary direction they were never seen again. Actually that's not entirely true: at this late writing percussionist Limpe Fuchs maintains a vital presence on the outer edge of Germany's avant-garde musical art circuit. The goal, in her own words, has always been to capture "the resonance of the location where the performance takes place".

And not only the location, but the specific time as well: a key to understanding this relic from 1971, obscure even to Krautrock treasure hunters. Of course it wasn't really Krautrock, and in truth isn't much of a treasure either. The group's second LP, named with utopian wishful thinking "Music For Everybody", is less structured and even more lo-fi than the duo's ramshackle 1971 debut ("Stürmischer Himmel"). It might have been intended as a crude audio-vérité transcript of a typical Anima-Sound gig, with Limpe hitting anything within reach, and husband Paul blatting away on an ersatz collection of homemade horn devices.

Each half of the original vinyl is a complete track, sounding almost identical to its flipside. The inscrutably titled "N Da Da Uum Da" (my thoughts exactly, after first hearing it) is a time-capsule model of post-'60s free expression. Ditto "Tractor Go Go Go", named in honor of the barnstorming hippie performance vehicle which held their makeshift stage, all their instruments, and several sheep.

The album is only a very minor slice of a much larger musical history. Thankfully, the Berlin-based film and music label Play Loud! has announced plans to re-release the entire catalogue of Anima, Anima-Sound, and Limpe Fuchs: a massive discography that extends far beyond the limits of even these extensive Archives. The name of the label itself is an invitation: play this album loud enough, and it almost begins to make a perfectly warped sort of historical sense.

[ Collector's addendum: an even less inhibited portrait of Paul and Limpe Fuchs can be found in the semi-exploitation 1970 documentary film "Wunderland der Liebe: Der Große Deutsche Sexreport" (aka "Sex Freedom in Germany", directed by Dieter Geissler). No, I haven't seen it myself, except for a brief excerpt of the Anima-Sound duo in concert: Paul in flowing white robes and Limpe buck-naked, completely slathered in black paint. One first-hand reviewer called it a "howlingly inept celluloid nutbar", which is just another way of saying you probably had to be there to appreciate it..."the resonance of the location", so forth]

 Stürmischer Himmel  by ANIMA-SOUND album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.65 | 6 ratings

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Stürmischer Himmel
Anima-Sound Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After digesting the more savory albums on the kosmische smorgasbord, where would a still ravenous Krautrocker turn for his next meal? One option on a seemingly endless menu would be the (almost) undeservedly forgotten husband/wife team of Paul and Limpe Fuchs, bucolic misfits who in the wide-open musical culture of the early 1970s performed under the name Anima-Sound.

The couple's best-known effort, among Krautrock cognoscenti at any rate, was recorded for R.U. Kaiser's Ohr Records, a label renowned for its willfully offbeat talent roster (famously signing Tangerine Dream in 1970 precisely because the band had no commercial potential at the time). The closest contemporary equivalent to Anima-Sound was probably early Cluster/Kluster, but the difference is extreme. Instead of exploring the brave new world of electronics and synthesizers, Paul and Limpe pursued a strictly acoustic muse, using homemade instruments named with tongue-in-cheek vanity: Fuchshorn, Fuchsbass, and (my favorite) the onomatopoetic Klangbleche.

Don't let their unplugged hippie ethic fool you: the music is no less freeform or challenging than any other amateur, avant-noise freakfest. The word anima refers of course to the soul: the sustaining force inside all living creatures, including the livestock in the Fuchs family barnyard, denied the performance credit they so richly deserved here. The LP actually fades in on a rough field recording of sheep bleating in a very windy meadow, and the balance of the album sounds (not unpleasantly, to these crackpot ears) as if the same animals were somehow trained to play rudimentary percussion fills.

The singing too - if that's what this is - exists on the same spontaneous plane. One minute Limpe can be heard muttering quietly in a pre-verbal tongue; the next she's suddenly whooping as if Paul had just goosed her with his Schilfzinken. Laugh all you want (or cringe in embarrassed torment), but if the Fuchs had worn giant eyeball masks and tuxedos, instead of performing naked in black body paint, they might have been the world's first Residents, and be remembered today as pioneers of Rock in Opposition nonconformity.

The album is definitely an acquired taste, even for adventurous listeners able to forgive the dated lo-fi aesthetic. But there's a certain purity to their non-professional noisemaking, audible even today: rarely has grass-roots music ever been so deeply rooted in actual grass, or sheep manure.

 Ultra Violence World by AWAKE & GALLO album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Ultra Violence World
Awake & Gallo Krautrock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

— First review of this album —
3 stars Not sure if they have made this creation under a subliminal perception against atomic bombs but via not only the monotonous sleeve reminding us of Hiroshima or Nagasaki (or corpses piled up like a mushroom cloud) but also their inorganic devastated sound horribleness, I as a Japanese, would get strongly impressed with their serious sense of crisis by this album, and simultaneously possess a massive hatred against such a dark, dangerous world situation. At first let me say their interpretation with sound variation be much appreciated. This impression via their synthesizer is incredibly terrific and hypersensitive enough to drive me crazy from the beginning of a horrible ambient opening.

Even slow, steady sound streaming like the second shot "First Dawn" cannot give me safe nor sound. Full anxiety is here ... what is happening around me currently and how we would get to be in future. Small bird's chirps would notify me of a vacant world under the grey sky. The following titled one is kinda killa. Quiet, dry-fruity electronic heaviness creates indolent sullen inner space. Leave myself into such a Fantasia and keep on depressing ... this track aka the masterpiece of this album is worth doing so. "The Little Man" might have walked around and around the burned-out ground I imagine, along with depressive downtempo sound delivery.

The last 4 songs reminding me of something like Magdalena Solis are not bad too. Especially the seventh "Cosmic Cry" is filled with pop, catchy melodic essence and cynical sound dissection (great) based upon tapping percussive rhythm, and this track can make me smile for a little little while. The epilogue "Forever" exactly is in the same vein of The Dark Side Of The Moon and pretty suitable to be called as the dark side of the world ... one of my faves indeed. Not comfortable but pretty provoking and understandable this whole world is, for the reason above mentioned. A decent creation, at least for me.

 Misophonia by ELECTRIC ORANGE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.14 | 10 ratings

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Misophonia
Electric Orange Krautrock

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars Coming in at over 72 minutes long, Misophonia represents another monster of an album from Aachen's Krautrock/Kosmische Musik stallwarts, ELECTRIC ORANGE.

1. "Organized Suffering" (18:09) opens with rolling bass line, guitars, drums and high pitch drone revving up, taking about forty seconds to get into full gear. Then, at 2:16, everything shuts down for some synths and three "explosion" distorted guitar/bass strums spread out over about twenty seconds. Synths then take over the lead above drums and occasional distorted bass notes. Heavily treated, animal-like vocalizations pop in and out of the soundscape toward the end of the fifth minute. Then things quiet down again around 5:20. Militaristic drums slowly build from there with bass, vocalizations and synths continuing their play. Psychedelic lead guitar play is slowly, sparsely added into the drum-dominant mix. Things quiet down again around the eight minute mark with guitar, quiet drums, and slowly penetrating mid-pitch synth note working its way into the soundscape, into our minds. At 9:30 there is a subtle shift as rolling bass, synth chords and drums return. At the end of the eleventh minute guitar and synths start to do some interesting if occasional things but at this point this is really a drummer's show. In the thirteenth minute the bass and synths begin some new activity--both attracting more of the listener's attention--but the, just as quickly, everything drops out (again) as if to reset. Modulated synth (or organ?) goes freaky on us while simple drum and bass lines play modest support. The organ really begins to dominate (finally!) and the bass and drums capitulate to create the song's first melodically based groove. The key/chord change at 16:20 almost blows it, but then they get back into it. This sounds almost like a 1960s DOORS or PINK FLOYD jam. Not a great song as it never seems to really get off the ground nor does it truly establish any kind of 'hook' to engage and maintain our interest. (7/10)

2. "Bottledrone" (11:48) starts out as slowly and uneventfully as the opening song--totally synth-dominated--but really kicks in delightfully by the halfway point and remains full and interesting to the end. (9/10)

3. "Demented" (7:51) opens with some spacey Blade Runner-like synth noises before an Indian-like rhythm section jumps into the field at the thirty second mark. Now, this is Kosmisches Musik! The drummer is in an awesome groove in the low end while his cymbal activity is all creative and playful. Slow space synth movement is gradual and constant while heavily treated guitars and basses flit in and out of the soundscape. The synths remind me exactly of Tony Banks' synth play in the second half of GENESIS's "The Waiting Room." I love it! By the sixth minute the bass has actually committed to a steady rhythm track while the guitar and cymbals continue their free form contributions. The instrumentalists slowly recede to allow for a quiet end to the song. (8/10)

4. "Misophonia I" (8:58) opens with deep synth notes and low end bass play with a kind of metronomic, Native American-like low end drum beat. For the first three minutes I can definitely picture native American tribal dancers around the campfire--maybe readying themselves for war. The disturbing and discordant shift during and throughout the fourth minute leads to the establishment of a kind of groovy Buddha Lounge song at the four minute mark. Bass, drums and guitar riffs are all on fixed groove mode while the bouncy synth sounds like he's performing at an Ibiza all-night rave club. Horn-like sounds are layered and echoed during seventh minute to nice effect. This turns out to be the song's last real surprise or shift as things begin to slowly fade over the course of the next two minutes. Interesting song. I'm not sure of its intentions or reasons--nor am I certain if it really works. It is, however, unusual. (8/10)

5. "Shattered" (4:40) opens like a jazz song with some synths, bass, drums and wah-effected guitar riffing his chords over a cute hypnotic groove. The synth and drum play don't quite fit in, but this could almost fit in with some of the 1970s Black Exploitation film scores. The guitar and synth play feel at odds--as if they're in different universes--or, at least, different sound studios. Not a song that I care to hear again. (6/10)

6. "Misophonia II" (1:19) is a brief interlude which sounds as if it could almost be a classical piece that has been heavily, heavily treated and distorted in the psychedelic fashion. (8/10)

7. "Opsis" (5:25) has more of the feel and sound palette of the music from EO's 2014 masterpiece, Volume 10. The zither and horn sounds and calmer, more steady rock rhythm tracks are so nice to hear again! Beautiful if subtle melody! (9/10)

8. "Misophonia III" (17:36) I keep reading about the power and centrality of this song to this album and I have to say, I agree. It is one monster of a song, with an awesomely powerful opening from the keyboard master, Dirk Jan Müller. The development is slow but seemingly methodical, well-planned, and the keyboard drenched soundscape is joyfully drenched with Müller's strokes and washes. It's funny to enjoy so much the minimalist inputs from the band's other three members and just have the keys going solo over the course of the first six minutes. Once the rest of the band join in and establish their trepidous support, Dirk Jan continues to play around, but gradually his keys become more integrated into the weave, even seem to fade to background a bit--though there are the occasional really cool low end chord staccato hits. In the tenth minute, when things feel like they're starting to stagnate, Dirk Jan turns up the gas, puts on the horn synth, thrashes out a few heavy handed chords. Man! is he giving a great Berlin School keyboard exhibition! Volume levels all around amp up at the 12-minute mark, but then back off, leaving a little "Lucky Man" fade into the 13-minute mark. The bass, guitar and constant drum pattern keep it going, though, while DJ Müller again goes on his creative binging. More this, EO! I love it! (10/10)

While I enjoy all of the electronic space experimentation going on beneath the "lead" instruments by keyboard specialist Dirk Jan Müller, I find this album less cohesive and engaging than either Volume 10 or Morbus. I often find myself feeling as if the oceans of synth heaven going on beneath and the instrumental action above (or below) are disconnected--like sea and air--sea and mud.

Still, this is a nice 3.5 to four star album which I'm rating up for the monster epic "Misophonia III". A nice addition to any prog rock music collection.

 Yeti by AMON DÜÜL II album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.10 | 401 ratings

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Yeti
Amon Düül II Krautrock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

5 stars We will see the Krautrock light through heavy-guitar-riff-based German psychedelia blended with shabby voices ... a large number of musical (especially of rock) essence can be heard, and this kaleidoscopic sound environment would have got to be one of the starting lines in the Krautrock scene we suggest.

The first heavily swift bullet "Soap Shop Rock Suite", that must grab your soul out, can be called as a masterpiece not only all around their discography but in the whole Krautrock scene. The very beginning of the first movement "Burning Sister" has catchy immersing impressive (but eccentric) phrases created by heavy guitar riffs and strict, deep rhythm section tools. Their repetitive guitar synchronicity could remind the audience of sorta heavy space rock but luckily freak-out shabby voices give us something like mysterious relief. Their energy upon playing is too powerful and too bombastic for us to ignore ... the audience should get immersed apparently.

The following stage "Halluzination Guillotine" sounds like a heavy stone or a bulky bull on the contrary. Deep solid rhythm basis and every space of time are quite hallucinogenic. "Gulp A Sonata" is a short phrase but we can directly touch pretty massive experimental elements diluted with each other. The last "Flesh-Coloured Anti-Aircraft Alarm" is another real Krautrock world launched by a chopping guitar ... at last the refrain sounds a tad twisted and I guess they all would have had comfortable fatigue after finishing 'a big work'. It's quite amazing this suite consists of various material of progressive rock, and "Yeti" can be told completely with this fact.

By the way, every other track features colourful messages respectively. "Archangels Thunderbird" is another hard psychedelic rock keen to absorb hard rock freaks definitely. Powerful female voices are impressive, in the same vein of Rush's Geddy. Ethnic soundscape injection can be heard via "The Return Of Ruebezahl" or "Pale Gallery", the former has black magic religious flame, and the latter enthusiastic tribalism ... this texture is fit for German psychedelia indeed. Contrary to such a rock-ish rock, "Cerberus" reminds me of "Coffee Rumba", filled with South-American atmospheric acoustic guitar whispering. Improvised "Yeti - Yeti Talks To Yogi" combination can be mentioned as an innovative underground psychedelic jam session, kinda comfort, dreamy dream.

Their miscellaneous approaches exert magnificent influence upon younger Krautrock combos (e.g. a Japanese funny funky Krautrock project Omoide Hatoba). In this sense, this album can be called as one of authentic collections in the Krautrock scene. A superb gem really.

 A.R. IV by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.98 | 51 ratings

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A.R. IV
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In his all-too brief psychedelic heyday Achim Reichel didn't sound like anyone else in the Krautrock universe. The guitarist seemed content to chart his own singular path through the cosmos, isolated from his closest aesthetic contemporaries (Manuel Göttsching, Günter Schickert), and never straying too far away from Planet Earth.

This might be the most balanced of the albums he recorded as A.R. & Machines, blending the dense artistry of "Echo" with the skewed songwriting of "Die Grüne Reise". The echo on his guitar, accomplished using a simple reel-to-reel tape deck (and pre-dating the similar but less accessible Frippertronic effect) once again sets up the groove. Everything else - drums, vocals, saxophone etc. - was layered carefully on top, flowing dreamlike into and out of a very busy mix.

The technique works best on Side One ("Vita"), in three long, overlapped tracks approaching something that might almost be classified as hypnotic pop. The album's flipside ("Aqua") shows less focus, but not inappropriately for a 23-minute suite titled "Every Raindrop Longs for the Sea (Jeder Tropfen Träumt Vom Meer) H₂O". If nothing else, the meandering rhythms work like a new and short-lived form of nervous, jerky ambient musik.

Altogether the LP was a welcome rebound from the unmotivated "AR3" album. But in retrospect the effort can't transcend a nagging sense of redundancy: after three previous AR&M sessions, it had all been heard before.

(Consumer Postscript: the album has never been officially reissued since its original vinyl release in 1973. Reichel has apparently disowned this entire chapter of his career, which leads me to wonder how committed he was to the music in the first place)

 A.R 3 by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.86 | 18 ratings

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A.R 3
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The innovative echo-guitar of Achim Reichel could only be spun so far before the novelty grew thin. And on his third AR&M record he crossed that invisible threshold separating true exploration from aimless jamming.

The album restored the more song-based, psychedelic pop of "Die Grüne Reise" (his thrilling 1971 debut), but this time without the same stable underpinning of purpose. There's a conspicuous lack of direction over the LP's two sides, making it sound like a collection of random outtakes and studio rehearsals, spliced neatly together. The music comes to life only during the occasional hypnotic groove, most of which are perversely allowed to evaporate just as they reach cruising speed.

Apparently the guitarist made his point too well on his previous albums, and ran out of new things to say. That exhilarating sense of weightless flight was gone, leaving Reichel and his Machines in temporary freefall before deploying a belated parachute in "A.R. IV".

 Echo by A.R. & MACHINES album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.99 | 56 ratings

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Echo
A.R. & Machines Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The ambitious follow-up to his playful "Die Grüne Reise" (1971) stretched Achim Reichel's echo-guitar technique almost to its breaking point, and might have the same effect on the patience of any listener with a low attention span. The guitarist would later say the debut album represented his "künstlerische pubertät" ("artistic puberty", translating from his own web site). Which would make this one his creative coming of age, marking a dramatic leap to conceptual maturity from the goofy avant-pop exuberance of the first AR&M experiment.

The music this time was allowed more room to breathe, in longer instrumental workouts evolving over each side of the original twin-LP (to date, and somewhat amazingly, never officially released on compact disc). The rock 'n' roll energy of the earlier record was muted here in favor of a richer, more adventurous sound, still urgently rhythmic but enhanced by the occasional lush orchestral arrangement, and by contributions from a small battalion of collaborators, including percussionist Hans 'Flipper' Lampe of LA DÜSSELDORF fame: another link in the six-degree web of Krautrock separation.

Anyone expecting self-restraint or structure is encouraged to look elsewhere. It requires a long habit of passive concentration (not an oxymoron, for Krautrockers) to fully appreciate the slowly unfolding cycles of melodic arpeggios, superficially resembling the knotted synths and sequencers of early Virgin-era TANGERINE DREAM but performed on guitars, with a more human touch. The arrangement of music was tightly controlled throughout, but like all great cosmic voyages expressed a fearless resolve to embrace unknown vistas and infinite horizons.

Each side of vinyl, after the twenty-minute "Einladung" (Invitation), was given a suitably portentous title: "The Echo of the Presence"; "The Echo of the Future", and so forth, all with elaborate sub-chapters hard to pinpoint within the continuous flow of music. But it's the last side of LP2, "The Echo of the Past", that pushes the album close to five-star territory, in another wild, ZAPPA-influenced kitchen-sink collage, hypnotic and hilarious at the same time.

The effect of this final track is like being mesmerized by a clever circus clown, and at first exposure I found myself laughing as hard as I was listening, reminded (in a good way) of THE BEATLES and their notorious "Revolution 9", albeit assembled with discipline and wit.

The same comparison probably crossed Reichel's mind, too. In an unconscious reflection of the album's title, his career to that point had closely 'echoed' the Fab Four, dating back to his stint with The Rattles at the Star-Club in Hamburg. Much like The Beatles during their more exploratory later years, Reichel in his Krautrock prime still had the heart of a pop star, but the head of...well, a Head.

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Krautrock bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
A.R. & MACHINES Germany
ACHTZEHN KARAT GOLD Germany
AG A.M. Germany
AGITATION FREE Germany
AINIGMA Germany
AIR Germany
ALASKA RANGE Switzerland
ALCATRAZ Germany
ALEX ORIENTAL EXPERIENCE Germany
ALTONA (GER) Germany
ALUK TODOLO France
AMON DÜÜL Germany
AMON DÜÜL United Kingdom
AMON DÜÜL II Germany
ANIMA-SOUND Germany
ANNEXUS QUAM Germany
ANT-BEE United States
ARKTIS Germany
ASH RA TEMPEL Germany
ASHTRAY NAVIGATIONS United States
ASTERIX Germany
AVARUS Finland
AWAKE & GALLO Greece
BABA YAGA Germany
BACKNEE HORN Israel
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