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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

4.19 | 268 ratings
HOSIANNA MANTRA
Popol Vuh
4.15 | 351 ratings
ASH RA TEMPEL
Ash Ra Tempel
4.10 | 427 ratings
YETI
Amon Düül II
4.23 | 113 ratings
EDGE OF TIME
Dom
4.07 | 498 ratings
FUTURE DAYS
Can
4.09 | 301 ratings
TANZ DER LEMMINGE [AKA: DANCE OF THE LEMMINGS]
Amon Düül II
4.07 | 313 ratings
NEU!
Neu!
4.51 | 37 ratings
EISZEIT
Gam
4.09 | 173 ratings
GILA - FREE ELECTRIC SOUND
Gila
4.02 | 378 ratings
PHALLUS DEI
Amon Düül II
4.14 | 109 ratings
LETZTE TAGE - LETZTE NÄCHTE
Popol Vuh
4.08 | 121 ratings
SELIGPREISUNG
Popol Vuh
4.08 | 119 ratings
VOLUME 10
Electric Orange
3.99 | 239 ratings
MALESCH
Agitation Free
4.06 | 121 ratings
KÄNGURU
Guru Guru
3.95 | 577 ratings
TAGO MAGO
Can
4.01 | 180 ratings
ELECTRIC SILENCE
Dzyan
4.43 | 32 ratings
TONY CONRAD & FAUST: OUTSIDE THE DREAM SYNDICATE
Conrad, Tony
4.03 | 132 ratings
AGUIRRE
Popol Vuh
3.95 | 256 ratings
WOLF CITY
Amon Düül II

Krautrock overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

I'M GONNA TAKE YOU HOME
Ya Ho Wha 13
LET IT OUT
Frankie Dymon Jr.
SILOAH [ALSO RELEASED AS SÄUREADLER]
Siloah
A COUPLE OF TIMES
Twogether

Latest Krautrock Music Reviews


 River Of Return by AGITATION FREE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.23 | 24 ratings

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River Of Return
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Attempting a comeback after 25 years can be a risky venture, especially for an aging band so closely tied to a vanished zeitgeist, in this case the restless counterculture of early 1970s Germany. But Agitation Free got it exactly right for their improbable late '90s reunion, striking an ideal balance between nostalgia and change.

The classic AF lineup last heard in 1974 was still intact, minus keyboard guru Michael Hoenig, who at the time was occupied with crummy Hollywood soundtrack commissions, emulating his idols in Tangerine Dream. His absence would force the remaining players to pursue a bigger, brighter sound, far removed from the band's Krautrock roots but entirely appropriate for the more streamlined musical climate of the 1990s. 'Accessible' can be a dirty word in Progressive Rock circles, but it works here, and the band's jammy instrumental vibe wasn't compromised in the slightest.

The title track opens the album on an unexpected (and very pretty) acoustic guitar phrase, courtesy of Gustl Lütjens. The added saxophone is another surprise, alerting listeners that the band was no longer living in the past. Or at least not entirely: some of that spacey early '70s DNA resurfaces in the awkwardly titled "She Sells Seashells at the Seashore", one of two cuts breaking the ten-minute threshold. The past is likewise present in "Nomads", a groovy dream of Arab caravans recalling the band's travels throughout the Near East before recording their first album in 1972.

Both tracks reference the same cosmic heritage, but without sounding at all retrograde. Ditto the climactic "177 Spectacular Sunrises", closing the album on a drifting meditative note consistent with the band's Krautrock origins, but updated to the uncertain end of a turbulent millennium.

It's too bad that perfectly timed curtain was then spoiled by an atypical bonus track: the hard-rocking encore "Keep On": not a bad song, but all-too conventional after the uncanny voyage preceding it.

The reformation was brief, and another decade would pass before the band was heard again (see: Shibuya Nights"). But if this ends being the final Agitation Free studio album it'll be remembered as a worthwhile valedictory, especially for a group more than two decades away from home.

 At The Cliffs Of River Rhine by AGITATION FREE album cover Live, 1998
4.00 | 51 ratings

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At The Cliffs Of River Rhine
Agitation Free Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The second posthumous live album from the Berlin-based Krautrock jam band is another winner, despite having a more conventional playlist compared to the far-flung explorations of "Last", which appeared shortly after the group first split in 1974.

This one arrived over twenty years later, but the belated release date wasn't accidental. Guitarist Lutz Ulbrich was in the process of getting the band back together in 1998, and dusting off an old concert recording was an expedient way to rekindle interest in a cult act out of the public eye for almost a quarter century.

The live tapes were restored from a much-bootlegged radio broadcast, recorded in Cologne on February 2, 1974 (nine months before the breakup), and sound excellent for their age. The setlist, for better or worse, was drawn almost entirely from the band's 1973 sophomore LP "2nd", faithfully reproducing over half the album (and in sequence). The single digression is the album's long, opening improv "Through the Moods": classic Agitation Free, showing the group at its telepathic peak.

It's true that the concert renditions stick pretty close to their studio role models, unlike the extended jams on "Last". But the performances all have that vital spark only attainable on stage, revealed here through the intertwined guitars of Ulbrich and Gustl Lütjens, and held in place by the textured aura of Michael Hoenig's keyboards: otherworldly icing atop an already cosmic torte.

At least one re-issue (the '08 Revisited Records CD, without the original Maxfield Parrish-meets-Roger Dean artwork) includes a nine-minute bonus, "Big Fuzz": an embryonic and at times almost funky jam from a show two years before the Rhine River gig. The sound quality takes a nosedive, but the extra track is a welcome slice of high-water Krautrock, like the full album an unexpected gift to fans, freshly exhumed from the vaults.

 Future Days by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.07 | 498 ratings

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Future Days
Can Krautrock

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars A warm, Krautrockish breeze: 9/10

FUTURE DAYS is a demonstration that even ambient music can be unique and accomplished when done correctly. CAN channeled their psychedelia in a hypnotic and immersive atmosphere, built atop several layers of electronic, synthesized and unusual sonorities. The result, a relaxed melody akin to tropical lullabies, depicts a certain degree of experimentalism without sounding absurd or downright bizarre.

So much so that, initially, it might be difficult to observe its inventive quality, which is why it's important to understand said attribute is implicit and only noticeable by an attentive ear. Yet, acknowledging that is not inherently necessary to admire the album's beauty at its plenitude. This exact detail is what makes FUTURE DAYS particularly great: it is enjoyable both as background music, thanks to its soothing unpretentiousness, and as an active listen, when it is possible to unravel the surprising complexity beneath the apparent straightforwardness.

In no moment the experience seems to have a low point; from the warm, velveted melodies of the eponymous track to Moonshake's psychedelic and eerie pop or Bel Air's impressive energy and cumulative momentum, CAN surely knows how to deliver a memorable experience.

 Volume 10 by ELECTRIC ORANGE album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.08 | 119 ratings

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Volume 10
Electric Orange Krautrock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The output of psychedelic jam bands tends to be a bit of a mixed bag, and this remains the case for Krautrock- influenced units like Electric Orange. Many early Krautrock releases were produced on an improvisational basis, and the results were often as hit-and-miss as more modern jam band releases, but Volume 10 is a particular gem from the Electric Orange back catalogue, with a stripped-back production that really helps capture the atmosphere of the freewheeling experimentation of the early Krautrock era. The song titles are weird spoofs on Black Sabbath songs, and whilst there's not much that's specifically doom metal about the album it's heavy enough that it feels like something Sabbath might have produced had they dropped Ozzy and gone Krautrock.
 Fantastic Party by STAFF CARPENBORG AND THE ELECTRIC CORONA album cover Studio Album, 1970
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Fantastic Party
Staff Carpenborg And The Electric Corona Krautrock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

— First review of this album —
5 stars Well, this is one of the most obscure releases I know from the German music history in general. The front cover of the original Maritim vinyl release shows some young (futuristically) fashioned people, and promises the ultimate dance album provided for some hot hours. Okay, I was 14 at that time, this might have been an interesting item for my parents though. But hey, they would have been appalled for sure after buying this by accident. While, for example, expecting a common song collection interpreted by the James Last Orchestra or similar. The credits for all tracks are going to somebody named Paul Bucher, and, to make the mystery perfect, using the alias Carpenborg on top of it. But who is really responsible for that?

Unfortunately, concerning this issue, there is nothing substantial given. A lot of rumours are circulating moreover. Consequently it's nearly impossible to keep my nose out, not to speculate, when listening to this. No chance. Is this a remnant or follow-up of the film music recordings for the German sci-fi series Raumpatrouille Orion? Otherwise, for example I possibly could give Achim Reichel and some like-minded friends credit for that, this prior to the A. R. & Machines phase. Or maybe it happened in the following way. Studio musicians sometimes feel limited, uninspired, when playing pre-confirmed stuff over and over again. Just imagine some jazz orchestra members experimenting during a period of time, challenged by upcoming krautrock bands like Can, Organisation, Amon Düül 2 ...

... this probably within several breaks between recording sessions, the brass division having breakfast, dinner or finishing time. Presumably at least they themselves had a fantastic party on every occasion. Whatever, for me this does not appear solely intuitively played, moreover organized due to some pre-conditions. Prepared by the aforementioned so-called Paul Bucher, or Staff Carpenborg if you will. Prolific jazz educated musicians are at work here it seems, just breaking all chains. The result sounds like proto kraut somehow. Not simple or aimless noodling at all, but it's weird, still today. A mystical virtuoso affair by all means. Besides some quirky vocals the involved instruments are bass, contrabass, organ, guitar, drums, percussion, flute and tambourine, what I can hear.

So at first, obviously a mock fight, they are leading the listener on a wrong track with the famous riff taken from Beethoven's 5th symphony. What follows is completely different anyhow, and not easy to describe. A monotonic, tambourine caused beat is backing lively organ and guitar, this decorated with some effects. Initiated by percussion generated machine gun fire The Every Days Way Down To The Suburbs now shows bass and drums in a very cheerful mood, a male singer is somewhat improvising in a whacked out manner moreover. Wow! Let The Thing Comin' Up soley could be played in this way due to some mind-expanding substances, I'm sure. And we're not missing a (proper?) blues song too regarding this P.A.R.T.Y.

Shummy Poor Clessford Idea In Troody Taprest Noodles by the way is part of the famous unofficial Blumenkraft compilation 'Kraut! Demons! Kraut!' Overall this is definitely a more krautish curiosity than 'The Vampires Of Dartmore', priorly produced by Schlager and jazz music composer Horst Ackermann and Heribert Thusek. I will repeat myself now, prolific musicians are involved. What an unique attitude! I have been listening to this over and over again, completely puzzled to this day! You may find the rare vinyl gem somewhere, but it doesn't come cheaply. The CD reissue is still available too, alternatively the songs are part of a compilation issued on Gear Fab Records.

 Kobe - Reconstructions by AMON DÜÜL II album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.42 | 15 ratings

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Kobe - Reconstructions
Amon Düül II Krautrock

Review by Lewian

3 stars What we have here is something pieced together from old Amon Düül II recordings of the time of Yeti and Tanz der Lemminge together with some material that was unpublished before "Kobe". This is structured into tracks but essentially it is one long virtual jam session. I think it was for charity at the time, after the Kobe earthquake, and released only in Japan, so surely this is not a regular AD II album. As with its "Eternal Flashback" sister album, I'm actually not sure who put this together and to what extent there was creative input at the time of publication by the band themselves.

Different from "Eternal Flashback", this one is almost purely instrumental (there is the odd choir sample singing apparently a lullaby, which also ends the album) and relies in several places heavily on drum loops, which provide the spine for an otherwise very psychedelic experience. It's very repetitive in places, but despite being looped, the original rhythms have enough dynamic breathe in them to give the music a pulsating, hypnotic quality with some pointers to early Can. The sound aesthetic of Pink Floyd until Meddle is another reference that comes to mind. There are some repetitive guitar riffs either taken from "Tanz der Lemminge" or in its style, but mostly guitars and keyboards produce psychedelic soundscapes and noises, which I find often fascinating and tasteful.

It is easy to criticise "Kobe" for the presumably little effort that was put into it, resulting in a lack of direction and composition and at times in overlaying parts that are neither meant to be together nor work seamlessly in this way. Also, even though you may like here what you liked on "Tanz der Lemminge" already, you may not be willing to count that in favour of this kind of remix album.

Still, I find this entertaining and quite special; I think that whoever created this succeeded in creating something new from the original bricks that has some merit on its own. AD II have done other long improvisational pieces, but particularly the hypnotic element is strongest here, and I can find something fascinating in the circular directionless way this is set up, like an endlessly jamming band in a time capsule. One can't deny that there is some variation on here, too - it's not like the same drum loop carrying the listener through the full 65 minutes; the producers dug at least a bit deeper into the original recordings to provide some change.

I don't think that a majority will appreciate this but if you're open minded and have a weak spot for psychedelic jamming and sound exploration, there's something to be found here.

 Würzburg Cairo 2015 by ELECTRIC ORANGE album cover Live, 2017
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Würzburg Cairo 2015
Electric Orange Krautrock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars This is a live performance from the 8. Psychedelic Network Festival, recorded just at that time in 2015 when their new studio album 'Nein! HITS A Gogo' was ready to be released. A wondrous production by the way, longing back to the very early days in Germany, when open minded musicians and producers began to break the chains while aiming for some experimental and whacked out music stuff. Consequently two excerpts are presented by ELECTRIC ORANGE in Würzburg too, that figures. Overall the ten songs are catering for a very spacey atmosphere, predominantly caused by Dirk Jan Müller and his keyboard stuff as a matter of fact.

When speaking of songs, okay, you will notice the basics, but this are variations, or even interpretations moreover. They'll never ever do the same twice, when it comes to their musical output at least. So much the more when playing live. And this may be the primary occasion that ELECTRIC ORANGE evolved to my most reviewed band over the course. Well, not any excerpt from my favourite 'Krautrock From Hell' album amongst the collection, but there's definitely no reason to complain about the set list however. With at least four representatives 'Netto' is the winner of the competition here.

The gig intro shows Dirk Bittner having a weird, gloomy, spaced out piece of monologue in German language, backed by the other Dirk on synths. Then Behind The Wall Of Sheep and the following Fluff (now finally welcome to the show, Tom!) are confirming the main vibe of the performance. I mean a spacey mid tempo groove, based on varied, very precise and sometimes tribal percussion, garnered with guitar variants from wah wah to soaring space. Additionally synth, organ respectively mellotron patterns are perfectly complementing. Man, what a superb entree!

When implementing somewhat industrial mechanics the mysterious Perpetuum Mobiliar will lead them into authentic krautrock territories more and more. Due to A Tuna Sunrise they are sinking into a trippy mood again after that, soon gliding into the intriguing Supptruppen, perfect interaction guaranteed! While they are using a drum machine, organ and trumpet Drucktango and Samba Ohrleck are from the abovementioned album 'Nein! HITS A Gogo'. You're getting close to more jazzy stuff, reminding me at Staff Carpenborg And The Electric Corona somehow.

Hey, and it's the first time, what I know, that they are introducing the band members to the audience! Finally, the closing Mischwesen shows them on jamming paths again, including a mental downfall towards the end. A gripping flow! Dirk Bittner is leaving the electric guitar aside, solely concentrating on trumpet and additional percussion. I'm repeating myself with pleasure, this band is excellent, entertaining, highly emotional! What also applies to this album, which is available on double vinyl (Adansonia Records) and CD (Sunhair Music). Cover and booklet include some really colourful images from the concert.

 Cottonwoodhill by BRAINTICKET album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 160 ratings

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Cottonwoodhill
Brainticket Krautrock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars There are some strange musical releases have emerged since the dawn of the recording industry but some are certainly stranger than others. It's always a fine balance, that is to find an utterly alien way of expressing oneself through the possibilities of sound and another matter completely to keep the alienating feel while adding just the right amount of elements that entice the listener to experience it unto completion. While formed in Switzerland with a diverse grouping of different European musicians, BRAINTICKET was the brainchild of Belgium born Joel Vandroogenbroeck whose study of classical and jazz went astray as the psychedelic 60s hit full force, leading him into temptation which ultimately led to the forbidden psychedelic fruit that led to his Krautrock infused band BRAINTICKET. The debut COTTONWOODHILL was famous in the psychedelic scene that the original LP sleeve carried the following warning: "After Listening to this Record, your friends may not know you anymore" and "Only listen to this once a day. Your brain might be destroyed!" While that may have been a nice gimmicky exaggeration and perhaps more true in the year 1971 when it was released, it does however portend to the listener that they are in for one demented, explorative and crazy piece of work.

By some COTTONWOODHILL is one of the trippiest records made of the era, however such claims are subjective of course depending which lysergic pastures one would graze in but unorthodox i believe is an adjective upon which everyone could agree and COTTONWOODHILL retains a distinct identity that sounds neither derivative nor copied decades after its release. It remains an utterly unique specimen tucked into myriad displays of psychedelic free form expression of the era. The album is essentially three tracks with the first two "Black Sand" and "Places Of Light" existing in a more "normal" plane of psychedelic and progressive rock that sounds like they could have even been playing on the stage of Austin Powers' warehouse in late 60s London. The tracks are surprisingly rooted in funk rock with a groovy bass, heavy drumbeat and prominent organ dominance with guitar licks adding the extra touch. While the album is filled with vocals, this isn't the normal type of vocal rock album as the vocals are never straightforward and directly sung. On the contrary they either emerge through the din of a processed electronic effect or are more commonly doled out in spoken narrative form especially by the psychotropic ranting freak outs of Dawn Muir.

While "Black Sand" is a heavy funk rocker, "Places Of Light" is light-hearted 60s sounding affair with Vandroogenbroeck cranking out pleasant flute melodies and keyboard runs. Muir begins her spoken word philosophical rants on this track and in a way the two openers are merely there to whet the appetite for the three part "Brainticket Suite" which takes up a whopping two thirds of the album and utilizes the same frantic groove for the majority of its duration. This groove is the combo effect of Vandroogenbroeck's hyperactive funk organ and the loop effect of Ron Bryer's guitar in sync with Werner Frohlich's slap bass guitar which serve as the anchoring foundation but pretty much everything else is fair game as everything from gargling water sounds, to atmospheric turbulence that sound like spaceships taking off to the seductive vocal rants of Dawn Muir come and go as the hypnotic groove creates a trancelike effect as all the accoutrements whizz on in a frantic flurry of activity. It is in effect an entertaining and skillfully crafted construction of order and chaos very much in sync with the visual imagery of the album artwork.

Upon my first experience of COTTONWOODHILL i was a little disappointed as i didn't find this as "trippy" as i had hoped it to be. There's something about the continuous and unrelenting groove loop that keeps this from taking me into the true lysergic lands of total escapism, but i have to keep reminding myself that this was 1971 when this came out and even so is still very much rooted in the 60s psychedelic scene that it was only a baby step removed from. It's better to look at this one as the mixing of not only the most psychedelic rock of the era but also of the ostinato musical elements that much of progressive rock was utilizing in order to allow various musicians to solo around. In this case, it's not the musicians who are doing the soloing but rather the sound effects, spoken word freak outs and collage of incessant swarms of noise that are the focus however the never changing groove loop with ever changing everything else is quite unsettling at first! While BRAINTICKET would continue to record with an ever changing lineup conquering new musical arenas with every release, COTTONWOODHILL sounds like no other, neither in their own canon or in any other band's for that matter. An utterly unique musical statement at the peak of psychedelic musical freedom. One that should be experienced to be believed :)

 I Can Feel the Mold in Me (dead slow, no wake) by ZACHT AUTOMAAT album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.90 | 2 ratings

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I Can Feel the Mold in Me (dead slow, no wake)
Zacht Automaat Krautrock

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I Can Feel the Mold in Me (dead slow, no wake) was released as part of a stream of albums Zacht Automaat produced in 2010 and is sandwiched between the minimal Smart Candle and the heavy, Canterburian As It Is Spoken, It Shall Be Done. On I Can Feel the Mold in Me, the duo unveil a wide array of influences, from the deep, liquid comic excursions of bands such as Can, Faust, and Cluster, to the post-industrial gloom of Throbbing Gristle, The Residents, and Zoviet France, to 1960s west-coast garage psychedelia, to cheerful synth-driven anthems reminiscent of Wendy Carlos, to colorful jazz-rock of Soft Machine from Volume One, to academically-flavored musique concrète and sound collage.

I Can Feel the Mold in Me is undoubtedly one of Zacht Automaat's most atmospheric works, taking the listener on an occasionally charming and sentimental, other times nightmarish and haunting cruise into an alternate past. A past partially familiar, but a past that never was. Might it already be the future? A future? A prophecy? It is a journey through the abstruse, abyssal, ill-lighted human brain. Or is it an Armageddonic journey through the dull, unfeeling 'souls' of once-promising and meaningful human creations and visions? The answers to these question lie within the listener. At times, the music on this record does indeed convey an intriguing vision of what mold could sound like. 'DEAD SLOW, NO WAKE' is a frequent sign on lakes and rivers, demanding an amphibious vehicle to move as slow as possible without losing steerageway. As little sense as the title might ostensibly make in relation to music, if looked at properly, the listener may occasionally find themselves on a boat, which very carefully and slowly sails into the sonic remotes and far-offs.

Every so often, it might be hard to believe the whole album is performed by just two musicians and not a collective or musical monastery. According to the incredibly hard-to-find back cover of the album (which I managed to track down on the band's old MySpace page), Carl Didur handles all keyboard instruments, including the gracefully imperfect-sounding combo organ, synthesizers appearing in a broad plethora of colors, and metallic electric pianos. He is also responsible for the bulldozer-like humming and spacey sweeps of a signal oscillator and drums. The other half of Zacht Automaat, Michael McLean, plays bass as well as acoustic and electric guitars. The back cover also makes mention of him playing drums on some of the tracks. The uncommonly versatile and proficient instrumental performance is one of the album's many trumps (back from when it used to be a positive word). Another one of them is an eminently skillful soundscape sculpture. The duo uses numerous samples, recordings, and other sonic diversions to make the album a deeply intense journey. The fact that Didur and McLean decided to cram all of their tracks and musical themes into two continuously playing side-long landscapes only amplifies the power of the album's sonic veneer. Furthermore, we may also discern many unique or unrightfully unexplored recording and editing techniques, sudden breaks into another track, which, combined with abrupt shifts of musical images, result in somewhat of a mixtape-like effect, being one of them.

Side A, named DEAD SLOW does not conceal its menacing essence, opening with a deadly slow, contemplative, cosmic string-and-organ chord sequence, bringing to mind 1973's Cyborg by Klaus Schulze or the opening credits of an early 1970s underground science fiction psychological noir thriller. The atmosphere gets even more closely-knit and misty with the appearance of gentle cymbal crashes drenched in echoes, phlegmatic oscillator sweeps, and delicate synthesizer drones. A bold, fast-paced drum-and-bass grind starts fading in, slowly monopolizing the sound spectrum. The constantly-growing palette of psychedelic effects does not leave, creating a bottomless sonic landscape in conjunction with the aggressive groove. When it fades out, the synthesizer whirr, accompanied by single notes of what sounds like an eastern precursor of a guitar as well as field recordings of the sea, take its place. This brief prayer to old, indifferent hinterland is being slowly replaced with a static falsetto voice of organ. For me, this symbolizes new hope, virgin life, a newly-born nestling breaking its egg shell. This image is disturbed by one of the most baffling sudden shifts on the album, welcoming an instrumental folk-rock song with a surf guitar melody, reminiscent of The Ventures. This sounds like a nostalgic flashback of early 1960s California. Much like the state's youth culture during the decade, the piece transforms into psychedelic-folk-rock guitar improvisation, akin to The Greatful Dead, gradually diving even deeper into liquid, acid-burned ecstasy. The 'inappropriate' instrumental lechery is stopped by an abrupt peek of the musical epitome of 'the American Dream' - a bright and sunny echoed jingle that could have very well been playing on a gas station in the middle of Arizona in 1958 or could have served as an introduction to an advertisement of the newest laundry machine you would hear in a shopping mall around the period. For once, this moment is not unexpectedly destroyed by another musical picture, but instead, it slowly fades out. The next track sounds like a lighthearted electronic adaptation of a classical piece for children, somewhat similar to Wendy Carlos' achievements on Switched-on Bach. The track features a lot of beautiful synthesizer timbres Carl Didur manages to squeeze out of his instruments. There is, however, a hint of something consciously silly and artificially upbeat in this track, which, for me is even scarier than shrill, sinister soundscapes we hear in other places. The psychopathic quality is boosted with a multi-layered chaotic climax. An uncertain lullaby sounding like an outtake from Can's Tago Mago follows with a sleepy, yet puzzling electric piano solo. Once again, through the use of various effects, it almost sounds as if the main character of the imaginary movie I've mentioned was falling asleep after a day of manic experiences. To end DEAD SLOW, the very cosmic theme from the opening, now escorted by heavy drums and bass guitar, returns, only to remind of itself very briefly.

Side B, NO WAKE, sounds like an early morning of the next day. A distant, reverberated synthesizer plays a military bugle-like melody to help our protagonist open his eyes. Once he does, he is reminded of an enigma or troubles he is facing. A speedy jazz-rock track creates this mood of hurry. It is driven by swinging drums and an elegant bassline with Farfisa-like organ chords on top and then also an absurd-sounding melody played on two organs. This jazzy masquerade is suddenly broken by musique concrète-esque collage of repeating cacophonous noises and only hazy glimpses of the previous theme. This unsettling moment stops when another drum-and-bass organ grind, similar to the one from DEAD SLOW, secures the crown. Even more agile and instrumentally richer than its predecessor, it lends a sense of constant movement. The next track, a short drum machine-guided tune, sounds a bit like a clunky walk through a messy room with hundreds of books opened on the floor. It is, surprise surprise, abruptly disturbed by another mad, loud and chaotic number with a regular pace, energetic bass guitar playing, more flavorful keyboard wizardry, and what sounds like a recording of some fair in the distant foreground. While the party fades out, mechanic, bustling noise fades in, naturally segueing into a beautiful, romantic, and very 1968 cheesy organ-driven song, bordering on the sounds of late-period psychedelic rock and very early attempts of progressive rock. Adjoining is the track which vaguely resembles the slowed-downed jazz-rock tune, which we heard earlier in NO WAKE, but this time around all covered in question marks. In this imaginary movie I am using as an alternative way to describe the atmosphere of I Can Feel the Mold in Me, it would go well with a scene of creeping, peeping, hiding, and espionage. The track changes, but the aura persists. Then, we get a noisy sound collage again. This time, it is set in the higher register . . . and it is much noisier! A few organ notes find enough courage to distinguish themselves from the rest of the fuss and lead to the next segments. The uncertainty of the previous motifs comes back for a brief moment, before slowly fading into the dark. The last track of the album is noticeably calmer, warmer, and, most importantly, meditative. It sounds a bit like an homage to the wonderful, mysterious wilderness. NO WAKE closes with a charming field recording of wind fondling the water. Or are those trees?

I hope I have managed to convey just how dense and atmospheric this excellent album by Zacht Automaat is, consciously cherry-picking the most bombastic, rich, and exaggerated grammar I could think of. (Sorry, but not sorry.) I also hope I successfully and insightfully cast light on this virtually unexplored and unknown, yet phenomenal and fascinating musical outfit at the height of their creativity and proficiency. A completely original masterpiece (in the truest sense of the word) that it is, I Can Feel the Mold in Me (dead slow, no wake), deserves way more attention than it has ever received. And of course, in my view, it demands the highest rating possible. A monumental treasure of 21st century music!

 No. 4 by ALCATRAZ album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.95 | 2 ratings

BUY
No. 4
Alcatraz Krautrock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. ALCATRAZ released their debut "Vampire State Building" back in 1971 and it's one incredible Krautrock album with some jazz leanings. Because of the forced military service in Germany the band had trouble getting all involved for album number two and eventually they scrapped it. Fast forward to 1978 and they released a Political Rock album with German lyrics. This was followed by a live album in 1980 which was much jazzier in the vein of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, Miles Davis and the like. The album we're reviewing called "No. 4" was released in 1982 and side one is called "Rock" while side two is called "Jazz". Sort of a Jazz/ Fusion or Jazz Rock album by a trio of drums, guitar and bass and it's an all instrumental affair.

"Mike Rennt Die Piste Runter" opens with some atmosphere as picked guitar and bass join in. Drums before 1 1/2 minutes but this is still very laid back and mellow. It kicks in at 2 minutes and the contrasts will continue. I love the bass starting at 3 1/2 minutes as the guitar lights it up. "Gichtfinger" is uptempo and catchy where each musician impresses. I'm not a fan of this one despite that until we get a calm before 1 1/2 minutes. Contrasts continue. I do like that they add congas before 3 1/2 minutes. The guitar is quite aggressive before 6 minutes and it goes on and on.

"Two Waves" opens with a relaxed guitar melody before it suddenly turns powerful a minute in. I like the drumming here as the guitar solos over top. Again the bass stands out especially after 2 minutes. It calms back down before 4 minutes to the end as it ends like it began. "Bockbier Statt Baghwan" has active drums to start as the guitar rips it up over top. It sounds better when the bass kicks in each time.

"Modern Zeiten" impresses me earlier on when it calms right down with bass only. Drums then start to come and go. Love the bass throughout this one. The guitar starts to make some noise after 1 1/2 minutes. Eventually it's a repetitive guitar melody we hear over the bass and drums that goes on for some time. It becomes very sparse sounding like earlier before 9 minutes but not for long as the previous theme returns.

"New Wave Bop" is about as jazzy as you can get to start out. I mean the drumming, bass and guitar, all of them sound like old school Jazz. It changes though as the guitar starts to solo over top and the drums and bass are far less jazzy here. They're killing it 4 minutes in as the guitar cries out to the end. "Spice" opens with cymbals and bass before it kicks in around a minute with some interesting guitar leads. Check out the bass 1 1/2 minutes in. The guitar becomes more aggressive at times but mainly it repeats a melody.

I'm rounding down because after many listens this one still hasn't resonated with me. Yes we have some great sections here and the musicianship is top notch but I'm not getting that connection if you know what I mean.

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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
ATTEMPT TO RESTORE Germany
AVARUS Finland
AWAKE & GALLO Greece
BABA YAGA Germany
BACKNEE HORN Israel
BAD STATISTICS New Zealand
HERBERT F BAIRY Germany
BAUMSTAM Germany
BEAK> United Kingdom
JERRY BERKERS Germany
BETWEEN Multi-National
BLACK SPIRIT Italy
BLACKBIRDS Germany
BLACKMANN LANE Germany
BLACKWATER PARK Germany
BLUMEN DES EXOTISCHEN EISES Germany
BOKAJ RETSIEM Germany
DON BRADSHAW-LEATHER United States
BRAINTICKET Switzerland
BRAST BURN Japan
CHRIS BRAUN BAND Germany
BRAVE NEW WORLD Germany
BULLFROG Germany
ROMAN BUNKA Germany
CAMERA Germany
CAN Germany
CHEVAL FOU France
CLUSTER Germany
CODE III Germany
COLOUR HAZE Germany
TONY CONRAD Multi-National
CORNUCOPIA Germany
COSMIC CIRCUS MUSIC Germany
THE COSMIC JOKERS Germany
COUPLA PROG Germany
COZMIC CORRIDORS Germany
CRAVINKEL Germany
CURLY CURVE Germany
CYCLOPEAN Multi-National
HOLGER CZUKAY Germany
DAMENBART Germany
DARSOMBRA United States
DATASHOCK Germany
DAVENPORT United States
DEAF Switzerland
DEJA VU (GER) Germany
DEUTER Germany
DIES IRAE Germany
THOMAS DINGER Germany
DOLOROSA France
DOM Multi-National
DREAMWORLD Germany
DROSSELBART Germany
DRUM CIRCUS Switzerland
DSCHINN Germany
DULL KNIFE Germany
DÜDE DÜRST Switzerland
DZYAN Germany
EAT LIGHTS BECOME LIGHTS United Kingdom
EGYPT IS THE MAGICK # United States
EILIFF Germany
EJWUUSL WESSAHQQAN Germany
ELECTRIC MUD Germany
ELECTRIC ORANGE Germany
ELECTRIC SANDWICH Germany
EMMA MYLDENBERGER Germany
EPSILON Germany
ERLKOENIG Germany
ERNA SCHMIDT Germany
EROC Germany
ERUPTION Germany
ET CETERA (DE) Germany
EULENSPYGEL Germany
EXPONENT Germany
FATHER YOD AND THE SPIRIT OF '76 United States
FAUST Germany
FIFTH DEAD Germany
FILLE QUI MOUSSE France
FLOH DE COLOGNE Germany
FLORIAN GEYER Germany
FOTOSPUTNIK United States
FRANKIE DYMON JR. Germany
FRIEDHOF Germany
FRIENDSOUND United States
FROB Germany
GÄA Germany
GAM Germany
GASH Germany
GEBARVATERLI Germany
GERMAN OAK Germany
GIFT Germany
GILA Germany
GOLEM Germany
SERGIUS GOLOWIN Germany
MANUEL GÖTTSCHING Germany
GRAVE Germany
GRAVESTONE Germany
GREEN WAVE Germany
GRUMBLING FUR United Kingdom
GURU GURU Germany
GURUMANIAX Germany
HABOOB Multi-National
HAIRY CHAPTER Germany
HANUMAN (LIED DES TEUFELS) Germany
HÄX CEL Germany
HEDERSLEBEN Germany
IBLISS Germany
IGNATZ Belgium
IHRE KINDER Germany
IMPROVED SOUND LIMITED Germany
INSTANT DRONE FACTORY Multi-National
IRMIN'S WAY Multi-National
JERONIMO Germany
JUD'S GALLERY Germany
KANOI Austria
KAPUTTER HAMSTER Germany
KEMIALLISET YSTÄVÄT Finland
KILLED ON X-MAS Germany
KLUSTER Germany
KOLLEKTIV Germany
KONTRAST Germany
KOSMISCHER LAÜFER Germany
KRAKATAU Australia
JEAN-JACQUES KRAVETZ Germany
KROKODIL Switzerland
LA DÜSSELDORF Germany
LA!NEU? Germany
LARD FREE France
LAVA Germany
LE REVEIL DE TROPIQUES France
LIFE Germany
LIGHTSHINE Germany
LIMBUS 3 & 4 Germany
LISTING SHIPS United Kingdom
LOKOMOTIVE KREUZBERG Germany
LUNAR GRAVE United States
MAGDALENA SOLIS Belgium
MAGMA Germany
MAGNETIK NORTH Multi-National
MAHOGANY BRAIN France
DAVID MARANHA Portugal
MCCHURCH SOUNDROOM Switzerland
MERLIN; SWARA; ILOR & FRIENDS Multi-National
METABOLISMUS Germany
METROPOLIS Germany
MINAMI DEUTSCH Japan
MITTELWINTERNACHT '71 Germany
MOOLAH United States
MOON OF OSTARA United Kingdom
MUNJU Germany
MUSHROOM'S PATIENCE Italy
MY SOLID GROUND Germany
MYTHOS Germany
N-1 Germany
THE NAZGUL Germany
NECRONOMICON Germany
NEU! Germany
THE NO-NECK BLUES BAND United States
NOSFERATU Germany
RALF NOWY Germany
NU & APA NEAGRA Romania
OKTOBER Germany
OMOIDE HATOBA Japan
ONYOU United States
ORANGE PEEL Germany
ORGANISATION Germany
OUR SOLAR SYSTEM Sweden
PACIFIC SOUND Switzerland
PANCAKE Germany
PANKO Germany
PATERNOSTER Austria
PINGUIN Germany
POPOL VUH Germany
PRINCESS FLOWER AND THE MOON RAYS Multi-National
PROF. WOLFFF Germany
PROSPER Germany
PSYCHEDELIC MONSTERJAM Germany
PYRAMID Germany
PYRANHA Switzerland
MICHAEL ROTHER Germany
RUFUS ZUPHALL Germany
SAMETI Germany
SAND Germany
SCARECREW Germany
SEEDOG Germany
SEIKAZOKU Japan
SEMOOL France
SHANNONDOA Germany
SIDDHARTHA Germany
SIINAI Finland
SILBERBART Germany
SILENT CARNIVAL Italy
SILOAH Germany
SILVESTER ANFANG Belgium
SINTO Germany
SITTING BULL Germany
SKEPPET Sweden
SOUTH OF NO NORTH Belgium
SPACE EXPLOSION Germany
SPERRMÜLL Germany
STAFF CARPENBORG AND THE ELECTRIC CORONA Germany
STAN UND HILDA Germany
STARA RZEKA Poland
SWARA SAMRAT Germany
MITSURU TABATA Japan
TASTE OF BLUES Sweden
TEARPALM Serbia
TEMPLE Germany
THINK Germany
THRICE MICE Germany
TIERE DER NACHT Multi-National
TON STEINE SCHERBEN Germany
ULI TREPTE Germany
TRIKOLON Germany
TRIP TO ELARA Germany
TWOGETHER Germany
UCHIHASHI KAZUHISA & MANI NEUMEIER Multi-National
ULENSPIEGEL Germany
ULTRALYD Norway
UTOPIA Germany
VAMPIRES OF DARTMOORE Germany
VELJENI VALAS Finland
VERDE (MIKA RINTALA) Finland
VIBRACATHEDRAL ORCHESTRA United Kingdom
VINEGAR Germany
VIOLENCE FOG Germany
VIRGIN'S DREAM Germany
CHRISTIAN VON ESCHERSHEIM Germany
WALTER WEGMÜLLER Germany
WESERBERGLAND Norway
WIND Germany
WONGA Germany
WOODEN VEIL Multi-National
XHOL CARAVAN / XHOL Germany
YA HO WHA 13 United States
YATHA SIDHRA Germany
ZACHT AUTOMAAT Canada
ZEMENT Germany
ZIPPO ZETTERLINK Germany
ZWEISTEIN Germany

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