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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

- Meltdowner
- siLLy puPPy
- Rivertree
- Tapfret
- HarryAngel746

Krautrock Top Albums


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

4.18 | 328 ratings
HOSIANNA MANTRA
Popol Vuh
4.22 | 150 ratings
EDGE OF TIME
Dom
4.11 | 623 ratings
FUTURE DAYS
Can
4.43 | 55 ratings
EISZEIT
Gam
4.12 | 404 ratings
ASH RA TEMPEL
Ash Ra Tempel
4.10 | 513 ratings
YETI
Amon Düül II
4.08 | 350 ratings
TANZ DER LEMMINGE [AKA: DANCE OF THE LEMMINGS]
Amon Düül II
4.15 | 134 ratings
LETZTE TAGE - LETZTE NÄCHTE
Popol Vuh
4.05 | 393 ratings
NEU!
Neu !
4.07 | 193 ratings
GILA [AKA: FREE ELECTRIC SOUND]
Gila
4.36 | 43 ratings
TONY CONRAD & FAUST: OUTSIDE THE DREAM SYNDICATE
Conrad, Tony
4.01 | 451 ratings
PHALLUS DEI
Amon Düül II
4.06 | 152 ratings
KÄNGURU
Guru Guru
4.06 | 143 ratings
SELIGPREISUNG
Popol Vuh
3.97 | 701 ratings
TAGO MAGO
Can
4.02 | 203 ratings
ELECTRIC SILENCE
Dzyan
4.03 | 154 ratings
VOLUME 10
Electric Orange
3.98 | 291 ratings
WOLF CITY
Amon Düül II
4.02 | 153 ratings
AGUIRRE
Popol Vuh
4.00 | 199 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

ARKTIS TAPES
Arktis
A COUPLE OF TIMES
Twogether
FORGET YOUR DREAM!
Pacific Sound
DELUSION
McChurch Soundroom

Latest Krautrock Music Reviews


 Future Days by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.11 | 622 ratings

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Future Days
Can Krautrock

Review by prog_traveller!!

5 stars It's not easy to talk about an album like Can's Future Days. In addition to being the fifth work of Holger Czucay & associates, Future Days is a pure concentrate of genius and experimentation, for a result that is simply unthinkable for any record of any band. At least in 1973. In short, whether they are Terminators sent back in time or simply incredible precursors, Can manage to produce a stratospheric and absolutely perfect album, at least thirty years ahead of any work of that period, and still a source of inspiration today ( and "looting") for numerous artists of the contemporary music scene.

Four tracks for thirty-four minutes of total duration, the Can recipe, apparently, seems disengaged and within everyone's reach, but a thorough analysis of their music is enough to discourage such a simplistic approach to everything. Just listen to the long initial title track, in fact, to get carried away by its explosive nine minutes, based on dance and obsessive funk rhythms, hypnotic percussion and infinite progressions with a vague jazz-fusion flavor, for which the simple definition of "rock free-form "seems to be tighter than ever. The following and short "Spray" and "Moonshake" are two pearls of rare splendor, the first characterized by a jazz-percussive delirium, the second by sonic minimalism, frenetic rhythms and by the usual engaging guitar by Michael Karoli, which almost acts as a background , a futuristic electro-funk at the service of the almost whispered voice of Damo Suzuki. From applause. But the best is yet to come, and we find it in the final and interminable "Bel Air", crazy twenty-minute suite, in which the cosmic rock of Can reaches perfection, thanks above all to the incredible performances to the skins of the superlative Jaki Liebezeit.

And so we come to the end, between supersmooth guitars, crazy rhythms and birds chirping (yes, you got it right !!), with the desire to listen to this absolute masterpiece over and over again, to discover all its nuances, even the most hidden ones. , and to try to understand what was going on in the mind of Czukay & company in the early '70s. A monumental work, in short, this Future Days, a direct development of the sonic evolutions already proposed to us with the previous Ege Bamyasi and, above all, the definitive consecration of Can in the legend, their definitive access into that history of music which, at times, it does not pay proper homage to psychotics of this caliber. Essential.

 Hosianna Mantra by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.18 | 328 ratings

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Hosianna Mantra
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by prog_traveller!!

5 stars "Hosianna Mantra" was a mystical hymn imbued with "cosmic" purity that admirably united Christian and Oriental religiosity and that resonated at the time of its release in the minds of all "initiates": Fricke had decided to renounce all electronic instruments and composed what remains unquestionably his masterpiece. The religious suggestions and the "spiritual" path of Fricke are probably at the origin of this return to the uncontaminated "purity" of acoustic instruments such as piano, harpsichord, violin and oboe which he gave to the avant-garde of the era a "pearl" Mantrica, a timeless and innovative music that, from here on, will act as a watershed in its musical conception. Fricke worked on simple but not sparse arrangements, preferring an acoustic instrumentation largely of a "cultured" mold (piano, harpsichord, oboe, violin), with rock components in the guitars, plus the touch of exoticism of the tamboura (an Indian stringed instrument ideal for producing drones). His refined supporting actors were the guitarist Conny Veit of Amon Duul II, the Korean soprano Djong Yun (The contribution of Djong Yun is extremely precious: her mystical voice seems to come from otherworldly dimensions and contributes decisively to the magic of the disc together with the chisel work of Conny Veit's guitar that embellishes with his psychedelic embroideries the mystical aura that emanates from the grooves) , the violinist Fritz Sonnleitner, Robert Eliscu on the oboe and Klaus Wiese on the tamboura.

The disc is divided into two parts: "Hosianna Mantra" and "Das V Buch Mose". The opening is entrusted to "Ah!", Which begins with a romantic and minimal piano sonata on which floating notes of guitar and tamboura rest. The finale features a dizzying fugue for piano and electric guitar. The second piece is the Kyrie, a Christian litany that is part of the sung mass, which extends over a Bachian aria for violin, piano and soprano. The symbol of the religious poetics of the Popol Vuh is, however, the title track, the Hosianna-Mantra. It is in this long metaphysical jam that two types of distant rituals are condensed perfectly: the hymn to Christ (the Hosanna) and the Hindu liturgy consisting of the continuous repetition of the same formula or word (the mantra). A dreamy piano and a psychedelic guitar make up the harmonic texture that supports the baroque echoes of the oboe and Djong Yun's psalmody.

Side B opens with "Abschied", a piece embellished with a luminous oboe and continues with "Segnung" in which the radiant voice of Djoung Yun recites texts taken from the Bible: this piece seems to have been recorded in a remote monastery, only the Popol Vuh knew prey to what visions of purity and innocence they had immersed themselves. Another of the gems of this epochal work is "Nich hoch im Himmel", this piece still shows Fricke's genius in composition, the atmosphere reveals itself is among the most intense and dark throughout the album.

At the end of listening you are stunned, it is impossible to remain indifferent if you manage to "enter" the pancultural mysticism of this record: it is evident that Fricke's superfine European musical culture has managed to combine with oriental "mantric" structures perfect combination that no one will be able to repeat in the future at these levels.

 Hosianna Mantra by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.18 | 328 ratings

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Hosianna Mantra
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by koresea

4 stars BEAUTIFUL, never have been a fan of atmospheric music and had listened to this album without knowing that was this type of record. Anyways i was pretty surprised for what i found out, this is not the type of prog with crazy experimentations but is more like an carrefuly composed one.

All the songs are similliar but I think it works very well because as we listen to it Popol Vuh uses the instruments to slowly create in our minds this etheral feeling and maintains the same vibe untill the end, there is little chorals here and there and is very relaxing.

I was manteined in this spiritual state through all the album and not only this but didn't notice in the first moment that was over and playing again from the beggining.

A very peacefull record who give to the listener a relaxing and remarkable experience. 4 Stars.

 Feeling by LIGHTSHINE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.50 | 48 ratings

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Feeling
Lightshine Krautrock

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

4 stars One of the late to the Krautrock party bands from Emmerich am Rhein, Germany, the obscure LIGHTSHINE formed in 1974 and only managed to create one album titled FEELING which landed on the tiny Trefiton label in 1976 with a whopping total of 1000 copies thus making original copies one of those collectors' top picks for everything obscure 1970s of the prog world. Consisting of a lineup that eschewed surnames, the quintet of Olli (synthesizer), Joe (vocals, lead guitar), Wolfgang (bass, vocals), Ulli (guitar, flute, vocals and Egon (drums) may have crashed the Kraut-party a bit late but still resonated with all those wild experimental antics of the then recent past.

Despite the obscure nature of the band for decades, FEELING has rightfully been rediscovered many times with an easily attainable CD edition on the Garden of Delights label. This is one of those hard to define bands outside of the umbrella term Krautrock since LIGHTSHINE showcased moments of heavy prog, jazz-rock, funk, psychedelic folk and even avant-garde adventurism but for the most part the album is dedicated to strong catchy grooves that offer upfront melodies and instant catchiness that are further accented by the more progressive space rock touches that take it far out of the more popular hard rock, jazz-rock and Deutschrock styles that were much more popular by the time this was released.

"Sword In The Sky" features the mashup of hard rock, prog and exciting flute runs and ends in a fluttering climax. The second track "Lori" features the main riff borrowed from "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg which mixes the classical motifs with thundering guitar, bass and drums along with the rock star vocal styles of Joe. What makes this album a true stand out is that each track is radically different from the next and for the third track "Nightmare" the mood takes a turn for the psychedelic with trippy oscillating synthesizer runs, a slow building guitar arpeggiated motif and a dueling vocal build up. The slower space rock slowly builds in intensity as the second longest track of the album at 10 1/2 minutes slinks back and forth between spoken word vocals and Pink Floydian guitar licks. The track alternates with a fiery build up of suppressed rock angst with killer keyboard antics.

The lengthiest track "King And Queen" at nearly 14 minutes begins with trippy keyboard freakery that once resolved transmogrifies into another space rock motif with a sharply pronounced melodic bass groove and more Floydian guitar runs that remind me of some of the more modern guitar sweeps in neo-prog. This is the track where the vocals don't work out so well as Joe seems to have a clunky presentation but despite the lack of a strong vox box, the backing vocals provide a nice supplemental harmonic display. Very emotive and instantly addictive which is why some of the tracks on this album were played on local radio stations. This is probably also the folkiest track of the album but it ends in a blues rock meets flamenco frenzy with wild Exuma freak folk styled vocals.

The ending title track ventures into dreamy territory with off-kilter guitar arpeggios and strange contrapuntal elements. This one is clearly focused on atmospheric freakiness over all and is the most kosmische psychedelic of the tracks on board most similar to Amon Duul II's "Yeti" era with tribal drums and free floating trippiness however this is much mellower with no buzzing guitars. The guitar tones are clean while the myriad keyboard sounds swarm around. The two vocalists offer a bit of prog folk style of singing which brings English folk to mind more than anything German but the lyrics sounds more like something Eloy would conjure up than any German band. This is a fairly unique album to come out of the Krautrock scene and a really great one too minus a vocal awkwardness or two but mostly this is a solid album that was authentically early 70s despite its late appearance in 1976 on the Kraut timeline.

 Forget Your Dream! by PACIFIC SOUND album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.76 | 34 ratings

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Forget Your Dream!
Pacific Sound Krautrock

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

3 stars Switzerland is one of those oddball nation states in Europe. It's one of the few modern countries of the Europe that doesn't have its own language (unless you count dialects) and it's never really been an innovator in much as it just sits there in the Alps with beautiful views, tasty chocolate with visions of yodeling and alpine horns. Well there have been some excellent bands that have come from this neck of the woods but as far as the progressive rock scene is concerned, Switzerland was behind the curve and while excellent bands like Island and Circus created some prog classics, they didn't hit the scene until the late 70s.

As far as the early 70s are concerned, it was pretty much Krokodil, Toad and Brainticket leading the way but there were quite a few lesser known bands. PACIFIC SOUND was one such band emerging from Môtiers in the French speaking western part of the nation. This band was one of many smitten by the British invasion of the 60s and the psychedelic blues rock of the USA. The four friends of Chris Meyer (vocals), Mark Treuthardt (guitar, bass), Diego Lecci (drums) and Roger Page (organ, piano) started out in 1970 playing the psychedelic rock of the 60s and played a lot of live gigs before honing their chops to record an actual album.

It took two ears before the one and only album SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR DREAM! was released in 1972. An instant attention grabber with the complete with eyes skull sitting smugly in a bowl of something next to a cigar and glass of wine! You'd be tempted to think that the music contained within would be on the dark and macabre side of the music spectrum but not so. PACIFIC SOUND were very much stuck in the psychedelic later 60s and 1970 odometer change. This band was all rockin' the house with strong bluesy guitar riffs slightly teased out into more progressive territory. The obvious inspiration was the neighboring German band Murphy's Blend with strong grooves and the dominating organ excesses that kept it all so heavy psych and all!

The album featured eight tracks and ended before the 33 minute mark. None of the tracks were lengthy and pretty much quick and to the point. The tracks ranged from the more bluesy Hendrix meets Murphy's Blend organ soaked rockers to the slower tracks that seemed to be most inspired by Procol Harum. The Anglo influences are dominant but the early Krautrock psych seeps just enough to qualify it as a member of the club. While everything is decently performed, nothing on SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR DREAM! really stands out either as the band sounded like an average but competent band of the era trying to get their feet wet in the crowded world of rock and roll. The weakest link is clearly vocalist Chris Meyer, whose limited stylistic abilities will rub some the wrong way but personally i don't find it awful by any means. Hardly an essential album of any sort from the era but a decent relic worthy of an experience or two. Unfortunately truth in advertising for this album proved to ring true.

 Thrice Mice by THRICE MICE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.65 | 31 ratings

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Thrice Mice
Thrice Mice Krautrock

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

4 stars I have to admit that i avoid albums that have hideous cover art along with bad band names for the most part. After all, if a band can't lure you in with some eye-catching visuals and a clever moniker then why would i want to check out the music? Well, as the old adage goes, never judge a book by its cover and that is exactly the case for this classic Krautrock band THRICE MICE which formed all the way back in 1966 as a beat pop band but evolved with its native Germany into a much more sophisticated group of clever musicians. BTW the ridiculous album cover makes more sense if you take in the entire fold out where it displays the polka-dotted damsel perched on a chair while six white mice lurk below. OK, German bands of the early 70s often reveled in nauseating lame album covers but if you are brave enough to dig deeper, often there is innovative and even mesmerizing music to be heard.

THRICE MICE got an earlier start than a lot of its Krautrock contemporaries with its members paying their dues in various local Hamburg based bands before congregating into the sextet of Wolfgang Buhre (tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, percussion), Karl-Heinz Blumenberg (vocals, alto saxophone, percussion, flute, guitar), Werner von Gosen (guitar), Wolfram Minnemann (organ, piano, guitar), Arno Bredehöft (drums) and Rainer von Gosen (bass). All this talent meant that by the time the band went into the recording studio to craft its one and only self-titled album that emerged in the year 1970 that this was a tight-knit band that had already figured out how to craft its own sound and stand out amongst the early Krautrock initiates. With its values still firmly planted into the Beatlesque 60s with catchy hooks and sensual soul, THRICE MICE adopted all the different attributes of the nascent Krautrock scene and in the process created a unique mix of blues, jazz and classical complete with a touch of 60s psychedelia.

This album only featured four lengthy tracks with the shortest closing track "Fancy Desire" hitting the 8-minute mark. The opening track "Jo Joe" begins with a wailing saxophone that leads you to believe this is going to be some sort of Ornette Coleman inspired avant-garde noise-a-thon but after about two minutes of squawking sensationalism the band reveals its true nature and that is a very melodic blues based form of psychedelic rock that features double saxophone attacks with a soulful vocal presentation that overall reminds a bit of early Traffic. The band clearly was inspired more by the British scene rather than the escapist trends of the contemporary German scene as evidenced by the bonus tracks on newer editions that cover Bloodwyn Pig and Curved Air. The track displayed the band's unique metrology of trading off martial mod beats with psychedelic organs and a heavy brass contrapuntal process. Wow. Wasn't expecting the music to actually be cool!

The second track "Vivaldi" was a huge hit for THRICE MICE with classical interpretations redirected into fuzzy wah-wah guitars along with a rather soulful brass sound that reminds me of gypsy jazz. The various movements show the underlying classical motifs come out of the woodworks but then gracefully tucked away beneath an aggressive organ having a very wild ride as well as the jazzy brass components providing the ultimate call and response. This particular track was very popular in live settings. "Trakov," the lengthiest track at nearly 13 minutes starts out with a menacing organ freakery worthy of Amon Dull II territory but then tames itself to a slow drifting parade of detached slow moving psychedelic rock with a completely different sound than the previous two songs as the brass is set in the background and the lysergic organs and guitar effects strut their heft. The final "Fancy Desire" continues the oscillating organs cranking out classically inspired melodies but accompanied by a strong rock presence and overall feels more like the psychedelic rock of The Doors only with stronger connections to classical and jazz excesses. The horns exhibit a klezmer feel and the whole thing is quite surreal actually.

Wondering why i avoided this for so long due to the cover art, i'm utterly amazed at how beautiful this album is! Not only is it instantly addictive with ridiculously catchy melodic hooks but the ingenuity in perfectly fusing the blues, jazz, classical, psychedelic rock and ethnic elements is uncanny! THRICE MICE was so much better than the ridiculous cover art could ever imply and even the bonus tracks on the 2003 reissue are excellent. Think of this band as a mix of The Doors, a klezmer band, Chicago, Amon Duul II and maybe The Nice and you're on to something! Unfortunately this band folded in 1972 after Rainer von Gosen departed but both he and Karl-Heinz Blumenberg would collaborate together in their next band called Altona which released two albums. While THRICE MICE isn't even close to your typical Krautrock band of the era, this band managed to effortlessly straddle the line between 60s beat, psychedelic rock, jazz-rock and classical sensibilities without making anything sound forced or contrived. Not sure why this band is not more revered. If you love brassy jazz driven melodic rock with blues and classical underpinnings, this band is for you!

 Gift by GIFT album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.42 | 15 ratings

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Gift
Gift Krautrock

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

4 stars The birth of Germany's progressive Krautrock scene took many roads with some bands focusing on the farthest out psychedelic trips possible, others tackling the technicalities of jazz-fusion, some more engaged in catchy crossover pop hooks while others merged the heavy psych 60s with the hard rock 70s. The Augsburg based GIFT was one of those bands that took the last option and crafted an interesting take on the heavier aspects of the earliest sounds of what would be called heavy metal. GIFT is actually the German word for "poison" and what you get with the band's first of two albums that emerged in the early 1970s is a venomous sting of infectious early heavy metal that cranked up the speed, volume and prog complexities of the heavy psych sounds that flooded the latter part of the 60s.

This band was obviously inspired by Amon Duul II's classic debut album "Phallus Dei" because the then school band formed in the same year of 1969 and took on Phallus Dei as its band name. After a few years of practice and the recruitment of new members the lineup featured on the band's eponymous debut was Uwe Patzke (bass, vocals), Helmut Treichel (vocals), Rainer Baur (guitar) and Hermann Lanze (drums, percussion) after being discovered by Munich producer Otto Hartmann who signed the band to the Telefunken label. Considered one of the more adventurous heavy Kraut bands of the German scene, GIFT wasn't exactly the most popular on the scene but gained a loyal cult following for its dedication to dexterous compositional flow that adopted the excesses of progressive rock without sacrificing the heft of a bantering display of guitar, bass and drums. It's also notable that guitarist Nick Woodland was listed on the credits but actually quit the band before recording began.

GIFT's debut is an excellent display of no nonsense hard rock with a brilliant juxtaposition of cleverly crafted compositions that feature strong melodic hard rock hooks with heavy guitar riffs and an excellent rhythm section that features hairpin turn time signature changes and unexpected twists and turns in the musical flow without sacrificing the underpinning of what makes a hard rock song work so well. The Krautrock scene was filled with heavier bands but not all of them could pull it off but GIFT did so with seeming ease with a particularly strong emphasis on the drumming and percussive accoutrements that give the album that extra special something. Add to that the strong confident vocal ability of Helmut Treichel and it's easy to declare GIFT's debut release as one of the most competent heavy psych releases of the early 70s.

Perhaps not quite as heavy as contemporaries such as Lucifer's Friend, GIFT certainly took the established heavy psych sounds of the late 60s to their limits before the scene moved on to the hard rock and heavy metal that would soon become the more popular style of the 1970s. While compared to the fellow German band Hairy Chapter, GIFT was similar to many other bands such as Captain Beyond and Twenty Sixty Six and Then but due to the talented members on board managed to stand out as an original all its own without deviating significantly from the established heavy psych sounds of the era. This one doesn't seem to get as much love as the more psychedelic Kraut bands of the era and gets lost behind the harder bands from England and the USA but for my tastes GIFT successfully cranked out a wild ruckus of an album for their debut. The band would change its sound by adding keyboard sounds for its sophomore album "Blue Apple" but for this first offering GIFT was a powerful beast of heavy guitar driven rock music.

4.5 rounded down

 Blue Sky Devilking by FIFTH DEAD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1976
1.53 | 5 ratings

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Blue Sky Devilking
Fifth Dead Krautrock

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

1 stars While Germany's Krautrock scene has yielded many prolific bands such as Embryo, Can and Amon Duul II, there were tons of bands that released a single album and called it a day but what is less known is that there were also a number of bands that didn't release an album at all and only recorded a handful of singles which more or less ended up on those Krautrock compilations that dug up all the lost relics of the past.

FIFTH DEAD was one such band that technically existed from 1971 to 1986 but only recorded a mere six songs, two of which, "Blue Sky" and "Devil King" having been released as a single in 1976. This band led by guitarist / vocalist Dirk Crecelius featured a group of teenagers following in the footsteps of early Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep and added the proper Kraut touches to keep it all in line with the current trends of Germany's Krautrock scene.

It took a number of years for the band to record any songs at all and it wouldn't be until 1975 when seasoned producer Hans Werner Kuntze took these guys into the studio to lay some songs down to tape. Of all these only the "Blue Sky / Devil King" single ever saw the light of day whereas other tracks such as "Long Way," "Bumblebee," "What We Can Do" and "Angel And God" would later appear on the 1997 CD Sampler "Psychedelic Germs 2."

It doesn't take long to figure out why this band never made it past releasing singles. They were simply just awful! And i'm actually quite a tolerant music lover putting up with many imperfections in the creative process to eke out any enjoyment possibilities whatsoever but sorry to say that in the case of FIFTH DEAD, there's really nothing going for them at least based on these two tracks.

Sounding more like a throwback to the heavy psych 60s, "Blue Sky" and "Devil King" both deliver a trippy mix of folky acoustic guitars, fuzzed out electric guitars, simple beat styled drums and bass and very, very awful vocals. While the music is tolerable it's also uninspiring and when played in tandem with the lackluster vocals, is enough to make me throw this to the bottom of the pile and declare this as some of the blandest music ever to spring forth from the Krautrock scene.

For some reason this band was quite successful as a live act so it puzzles me that the band's longevity hasn't been matched by any decent recordings. This is perhaps the least prolific band i've ever encountered with zero albums over a 15 year career and judging from these two songs doesn't make me want to dig for more. Oh well, they can't all be winners but unfortunately these two songs don't capture anything that makes Krautrock an interesting deviation from the rock genre. Generic, flat and bad even by garage rock standards.

 First by DIES IRAE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.27 | 24 ratings

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First
Dies Irae Krautrock

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

3 stars One of the lesser known earliest German Krautrock bands, the Saarbrücken band DIES IRAE adopted the Latin phrase with means "Day of Wrath" as its moniker when it formed in 1968 and stuck around for five years before calling it a day. The band consisted of Andreas F. Cornelius (drums), Robert J. Schiff (bass), Harald H.G. Thoma (guitar, vocals) and Cord Wahlmann ( lead vocals, harmonica) and retained the psychedelic rock attributes of the 1960s while adding the hard rock sounds that had become popular by the time the band's sole album FIRST hit the market in 1971.

DIES IRAE was quite popular on the German live circuit and shared the stage with many of the bands that would become Krautrock legends but for many reasons DIES IRAE did not enjoy the longevity that many of its contemporaries have enjoyed with the resurgence of psychedelic music and therefore have been pretty much forgotten by all except the hardcore Kraut addicts who seek out the obscurities. One of the problems with FIRST when it was released in 1971 was that the occult lyrical content was extremely controversial and while other Kraut bands were receiving radio airplay time, this band was literally shunned.

However when a band becomes banned, there are always those who seek out the forbidden fruits of the music industry and therefore this band has enjoyed a cult following over the decades complete with CD reissues. Another problem with FIRST is that it is all over the place with the opening track "Lucifer" featuring a hard rock repertoire with bluesy rock and even a harmonica. Compared to early Black Sabbath, which is totally legit, the band totally abandoned the hard rock aspects in the middle of the album and with the track "Trip" drifts off into true psychedelic freakery much like Can did on "Tago Mago" and bands like Faust and Cluster did all the time.

Although the opening track "Lucifer" is rather silly and amateurish, the remaining heavier tracks remind me more of the Scorpions' debut album "Lonesome Crow" which was basically a bridge between the psychedelic Krautrock of the early 70s with the more straight forward hard rock of the latter part of the decade. Unfortunately lead vocalist Rainer Gerd Walhmann doesn't quite match the charismatic singing prowess of Klaus Meine but he does get the job done. The album's bizarre inconsistency reminds me of those late 70s albums where bands were forced to stuff in a career's worth of ideas because they knew they only had one shot and therefore FIRST seems more like a collection of tracks rather than a cohesive album experience but having stated that, it's actually all quite pleasant and totally fits in with the Kraut vibe of the year 1971, opening track excluded.

Unfortunately first impressions do matter. The opening track "Lucifer" may sour this one for many and the unattractive barbed wire fence album cover evokes more of a concentration camp scene rather than a Kraut filled escapist's paradise. Yeah, the DIES IRAE members were not masters of marketing by any means but with the right guidance this band certainly had the talent to take things a bit farther and deserved a couple more albums since the potential is obvious from the tight-knit musicianship and the effortless transition between lysergic floatiness to bluesy hard rock. The band did have a brief reunion in 1991 but no new album came from it so DIES IRAE remains one of those one and done bands that released a sole artifact on the timeline and then went bye-bye. This is one of those albums that's a bit hard to rate. It's not good enough for 4 stars yet is too good for 3 so i guess 3.5 stars is warranted. Rounded down to 3 though.

 Essen 1970 by GURU GURU album cover Live, 2003
3.50 | 13 ratings

BUY
Essen 1970
Guru Guru Krautrock

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This live recording was originally released in 2003 by the German Garden Of Delights label, and it was recently re- released, both on vinyl and on cd, by the Finnish company Svart Records on their international Mondo Svart series "of rare, obscure but remarkable and fascinating albums (...), one of a kind gems in music, brought back into the spotlight from less travelled parts of the world and musical eras long gone".

Coming from the year 1970, the sonic quality is pretty good, as the music was sourced from tapes recorded directly from the sound desk at the show. I have heard a few other Garden Of Delights (or Thor's Hammer) vintage live releases, and sometimes they have a mere bootleg quality. Not that this one would be faultless either: as the liner notes say, the drums are a bit too loud while guitar is too soft. The roughly 38-minute "Essen 1970" consists only of three tracks: Aptly titled 'Stone in' and 'Der LSD Marsch' originate from Guru Guru's debut album UFO (1970) and the more humorous 'Bo Diddley' from the second album Hinten (1971; an album with one of the worst covers ever!). At some point in the past, half of the tapings were erased, and therefore 'Bo Diddley' is faded out in the middle of its performance. Anyway, compared to the studio album versions these live performances are notably extended and "stoned". It wouldn't be wrong to consider this a notable, historical live recording of the early Krautrock.

I'm not personally a big fan of either live albums or instrumental psychedelic acid rock for electric guitar, bass and drums only. I certainly can sense the trio's tight synergy here, and I can listen through this album without negative feelings, but frankly it's not something I would regularly return to. As for GURU GURU's studio albums, I'm not very deeply acquainted with them either. I have most enjoyed their third album Känguru (1972) perhaps due to the legendary Krautrock producer Conny Plank who also added some keyboards and guitar. Also the PA ratings favour Känguru while UFO and Hinten are not far behind.

The lengthy liner notes give a detailed picture of the band's early history. The leading figure, drummer Mani Neumeier and bassist Uli Trepte met already in 1963 and joined for a jazz oriented group Irene Schweizer Trio, named after the pianist. In 1968 when Schweizer had gone her own way and Trepte had switched to electric bass guitar, GURU GURU GROOVE was formed (the third word was later dropped from the name). Several musicians came and went until the highly gifted, Jimi Hendrix influenced guitarist Ax Genrich from Agitation Free formed the first recording line-up with Neumeier and Trepte. 70 % of the "Essen 1970" liner notes is Uli Trepte looking back at their halcyon days. "The band's energy was a result of a powerful 'chemistry' between Mani Neumeier and me. We only had to play a couple of notes and there it was, casting its spell over both Ax Genrich and the audience", never to be achieved again with other musicians.

The third Pop & Blues Festival in Essen's Gruga-Halle, October 22-25, 1970, featured English groups such as Taste, Fotheringay, East Of Eden and Tyrannosaurus Rex on the main stage, while the German bands -- e.g. Frumpy, Embryo and Xhol alongside Guru Guru -- performed in a small side stage. There were technically skillful people involved in the festival to capture some of the performances. Even though this live album may be a torso of the band's actual gig, it is highly recommendable to anyone with a keen interest on vintage psychedelic rock and a fondness for live recordings. Those can surely add the fourth star to my rating!

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Krautrock bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
A.R. & MACHINES Germany
ABSCHAUM France
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
AVEC LE SOLEIL SORTANT DE SA BOUCHE Canada
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 United States
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 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
FRANKIE DYMON JR. Germany
DZYAN Germany
EAT LIGHTS BECOME LIGHTS United Kingdom
EGYPT IS THE MAGICK # United States
EILIFF Germany
EINSEINEINS 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
ETURIVI Finland
EULENSPYGEL Germany
EX CANIX Sweden
EXPONENT Germany
FATHER YOD AND THE SPIRIT OF '76 United States
FAUST Germany
FEVER KNIFE Finland
FIFTH DEAD Germany
FILLE QUI MOUSSE France
FLOH DE COLOGNE Germany
FLORIAN GEYER Germany
FLYING MOON IN SPACE Germany
FOTOSPUTNIK United States
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 Switzerland
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
KORB United Kingdom
KOSMISCHER LÄUFER Germany
KRAKATAU Australia
KRAUTWERK Germany
JEAN-JACQUES KRAVETZ Germany
KROKODIL Switzerland
L.S. BEARFORCE Germany
LA DÜSSELDORF Germany
LA! NEU? Germany
LARD FREE France
LAVA Germany
LEVEL PI Germany
LICHTPYRAMIDE United Kingdom
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
MOONWOOD Canada
MUNJU Germany
MUSHROOM'S PATIENCE Italy
MY SOLID GROUND Germany
MYTHOS Germany
N-1 Germany
THE NAZGÛL Germany
NECRONOMICON Germany
NEON HEART Sweden
NEPTUNITE Germany
NEU ! Germany
THE NO-NECK BLUES BAND United States
NOSFERATU Germany
RALF NOWY Germany
NU & APA NEAGRA Romania
OCH Sweden
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
REAKTOR 4 Germany
LE RÉVEIL DES TROPIQUES France
MICHAEL ROTHER Germany
RUFUS ZUPHALL Germany
SAMETI Germany
SAND Germany
SCARECREW Germany
SCATTERED PURGATORY Taiwan
SEEDOG Germany
SEI STILL Mexico
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
SPACEBOX Germany
SPERRMÜLL Germany
SPIRAL GALAXY United States
ST. KRAUT Russia
STAFF CARPENBORG AND THE ELECTRIC CORONA Germany
STAN UND HILDA Germany
STARA RZEKA Poland
SWARA SAMRAT Germany
MITSURU TABATA Japan
TAROTPLANE United States
TASTE OF BLUES Sweden
TEARPALM Serbia
TEMPLE Germany
THINK Germany
THRICE MICE Germany
TIERE DER NACHT Multi-National
TON STEINE SCHERBEN Germany
TREES SPEAK United States
TRIKOLON Germany
TRIP TO ELARA Germany
TWOGETHER Germany
TYLL Germany
UCHIHASHI KAZUHISA & MANI NEUMEIER Multi-National
ULENSPIEGEL Germany
ULTRALYD Norway
UTOPIA Germany
THE UTOPIA STRONG United Kingdom
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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