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Amon Düül II - Carnival in Babylon CD (album) cover

CARNIVAL IN BABYLON

Amon Düül II

 

Krautrock

3.54 | 178 ratings

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Vibrationbaby
4 stars Munich Hippies Come Of Age

For everyone who missed the sixties who still want to grow up to be a hippie, Amon Duul II's Carnival In Babylon in all it's psychedelic surreal exaltations, was Amon Duul II's last true dose of tripping hippie vibes. A faction of a Munich hippie commune that originated in the late 60s, this offshoot was the one who were more musically inclined, and although these tendancies shined through occasionally on previous albums, Carnival In Babylon is where they were really able to consolidate their free-forming attitudes with some semblance of coherence, but not to worry no top 40 station still would touch them with a ten foot pole in their worst nightmares and soundest minds.

It`s hard for someone who wasn't there in the autumn of 1971 to imagine why Carnival In Babylon was met with so much chagrin both in media circles and with hard core fans because in retrospect it was such a pivotal album for Amon Duul and it was more for those who wanted to trip out to directionless jams high on illicit drugs that it was the beginning of the end. In fact, more meaningful experimenting was taking place here than during the feakout days of Phallus Dei, Tanz Der Lemminge and Yeti as and it was obvious that this was a thing of the past with the record companies, if not in the creative energies that rested within the Amon Duul II communal as the drugs wore off. It's not as if there were any real radical changes occurring here, the band`s creative faculties were as fertile as ever, but there were many refinements which allowed many of the these qualities that were betwixed amid the narcotic blurrs of the band's formative stage to ascend. By no means approaching musical virtuosic proportions, more thought was given to arrangement and composition here with distinct qualities showing through such as the contrast and counterpoint demonstrated by the diametrically opposed guitar players Chris Karrer and John Weinzierl who can be distinquished by their respective technical and more artsy approaches to their individual playing. Although the extended psyched out pieces Shimmering Sands, Hawknose Harlequin and Kronwinkel 12 ( which was the commune's Munich address ) still nod back to the previous freeform musical convictions they are more rounded with more pronounced ethno- atmospheric undertones most notably East-Indian sensitvities that make them sound more like bona-fide musical compositions.

Still avoiding commercialism, there were nonetheless still enough spacey trippy aspects to the music created by Karl-Heinz Hausmann's glittering electronic colouring and Farfisa organ to satisfy druuged out audiences. The murky lyrics still needed decoding here and were as dark and gothic as ever but with the streamlining in the music we get more of Renate Kanup' s graphic witchy vocals playing off the more organic male counterparts which adds to the overall minor-keyed strangeness of the music which is belied by the mirthful album title. Tables Are Turned and All the Years Round, complex pop songs if anything, are the two tracks on the record that still capture the aura and spirit of the hippie culture as they groove and flow with more Eat Indian nuances with Renate's warped vocals conjuing up mezmerizing images as if to say we're still hippies!

Two bonus tracks which appear on the Revisited Records CD, Skylight and Tatzelwurmloch, are extended freakouts which might have been orphans from the Yeti sessions which are drenched with East Indian hues for those who can't get enough continuous mind blowing relentlessness. The latter sounds like some more recent Acid Mothers Guru jams who no doubt spent many hours listening to Amon Duul II as young acid freaks. Really intense jamming on this one with heavy world beat afflictions and clocking in at roughly 18 minutes it makes this CD worthwhile even if you didn't like the stylistic deviations on the rest of the accompanying original album.

Carnival In Babylon is one of the more overlooked Amon Duul albums by it's startling appearance in the Amon Duul II timeline and transitional nature, but it is weird and wonderful and definitely one of the more interesting jewels in the Amon Duul II catologue and hopefully the passage of time will allow for more rational evaluations of this Krautrock gem.

Vibrationbaby | 4/5 |

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