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5 stars A bit different from their debut because of the presence of vocals. Also Klaus Schulze left, in pursuit of his famous solo career. New drummer Wolfgang Müller is in, along with, of course, guitarist Manuel Göttsching and bassist Hartmut Enke. And for a vocalist, they chose a guy by the name of John L., previously of AGITATION FREE (who got booted out of that band for being too deranged, apparently ASH RA TEMPEL felt the same was as he was given the boot after this album). Talk about an acquired taste, John L.'s voice tends to be harsh and he always sounded out of tune (he reminded me of CAN's "Malcolm Mooney", so you get sort of an idea what you'll be facing here).

The album starts off with the rather bluesy "Look at Your Sun", complete with John L.'s off-key singing. The next song, "Flowers Must Die" is basically John L. simply screaming under an intense rhythm of guitar and drums, plus the presence of sax gives it a bit of a jazzy feel. Definately party-clearing music, to say the least. The second half of the album consists of "Suche" and "Liebe". "Suche" is a rather sinister spacy piece consisting of mostly vibraphone and organ. "Liebe" is more guitar and voice (this time by Göttsching), and sounds like a cross between PINK FLOYD and ASH RA TEMPEL's debut. Amazing album, if you can get used to the vocals.

Report this review (#23720)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars AST's second album is the logical continuity of the debut, although it is much less nervous noisy and less structured (if THAT was possible), but it retains its predecessor's charms. Nevertheless, Schulze is not present on this one, but his replacement Muller is doing a credible job. Again released on the great Ohr label and sporting a very calm sunset artwork, Schwin is recorded and produced by Plank's big competitor Dieter Dierks

Vocals are assured by ex-Agitation Free John L and his contributions (aside the the singing in the bluesy Light) are mostly scats that can remind Can's Damo Suzuki although I wouldn't say ART present the same kind of binary and minimalist approach as Can does. While the short Blues-derived Light (Look At Your Sun), you might be recalling Amboss, but the second track on the opening side Darkness (Flowers Must Die) is indeed recalling the Amboss track as well. But the flipside's next Suche & Liebe, leaves the spacey Traum machine like real corker. However S&L on the contrary is simply too slow. I have a bit of a difficulty recommending Schwin as I do their debut album, because there are moments (the flipside) where there is nothing happening and the slow evolutions are simply too slow to make the album really interesting.

Report this review (#23722)
Posted Tuesday, June 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Schwingungen" is ASH RA's powerful follow up to their debut album which still remains to this day one of the true space classic for this music lover. 2 big differences here on "Schwingungen" with the departure of Klaus Schulze as well as the introduction of vocals marks this album in different light than their debut album. Having said that, this album is nothing short of amazing with some pretty spaced out interludes and long epic tracks to totally blow your mind. The overall sound on "Schwingungen" is very Meddle era "PINK FLOYD" with some great hypnotic work and analog space rock movements. With heavy doses of space hymns and the inspiring guitar work of Manuel Göttsching, this album will clearly take your mind and ears into the outer zone. The album is essentially made up of 3 long tracks with the first two tracks featuring the psychedelically-eerie-like vocals of John L. The full line up was Manuel Göttsching (guitar), Hartmut Enke (bass), Wolfgang Mueller (drums), & guest: John L (vocals, jew harp, percusssion), Matthias Wehler (alto sax) and Uli Popp (bongos). I love the frenzied guitar rantings and the mix of the west coast like rhythm sections taking a somewhat R&B foundation. Overall a great album.
Report this review (#23724)
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is is the second album by ART and it's much better than the first one.The first song is a spacey, bluesey pink floyd like song with a great guitar solo in the middle, very good.DARKNESS is indeed a dark song with very strange vocals by John L (screaming).The last track is the longest.The first 14 minutes are made of some strange noises and stuff like that, so it isn't really a song until the 14th minute when Göttsching starts to play his guitar and gets louder and louder to the end of the album. Overall the album is pretty good, but you should first give it a listen or two before you buy it (not for everyone).
Report this review (#23725)
Posted Saturday, December 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I love the experimentation with silence on this record. The screaming desperation itseems to build up on Suche & Liebe is phenomenal, and the artwork always reminds me of a lake I found on Denman Island, while backpacking.

Albums like this just aren't made anymore. If you find a copy, treasure it.

Report this review (#47734)
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This appreciated album left a slightly disappointed feeling for me first, as I found the singing on the first side of the LP distasteful, and with the fine instrumental B-side the overall felling of the record was left to quite bipolar levels. Later I considered this feeling interesting, as I can adopt grindcore growls and operatic sopranos, so what was problem with this case? Most possibly my own orientation to this album, my own expectations limiting my capabilities for adopting the record as it honestly is. There are certainly some great musical parts included, mainly the aggressive instrumental moments form A-side, and then the open and calm B-side expressionisms. I think that Manuel Göttsching evolved the guitar sound of Jimi Hendrix to more archaic and atavistic directions, based on the listening moments devoted for this album. Supporting this hypothesis are also the experiences from live captures of Ash Ra Tempel on his "Private Tapes" series, along with the rock improvisations on this album. Maybe the studio circumstances harmed their innovation, as the tracks are truly minimalistic, "Light: Look at Your Sun" is merely a one note composition with bluesy guitar sounds and one phrase being repeated poorly. "Darkness: Flowers Must Die" has some nice instrumental moments, but the singer ruined the most of the track for me due my disabilities, which build from calm moments to more fierce ones. "Suche & Liebe" fills the B-side, and it has some really nice spacey moments on it. This psychedelic flower of musical innovation's beauty first resembles the King Crimson "Moonchild"'s end improvisation with more successful subtle focus, and then the conclusion follows the dramatic closure movement of Pink Floyd's "Saucerful of Secrets". The ending of this song is truly a wonderful strong moment, and with the romantic simple cover makes this album as really worthy unclear artefact, in spite of the weaker moments making its more luminous moments shine ever brighter.
Report this review (#81037)
Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars An amazing Album from Ash Ra Tempel wich remains my favorite of this band. This is Space, Psychedelic LSD-influenced music for your brain. I still can't imagine these guy's recorgind such music, I mean i can't figure out myself whow would they behave in a normal social life with such an artistic point of view.

Anyway this album starts with a slow, spacey blues tune, based on an hallucinating voice that whispers incomprehensible lyrics ( and repeating "We are all one"), and Bluesy improvised guitar licks wich will progress in a mind-blowing Space guitar solo explosion.

The Second track is a quite long fine jazzy improvisation with Saxophone and one of the most horrible screams and crushed-vocals you might have heard on a Music record. Terrific.

The Last song is a traditionnal "Side Two" Ash ra tempel song, that means a 20 minute dreamy and peacefull music, an excellent psychedelic song with a PINK FLOYD's "Celestial Voices"-like final..

Quote: "Beware of Schwingungen [...] a record that could change your life as it did for me" Mr Julian Cope on his Krautrocksampler book.

.Excellent addition to any prog music collection.

Report this review (#90864)
Posted Thursday, September 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Cosmic space blues rock from Germany, with explosive segments hold tightly together with frantic pulsing rhythms on the first two songs and ambient spacy atmospherics on the final track.

Light: Look at your sun, it's a slow spacy blues track, with nice soft guitar and slow blues rhythms, slowely building up in tension and power, very good vocals (once you get used to the voice). The guitar gets more intense, and the solo is very good, but it stays rather restrained, saving the all out frantic rhythmic explosion for the following song.

Darkness: Flowers must die, the counterpart of the first song, again rather spacy, after the teasingly slow start, the rhythmic cosmic explorations take an increasingly intense and for me beautifull form. Vocals are again very good in supporting the underlying music, though it's generally more screaming than singing really. Fabulous first half of the album.

Suche and Liebe is a side long epic, exploring the more cosmic and ambient style of Ash Ra tempel, naturally a slow start, with spacy minimalistic sounds that lingers on for about 10 minutes, with the introduction of the distant drums the song slowely but surely pushes itself into form, with nice guitarlines and compelling angelic choir. (always reminds me of Enio Moricone, probably something form Once upon the Time In the West).

Generally I don't like soft quite spacy ambient recordings, and that's what most of this album is about, with only Darkness displaying my more favourite style (little frantic and intens), but this album always leaves me behind, sitting in silence for a little while after hearing the final notes and just enjoying the calmness that has overcome me.

Very good album, with great music and fabulous soundscapes. Only for those into this type of music, so approach with caution. the first two songs are rather energetic, the last song is 20 minutes of calmly moving waves of bliss. I find it hard to rate this with four stars, though maybe I should, 3,5 will do them justice, but I'll leave it at three. listen yourself.

Report this review (#108622)
Posted Tuesday, January 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I really enjoyed the Debut album.....and I found this album to be a disappointment.....The addition of vocals to the band's sound was not really required..... The first song is pretty kool and the vocals are OK....The second song starts off promising and then we are hit with the truly abysmal vocals...The third track is spacey and slow moving but has it's appeal...... I am tempted to give a two star rating because of the screaming in track two.....but there is enough excellent music to bring the overall rating back up to 3 stars....
Report this review (#165291)
Posted Saturday, March 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Klaus Schulze isn't on this record but John L. is, and believe me that really changes the dynamics of "Schwingungen" ASH RA TEMPEL's second album. Wolfgang Meuller takes Schulze place behind the drumkit, but it's John L.'s vocals that bring to ASH RA TEMPEL what Suzuki or Mooney bring to CAN's sound. A little insanity. This album is a lot better than I was led to believe, and is a must have for Krautrock fans out there.

"Light:Look At Your Sun" opens with faint guitar and vocal sounds that build as bass and drums join in. After 3 minutes it's built ! I love when Gottsching comes in guns a blazing before 3 1/2 minutes.This is fantastic ! John sings the same line over and over. It settles down again 5 minutes in. "Darkness:Flowers Must Die" opens with spacey sax and electronic sounds as percussion comes and goes. A guitar melody with percussion is joined by John's drugged out vocals. Some jew-harp 5 minutes in comes and goes. Vocals are bizarre at times(understatement) reminding me of Damo. Blistering guitar 11 minutes in as drums pound away and John screams out.

"Suche & Liebe" is the side long suite to end the album. It opens with dead silence until we get what sounds like the echo of spacey keys before a minute. Very spacey and then haunting before 6 minutes. Drums come in around the 10 minute mark and get louder, it sounds amazing. Eerie sounds 12 minutes in and an actual melody starts to appear after 14 minutes that is very PINK FLOYD-like. Vocal melodies a minute later. Guitar before 17 minutes. Incredible sound ! Drums come pounding in a minute later as it starts to sound even better. This is so uplifting.

I really think this is almost as good as their classic debut,and John L makes it sound different from that one in a very good way.

Report this review (#168698)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars To some extension, this second ART album is quite different from their debut one. More than anything, you'll have to "swallow" some indigestible "vocals" during "Darkness". Very painful indeed. Useless to be honest and dragging this effort to a lower rating than it would deserved if this part would have been skipped.

The great Klaus disappeared from the line-up (he did the same after the first TD album: it must be a disease)! As their first album was kind of dual, this one can be considered as such as well.

A first side which holds some quite weird atmospheres (and awful vocals as far as I'm concerned) as I have mentioned already but to be complete, let's say that the opening song "Light" is quite all right. Excellent psychedelic rock song which develops excellent hypnotic parts. Even vocals are appropriate!

Fortunately, the second leg of this album is of better texture. "Suche & Liebe" is a relaxing, spacey, and dreamy song. Some sort of early TD travel to be more precise. There are some percussion available though (around half time) and the closing section is a pure marvel of a melody. The finale reminds me a lot of the splendid closing part of ASOS. Gorgeous.

Now, when the conclusion comes I have to say that this work is quite difficult to rate. The best ("Suche & Liebe") and the worse ("Darkness") are sharing the bill. Three stars are legitimate but no more.

Report this review (#257073)
Posted Sunday, December 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars On Ash Ra Tempel's second album, Schulze was replaced by Wolfgang Mueller on the drumkit. Göttsching also hired vocalist John L from Agitation Free. His free style singing adds an extra dimension to Ash Ra Tempel and creates an astonishing album covering almost all aspects of kraut rock. If you don't have a clue what kraut rock is all about, then this album might reveal many sides of it: psychedelicca, free-jazz, cosmic ambience, space-rock, Eastern flavours and raw lunacy.

Light, Look at Your Sun couldn't be more Floyd, it has a pensive blues rhythm with Eastern-tinged guitar atmospheres that reminds me of PF's More, that slightly uneven little gem of an album where David Gilmour first added his blues chops to Pink Floyd's psychedelics. John L adds beautiful soft vocals and Wolfgang Mueller plays in a straightforward slow pace, similar to PF's Nick Mason. That's not the only comparison to Pink Floyd's 68-69 style of psychedelic space-rock. Look at Your Sun is an amazing track oozing that unique Floydian lazy-psychedelic ambience that few managed to re-create.

Darkness, Flowers Must Die is the musical antipode, a frantically rocking free jazz piece with pulsating guitar chords, droning free-jazz drumming and mad vocals, similar to those of Can's vocalists Mooney and Suzuki. The music rages with an insane intensity and daring anarchistic posture. This is as far as you can go from what the Symphonic Prog artists were doing on the other side of the Channel in the same years. Isn't it amazing how uniquely all those scenes evolved back in the day?

After the disturbed lunacy of Darkness, Flowers Must Die, Suche and Liebe restores the peace with 15 minutes of dreamy vibes, distant mellotrons and guitar effects. This track is similar to the early progressive electronic soundscapes, and again Göttsching proves to be the master at it. The last 5 minutes build up to a sweeping harmonious finale with a swaying pace and brightly ooh-ing vocals. It gives a great soothing effect after the out-worldly ambience that preceded, not dissimilar from the finale of Floyd's Saucerful of Secrets.

I am a committed admirer of the Floyd sound of '68-'69, but even I will admit that Floyd's urge for innovation didn't necessarily lead to the most consistent albums. This album from Ash Ra Tempel captures the spirit and soul of early Floyd without mimicking any particular song. When that is done with results as magically as here, I can't have enough of it. Tempted to a fiver here.

Report this review (#281407)
Posted Tuesday, May 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Krautrock always highlights some of the best music in prog. Scwingungen is a typical ART offering. Side one offering tons of vocals, frenzied guitar work and mesmerizing percussion. Side two the title track is much more laid back and atmospheric " Suche & Liebe" is as mentioned really laid back until about five minutes from the end where some nice female vocals come in and the song finishes on a high. " Light & Darkness" is a masterpiece, Gottsching, Henke and Mueller provide an artistic masterpiece combining such incisive, hypnotic and plain bloodchilling music. This is where albums like Talking Heads's Remain In Light originate from, the rythms, percussion and frenetic guitars spasms all point back to Krautrock and the early 70's. Can would be another influence. It shows how visionary these groups were. Play " Remain In Light" and " Light & Darkness" one after the other and the similarities are spooky! I would give this album a five star were it not for the ambling at times " Suche & Liebe" but four stars is the absolute minimum it deserves. Incredible.
Report this review (#297357)
Posted Saturday, September 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Though this album may not be as perfect as their debut, this album is fairly credible for adding vocals to the mix of their already unstructured and psychedelic sound. The vocalist, John L, is average to say the least, but better than most people in the Krautrock genre as a whole. Also, drummer Klaus Schulze left to pursue his famous solo career, though I wish he did stay with drumming as this album could have been much more different and lucid.

1.Light - Look at Your Sun - A very good opener, but much different from anything of their debut album, which is a masterpiece. The guitar playing is much bluesier and different from anything that I have heard before, though it is completely LSD tinged with its slow playing and note changes. The song dosent really go anywhere for a while, though turns into an average blues workout with average vocal performances and instrumental performances. (7.5/10)

2.Darkness - Flowers Must Die - An odd title name, though it is definatly suited for the type of music. It's much darker and jazzier than the opening track or anything off the previous album. This is my favourite track as well, mixing pure psychedelia with excellent jazz chords and electronic flourishes. (8.5/10)

3.Suche & Liebe - The track may sustain for as long as Amboss of the previous album, but cannot truely match the expectations that were previously set. The opening is a spiraling trip to nowhere, though it may seem to be trying to reach the deeper parts of space as it fails to go anywhere near the clouds. The track really dosent go anywhere untill the end of the track, by then, it's too little, too late. (6/10)

An album of mysterious leanings to me. It's much jazzier than what was intended with their debut and can't really get off the ground with it's few good pieces of music. 3 stars because it has a good and jazzy feeling to it, but all in all, you do not need this in your collection.

Report this review (#306891)
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first Ash Ra Tempel album not to feature Klaus Schulze is much in the same vein as the first one - one side a freak-out with wild guitar and hypnotic percussion rhythms, the other side a dreamier, proto-ambient piece. It is distinguished from the first album mainly by the presence of vocals - some harsh howling on the Light and Darkness suite, and more gentle female vocals in the second side's twenty minute opus Suche and Liebe. Again, it's a decent enough Krautrock album, though I don't personally feel that it's a particularly vital one; in particular, the slightly schizophrenic nature of the group works against it, since there were better bands working in the noisy freakout end of Krautrock and better bands working in the trancey ambient side.
Report this review (#491115)
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I could have drawn that front cover when I was 8 years old and still not have won any prizes at school. In fact I'd probably be told that I should forget any ambitions of being an artist... It's really poor isn't it? It put me off buying this cd for a long time, that's for sure.

If you can put the sleeve to one side what you're left with is an excellent Krautrock album.

Track one - 'Light: Look at your Sun' has a drug laden, eyes almost shut we're so wasted sound. Funnily enough, it also has intro guitar chords that could have been lifted directly by David Sylvian on 'The Healing Place' from 'Gone to Earth'.

There's some extreme phasing amongst the pandemonium of 'Darkness - Flowers Must Die' which I love. The vocals by a certain 'John L' are pretty tuneless and shouty but seem to fit the style of music being played. This is really quite an intense track with frenetic drumming and uber cool guitars played by Manuel Gottsching. Strobe lights and wobbly acid patterns on walls and ceilings are the images conjured up here.

Vibraphones herald the intro to 'Suche & Liebe'. Quite apt really as 'Schwingungen' means 'Vibrations' in German. This lengthy instrumental piece is a far more laid back affair. This noisy side one, quiet side two approach is something they used on all their early albums. This sounds very much like sequences from Floyd's 'Ummagumma' ending on a beautiful heavy bass, vocal and guitar harmony which makes it my favourite Ash Ra Tempel album.

One thing's for sure, they didn't miss Klaus Schulze who had temporarily left to record his first solo LP 'Irrlicht' during this year. They got on perfectly fine without him.

Report this review (#605636)
Posted Sunday, January 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ash Ra Tempel's second album is sometimes regarded as a step down from the Götterdämmerung space rock of the band's 1971 debut. The absence of Klaus Schulze (trading his drum kit for keyboards on his first solo album) and the addition of vocals, vibes and saxophone suggest a more earthbound experience the second time around.

But don't be lulled into a false sense of security, something the album itself almost seems to encourage. Instead of going for the immediate chokehold like the first LP, the music on "Schwingungen" sneaks up behind the unwary listener and slowly inserts the Krautrock equivalent of a red-hot needle through the base of your skull, right between the ears and directly into your Third Eye.

After the album-length tension and release of the earlier effort, Manuel Göttsching and crew had to rekindle their creative energies from scratch. Thus the slowly building psychedelic blues at the top of the album, introducing the unique vocal talents of Manfred Brüch, alias John L, also known as 'The Hippy King of Berlin', and the only singer I've ever heard employ the flower power platitude "We are all One" and make it sound like the last strangled gasp of a condemned man swinging beneath the gallows.

And that's during a song optimistically titled "Light: Look at Your Sun". Just wait for the flipside of the sentiment, "Darkness: Flowers Must Die", when Herr Brüch descends into what sounds like a primitive trance-state of apocalyptic horror. His ranting is completely unintelligible, which might be a blessing in disguise: the lyrics evoke a level of pessimism far ahead of their time in Aquarian Age 1972.

On the side-long title track Göttsching dials back the dystopian madness to present a more serene but no less powerful vision, with the music slowly drifting through an interstellar cloud of vibraphones and pulsating electronics toward a majestic coda. Too bad the actual structure and mood of the song are so heavily in debt to PINK FLOYD's "Saucerful of Secrets", almost to the level of outright plagiarism. And like the Floyd, Göttsching would find it a difficult melody to walk away from, recycling the same empyrean chords during the "7- Up" album sessions, and later in the COSMIC JOKERS rip-off "Gilles Zeitschiff" (the latter without Göttsching's permission).

A final word about the enigmatic John L. It may or may not be worth mentioning that he was notorious for dancing naked on stage with his genitals slathered in paint, or that he was sacked from his previous band (AGITATION FREE, prior to their first album) for excessive drug use: a noteworthy accomplishment in counter-culture Germany.

I only mention these colorful details to ease the misgivings of any fan who might see the laughably amateur cover art and imagine Göttsching pulled his punches for this album. It might in fact be one of Krautrock's more extreme musical journeys, from a band at the time already too near the abyss.

Report this review (#659555)
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Vibes of unidentified origin

How do you follow up a milestone album in an emerging genre? ASH RA TEMPEL decided to answer this question by developing the global musical direction of their first opus by adding more variety. Schwingungen ("Vibrations" in English) consists in a mixture of psychedelic / space rock / krautrock jams incorporating some surprising novelties and experimentations, such as a singer and... a saxophone!

Klaus Schulze left, Manuel Göttsching and Hartmut Enke recruited Wolfgang Mueller at percussions and invited a few guest musicians for this record.

Side one, entitled "Light And Darkness", is the 'rock-y' side. The slow and mysterious "Light: Look at your Sun" is a floating arid ballad, with bluesy accents. Hypnotic and cool, but a bit monotonous. The weird "Darkness: Flowers must die" can sometimes remind AMON DÜÜL II or HAWKWIND's "You Shouldn't Do That". After the ambient introduction and its various sounds, the atmosphere become tribal, partly due to the percussions and John L.'s wild incantatory singing. Like an energetic frightening trance, with out-of-space effects and saxophone. The heat rises, rises, until the sonic deflagration of the ending! That was some quite mad trip.

Side two, entitled "Schwingungen", is the spacey side. "Suche & Liebe" ("Search & Love" in English) is much more peaceful and allows the listener to breathe. The first section of the track is atmospheric and minimalistic, whereas the second section is little more rhythmic. However, the best passage of the disc is undoubtedly the five last minutes: delicate, soothing and unreal. Göttsching and Enke thought they found here the soundtrack of heaven. The musicians were so satisfied that they'll even reuse and extend this part on ASH RA TEMPEL's next album!

More varied but also more uneven than its predecessor, "Schwingungen" is pure "Kosmische Musik", adventurous and pleasant. Despite lengthy sections, the record offers a lot of different ambiances: spacey, introspective, tribal, minimalistic, ferocious, ethereal...

One of ASH RA TEMPEL's best albums. Give it a listen if you enjoy krautrock, PINK FLOYD or even crazy psyched-out music like AMON DÜÜL II's "Tanz der Lemminge".

Report this review (#1579824)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review Nş 503

Ash Ra Tempel was a German progressive rock band formed in Berlin, Germany, in 1970. Ash Ra Tempel was one of the founders of what became known as Krautrock, also called "Kosmische musik", a German avant-garde and experimental rock movement that gave a special emphasis to electronic treatments, sound manipulation and repetitive music. They were responsible of two of the most influential projects of the German progressive rock scene, Ash Ra Tempel and Ashra. Their music is very spacey, psychedelic, powerful and dramatic, sometimes with a more atmospheric nature.

Born out of the late of the 60's in the Berlin underground scene, Ash Ra Tempel were rooted in a succession of beat and blues German bands, including Bluebirds, The Bomb Proofs, Bad Joe, and Steeple Chase Blues Band. The latter one of these was transformed entirely when Klaus Schulze from Tangerine Dream met up with them becoming Ash Ra Tempel. The trio of Klaus Schulze, Manuel Gottsching and Hartmut Enke decided to abandon the more conventional composition and song writing, in favour of free form improvising and developing a new musical language. As such, they became notorious for jams that could exceed 30 minutes. That can be seen perfectly well on their eponymous album of 1971, on "Schwingungen" of 1972, on "Join Inn" of 1973 and also on their last album "Friendship" of 2000.

"Schwingungen" brings some changes in relation to their debut. It's a bit different from their debut because of the presence of vocals and lost Schulze, who was working on his first solo album "Irrlicht". So, "Schwingungen" was recorded with a new drummer, Wolfgang Muller, who took the place of Klaus Schulze and a number of guests, such as saxophonist Matthias Wehler or vocalist signed as John L., previously from Agitation Free. Musically, it's a bit less crazy material than the debut, as if the musicians wanted to combine psychedelic breakouts with more accessible, almost conventional playing. It's no longer made of improvisation, but it's partly based on previously composed motifs.

As we would expect from a band like Ash Ra Tempel, "Schwingungen" is characterized by their usual lengthy suites, which can exceed the twenty minutes. In the case of this 1972 album, we have two different parts. The first part that would be Side A of the LP, "Light And Darkness", which is divided into two pieces, "Light: Look At Your Sun" and "Darkness: Flowers Must Die", and the second part taht would be Side B, the title track "Schwingungen: Suche & Liebe". The two parts are quite distinguishable but they're part of a whole of an ensemble that divided can loses an important part of power. I'm talking about the synergy of the unit that is stronger than the sum of the factors separately.

"Schwingungen", which could be translated as "vibrations" or "oscillatory movement" stood as one of the works of Ash Ra Temple that defined the cosmic music of that period. More turbulent than the descriptive works of Tangerine Dream, it was favoured by those who snubbed the technological haughtiness of these, in favor of a sound still rooted in rock. It sounds like a freaky Pink Floyd's version crossed with Tangerine Dream and the ambient music of Brian Eno.

In "Light And Darkness", the first part "Light: Look At Your Sun" recalls the blues roots of Gottsching and Enke. The band combines blues guitar parts and blues rhythm with the psychedelic cosmic ambience characteristic of Krautrock. Sadly, the vocal layer, which could have been without it, isn't good. "Darkness: Flowers Must Die" is a crazier recording with a lot of electronics, exotic percussion, piercing saxophone sounds, Gottsching's guitar madness and a hypnotic rhythm section play. But it has also the unnecessary and bizarre vocals again. No wonder that John L. who got booted out of Agitation Free for being too deranged, apparently Ash Ra Tempel felt the same and fired him after this album too. The second half of the album consists of "Schwingungen: Suche & Liebe". It's all about that meditative and attentive search for peace and love and the universal harmony. In addition to that peaceful vibe, the music is as meditative, airy and spaced out as it can be. "Suche & Liebe" (Search/Quest & Love) builds up slowly towards a blissful climax at the orgiastic end. "Suche" is a rather sinister spacey piece consisting of mostly vibraphone and organ and "Liebe" is more guitar and voice, this time by Gottsching, and that sounds like a cross between Pink Floyd and Ash Ra Tempel's debut.

Conclusion: Comparing "Schwingungen" with Ash Ra Tempel previous debut, this is a more conventional progressive rock number, starting with echoed vibraphone notes and evolves into a Pink Floyd's like atmospheric rock prototype. Combining experimental playing with greater accessibility wasn't a bad idea, but the band should definitely stick with instrumental playing, and if you really wanted to have vocals, you should look for someone who can sing. I have no complaints about the instrumental layer, but this terrible howl takes away the pleasure of listening significantly and ruins the fantastic atmosphere of the album. "Schwingungen" isn't their best album but we cannot forget the pioneering spirit of this band. Very little has been said about the legacy of Ash Ra Tempel to prog rock music, but some it's here.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#2688954)
Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2022 | Review Permalink

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