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Amon Düül II


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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Amon Duul II in a better form than in the two very disconcerted previous works. Their sound of course turns to something more mainstream but the songs are for a large part composed with a better taste. For the initiative, Daniel Fichelscher tries here to reform the original Amon Duul II notably with the return of Renate Aschauer-Knaup on vocals (very prominent for each tune). the alchemy of their debut are not evident in these short, rather conventional & polite songs but there's a few traces of eccentric ingredients and typical Amon Duul's soundmark (on "vibes in the Air" and "Wings of the wind" which reiterates with the "Wolf city" and vive la trance" era). Not too many ballads, some cool folk instrumentations, solid rock structures with nice electric guitar sections & dense sax parts. A rather inegal effort but there's some convincing reminiscences of fundamental sonorities which have made the band's originality.
Report this review (#39902)
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Three years after audiences left them for dead (after the abysmal and best-forgotten ONLY HUMAN), the Düül return with a surprisingly vital reformation effort in VORTEX. The lineup this time: Karrer, Knaup, Rogner, Fichelscher (he and Renate were members of the then-current lineup of Popol Vuh) and Jörg Evers (on bass), with guest appearances by John Weinzierl, Lothar Meid Zauner (relegated to playing keyboards, mercifully not contributing to the songwriting).

The sound is somewhere between VIVE LA TRANCE and MADE IN GERMANY. The cabaret sound returns for "Mona", but most of the sound is a lot more intense, as on the pulsating title song and the dramatic "Gestern ist das Heute von Morgen". This is probably the most Renate-heavy of all the albums, she sings lead (or co-lead) on every song (even the "instrumental" title track), so if you're a fan, you'd do good to check it out.

Report this review (#44662)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I saw this album in a used CD shop at half price, and literally fell down in surprise. Krautrock albums are just not seen on the shelves 'as is', and I ran to the counter begging for more. I had heard 'phallus dei', 'yeti', and 'Tanz der lemminge' and expected more of the same. The shop assistant gave me a weird look, as if to say "Whatever rocks your boat". I should have taken this as a hint.

Generally speaking... this is a pop album.

The title track attempts to make some ethreal keyboard effect, and fails miserably. It ends up reminding me of early 80's bands like 'Flock of seagulls' and their ilk. The rest of the actual album is very similiar. Standard 4/4 signature songs that wouldn't look out of place in the pop charts of the time. "Die 7 Fetten Jahre" and "Wings of the wind" do try to create the magic of the Amon Duul 2 of old, with 'out of place' musical interations and the spotaneouiety (sorry for the spelling) of changing ideas. Unfortunately, the majority of the album proper is very average, containing true duds, like "Mona", which, for me damages the eardrums, and "We are machines", which is just boring - pure and simple.

A positive comment is that Renate's voice sounds more musical than on previous attempts. She even holds all the notes asked of her

The Additional Tracks ("Whatever" and "(Ras)putin in der badewanne") do attempt to recreate the rawness of old, with more dramatic interactions between the instruments, which includes, in the case of "Rasputin", a 'madman' style speach. Renate actually attempts to create a mood with her voice - near desperation with "Whatever", and sounding dire with "Rasputin...". For me, these two tracks save the album from being donated to the winds.

In short, the production killed this album. The intensity of their early albums is gone, and the musical interactions have been almost engineered out of existance. It shows what happens when too much power is given to the mixing desk.

Report this review (#87501)
Posted Thursday, August 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have reviewed all the official duul 11 albums so far before this as i have got them all and heres the next review which is vortex,it starts with vortex which is keyboards and slow drum beating which is not a bad start and definatly sounds better than the other two albums before this the keyboards and drum beating goes on for till 2.40 mins in and changes and drumming doesnt change much just the symbol come in [sounds like anyway]and renate doing a ooooohing and ahhhing bit which sounds mellow and for duul it is mellow quite nice actually definatly worth having vortex is it still has the weirdness of duul in this a good start,next is holy west a song which i like alot and renate sounds good here in good form her voice is very good here and the music sounds just as good i think the duul here on this song sound good and as a song for duul is or might be one of my favorites by them and ends at 5.08 which is the right length i think just right,next is die 7 fetten jahre which starts with bass and guitars [acoustic] and then the guitars sound weird [nice though]and not sure whoes singing with renate but this sounds ok and then a bit comes in where theres a bunch of germans[which is kind of funny]and then a guitar bit comes in and soundfs ok and then the song goes back to wat it should be this is quite a good song but not as good as holy west although renate sounds good here and the bunch of germans singing would of been better without this but its stiil ok with the bunch,next iswings of the wind and renate sounds good on this and could of done with more music inthis song not so much drumming i think but it does get going but too much drumming and not enough guitar but there is a bit in this at the 3 minute mark it does sound better more to it,i can imagine a crowd singing tothis though it has that feeling so live probably better,next is mona and i love this song it starts with kind of german sounding [good]and renate is good here and the drumming goes well here i think and with another person singing in parts at times sounds ok to and the bit of sax sounds ok but could of done more of the sax i think near the end the other singers go with renate and ends ok this aint the best song theve done but its not to bad,next is we are machine starts and is the best or equally best with holy west on whole album as its got what duul should sound like on this album a not bad song with ok guitars in with it and renate sounds good here[she makes duul11 really i think] she makes duul sound better the guitar part is what youd expect from duul 11 i think at the later stages but nothing wrong with that[times change and music has to to] the bloke singing sounds ok not sure who though kind of sounds different but probably chris karrer then it ends,next is das gesternist das heute von morgen which starts with renate doing something which sounds good [u mustr hear this it sounds different]and then it gets going and with the others on vocals here in places doing like a german thing [this song is sung in german but it sounds very good actually i think]its a catchey song and the sax part is just what the doctor ordered from duul just what i think makes the song i,d love to hear this live then the song ends a good song,next is vibes in the air starts with slowish drumming with renate on vocals and this is not a bad song but on first listen it aint as if you hear it more it grows on you,at the 2.28 mark a drum bit comes in with renates voice which to me sounds like a march[not a bad thing]it goes out and then back after a bit and the acoustic guitars here remind me of abit of tanz der lermminge in bits in this song and with bits of violin in this song to and it ends the album,i have the reissue revisted rec from 2005 version with 2 bonus tracks with what ever first and is kind of a jam sounding but dont seem to bad of a song but kind of ok i seem to think this is for if your stoned or something like that this aint brilliant but it is listenable but i think it would of been better without this song whatever,next bonus is [ras]putin in der badewanne which is kind of like whatever but a better track and the guitar does sopund like a not to bad bit to learn very easy though just for jamming though i think[nothing else]this is again listenable and more better than whatever as the guitar bit is kind of get in my head a bit although it does same bit ,not to bad after all this album not the best place to start for a amon duul 11 album but ok its got say 3 or 4 songs which are ok holy werst is a good song the best i think on whole cd and concidering it was released in 1981 for the time for german rock it aint to bad but i think punk killed of this kind of music for quite sometime by this time[although i was only 6 at the time lol] i give this 3 stars no more much better than the other two albums before this.
Report this review (#205987)
Posted Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars `Vortex' was the only album released by German Krautrock collective Amon Düül 2 in the Eighties, and a surprisingly convincing one it was too. A cross between `Vive la Trance' and `Made In Germany', only eight strong compositions on offer meant there's none of the throwaway moments that plagued those albums, and there's a thankfully tighter focus on strong songwriting that still allows the proper Düül personality to pop up throughout. It's a little straight-forward in a few moments, yet there's very little that was actually aiming to appeal to music charts, as if any combination of Amon Düül could ever hope to actually be completely mainstream! The chemical-addled debauchered delicious jamming of the band's past may have been mostly gone, but many of the classic Düül traits emerge in spirited moments throughout.

The album opens with the title track `Vortex', a surprising cold instrumental electronic drone that doesn't instantly remind of any expected Düül sounds, it's whipping drum machine programming a real shock on first listen. A slight eerie gothic mood is heightened by ghostly wordless wailing harmonies, liquid bass slinking around with occasional nice fat stabs. `Holy West' is a dusty country rocker that moseys along in a lazy fashion, sounding like something that might have come from the later Jefferson Airplane albums, and a catchy tune it is too. Düül leading lady Renate Knaup sounds stronger and vocally more controlled than ever before, and it proves what a hell of a singer she is. There's classic Düül sounds on `Die 7 Fetten Jahr', a mix of growling guitar distortion, fevered dual male/female vocals, bent spoken-word breaks, synth trickles and frantic up-tempo bursts. `Wings of the Wind' lurches back and forth between a gutsy power ballad and more up-tempo fiery guitar jamming. It's sung well by Renate, but group harmonies in the chorus are a little too cigarette lighter waving and obvious.

Side B's `Mona' is an infectious and sophisticated pop/rocker with waltz-like violin and some welcome wavering synth weirdness, all topped off beautifully with a playful and sweet vocal from Renate. Just as worthwhile is `We Are Machine', a mysterious space rocker woven to a powerful rock tune, with a chest-beating vocal from Renate on the verses, a wasted treated male drawl on the chorus, leaping bass and restrained acid-friend guitar wailing. Best of all is `Das Gestern Ist...' , the perfect combination of exploratory early Düül and with their accesible tuneful side (sung in German this time). A hypnotic droning mantra- like mood, chanting, distorted guitar snarls, mucky saxophone, dirty grooves and a return of the more deranged acid Goddess Renate from the earlier albums, all woven to a melodic and catchy chorus - older fans will really dig this one! Parts of closer `Vibes in the Air' are laid-back and a breezy vocal from Renate and drowsy acoustic guitar, but there's little fiery shambling eruptions and plodding intensities that burst forth.

It's a shame that it would take the band 14 years to release a follow up to this album, as `Vortex' is really rather decent, and certainly not a badly dated relic of an era not exactly known for inspired releases in this and other progressive related styles. It would have been interesting to see if the inspiration and purpose that emerged on this album would have sustained soon after, and it's probably more consistent than most of their albums that came after `Wolf City'. The heady days of the old Düül may have been mostly gone, but the fire and defiant individuality were still present, so fans should definitely look into this if they come across it. Their early classics will endure, but there's still unappreciated little gems to discover from the mighty Amon Düül 2.

Three stars.

Report this review (#1320099)
Posted Friday, December 5, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another interesting early 80s album of a band that had somehow lost its direction but produced something rather enjoyable while toying around with different ideas where to go next (actually they disbanded after this record, so their quest wasn't really successful). The title track Vortex works very well as an opener; a somewhat minimalist dark instrumental that builds up quite nicely toward the end. Holy West, Mona and We Are Machine are rather conventional rock songs, nothing special regarding composition, but tastefully arranged, well played and very well sung by Renate, who has reached her peak voice-wise on this record. Die sieben fetten Jahr, Wings of the Wind and Vibes in the Air are more original songs with more surprising contrasts, although they don't exactly explode traditional song structures - not really the most innovative ones AD II has every written. Die 7 fetten Jahr has some of Karrer's oriental influences. One may enjoy their originality or wonder whether they in some placed are stitched together too awkwardly, but with Amon Duul II this is the stuff you have to expect. Gestern ist das Heute von Morgen is the one song that really stand out, it's fast and driving, has powerful vocals by Renate and a great sax solo. This song is worth 5 stars. Overall it's not really consistent, not really complex, but a quite special and versatile collection of songs, most of which are good to listen too, with some real highlights. 3 1/2 stars.
Report this review (#1452903)
Posted Friday, August 14, 2015 | Review Permalink

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