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The Cosmic Jokers


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The Cosmic Jokers The Cosmic Jokers album cover
3.94 | 151 ratings | 14 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Galactic Joke (22:38)
2. Cosmic Joy (19:24)

Total Time: 42:02

Line-up / Musicians

- Jürgen Dollase / vocals, keyboards
- Manuel Göttsching / electric guitar
- Klaus Schulze / synthesizer
- Dieter Dierks / bass, mixing
- Harald Großkopf / drums

Note : The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

Artwork: Peter Geitner

LP Kosmische Musik - KM 58.008 (1974, Germany) Quadraphonic audio
LP Klimt Records ‎- MJJ325LP (2011, France)

CD Spalax - 14293 (1994, France)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy THE COSMIC JOKERS The Cosmic Jokers Music

THE COSMIC JOKERS The Cosmic Jokers ratings distribution

(151 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

THE COSMIC JOKERS The Cosmic Jokers reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Cosmic jokers is the side project of Rolf Ulrich Kaiser (the founder of the Cosmic Couriers label)...this group includes many well known musicians from the krautrock scene as Klaus Schulze, the guitarist Manuel Gottsching (Ashra tempel), the drummer Harald Grosskopf (ART, Wallenstein)...This band and 'the cosmic jokers' album in particular represent cosmic/Space rock music at its finest. The two pieces can really reach the listener on a new a total abstract world, far from the earth, a universe made of dreams & psychedelic visions. 'GalacticJoke' is more a guitar orientated track with Gottsching unique style ( free form rock meet spacey arrangements). The second track is more meditative, dominated by intergalactic keyboards, doom-laden bass guitar lines & hypnotic helicopter drums pattern. This album is a supreme effort and an incredible experience. It remains one of my favourite of all time.
Review by loserboy
4 stars Here is essentially where it all started for The COSMIC JOKERS with their debut album from 1973 and giving us all a very spacey introduction and prelude of what would be to follow. For the uninitiated, The COSMIC JOKERS are the clash of space cadets Manuel Göttsching, Dieter Dierks, Jürgen Dollase, Harald Großkopf and Klaus Schulze. As you may have guessed by now I am a huge fan of these early pioneering space-psych-prog rock albums and none are finer that this 2 epic track album. This album is full of deep space effects, lots of free form jamming, analog 70's keyboards, guitars, amazing pulsating bass lines and trippy vocals and chanting. Musically this album is far out with some way too cool vibes and instrumental parts. This album is one of my late night space-festi-favs and without a question side 2's "Cosmic Joy" is one of my most treasured 70's space rock tracks. Spacefully yours . James
Review by Proghead
4 stars I won't forget the day I got "Galactic Supermarket", I was just completely amazed! It comes to prove that you shouldn't always listen to Klaus Schulze's opinions, specifically in his regards to the "Cosmic Jokers" sessions (which he deemed "cosmic [&*!#]"). Schulze had always despised these albums and wished every last copy was destroyed, buried and forgotten. Yes, it's true, none of the musicians received any royalties. Yes it's true that Rolf Ulrich Kaiser (head of Kosmische Musik, formerly Ohr) was driven out of Germany thanks to the lawsuits he rightfully deserved. And the music of the "Cosmic Jokers" were just amazing, and I would be glad to have music like this, if I knew the album was to be released and would be receiving royalties for it. Of course I'm glad to know there's more where "Galactic Supermarket" came from, like this self-entitled offering, which was the first in the series.

The lineup here includes some of the best names in the Krautrock movement in the early '70s: Manuel Göttsching (ASH RA TEMPEL), Klaus Schulze (ASH RA TEMPEL, TANGERINE DREAM, his famous solo electronic albums), Harald Großkopf (WALLENSTEIN, Schulze), Jürgen Dollase (WALLENSTEIN), and Dieter Dierks (studio engineer and producer for many acts). To me, this first COSMIC JOKERS offering might be a bit more difficult to get in to than "Galactic Supermarket", but this album is stuffed with a lot of the great spacy guitar and keyboards that I love of this kind of music. "Galactic Joke" is much more guitar oriented, letting Göttsching shine on his guitar. The keyboards don't play much of a role here, so you won't get to hear much of Schulze. "Cosmic Joy" is Schulze's time to shine, so you get plenty of great organ and synth work that's much in the vein of the albums he were doing at the time (Cyborg, Blackdance). Throughout the album there is a ton of phasing, which I pretty much think was an afterthought, once the album had a chance to get mixed after the recording was done. Another great album to have if you enjoy ASH RA TEMPEL or early Schulze.

My rating: 4 1/2 stars

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. THE COSMIC JOKERS feature some amazing synth work from none other than Klause Schulse as well as some great guitar from ASH RA TEMPLE's Manual Gottsching. The album has two side long suites beginning with "Galactic Joke" that is divided into three parts A, B and C. Side two is called "Cosmic Joy" and is divided into two parts A and B.

"Galactic Joke" (Part A) features some great atmospheric guitar melodies over the bass, drums and synths as the sound builds to a climax 3 minutes in. The guitar by the way sounds fantastic ! (Part B) features some experimental,ominous space sounds as a wall of synths crash in and out, then bass and drums come into this spooky soundscape. (Part C) is slow paced and atmospheric. The full sound comes in later with drums, synths and guitar leading the way.

"Galactic Joke" is more melodic and guitar driven than the spacey "Cosmic Joy" which opens with spacey synths and low toned sounds that build. Yes folks we're in another dimension as it couldn't get any spacier. (Part B) features a sound that I thought was a train going over the railroad tracks, but in fact it's the incredible drum work and synths creating this sound. Synths sound like the wind later on in this mind blowing head trip ! The sound becomes quite heavy and loud towards the end.

This is really trippy, hypnotic music and I especially like "Galactic Joke" with the amazing guitar. Highly recommended music that you need to experience.

Review by Ricochet
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For one year only a super-group of kosmo-kraut, space-addicts, sound-pioneers, electronic-rock (marginal) artists and coup experimentalists joins in a project lead by the mastering of Dieter Dierks. After many transformations (within previous years), the ensembles gets the lofty, but characterizing name of Cosmic Jokers and sets up in a reunion mass composition like only Kluster did, back in 1971, by releasing three monumental albums, then "demising" into oblivion.

The quintet (for now, given this debut) that reunites under the spell of Cosmic Jokers is essentially made of pioneers, eclectic musicians, intrinsic personalities, grave explorers of their music and fascinated numb spirits (in an ethereal mix of perspective and dissolution), all five having their own illustrious movements of electronic, krautrock, acid bangle, psychedelic atrophy or noise melody resemblance: in no order of preference. For Klaus Schulze and Manuel Göttsching, this is a project most comfortable, as the best music from Ash Ra Tempel resembled the same damnation of sound and vivid exploration (and even did that about three years before this one, the debut of their band being an absolute masterpiece - or a landing project in all the mix I've already described). Harlad Großkopf, as drummer of very good value, sticks around the major kraut/electro movement, or gets similar invitations into similar imposable recordings. Jürgen Dollase, to my own shame, is an artist I know less, but his industrial space ethic gets good signs each classic time.

Cosmic Jokers is an impression of monumental work, composition and experimentation, on high grounds that only some of the most bizarre, adjacent and frightening gloats of the psychedelic, acid rock and void cosmic art can show. It will be the exactly the same monumental work and musicianship that will produce, later that year, some horrible and inexquisite loss of value; but, for the moment, two albums, wearing the same characteristic, make the project more than worthwhile. And the angered taste of this experiment is downright fantastic.

Going back to the most fruitful and out of ordinary experiments the krautrock fascination, along with some first signs of electronic distortion, have shown, from the machinelike spiritualists of Kluster to the less improving, but totally cosmic-ruptured tough works made by the various group that formed, between 1970-1973, Tangerine Dream, to Ash Ra Tempel and it's loose-art of deep, sedative and scorched sound rock, finally Cosmic Jokers come around the last best sad and assaultive magicians of this genre, maybe out of pure luck of experimental and grouch music substance, maybe out of a classic feeling that's never lost; only needs to be taken as most artistic, mindblowing and a bit lunatic, aggressive, hippy-marooned. For a good reason, the technicality of this band is replaced by the expression and the large consumption of strong inspiration, vision and ascension. Without a specific cult in mind, both the krautrock sustenances and the electronic precarious clear light for the entire insoluble great taste of Cosmic Jokers and, most specifically, of Cosmic Jokers. I myself think of this band in relation to Klaus Schulze, though himself just exists his great movement of mechanical, cosmic and sound-swaring creak-beliefs - it's just another way of seeing 1974 and this reunion of Cosmic Jokers.

Cosmic Jokers breaks away art, noise and shattering illusions, at the full indication of visions, intentionally harmful explorations, dark desolated experiences through the mechanical, traditional or expressive brightness of the rock, or even some doom-treated God-less points of alienating surround. But, in fact, it's more abstract, psychedelic-trendy, chemical and drastic, in bases of kraut and mind-feed. Cosmic Joy is quintessential, because of its lack of melody, true orientation, good moods and clear samples; it's an entire cosmic, toroidal collapse of brutal organs, lapse and loops, acidness and decorousness, plus it pulls a bit the technicality of the ascetic movement, though it has no tribal or shamanic chants. Galactic Joke is up front the kraut rock taste. It's main difference goes into beat, dark rhythm and space-exploding guitar improvisations by Gottsching. Small experiments become a heavy ambulatory experience, down the path of voyages and frantic sound changes.

A long, deep, tough and mordant composition and experience, more impressive as a passion and a force samlung then a bickering state of neurosis and over-pumping greasy sounds. Given the detail of reunion and fabulous musicianship, this is close to all the significant attractions and distractions krautrock, underground developed electronic, sound and noise music, from the psychedelic and rock-blow origins, has been done, masterfully. Cosmic Jokers start losing their grip soon enough, so profit from the best recommendation it has fleshed out, this Cosmic Jokers.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This masterpiece caused a deep satisfaction to me, which should not be a surprise as I'm a fan of the early Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel, and the members of those bands are essential part of this project group.

A-side introduces the elements which please me so much; Beautiful calm melodies and ethereal, open echo treatments creating aesthetically perfect vintage cosmic music. There are also mantra-like progressions slightly reminding the "Mediation Mass" record of Yatha Sidhra. The drums enter after four minutes to dance gently to the back ground. Music evolves slowly and logically, directing to both outer and inner space, driving to a deeper level after an inviting beginning, seducing to listen to the music intensively. Calm levels with slightly oriental tones lead to stronger passage, sounding Tangerine Dream with drums, creating a perfect synthesis from these elements.

B-side opens with beautiful quiet reverb prayer, starting another journey, resembling strongly the styles of the main groups of the musicians, being beautiful, calm psychedelic voyage to the realms of light and shadows, later hovering trough abstract musical entities which some of them sound like borne from innovation of Pink Floyd's late 1960's sounds, expanded to full capacity when the restraints of pioneers and commercial pressures are conquered in music like this.

In my opinion this album contains really serious and interesting music, and I would recommend it to anybody interested of this music genre.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Early krautrock supergroup, but more obviously - just side project of members from some leading German psychedelic/kraut bands from early 70-s.

Main sound is based on Manuel Göttsching (Ash Ra Temple) excellent guitar and Klaus Schulze synth. Just two long instrumental compositions (on later CD re-release divided to 5 pieces). Essential LSD-influenced spacey sound - aerial, electronic jamming, with drumming and guitar sound, transferred through electronic devices.

Dreamy, hypnotic, meditative - but very light at the same time. Being in fact just jamming improve, all sound construction is connected by thin shining spacey lines. I wasn't caught by this music after first listening, but spin after spin I just was hypnotised.

Really unique atmosphere and fantastic work, essential German early spacey psychedelic release.

My rating - 4+!

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In the spring of 73, Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser, one of the leading promoters of Krautrock, brought musicians from Ash Ra Tempel and Wallenstein together for a couple of impromptu jams. He recorded and released those sessions without ever consulting or paying any of the musicians involved. Needless to say, they were very displeased. It's a well known anecdote that Göttsching first heard the album in a record shop and had to ask what was playing. Also Schulze overtly disowns the albums stating that these sessions were never intended for release.

The artists' objections are entirely justified, but for the fans of cosmic rock this project is a gift from heaven, or rather, from deep space. The quality of the albums is very high and it's a delight hearing those musicians run wild with ideas without worrying for a second about the commercial potential of the material. Total freedom, resulting in one of the strongest 'out-there' recordings of the 70s.

The self-titled Cosmic Jokers album was the first album released and is generally regarded as the best. Which is only logical as Kaiser sure wanted to select the strongest cuts for the first release, the two ensuing albums are not far behind though. The 4th and 5th albums are no real Cosmic Joker album but compilations from various artist of Kaiser's record labels.

The album consists of two lengthy jams split into 5 tracks. The Cosmic Joke jam is a masterpiece of space-rock, a unique acid trip that has enough groove and melody to make it an engaging listen. The second track is a lot weirder, darker and more abstract, but even without clear melodic or rhythmic patterns, it's still a feast of guitar effect, phasing and reverb.

Despite its questionable origins, this is an essential album in the cosmic division of Krautrock. Obviously recommended for fans of Ash Ra Tempel and early Schulze, Cluster, Ummagumma-era Floyd and Tangerine Dream's so-called 'Pink' years.

Review by Warthur
4 stars If we gave stars for ethics, we'd have to give this one 0 out of 5 - but other contributors have already outlined the dodgy history behind this recording. Regardless of whether the artists involved knew that their private jam was going to be turned into an album or not, the fact is that the debut Cosmic Jokers album delivers the absolute cream of the crop from that legendary session, and presents a Krautrock fan's dream lineup in the performance. Not quite fitting the sound of any of the members' "day jobs", it's worth a listen to anyone who's a fan of Ash Ra Tempel or other artists from the Cosmic Couriers stable.
Review by Neu!mann
4 stars The sordid tale of The Cosmic Jokers is well known by now: how producer/svengali Rolf- Ulrich Kaiser organized several LSD jam sessions with members of ASH RA TEMPEL and WALLENSTEIN, and then began releasing LPs without permission from (or the knowledge of) the musicians themselves.

Not lost in the resulting scandal was the awkward fact that at least on this first album the Jokers played some of the most urgent and exploratory Space Rock ever heard, in Germany or anywhere else. If the whole thing had been legitimate from the start The Cosmic Jokers would now be recognized as Krautrock's ultimate supergroup, instead of a strictly makeshift party of psychedelic moonlighters exploited by a misguided visionary with a weakness for hallucinogenic drugs.

Fans of early Ash Ra Temple will feel right at home, especially since the album follows the same blueprint as that band's better efforts: one LP-side of energetic jamming; the other a long, ambient chill-out. Both halves include some of guitarist Manuel Göttsching's most inspired soloing, subtle and intense at the same time, with the meaty subterranean bass of producer/engineer Dieter Dierks giving the music its ominous momentum, embellished by what sounds like every flanger and phase effect filter in West Germany at the time.

Klaus Schulze's contributions are less obvious, or at any rate less distinctive for an artist of his ambition and influence, limited more or less to vague atmospherics and the occasional eruption of synthesized noise, perhaps one reason why he always regarded these sessions with such outspoken disdain. But he would soon afterward re-team with drummer Harald Großkopf for his own solo variation of the same kosmische voyage, on albums like "Moondawn" and the "Body Love" soundtracks.

The Cosmic Jokers quickly attained an almost mythic status as the classic Krautrock band that never was. Even today there's something very compelling, very unsettling about this music, and it isn't just the underhanded way it was recorded and sold. If R.U. Kaiser was truly hoping to capture some sort of blissfully altered cosmic consciousness he missed by a light year, tapping instead into an altogether darker corner of the counterculture experience. And the joke was ultimately on Kaiser himself, who quickly found himself facing legal action, ignominy, and exile.

But this one album, by itself, may have been worth a lot of his subsequent grief. And while I would never argue that the ends in any way justified such unethical means, the evidence here suggests there may have been at least some method to his madness.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A collaboration of members of Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel and Wallenstein, the self- titled album `The Cosmic Jokers' is an immersive psychedelic space-rock album, comprised of two side-long pieces that takes the listener on a journey through the most wondrous and loneliest corners of deep space. A voyage of innermost discovery, filled with the most amazing sensations of wonder and, eventually, feelings of come-down and cold isolation. The album can be compared to various works of the above mentioned artists, as well as lost-in-space albums such as `Dom - Edge Of Time'.

Like early `Saucerful'-era Floyd live, Side A's `Cosmic Joke' has a dark drama, a definite sense of unease contrasted with moments of real joy and comfort, provided by Manuel Gottsching's lilting and gentle guitar melodies that twinkle and shine like the surrounding stars. Dieter Dierks' drifting and plodding bass is hypnotic, while Harald Grobkopf's percussion and drum-work is gentle and light. Very low-key synths from Klaus Schulze dance in the background, but they're eerily present at all times. He has a much more prominent role on the second side. The second section has strange bubbling and echoing electronics that are instantly uneasy, the drama raised by the now chugging guitar and bass and heavier commanding drumming. The final part has a constantly sluggish and ambient tone, with dreamy drawn out bass notes that make your mind feel like it's moving in slow-motion. Some more typical melodic and gentle guitar from Manuel, before some very threatening keys from Klaus that are almost gothic in their grandeur, very unsettling with a hint of mystery and threat in them. He then adds some stabbing and whirling synths, and the track falls away on a fadeout after an oppressive robotic voice.

Side B's `Cosmic Joy' is anything but that to my ears! A predominantly Klaus Schulze electronic based piece, it's more ambient, freeform and abstract like his early solo work, and also just as frequently terrifying and oppressive. Beginning with ghostly spectral synths that envelope the listener, Schulze brings in harsh shimmering electronics amongst howling winds and mucky far-away bass. It creates a very isolating, sinister atmosphere. Eventually the synths form into monolithic glacial walls of stone that surround and trap the listener. The murky distorted tuneless bass is repulsive, backed with cold, distant, almost tribal drumming. The final section sounds like it's performed underwater, with a fierce thunderstorm booming overhead. The most maddening dirtiest bass, vile and gloomy muted drums and punishing bass sounds truly apocalyptic. Although the piece ends on a ghostly and spectral melody, it's a lovely escape from the suffocating horror of the second side overall!

The album offers two very different sides of space music to appreciate - the dreamy and floating first side, with the gloomy and oppressive second side. It's not an album you'll play all the time, but one that will haunt you when you do dig it out. It's a hugely emotional and refined musical work that's endlessly fascinating.

Four stars.

Review by Modrigue
3 stars Ash Ra Tempel's little brother

3.5 stars

Let's go straight to the point: COSMIC JOKERS is what ASH RA TEMPEL would have sounded in 1974 if Manuel Göttsching hadn't change direction after the departure of Hermut Enke: long immersive and trippy psychedelic / space krautrock jamming. Furthermore, the formula is identical: the first side is more rock-oriented, whereas the second side is more ambient and spacey. To be honest, Klaus Schulze's synthesizers are a bit more present, but this was a logical evolution in the genre in the mid-70's.

The two tracks are 20 minutes improvised pieces recorded in 1973 during sessions organized by Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser at Dieter Dierks' studio.

The first side, "Galactic Joke", is undoubtedly a little star in the space rock universe. Mainly dominated by guitars, it features different ambiances: mysterious, spatial, ferocious, and even sounding sometimes like HAWKWIND! You'll travel far far across the universe... The mystical finale is simply stellar! Any krautrock fan MUST hear this. Mindblowing! An excellent soundtrack for exploring the galaxies, with a quality on par with ASH RA TEMPEL's best compositions.

The second side, "Cosmic Joy", is unfortunately not as cosmic as the first one. More driven by keyboards, this ambient track feels rather like strange electronic short passages put together, sometimes nice, sometimes chaotic. It has a few nice moments, however does not really succeed at building something. Although the sonorities can remind Klaus Schulze's early solo works, the entire piece lacks overall musical direction. A bit deceiving after the galactic journey of the first side.

Keep in mind that "Cosmic Jokers" consists in improvised sessions, which were not supposed to be officially released as a studio album, not more from under an official band name! Despite all this, you can see the performers' talents, as this disc offers one of the finest example of 'Kosmische Musik'.

Recommended to space rock and krautrock fans, and simply essential for ASH RA TEMPEL lovers!

Latest members reviews

4 stars One of the first recordings released on the new Rolf Ulrich Kaiser's "Cosmic Courriers" label, featuring top "cosmic" musicians such as Manuel Gottsching and Klaus Schulze. This was originally not an consentant album recording since the musicians featured here were invited by Rolf Ulrich Kaise ... (read more)

Report this review (#113685) | Posted by samhob | Tuesday, February 27, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Good lord this music will make you scramble for some thorazine! Full of swirling, shifting guitar and keyboard dominated instrumental psychedelic space rock, it probably bears most resemblance to Ash Ra Tempel's first album. This is a purely drugged landscape that travels through your head and le ... (read more)

Report this review (#54789) | Posted by wooty | Saturday, November 5, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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