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German Oak


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German Oak German Oak [Aka: Down In The Bunker] album cover
3.67 | 58 ratings | 9 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Airalert (1:55)
2. Down In The Bunker (17:57)
3. Raid Over Duesseldorf (15:42)
4. 1945 - Out Of The Ashes (2:13)

Total Time: 37:47

Bonus tracks on 1990 CD release:
5. Swastika Rising (4:55)
6. The Third Reich (10:18)
7. Shadows Of War (5:54) :
- a) Rain Of Destruction
- b) V1 To London

Bonus tracks on 2017 double-LP edition:
3-1 Bear Song 9:40
3-2 Happy Stripes (On Cats) 11:30
3-3 Ghost Guitar 7:26
3-4 Bear Song (Alternative) 11:18

Extra bonus tracks on 2017 triple-CD / LP editions:
2-1 Belle's Song (Extended) 25:59
2-2 Missile Song (Extended) 34:26

Extra bonus tracks on 2017 triple-CD edition:
3-5 Harpy & Peregrine 4:05
3-6 Python Vs. Tiger 4:56
3-7 Giant Rock; Boulder Golem 12:17

The four (re-titled) tracks from the original album have been restored from vinyl:
"Screaming Skeletons" originally issued as "Airalert"
"Missile Song" originally issued as "Down in the Bunker"
"Belle's Song" originally issued as "Raid Over Dusseldorf"
"Nothing" originally issued as "1945 - Out of the Ashes"

The remaining tracks were taken from cassette:
"Bear Song" originally issued as "The Third Reich" on some album reissues
"Ghost Guitar" originally issued as "Nibelungenlied I: Siegfried & Kriemhild" on Nibelungenlied
"Bear Song (Alternate)" and "Happy Stripes (on Cats)" previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- Wolfgang Franz Czaika / lead & rhythm guitars
- Norbert Luckas / guitar, tape, noises
- Manfred Uhr / organ, fuzz-organ, voice
- Harry Kallweit / bass, voice
- Ulrich Kallweit / drums, percussion

Releases information

Recorded Live at the Luftschutzbunker (Air-Raid Shelter) Düsseldorf-hamm.

Artwork: Manfred Uhr

LP Bunker Records ‎- BU 1-72 (1970, Germany)
2xLP Now-Again Records ‎- NANA 5151-LP (2017, US) Remaster by Dave Cooley w/ 4 bonus tracks
3xLP Now-Again Records ‎- NANA 5151-LP (2017, US) Remaster by Dave Cooley w/ 6 bonus tracks

CD Witch & Warlock - W&W 004 (1990, Germany) With 3 bonus tracks
3xCD Now-Again Reserve ‎- NA 5151 (2017, US) Remaster by Dave Cooley w/ 9 bonus tracks

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy GERMAN OAK German Oak [Aka: Down In The Bunker] Music

GERMAN OAK German Oak [Aka: Down In The Bunker] ratings distribution

(58 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

GERMAN OAK German Oak [Aka: Down In The Bunker] 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 A conceptual album? Maybe. Anyway this self title album is all about the II world war and its denunciation. This album is an electrified and original kraut improvisation with many weird, strange atmospheres injected into it. "Airalert " is an illustration of a military march. The electric organ stresses the tempo on it. "Down In The Bunker" can be seen as a funeral hymn related to chaos and the tragic consequences of war. A dark, creepy ambient atmosphere prevails, sustained by rolling drum parts, heavy, crying guitar lines and some frantic repetitive bass lines. Imagine something somewhere between TD's "electronic meditation" and Kluster but with more emphasis on the "dark" side. "Raid Over Düsseldorf" is an impressive, catchy "psych" heavy rock tune with lot of wha wha guitar effects and an outstanding contrast between a moody ambiance and a bluesy rock instrumentation. The rhythm is perpetual, systematic and guides the listener into an "acid" rock avalanche. "1945 - Out Of The Ashes" is a similar theme than the first track, based on a plaintive electric organ with an obsessional rhythmic. The 3 bonus tracks on the new CD reissue express also very interesting musical moments with some aggressive rock tunes, punctuated by inspired meditative, repetitive organ arrangements and concrete noises. A beautifully sinister musical adventure. Very fine and one of my all times favourite 70's rock item.
Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
3 stars This eponymous GERMAN OAK album is somewhat controversial. For some it's the ultimate krautrock effort for others an amateurish unskilled product which can be ignored. My truth lies in between somewhere. The band members are working up the horrible historical experiences of the Second World War in their own way. I'm quite sure this was only meant to provoke reactions but it might be mistakable to take such a cover art and song titles which are referring to war themes. Additionally they decided to use an original bunker resp. air-raid shelter situated in Düsseldorf for the recordings. This altogether defines a special mystery around the album.

The four songs - two longer jams prepared with a two minute intro and outro - sound like simple garage recordings with a hall-effect. The bunker atmosphere brings a special dark, depressive touch to the music. Airalert seems to be a snippet of a longer jam provided with heavy organ contributions and it would be really interesting to hear more but soon the song fades out and Down in the Bunker starts experimental with industrial sounds remembering of Faust or Space Explosion. Later the band begins to play more structured and the mood changes to a longer doom part similiar to the early Black Sabbath provided with some weird guitar solos. The bass is played absolutely unvaried and plus guitar and drums I can only hear a standard trio crew whereas the line-up is indicated with 5 members.

The same with Raid over Düsseldorf following as an acid rocking psych jam in opposite to the depressing forerunner track and finally assuring the third star. The song has a really optimistic drive - primitive but good with a remarkable team work. But organ is absent once again here in opposite to the outro 1945 - Out of the Ashes continuing the first track but with a surprising end offering a short sample with church bells, traffic sound and birds' twittering.

It's typical for krautrock productions to use simple song structures, repetitive patterns and weird contributions. But for me this album is musically and conceptionally not very challenging and therefore not essential. It might be a great find though for other fans of obscure krautrock and psych music.

Review by Dobermensch
1 stars Blimey. it's another of those albums I should like, but just don't. It has a great front cover which attracted me to it in the first place. But it's just so God awful dull! and it sounds like it was recorded in a wine cellar - with all the musicians having drunk all the booze. It's a painful dirge - even after getting past the 1st few tracks which are... ahem!... 'bonus live numbers' at the beginning the CD, for some reason. It really stinks I'm afraid. It's hard to believe 5 blokes were involved recording this. A One man band with his flute and booming drum could have done better than this. No redeeming qualities at all I'm afraid. It's pants.
Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars A very unique sounding album from 1972. Apparently this was recorded in an air raid shelter and unfortunately you can tell. It's muddy and murky sounding and I spent a good deal of time trying to adjust my stereo so it would sound half decent with no success. It is what it is (haha). So while this is hailed by many for being original and very underground sounding, in my opinion it just sounds bad. Poor sound quality. I should mention my cd has no bonus tracks on it, just the original songs.

"Airalert" opens with sounds that build but it hard to tell what the sounds are. Organ takes the lead late in this short intro track. "Down In The Bunker" features sounds that echo, bang and drift. Again it's very muddy sounding. Drums start to lead before it turns spacey after 9 minutes as a beat follows. Guitar joins in making some muffled sounds. This is a tough listen as it goes on for 18 minutes.

"Raid Over Duesseldorf" is the only song that sounds clearer. I don't know if it was recorded somewhere else or just differently but this track brings this recording up to a 3 star album for me from the 2 I would have given it. It's a great tune as they jam in that Krautrock style. "1945-Out Of The Ashes" is back to the murky waters with organ and a beat but i'm not sure what else.

3 stars for the one track alone, but overall a disappointment.

Review by LearsFool
5 stars In the early '70's, a few young musicians from Dusseldorf, newly baptised into the hippie movement, yet still angry at the actions of the previous generation, retreated into an abandoned war era bunker under the city. There, with cheap instruments, and cheaper recording equipment, they managed to cut a strange, dour hidden gem for krautrock. The result was hated and panned when it first surfaced, but would later be vindicated for what it was. So most of the album is a dark, tinny, claustrophobic rumination on the war and horror the Nazis wrought. Particularly terrifying voice samples of Hitler, and of falling bombs, hammer home the bleakness of war and how evil the party was. It feels like the whole war is just falling down on you. The recording techniques and makeshift recording studio result in the lo-fi sound quality that high fives that of the first Smiths album, but, and this is an important lesson to learn, lo-fi has its uses, and this is one of them. This album could not ever be as claustrophobic, as off, as horrifying, without it sounding like it came from a mine in Cornwall. We are in the bunker with the band as they play their anger out. Seventeen chords and the truth. Eventually, the rage the band had is quenched, and then they jam. The SQ is no better, but it is a unique effect, interesting to listen to the psychedelic throwdown through the lens of war's SQ; perhaps this is the aftermath, still dark, but now hopeful. The instrumentation is wonderful, and more people here would find much to love had this been hi-fi. The band, through the playing, sampling, and choice of recording techniques, were just excellent. The hatred came from being mistaken for being pro-war when the album first surfaced, and then compounded by those who listened to it and hated the sound quality, but this is a tin coated masterpiece. And it should never be listened to any other way.
Review by Modrigue
4 stars Krautrock inside the bunker

Let's see... A black and white cover art representing a German officer from World War I or II... Track names such as: "Airalert", "Raid Over Düsseldorf", "Swastika Rising", "The Third Reich"... Not very attractive, is it? Nonetheless, despite all this, you'd be unwise not to give this record a listen. Don't be fooled by this repelling exterior, this album is in fact one of Krautrock's best obscure gems, both figuratively and literally.

This first and eponymous release by Düsseldorf instrumental quintet GERMAN OAK features dark extended psychedelic/space rock jamming around repeated main themes. Another copycat of ASH RA TEMPEL? Well... There is a noticeable difference.... In 1972, rarely has a record sounded this dark, claustrophobic, tortured. Like SUBARACHNOID SPACE, but 25 years ahead. The music possesses an unique atmosphere, crafted by the massive usage of heavily distorted and fuzzy instruments, original sonorities, as well as unusual samples for a psychedelic record: falling bombs, air sirens, and even a short extract from a Hitler's speech! Don't worry, the German youth of the 60's-70's developed their own musical genres and built itself against and strongly rejected the values and the political orientation of the former generation. With "German Oak", the band wanted to denunciate the war atrocities and "dedicated this record to their parents which had a bad time in World War II" (as written on the sleeve note). So two opposite worlds collide: psychedelia and WWII. The approach was for sure risky, but the result is pretty interesting and original.

The disc is structured around two long krautjams. After the dark psych introduction "Airalert" appears the main title of the album. Like its title suggests, "Down In The Bunker" was actually recorded in an old WWII bunker. This is truly an unique and impressive experience, both for the musicians, who could nearly sense ghosts of the past while playing in this forgotten place, and for the listener. The ambiance is thrilling, threatening, as a sensation of suffocation, summoning spirits waiting during the bombings or fallen in combat. The drumming reminds PINK FLOYD's "Set the Controls..." at times. A bit monotonous, but easily one of the darkest Krautrock titles of the 70's! On the contrary, "Raid Over Düsseldorf" is more accessible. A lighter kraut/space rock jam with distorted instruments. the sonorities used in the ending section are quite uncommon. "1945 - Out Of The Ashes" is a organ- driven psych outro representing hope and reconstruction.

The 3 bonus tracks included on the Witch & Warlock reissue features are also worth the listen. The two first ones consist in variations around single musical patterns. "Swastika Rising" is heavy and powerful, whereas the psych rock jam "The Third Reich" opens with a short extract from a Hitler speech. More original, "Shadows Of War" is divided in two parts. The first section is almost post-rock, due to its beautiful ambient saturated keyboards, weaving impressions of desolation. Another speech makes the transition for the experimental second section composed miscellaneous sounds.

"German Oak" is an obscure little gem with a surprising thematic, a psychedelic trip into the horrific past, a descent to the abysses of war, a meeting with tortured soldier spirits. There are a few drawbacks: some lengthy passages, a little lack of variety and the poor sound quality. But all these are largely compensated by the dark atmosphere the music delivers, sinister and beautiful, enhanced by unusual sonorities and saturated instruments. Ambiance is the key.

It's a shame this record didn't received the success it deserved, certainly due to the adopted approach, too radical, and the controversial WWII concept. The band has original musical ideas and sounds for its time, that will be more structured in the their next release.

If you don't like long improvisations built around a simple main theme, this album won't change your opinion. Nonetheless, if you enjoy ASH RA TEMPEL, SUBARACHNOID SPACE and extended krautrock psychedelic jams, then "German Oak" is an essential listen! Prepare to go down for an unique sonic experience...

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars One of the true Krautrock gems that swept into creation during the wild excesses of the early 1970s, GERMAN OAK delivered the kind of psychedelic fueled nightmarish soundscapes that proto-industrial dreams were made of. This collective of German hippies who formed a commune in Düsseldorf created that which some have designated as bunker rock, a term which refers to the space jams crafted by the five members who participated in the depths of an underground bunker. Unlike most Krautrock artists, these guys took the opposite approach of escaping the atrocities of Germany's recent past and instead adopted them as a launching pad to transmogrify into the new realities of the modern era.

While only existing for a short time, GERMAN OAK spent a great deal of time in the Luftschutzbunker, or Air Raid Shelter in order to employ the uncanny acoustic qualities that the location allowed which was perfectly conducive to the creepy dark mysterious sounds oozing out of Germany's psychedelic Krautrock and Berlin School movements. The band recorded enough material for two albums and a number of bonus tracks but only released its self-titled album during its existence in 1972. The second album "Nibelungenlied" followed as an archival release in 1992 and the bonus tracks have been tacked onto many of the reissues. The original album remained one of those true obscurities for decades as only a limited number of copies were pressed and most remained unsold until the rest of the world caught up to the epic sounds that emerged during those years.

Various reissues over the years have been retitled "Down In The Bunker" as record labels latched onto what set GERMAN OAK apart from the multitude of similar seekers of taking the world of psychedelic rock to the farthest out trips possible. The original album featured only four tracks. The opening "Air Alert" and the closing "Out Of The Ashes" featured heavy organ swell bombast with wild unruly bass bantering, acid guitar freakery and bombastic percussive drive but these two tracks were short and were designed merely to bookend the two sprawling middle tracks that both exceeded the 16-minute mark. The quickened tempos of the intro and outro connote a sense of urgency and channels the lingering panic of a terrorized population ready to flee at a moment's notice during the cold and torturous days of the second World War.

The bulk of the experience lies with the two sprawlers "Down In The Bunker" and "Raid Over Dusseldorf." The first of which takes a lallygagging stroll in slow tempo mode as pseudo-jazzy drum rolls provide the canvass upon which an acid guitar lick revolves in a receptive cyclical loop and as a bantering bass provides a more accessible funk groove. "Raid Over Dusseldorf" picks up the speed and features the only true rocking experience on the album with a heavy bass / drum rhythm section joined in by more standard rock guitar riffing. Very much a psychedelic jam, GERMAN OAK were seasoned enough musicians to add the spice which made a near 16-minute track interesting with creative variations of percussive patterns, fuzzed out guitar effects and the beefy funk field bass grooves which kept it all unified.

One of the odd mysteries surrounding band are the accusations of it being one of the first cryptofa bands, a word that means "a covert fascist" or those who hide in the shadows in celebration of the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Nazi regime. Despite such claims there is really no evidence to support this. While most post-war Germans were driven to escapism which ultimately led to the surreal soundscapes of the world of Krautrock, many stared the evil past square in the eye in order to purge the evil spirits of the past in a form of musical catharsis. This is an all instrumental affair save the few spoken outbursts of enthusiasm that pop up now and again. The fascination for the fascist years presumably as an educational stance is evident by the black and white album cover art.

In many ways the style of music presented by GERMAN OAK was the ultimate expression of the entire Krautrock scene. The collective efforts of hippie ideals engaging in crafting the most spaced out fuzzed fueled DIY jams as possible with no regard to what would become of it. The music certainly did fall on deaf ears at the time and it would've been safe to assume that these recordings would've been lost to time had the rest of the world not surely but slowly sought out the lost sounds of the era that took a nation by storm for a brief moment in time. This one is a bit confusing since some reissues even changed the names of the titles but for my money's worth this mysterious little slice of bunker rock is one of the most unique in the entire classic Krautrock scene made all the more mysterious by the echoey bunker reverberations that sound were as effective as any fancy shmancy studio effects.

Latest members reviews

5 stars It has been a while since i have been so excited and enthusiastic about music new to me as this debut, self-titled album by krautrock obscurity German Oak, which i heard for the first time recently. Recorded in 1972, this album was overlooked and not really promoted at the time, and that is a s ... (read more)

Report this review (#602665) | Posted by presdoug | Tuesday, January 3, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Lets be honest, this is not a prog-rock music. If you like King Crimson, Yes or ELP run away! If you like weired sounds, krautrock, psychedelic trips, dreamy, long, raw sounding brainshakers you found what you like. If someone say it is a space rock I could agree. That record was made in Air R ... (read more)

Report this review (#80486) | Posted by | Tuesday, June 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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