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BETWEEN

Krautrock • Multi-National


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Between picture
Between biography
Founded in Munich, Germany in 1970 (as Between The Chairs) - Ceased activity around 1980

PETER MICHAEL HAMEL founded BETWEEN, an international band specialised in improvisational / « ethnic » rock music. The name Between comes from the fact that Hamel's music is originaly "in-between", always making a combination between "popular music" and "serious music". The classical musician Robert Eliscu (born American), responsible of oboe parts in POPOL VUH can be considered as the major member of the musical tribe next to Peter Michael Hamel. With a small community of six members, BETWEEN recorded its first album "Einstieg" in 1971. It directly announces the musical orientation to come, timeless ethnic rock compositions, mixing together several acoustic instruments (bongo, flute.) to folk and jazz. "And the waters openened" recorded in 1973 carries on improvisations and acoustic exploration, played in a rather "spacey" rock atmosphere, sometimes closed to krautrock, weird flavour. "Dharana" (1974) is seen as a classic album and marks a new step in the launch of "world" music. It contains long epic, acoustic pieces with a few minimalist, oriental accents. "Hesse Between Music" (1975) is a concept album, always improvised, featuring Indian scales and recitation. During and after BETWEEN's career, the front man Peter Michael Hamel has developed the possibilities of spiritual effects of music on mind thanks to a great variety of solo albums in search of East meets West.

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BETWEEN discography


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BETWEEN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.44 | 24 ratings
Einstieg
1971
4.07 | 68 ratings
And The Waters Opened
1973
3.65 | 29 ratings
Dharana
1974
3.82 | 8 ratings
Hesse Between Music
1975
3.57 | 7 ratings
Contemplation
1977
4.18 | 8 ratings
Silence Beyond Time
1980

BETWEEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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BETWEEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hesse Between Music by BETWEEN album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.82 | 8 ratings

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Hesse Between Music
Between Krautrock

Review by ProgAlia

4 stars For their fourth album, Between had made something special. Selected texts by Hermann Hesse should be the focus of the album, presented by Gert Westphal and musically complemented and framed by Between. The whole thing was probably mainly an idea of ​​"Jazz Pope" Joachim-Ernst Berendt, who has been organizing projects under the motto "Poetry & Music" (or "Jazz & Poetry") since the early 1950s. Berendt not only produced "Hesse Between Music" but also selected the lyrics.

Lyrics and music in "Hesse Between Music" are so balanced. Westphal reads (speaks) excerpts from Hesse and Between make music. The music of the group represents a similar mixture of jazz, Indian, classical and a trace of electronic, as on the previous discs. The music is a bit more varied, however, with meditative, hypnotic-hymnic soundscapes,and simple improvisation. The mood of the music adapts to the respective Hessetexten, which sometimes turned out poetic-word-painting, sometimes humorous-direct, occasionally ironic, almost sarcastic. By and large, the group succeeds in finding the right mood and merging text and music into a single unit. A little put on and imposed on the whole but in places, something intentional intellectual. Since the music is often subordinated to the lyrics, it sometimes seems a bit pale and simple, just like accompanying music.

"Hesse Between Music" offers an interesting tightrope walk between music, poetry and lyric. The Italians of Pholas Dactylus had a similar concept, but with a much more rock-oriented "accompaniment music". Who appreciates their only album, has something for Hesse and the contemplative Indojazz (rock) of Between mag, should also check out "Hesse Between Music"!

 And The Waters Opened by BETWEEN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.07 | 68 ratings

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And The Waters Opened
Between Krautrock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Few Krautrock outfits, with the exception of maybe Popol Vuh, quite approach the mixture of sparse, minimalistic beauty and world music influences that Between display on the gorgeous And The Waters Opened. At the same time, Between also show a command of electronics and other cutting-edge sounds, with a drone kicking off the album that reminds me more than a little of the sonorous tones of Tangerine Dream's Zeit. Psychedelic jam music was already old hat by 1973, but Between manage to refresh the format beautifully here. Krautrock and early ambient music fuse at the hip here to yield an intriguing crossbreed.
 Dharana by BETWEEN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.65 | 29 ratings

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Dharana
Between Krautrock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Of BETWEEN's first three albums this is by far the most accessible. I like it more than their experimental debut "Einstieg", but it's not nearly as good as their masterpiece "And The Waters Opened" in my opinion.

"Dharana" is pleasant and mellow world music with the aboe and percussion leading the way. "Joy...Sadness...Joy" is about the highs and lows of life. Percussion and aboe stand out as the organ pulses throughout. The tempo slows down after 4 minutes and we get some chanting 5 minutes in. The tempo and earlier sounds return 8 minutes in to the end. "Om Namo Buddhaya" has lyrics that are apparently a famous Buddhist mantra about bowing down to Buddha. I think i'll pass on that one. Besides the vocals we get strange sounds and flute. "Sunset" is a Japanese influenced and reflective instrumental of acoustic guitar melodies.

"Listen To The Light" is an aboe and pipe organ instrumental. "Dharana" means deepest inner collection and concentration. It is the almost 22 minute side long track. It opens with a gong before some brief eerie sounds are replaced by the aboe and percussion which lead the way. Some chanting 6 minutes in. The percussion dominates 10 minutes in. More chanting after 12 minutes. My favourite part of the whole record is 14 1/2 minutes in when we get waves of sound that continue right to the end of the song. Some chanting comes and goes, and water-like sounds join in too. "The Voice Of Silence" is a bonus track over 17 minutes long. It consists mainly of pipe organ pulses and vocal melodies.

So Peter Hamel has taken the band even further down the new age road of enlightenment with this one. Good record, but not great.

 And The Waters Opened by BETWEEN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.07 | 68 ratings

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And The Waters Opened
Between Krautrock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In the liner notes guitarist Roberto Detree says that their ambition in making "And The Waters Opened" was not that different from that of the debut. The big difference was that band leader Peter Hamel had been to India many times and practically showered the band with the Indian approach to music and spiritual ideas. The first album "Einstieg" was occupied with experimental sound research as it were, while this album was occupied with the Arabic-Indian tradition. Peter Hamel said "After the LP came out, we were told we were making music that did a lot of people good, that they used it to meditate, to relax, to heal themselves. Naturally we thought that was great ! We were making New Age music before the concept existed. By the time it(New Age) did, we didn't want to have anything to do with it, because it often concealed an extremely low musical level, shallowness in a culture of purity". What I love about this record besides how spiritual it is, is how dark and haunting it often is.

"Journey To The Ixtland" is very ominous with spooky sounds and percussion. 2 1/2 minutes in we get some flute-like melodies along with what sounds like violin screeches and pounding kettle drums. And "The Waters Opened" offers up more haunting music and humming sounds. After 2 minutes ethnic sounds take over. It comes to a dramatic head 4 minutes in as it gets very loud and experimental. As it settles down percussion comes in, and the tempo picks up a minute later. Congas 7 minutes in before what sounds like water a minute later over-runs the soundscape. Vocal melodies as percussion continues to beat. Strummed guitar and flute 9 1/2 minutes in. "Uroboros" opens with more ethnic sounds with this hum in the background. It gets kind of crazy 2 minutes in as all kinds of sounds can be heard. A melody then comes out of it with percussion. Vocal melodies followed by aboe as it gets an Indian flavour. "Syn" opens with waves of sounds as it feels like we are floating in deep, dark space. Yet I can see why this might be healing music. There is something about this that is moving my inner soul.

"Devotion" is a catchy but soothing song with vocals. I was reminded of POPOL VUH. Percussion and ethnic sounds are joined by keys 1 1/2 minutes in. This is great ! "Happy Stage" opens with aboe as flute, strummed guitar and percussion eventually join in. Some keys come and go. Strummed guitar and percussion dominate 9 minutes in. "Samum" opens with acoustic guitar that lasts a minute then percussion and aboe join in. It sounds like wind blowing before 3 minutes until it dominates the sound a minute later. This creates a very eerie soundscape. The final 2 tracks are bonus songs(as was the opening track). "Kalenda Maya" features aboe and percussion, while "Former Times" features some excellent flute with piano and percussion.

Well i much prefer this to the experimental "Einstieg", even if it's not nearly as adventerous as that one. This record just flows like the waters were opened.

 Einstieg by BETWEEN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.44 | 24 ratings

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Einstieg
Between Krautrock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars BETWEEN's first album called "Einstieg"(embarkment) released in 1971 is a multi-national affair with 2 Germans, 2 Americans, an Irishman and an Argentinian making up the group. Peter Hamel the leader and keyboard player guested on AGITATION FREE's debut record, while Robert Eliscu the aboe player played on a few POPOL VUH and AMON DUUL II records. Flautist James Galway from Ireland would only play on this the debut record for BETWEEN, he would later become world famous as a classical flautist. This album was groundbreaking at the time blending World music, Psychedelic, Experimental, Raga, Chamber music and Classical. This is unique to say the least. The bands goal was to explore all possibilities when it came to music and that was done by continually improvising.They loved to experiment, and there were no boundries. The result is often difficult to digest, let alone enjoy. A lot of sounds with no melody on one hand, and then a lot of percussion and flute on the other.This is mostly acoustic as well.

"Katakomben" opens with vocal melodies that are joined by percussion a minute in. Aboe and flute come in around 2 1/2 minutes. Then we get some weird sounds. "Song For Two" features some pleasant acoustic guitar. Flute, percussion and cello are added. "Volkstanz" features heavy sounds from the kettle drums as flute and ethnic sounds come and go. Weird vocal sounds also can be heard. "Primary Stage" is mostly percussion and whistling-like sounds. "Flight Of Ideas" opens with the sound of a jet taking off followed by a pastoral soundscape including birds chirping. We also get some strange squeeky noises and flute 2 minutes in. A very experimental track. "Triumphzug Kaizser Maximilian I" actually has a melody ! Percussion, flute and other sounds. Guitar before 2 minutes is a welcomed sound.

"Barcelona Rain" opens with acoustic guitar before aboe,flute and percussion take over. A storm arrives of thunder and rain followed quickly by dissonant sounds. Back to acoustic guitar as themes are repeated. "Memories" is chamber music like UNIVERS ZERO or HENRY COW would do. "Space Trip" on my remastered version is expanded by almost 20 minutes. Like the previous song we get different sounds coming and going but this one is spacey, a real trip. During the final section(8 1/2 minutes) it sounds like your in a freaking zoo with all the whistling sounds going on. The final track "Try Bach" is fortunately only a minute long. It just doesn't work for me. Yikes.

A tough one for me to rate because this was groundbreaking in many ways and very well played. It's just the enjoyment level overall isn't too high. 3.5 stars.

 Silence Beyond Time by BETWEEN album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.18 | 8 ratings

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Silence Beyond Time
Between Krautrock

Review by Rocketboy

4 stars Unjustly overlooked at the time, Silence beyond Time turned out to be Between's swan song, as Peter Michael Hamel soon embarked on a solo career. But several tracks on SBT are exquisite. The amazing Two Alone by the Waterphone, one of the album's highlights, swirls and bubbles with its trance- like motion like a slippery cobra through an ocean of mercury. The overall feel, though, of many of the tracks on SBT is of a fusion of classical elements (from Western, Indian and Middle Eastern traditions) with popular forms--what would eventually come to be known as new age music. But tracks like Brain Wave and the title track are far superior to much of what has come to be known as new age music. All Between fans should definitely own SBT.
 And The Waters Opened by BETWEEN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.07 | 68 ratings

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And The Waters Opened
Between Krautrock

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Between's second album (this time released on the Vertigo swirl label) is another sumptuous adventures in the many realms of musics, ranging from classical to world/ethnic to medieval, among others. This album was released some two years after the debut and leader P-M Hamel had spent much time in India (and worked with Agitation Free), while Eliscu played with Popol Vuh and percussionist Black with Niagara. By recording time of ATWO, the group was now only a quartet, Stranz and Galway having understandably moved on. With a stunning colourful artwork, unfortunately not reproduced on the recent Wergo re-issue (which prefers a midnight sun photo montage), ATWO resembles much Einstig musically-speaking, but it is completely acoustic and has a few choirs/chants.

Starting on the cosmic/free form lengthy ATWO track and later on Syn(both filled with low freq drones from Detrée's moto-cello, the listener is reassured right away that he will find the same kind of superb unclassifiable fusion of musics found on Einstig, musics that originally don't have much to do with each other. Uroboros moves between Arabian, with Eliscu's oboe moving effortlessly on a tabla-led raga, something leading the listener to think of Third Ear Band. Aerial choirs open Devotion, soon joined by tabla and organ, the whole thing turning into esoteric chants that would probably be the rage during the new age music boom, some 20 years later. The lengthy Happy Stage returns to an Indio/Arabian that was laid out on Uroboros, with an extra acoustic guitar strumming along. Samum is more of the same ethnic realm, but this time fused with the spacey drones, which allow for the album to end as it had started. .

Oddly enough, the Wergo Cd reissue opts to start on a bonus track preceding the album, but Journey To Ixtland is actually quite well in place with the original opening title track, both being very close to Cosmic "rock" (lack of better word) as electronics, wild percussions and free form improvs make Ixtland a perfect intro to Waters. The other two bonus tracks close the album, both again very much in line with the album, both on the classical/medieval and Indian realms. All three bonus tracks date from early 76, which is chronologically questionable, but artistically it bodes well, and is really unnoticeable without the liner notes.

AZTWO is just as essential as Einstig, minus the then-surprise of the debut, but it is a bit calmer and concentrating a tad more on the Indian music, for obvious travelling issues of leader Hamel.

 Einstieg by BETWEEN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.44 | 24 ratings

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Einstieg
Between Krautrock

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Debut album from a rather uncommon group of musicians from Munich, but probably the first one to delve into what would one day become World music, lead by German P-M Hamel, even if the Munich-based sextet comprised musicians from four different nations (2 Germans, 2 Americans, 1 Argentinean and an Irish) is hardly typical of the style in regard with their entire discography. Indeed musically, Between presented a psych-ethnic-classical mostly acoustic and almost entirely instrumental (the odd scats and chants) fusion that also delves in Musique Concrete and cosmic realm, the whole thing being terribly avant- garde. It wouldn't be too surprising to find out that this album wouldn't have helped Magma, Univers Zero, Art Zoyd and even Henry Cow in their own coming times.

From the Gregorian chants put to psychey congas and crumhorn (and ending in pure Cosmic nightmarish terror, just saved by a gong) of Katakomben to the four-part Space Trip, this album will sweep you from your feet and set you in another world. The feeling is often medieval (as in the awesome and spine- chilling Volkstanz and the solemn Triumphzug) reminding of an easier Third Ear Band, but sometimes veering in a dissonant Indian music (Primary Stage) where Vander's Kobaian Guru Guru (you following? ;- ) friends passed by. Some Kosmik passages like Flight Of Ideas are almost improvised, yet the music is incredibly descriptive of the forest at dawn (my take on it). The four-part monster 28-min Space Trip track is not any different, but has some incredibly haunting ambiances that can go from joys to angst always flirting with the dissonant and almost with the atonal

Einstig is a stunning debut album (at times reminding of Oregon), one that probably influenced a difficult- to-assess number of bands throughout the 70's and it is the first in a line of 6 aesthetically impeccable oeuvres, as Between always resisted commercial temptations. This album received a recent re-issue (as did the following ATWO album) with extensive liner notes (very helpful too) and bonus material on the Wergo label, and it's a must-listen for all progheads loving a challenge.

 Einstieg by BETWEEN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.44 | 24 ratings

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Einstieg
Between Krautrock

Review by oliverstoned
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars The first Between album is in a pure traditional vein. A world music precursor, which blends traditional instruments with tribal percussions, organ and oboe, this last intrument makes this fusion somehow similar to the « Oregon » band in sound, without the eastern ragga side. The music is sometimes illustrated by various odd sound effects, giving a light psychedelic hint to the whole, like in the opener « Katakomben », which also features beautiful mystic Christian Hymns. The organ contributes to create a deeper cerebral dimension with a slight avant-garde, contemporary flavour, such as in the « Space trip » suite, one of the most progressive pieces of the album. Overall, this intriguing debut album is not as intense as the dark esoteric and mystic follower «And the waters opened ».
 Dharana by BETWEEN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.65 | 29 ratings

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Dharana
Between Krautrock

Review by oliverstoned
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This original german band is a world music's precursor. A blend of Peter Michael Hamel repetitive keyboards melodies, of Robert Eliscu's oboe, Roberto Detree's classical acoustic guitar and the multi-percussive colorations of Cotch Black.

On their third album, the band turns to a more tranquil, luminous style, quite different from the solemn, obscure, esoteric and incantatory music of the previous "And the waters opened" album.

"Dharana" develops here an aerial and mellow world jazz fusion, softer and less inspired than their previous album.

The longest piece "Dharana" is the most accomplished, with its slow progression. The spiritual inspiration is strong throughout the album, "Dharana" is the sixth of the eight steps of Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga and is linked to a stage of self-trance due to inner silence.

Even if "Dharana" can't reach the previous album's intensity, the cleaner sound production contributes to a pleasant aerial feeling and with this album, Between keeps on creating a unique musical universe, a perfect fusion of western and eastern music. And "Dharana" remains more inspired than Peter Michael Hamel's future works.

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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