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Trikolon biography
The late 60's were an era of experimentation, the Blues Based Rock & Roll was no longer enough for young musicians who wanted to go further, genres as Psychedelia and early Progressive Rock were already expanding the concept of Rock and taking it to limits that the pioneers never dreamed of. In this changing moment a German trio called TRIKOLON emerged in the scene.

The band formed by Hendrik Schaper (Keyboards, Trumpet, vocals), Rolf Rettberg (Bass) and he percussionist Ralf Schmieding gained fame in Germany as virtuoso musicians and soon they decided to self finance and press a live album, so they recorded their only LP called Cluster that saw the light in 1969 (only 150 copies), where they blend elements of Rock Psychedelia, Classical Music and even Jazz, with skills and adventurous spirit.

My first impression was to add them to the Psych/Space Rock database, but there was much more behind this power trio. Themes like Hendrik's Easy Groove showed their passion for Classical and Psyche blend, while Blue Rondo took the music of Mozart/Brubeck where THE NICE left it adding a clear jazzy feeling (That Shaper and Rettberg of them would develop more a couple years later), neglecting the format of conventional psych-pop songs in favor of longer and well elaborate epics, what makes of TRIKOLON a perfect candidate for Krautrock.

Sadly the group disbanded soon after the release of their debut, but Hendrik Schaper and Rolf Rettberg carried the spirit of TRIKOLON to TETRAGON even when giving priority to the relation between Jazz and Rock.

To summarize, TRIKOLON is an excellent band specially recommended to Prog listeners who enjoy the fusion of Psychedelia, Jazz and Classical music that contributed to the development of Krautrock.

Iván Melgar Morey :::: Perú

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TRIKOLON discography

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

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

3.66 | 24 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cluster by TRIKOLON album cover Live, 1969
3.66 | 24 ratings

Trikolon Krautrock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

3 stars One of the earliest German Krautrock acts which debuted alongside Amon Düül's "Phallus Dei" and Can's "Monster Movie" in the year 1969 was the Osnabrück based TRIKOLON which released its sole album the very same year but has not enjoyed the same resurgence of interest. Unfortunately this band has fallen into the obscurity bins with only rare collectors giving it any consideration at all. TRIKOLON was the predecessor of the longer-lived Tetragon which produced three albums in the early 1970s. Formed by keyboard virtuoso Hendrik Schaper who also added vocals and trumpet sounds on TRIKOLON's one and only album CLUSTER, this band that also included Rolf Bettberg on bass and Ralf Schmiedling on drums has mostly been obscure due to the fact only 100 copies of its album were pressed and sold at live shows. Presumably this entire album was recording in a live setting.

Sounding more like a proto-form of symphonic Krautrock, TRIKOLON could rightfully be considered Germany's answer to bands like The Nice with a dominant classically infused organ presence. The album originally featured four lengthy tracks but the 2003 reissue from Garden of Delights also included a sprawling 22 minute and 22 second bonus track titled "Fugue." The album covers a variety of moods with the opening "In Search Of The Sun" sounding more like a mix of Walter Carlos' moog dominated "Switched On Bach" with the more psychedelic pop rock feel of The Doors however despite Schaper's exquisite virtuoso keyboard performances, he proves that his vocal style was a bit too weak to cover such demanding material.

The second track "Trumpet For Example" tackles a more surreal and psychotic vibe albeit a bit jazzy as well with a heavy trumpet presence in the beginning while the latter half of the track points in the direction of a more cerebrally based psychedelia that the Krautrock scene would soon fully adopt with a vengeance. "Hendrik's Easy Groove" eschews the organ sounds and is actually a live performance with a rowdy audience clapping and screaming as Schaper delivers a solo classical piano recital and showcases his virtuosity Keith Emerson style only in an acoustic fashion. A few minutes in Schaper throws in some nice snippets of the Dave Brubeck Quartet's masterwork "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and then proceeds a series of differing stylistic shifts including some boogie-woogie and other collage effects.

The last track on the original vinyl was an interpretation of "Blue Rondo"once again by Dave Brubeck but unlike the previous track which was a solo piano, this one is given a complete makeover and dressed up for the psychedelic 60s with tripped out fuzzy organ, heavy rock bass and drums and sounds more like a lysergic heavy psych of early Deep Purple. Pretty groovy all in all and is virtually unrecognizable as the cover tune it is until the main melody makes a reprise from time to time. Probably the most Krauty of the album with a bombastic groove that sounds like The Nice dropped a few tabs and went on a magic mushroom hunt! The bonus track "Fugue" is exactly what you would expect, namely a monstrosity of a classical interpretation of rocking the classics much in the vein of Walter Carlos' "Switched On Bach" only interpreted by The Nice. Not bad and the perfect bonus track as it simply extends the album's original intent.

TRIKOLON like many of the similarly minded proto-prog artists of the era all suffer from sounding extremely dated as this particular style of rock interpretations of Western classical compositions was en vogue for a few short years before being eclipsed by the surge of creative explosiveness that transmogrified the psychedelic 60s to the prog complexities of the 70s. With that dated organ sound augmented by rather by-the-books rock instrumentation, it all sounds so primitive by today's standards but at the time was all the rage and despite The Nice getting the lion's share of credit for this style of early rock the classics, TRIKOLON was definitely in the same league however this is definitely one that is better appreciated as a historical artifact rather than something you would pull out for regular listening pleasure. For what it is, it's really good but this style of classical interpretation just doesn't float my boat for the most part.

3.5 rounded down

 Cluster by TRIKOLON album cover Live, 1969
3.66 | 24 ratings

Trikolon Krautrock

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A lost gem

Some months ago I received the suggestion of TRIKOLON for Symphonic, so immediately searched, found and bought the CD, I must say it was worth the effort (A bit expensive though) because the album is outstanding.

With great sorrow and despite the clear Bach and Mozart influence we had to say no to the addition, because it was closer to Kraut or Psychedelia than to Symphonic, but immediately sent it to another team. After some months being checked for different sub-genres, I was authorized to add it to Krautrock and immediately started a review.

The first thing I have to say is that their only album named Cluster is simply delightful, the band commanded by the "insane" keyboardist "Henrik Schaper", combine efficiently the frenetic exploration of Psychedelia with "Classical" Music (mainly Bach) and some Jazz, to create a fantastic combination of elaborate songwriting and jamming.

The album is opened by the dramatic Search for the Sun, a rhythmic song with Schaper in the vocals (more or less in the range of Mick Jagger) and Psych oriented keyboards, but nothing would be complete without the work of Rettberg (bass) and that human metronome called Ralf Scmieding in the drums. For the casual listener it may seem like pure jamming (yes, there's a lot of this also), but if you pay attention the elaborate structure is evident, and if we add the spectacular organ (with touches of Bach), we are before a 14:33 minutes epic that goes far beyond Psychedelia.

After this first track I was expecting no changes in the rest of he album, but Trumpet for Example proved I was mistaken, because Schaper and his hallucinating trumpet takes us into Jazz Fusion territory, but again well blended with frenetic Psyche passages that keep the listener at the edge of the sit. It's necessary to mention Scmieding, who proves he's not just a good drummer that can keep the time perfectly, but a versatile musician who is able to contribute with any style genre or mood that the band decides to play.

In Hendrik's Easy Groove, Schaper takes us deep into Jazz fusion, because this piano track seems like a tribute to great musicians as Duke Ellington, but always going a step beyond. This time we are talking about pure jamming by an obviously virtuoso keyboardist.

Blue Rondo is obviously based in Mozart's famous piece and Dave Brubeck's adaptation, but also in Keith Emerson's work with "The Nice" (without the annoying abuse of the Moog). Again the rhythm section is impeccable but as usual Schaper is the star of the band. As a special note, this version includes elements of Mozart's Rondo Alla Turk, unlike THE NICE's version which only pays tribute to Blue Rondo by Brubeck.

My edition has a bonus track called Fugue, a 22.22 minutes eclectic version of Toccata & Fugue in D Minor by Johan Sebastian Bach, a piece that may sound a bit rough today, but lets remember this is a self financed live album, and the band couldn't afford the best recording techniques or production, so it's amazing that it could be rescued in CD format after more than three decades and despite all the problems they had to face. Absolutely breathtaking interpretation.

Before I rate the album I must say that the beauty of Cluster relies not only in the virtuosity of the musicians and excellent musical pieces, but also in the fact that it's the only testimony that this obscure band left for posterity, so in my opinion we are talking about an excellent addition for any Prog collection, and a must have for fans of early Prog that deserves no less than 4 solid stars.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition.

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