Quality: 4.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.75 out of 5
The Cosmic Jokers are a sham, like Milli Vanilli. Kosmiche records guru, Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser, devised a fiendish plan to get in some krautrock superstars from Ash Ra Tempel and Wallenstein into a studio stocked with hallucinogens and a tape recorder for a nominal fee. Several months later the recordings started appearing on record shelves under the monkier "The Cosmic Jokers" without the musicians' knowledge. Apparently Klaus Schultze (synthesizing here) still holds a grudge about it. So, morally this band is the butt of an unfortunate scam. For better or for worse, this is also one of my favorite krautrock bands.
I have to admit that I'm not particularly familiar with Wallenstein, but the early Ash Ra Tempel fingerprints are all over this recording. I dig it more than Schwingungen, and it's certainly within spitting distance of Ash Ra's eponymous debut and Seven Up. Like those recordings, The album is basically divided into two side-long jams, here titled "Galactic Joke" and "Cosmic Joy."
This is the deep-space jamming side of krautrock, with guitarist Manuel Gottsching in particular turning in some of his best work. "Galactic Joke" works up a nice head of steam as Wallenstein's rhythm section works into some serious groove as Schultze and Gottsching plow into phased-out weirdness. "Cosmic Joy" is a little more chilled out, featuring far less percussion, but its cavernous plumes of sound may guide you through a few moments of zen.
One thing that the Cosmic Jokers has over all other krautrock is their complete lack of pretentiousness. In fact, that is very, very rare for any psychedelic jam. These are just a few wasted guys getting used in a studio. Their collective chops, however, are top flight and they manage to create some great music. In fact, for those of you unfamiliar with the strange side of krautrock, this is probably as good a boarding point as you'll find. Those of you already in the 'circle of trust' must hear this.