29 June 2010

Agitation Free - 1972 - Malesch

Quality: 4.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5

Poor Agitation Free, having their members continually poached by better known krautrockers like Tangerine Dream and Guru Guru - and all before their debut album! Fortunately some travels through Egypt helped them get it together, and this album is pretty sweet. Featuring echoes of Middle Eastern music along with touches of the glacial sounds of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schultze and some prog rock grooving, Malesch makes for a fine 40 minutes. The drumming here is well played and recorded, and the organ riffs sometimes recall something Terry Riley would target.

With a touch of early sampling, "You Play For Us Today" does a fine job setting the gliding groove that the album pretty much sticks to. "Sahara City" serves up a full blast of the Middle Eastern sounds before turning into a full-fledged freak out. Then it all comes together for the album's best track, "Ala Tul." That one makes me picture a wild solar medina (Arabic marketplace) orbiting Neptune. It's even a little groovier than the Star Wars cantina - at least in my head. The rest of the album is no slouch. The title track is only a shade under "Ala Tul" while striking a similar vibe, and "Rucksturz" sends us off with a final though of glammy, acid guitar.

While there are plenty of elements on this disc that some of the other 70's German musicians pulled off even better, Agitation Free hits their marks well and the Egyptian sounds help set this one apart. With clean production and fine playing, this is a necessary listen.

Amon Duul - 1970 - Para Dieswarts Duul

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5

Please note that this group of krautrockers are Amon Duul, and not Amon Duul II. The original Amon Duul was a communal group of freaked-out German hippies of which being a band was only one facet, whereas Amon Duul II was an offshoot of the more musically inclined members of the commune. Although Amon Duul II is by all rights more musically accomplished and focused (while still retaining a strong avant garde edge), I tend to find myself listening to the spacey ramblings of the commune's recordings far more often. This album is the final set from the original group.

The album begins with an extended side-length jam out, which starts off with a minimalist, proto-Spacemen 3 drifter which features vocals about time machines, and ends with a long acoustic guitar driven jam. They're both well and good, but my favorite part is the echoing guitar scales and noise in the middle of the track that stitches them together. The proper album contains two fully separated tracks on side two. While it's pretty primitive sounding, I'm charmed by the chiming guitars and probing bass of "Snow Your Thirst and Sun Your Open Mouth." Paramechanische Welt" isn't bad, but it does reek a little more of screwing around in a drum circle than I'm usually happy with. The reissue contains a couple bonus tracks that make a nice addition. "Paramechanical World" sounds almost like one of the early tracks that Damo Suzuki recorded with Can.

Although not quite an ultimate krautrock classics, Para Dieswarts Duul is one of the better early entries in the genre. I'm usually not particularly attracted to jammy rock unless played by top notch musicians, but Amon Duul manages to create some very cool atmospheres even if they don't always sound completely in control of their instruments. For those of you that grab anything with an Ohr Records label, this will be a most satisfying listen.

*Note - My internet connection is still pretty screwy. I'll post when I can.