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The following Krautrock reviews are courtesy of Aquarius Records in San Francisco, who offer many of these titles through mail-order (click on the "Aquarius" buttons to link to their site). For more mail-order outlets visit our contacts page.

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Schickert, Gunter "Uberfallig" [Green Tree]
This is the cd reissue of Schickert's second album (following his Brain debut "Samtvogel") originally issued in 1980. It's hard to believe somebody this good didn't record more or with other people. Schickert's exceptionally hypnotic space-echo guitar work similar to Manuel Gottsching is matched by fascinating rhytmic pulsations (at times recalling prime Can-like velocities or AR & the Machines circular bubbliness, and some Pink Floyd "Meddle" era pastoral psych as well). Guitar, drums, some voice, and nature sounds...Superb.

Schmidt, Irmin "Gormenghast" [Spoon/Mute]
A fantasy opera, based on Mervyn Peake's gothic novels, written by keyboardist Irmin Schmidt of krautrock legends Can. He utilizes everything from traditional operatic vocals to synthisized breakbeats to tell the story inspired by the great castle Gormenghast and its inhabitants.

Schnitzler, Conrad "Blau" [Marginal Talent]
This rare album (only 500 copies of the LP were originally issued in 1974) is now finally reissued on cd! "Blau" (Blue) is the second solo effort from krautrock electronics pioneer Conrad Schnitzler, following his amazing debut "Rot" (Red) and his late sixties work with Tangerine Dream (on their freaked-out debut "Electronic Meditation") and with Moebius and Roedelius in the original Kluster. As you might expect, this is moody, dark, rhythmical proto-electronica somewhere between Morton Subotnick and today's Ovals and the like. Burbling tones meet spiralling buzz-drones and flickering, glitch-like bleeps in hypnotically building patterns. This cd includes six unreleased bonus tracks we're told were recorded at the same time period as the original LP, although they're a lot more aggressive and overtly mad-scientist like than "Blau" proper. Only complaint: no liner notes!

Schnitzler, Conrad "The Piano Works, Vol. 1" [Platelunch]
Not really new, but I don't think we listed it before. Krautrock/electronica pioneer Schnitzler (original member of Kluster, with a long solo career) sets aside the synths and investigates actual piano sounds on this release. Of course, these compositions are not humanly playable--a computer has assisted with the process. Kind of an update on Conlon Nancarrow's player piano pieces, or doing for piano playing what drum and bass programming does for human drumming... Insane stuff, but not utterly chaotic--this is really melodic and quite musical. Schnitzler, indeed, remains a genius.

Space Explosion [Purple Pyramid]
Domestic issue of all-star "Legends of Krautrock" jam, with members of Cluster, Faust, Amon Duul and Guru Guru. These guys still have the cosmic vibe, quite nice a disc indeed.

Tangerine Dream "Electronic Meditation" [Relativity]
Reissue of the spacey 1970 LP.

Temple [PsiFi]
3 krautrock albums that were supposedly issued in the 70s in tiny editions of, like, 50 copies or something. The Pyramid album sole track is a mysterious 35-minutes of spacy drone with mellotron, moogs, and Tibetan bells. The Nazgul cd, our favorite of the three, is from 1975 and features 4 long tracks of droning ambience that's easily as good as any current space rock outfit could put together; i.e. Magnog, Labradford or anything else on Kranky.

Thaemlitz, Terre "Die Roboterrubato" [Mille Plateaux]
Kraftwerk songs "interpreted" on the piano, with extensive liner notes explaining Thaemlitz's approach. Quite beautiful, although the Kraftwerk component is not always immediately obvious.< a href="" target="parent">

Tiere Der Nacht "Sleepless" [Captain Trip]
From the duo of Mani Neumeier (of Guru Guru fame) and Luigi Archetti, features guest Dieter Moebius of Cluster.

Toad s/t [Second Battle]
Why does anyone bother with the current crop of "stoner rock" when there's so much better stuff made back in the original stoner age (the '70s) now being reissued?? If you're into the Man's Ruin roster, and prone to buying albums by the latest Swedish Kyuss clone, yet don't have, say, Lucifer's Friend, Flower Travellin' Band, Leafhound, Captain Beyond, or Buffalo reissues in your collection, it's time to get with the program! Not that that's easy, since much of the good old shit is definitely obscure and unheralded. This self-titled disc is the first and best of Swiss-band Toad's three LPs, serving up hard-rockin' stoner psych in the best blues-based tradition of early Blue Cheer and Led Zep. The first track "Cotton Wood Hill" will offer a clue about the lineage of this band, as Toad's rhythm section played on the classic LP of that same title by acid-fried Krautrockers Brainticket! Toad boasts an excellent vocalist put to good use on the more melodic parts of their sometimes quite long songs, but a large part of the LP is occupied by heavy (HEAVY) jamming instrumental excursions featuring the killer guitar of one Vic Vergeat. This is genuine heaviness, circa 1971. This reissue features four bonus tracks, including their spacey cover of Hendrix' "Purple Haze", a suitable choice indeed. Toad, dude.

V/A "Electric Losers"
"The Story of Volkslied Into Krautrock Goes On"...the third and fourth volumes of the previously vinyl-only "Pre-Kraut Pandaemonium" series are compiled onto cd. 29 tracks of crazee German '60s beat music.

V/A "Electrick Loosers: The Story of Volkslied Into Krautrock"
The cd edition of the"Pre-Kraut Pandaemonium" lps vol. 1 & 2, crazy German beat music from the late 60's, before the punks went cosmic, the same scene that spawned the Monks (who appeared on a later edition in the Pre-Kraut Pandaemonium series). Cryptic liner notes indicate that there's indeed some pre-Can (then called Inner Space), pre-Amon Duul etc. musicians on here.

V/A "Golden Age: Eurock, A History of European Progressive Music" [Eurock]
Where to begin with a review of a cd-rom that includes over 1,500 articles and reviews? Well, this is what I can tell you upon first examination of this disc, but many many hours could be spent exploring the material to be found here. Basically, this is an cross-platform (Mac and PC) cd-rom archive of every issue of Archie Patterson's Eurock fanzine, from 1973 to today, 45 issues worth. Eurock, as you might guess, specializes in European progressive rock sounds (although you'll also find coverage of scenes in Japan, Mexico, and other non-European places). Beginning in '73, it was initially focused on the contemporary krautrock scene (with features on Can, Amon Duul, Tangerine Dream in issue #1!), but as you browse through the issues you'll find stuff on Magma, Kraftwerk, RIO, Guru Guru, and then soon you'll be reading about Franco Battiato, Nektar, Lars's endless. The Wire review of this of course bagged on the exclusion of much UK prog-rock (as if you'd rather read about Gentle Giant than Le Orme), but Patterson could hardly go back in a time machine and add stuff to the old issues of his zine -- what they wrote then is what you get now, and that's the beauty of it, the sense of "being there", of discovery, and all that...I almost wish that the magazine had been archived PDF fashion, so that you could actually see the original page layout and funky fonts. At least there's a gallery of cover art (unfortunately not viewable at full-size), for fans of the '70 underground press aesthetic.

There's some bonus video material as well, an Urban Sax concert and a cut each from Amon Dull II ("Eye-Shaking King", goddamn!) and Popul Vuh from German TV. Very cool! Oh, and then the regular audio portion of this cd is some inoffensive New Agey symphonic music from one Hiro Kawahara, which might have its uses when trying to relax after several hours of computer-screen staring eyestrain that this cd-rom will surely cause.

V/A "Homage To Neu!" [Cleopatra]
Krautrock legends get their props with this comp, featuring Michael Rother (ex-Neu!), James Plotkin, Autechre, Legendary Pink Dots, Dead Voices On Air, and others...but no Stereolab! What?

V/A "Hungry Krauts, Daddy!" [BK]
The sequel to "Kraut! Demons! Kraut!" More than 70 minutes of Weltgeistangst. Mind-blowing.

V/A "Kraut! Demons! Kraut!" [BK]
Subtitled "German Psychedelic Underground 1968-1974." From the purveyors of the "Pre-Kraut Pandaemonium" lps and the "Electric Loosers" cds, this collection moves a few years ahead from the 60's German beat groups of those comps to full-on cosmic krautrock rarities. There's an unreleased early Can track on here ("Kama Sutra), also the likes of Exmagma, Electric Sandwich, Limbus 4, and many others--all very obscure and very psychedelic!!

V/A "Mitten Ins Ohr" [Ohr]
An "Appetizer" of the Krautrock-scene featuring Popol Vuh, Anima and Guru Guru.

V/A "Musique Non Stop: A Tribute To Kraftwerk" [EMI, Japan]
Japanese artists cover their favorite Kraftwerk tunes. Participants include Melt Banana, Zeni Geva, Buffalo Daughter and a bunch of others we're not familiar with, but who seem to be part of the Japanese avant-pop electronica scene. The whole thing is great, absolutely recommended.

V/A "The World Of Krautrock" [XYZ]
Bargain price import double cd sampler of some pretty cool, cosmic 70's German rock. You get two hours worth of the likes of Popol Vuh, Guru Guru, Birth Control, Witthuser & Westrupp, Holderlin and many more (obscure) bands.


Wabi Sabi [A-Musik]
German producer Markus Schmickler -- who was responsible for that great Tortoise-beating Pluramon record on Mille Plateaux a little while ago, the one with the cameo from Can's Jaki Liebezeit -- turns his talents to full-on abstract drone electronica with Wabi Sabi. Forced Exposure's Jimmy Johnson calls it "...a staggering sounding, beautifully packaged and simply significant contemporary electronic album..."

Xhol Caravan "Motherfuckers Live" [United Dairies]
Achtung Krautrock heads! Previously unreleased live recordings by this way-out-there, pioneering German band. Xhol Caravan, who started life playing R&B as Soul Caravan in the late sixties and then mutated into Xhol Caravan (and finally, just Xhol) as their sound developed to encompass hippified jazz fusion and post-"Revolution No. 9" psychedelic sound collage, on albums like "Electrip" and the wonderfully titled "Motherfuckers GMBH & Co KG" (that one a classic krautrock freakfest document indeed, hence this new live collection's title.) Two live shows on two discs (crazed, spacey stuff from 1968 and '69, including a lengthy version of Donovan's "Season Of The Witch" interpolated into Xhol's freeform "Freedom Opera") and a third 20-minute disc, called "Hot Buttered Xhol", that features Current 93, Nurse With Wound, and Christoph Heemann covering Xhol material. The archival recordings are great (one was for a radio broadcast), plus the booklet is stuffed with colorful art and photos, and liner notes by super-Xhol fans Heeman, David Tibet and Stephen Stapleton.

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