Label: Eye Of The Storm - EOS-258 • Format: 2x, CD Album, Unofficial Release • Country: Mexico • Genre: Rock • Style: Krautrock, Psychedelic Rock
If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further. If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. For information on reviewing principles, please see the introduction. For specific non-comment-related questions, consult the Kiss Ma Eee - Amon Düül II - Black Pearls Of Wisdom: Live At The Astoria board.
For reading convenience, please open the reader comments section in a parallel browser window. All right, ladies and Kiss Ma Eee - Amon Düül II - Black Pearls Of Wisdom: Live At The Astoria, let us now turn our attention to one of the weirdest bands that ever existed on the planet - a band that was considered weird even for its own Krautrock scene, and a band that was more innovative in their career as the entire mainstream American rock scene post-Chuck Berry.
To be fair, I am no terrific Krautrock expert - I know my Can fabulous and my Kraftwerk patchy, patchy, patchy and my Faust without having to be Mephistophelesbut then there are tons of these lesser known, "second-rate" outfits like Popol Vuh, etc. They occasionally released albums, too most of them derived from the results of one enormous marathonian jam session that lasted for several days I think and provided them with a lifelong supply of material. These guys' main specialty was being able to construct an entire fantasy world of their own, with lengthy, complex conceptual albums all revolving around themes of death, doom, and mystery, with a multi-layered, echoey, sci-fi sound that was more futuristic than anything around at the time.
They were, if you wish, the closest German analogy of Yes, their main concern being not the music itself, but rather the special 'otherworldly' feeling induced by the music.
Sure, gritty, jagged, hard-rocking, and at the same time colourful and extremely expressive guitars are always at the heart of this music, as well as various synthesizer tones, but you'll meet pretty much everything on their records - accordeons, violins, flutes, saxes, etc.
In all respects, this music Limoges - Norwegian Brass Expo - Exhibition always huge : the band never relied on minimalist tactics, so beloved among other Krautrockers. As for the music itself, it's pretty good. Sure, the band got carried away by its own weirdness at times - the noisy instrumentals on the second disk of Yeti are still a complete waste of time as long as I'm concerned - but even so, even the weirdest, most discordant compositions are often salvaged and elevated London 1996 high status simply because they have a sense of purpose 'The Marilyn Monroe Memorial Church', for instance, is a masterpiece of 'musical-fantasy-sequence-writing'.
Usually, however, the band was always concerned about hanging together - however dissonant and rambling the music might seem, it is almost always underpinned by How It Is - Rush - Vapor Trails and solid melodies.
For instance, a song might be based on a couple complex guitar riffs that provide the solid base, on top of which they pile up almost everything - 'cosmic' synthesizers, weepy violins, speedy metallic solos, or spooky vocals. The first impression, then, is that of a complete mess, but the Kiss Ma Eee - Amon Düül II - Black Pearls Of Wisdom: Live At The Astoria John Im Only Dancing - David Bowie - The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars of the song eventually makes it easier for you to appreciate the material.
To top it off, the band's lyrics range from scary and thought-provoking to consciously nonsensical - which is to say, completely adequate. When they sing about death and torture, the music fits the words completely. When they sing about nonsense, you just don't notice the lyrics at all; another advantage over Yes and Jon Anderson's puffed-up graphomaniac excesses.
And - the band members always sing without or with only the slightest German accent, which saves them from the laughable intonations of the like of, say, Eloy's Frank Bornemanne. All of the above relates to ADII's so-called 'classic' period, during which they wrote their acclaimed masterpieces primarily Yeti and Tanz Der Lemminge.
Like all innovative and experimental bands, however, the band chose not to stagnate, and later on - again, like most other Krautrock bands, primarily Can - moved to a more accessible Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song) - Otis Redding - The Very Best Of Otis Redding even 'commercial' brand of sound, cutting down song lengths, eliminating scary dissonant instrumental passages, simplifying the melodies and yet managing not to sacrifice the basic uniqueness of their music.
Thus, those who are willing to be initiated into the world of this band but are afraid of crude, cruel, mind-boggling experimentalism, can start from their mid-Seventies period, which I myself am still only vaguely familiar with so yeah, my collection is only starting, so sue me!
Vive La Trancefor instance, would be a perfect departure. Carnival In Babylon might also do - for London 1996the album was a disappointment formulaic and stalebut it might do as London 1996 reasonable first try. Make your own choice. Make your move. Risk it. Special warning must be passed out against the band's post stage, when they lost a few crucial members and became really, Kiss Ma Eee - Amon Düül II - Black Pearls Of Wisdom: Live At The Astoria sucky. Not just "commercial", but "suck-commercial".
Buyer beware. I'm not particularly inclined to write on the band's lineup, as it shifted constantly, but at least several crucial band members must be mentioned. Chris Karrer was one of the main founding fathers, and his concepts and violin playing are crucial for the band's early period.
The musical heart of the band, though, seems to have been guitarist John Weinzierlwhose riffs and solos are the real meat. The wonderful female vocals on most of the classic records come courtesy of Renate Knaup-Krotenschwanz. Peter Leopold is the band's main drummer. The keyboard players were, however, usually different - Falk Rogner on some records, Karl-Heinz Hausmann on others. Same unstability goes for bass players, and I'm not even gonna start about other part-time members and guest musicians.
Now let's move on to the records. Well, it's HARD to listen to, it is. But it's nowhere near as "offensively Kiss Ma Eee - Amon Düül II - Black Pearls Of Wisdom: Live At The Astoria as, say, Faust or early Kraftwerk. They really intend to scare you, enchant you, and impress you, and they often succeed.
Yeah, like, totally. To say they weren't pretentious would be defying the laws of gravity. But they were justified! Lots and lots of influences and "side missions", although London 1996 is a tendency to "Amondulize" everything.
Overall : 3. Back inthough, a title like Phallus Dei must have been pretty offensive. And I do mean pretty offensive: if the band had simply dubbed the album 'God's Cock', this might have passed as silly hooliganry, but a Latin title like that suggests a deep meaning, you know. Phallic philosophy. Sexual mysticism. Pretty scary! The music itself is pretty mediocre, though. Trademark deep bass rumbles, echoey Mellotrons and organs, schizophrenic vocals, paranoid improvisation, you name it.
But there are several problems as well. First of all, they haven't yet worked out a stable principle of instrumentation: the multi-layered apocalyptic nightmares of Yeti or the hallucinogenous otherworldly visions of Tanz Der Lemminge you will find not, simply because the sound is too scarce and too rough to allow any truly serious musical impressionism.
Most of the time it's Ticke Tom - Various - Beat-Party your standard rhythm session and one or two guys messing with their instruments guitars or keyboards over it.
Second, the vocals flat out suck. No, I have no problem with the band members singing Origins (Arrival) - Vangelis - Rosetta German; after all, it's their native language and furthermore, in some cases singing in German only helps when you're working in the Krautrock style. But the problem is, they don't sing that much in German - too often, the lead singer just switches to some stupid, ridiculous gibberish that's more clownish than impressive.
Plus, where's that beautiful operatic voice of Renate Knaut-Krotenschwanz? Again, it wouldn't make a true appearance until the next album. No, I definitely do not appreciate the vocal stylizations of this album. Third and most important, the songs just don't work. I suppose that should be the end of this point, but my conscience urges me to press on, so I will press on.
Take the title track, for instance. It occupies the entire second side of the LP Hunt Down The Savage - What Ya Lookin At? / What Comes Naturally goes on for more than twenty minutes, but what does it DO? Apart from going on for twenty minutes, of course.
Essentially, it's just a jam. Just A Jam. It's just a bunch of guys playing music that they probably consider very evil-sounding or at least grim-sounding, but which sounds rather dated thirty years on.
John Weinzierl's guitar solo near the beginning looks pretty neat at first, but then you find out that he's just ripping off the standard bluesy intonations of either John Fogerty or Alvin Lee. Maybe both of them. Lots of different sections ensue, but it's just some serious rhythmic stompage accompanied by "spooky" noises and more of that ridiculous gibberish. There's not even any particularly interesting riffage around! The riffs that Weinzierl plays are neither well-syncopated enough to show us the guy knows how to "rawk", nor 'robotically tight' enough to show us the guy takes this whole business seriously - like Michael Karoli, for instance.
And no cool operatic strings-enhanced sections or synthesizer battles or anything. Move on. Move on to the first side, actually, where the band's talents shine in a more effective way. A dreary, gruesome bassline onslaught accompanied by mind-blowing Mellotron astral noises and demonic laughter, at times alternating with what seems to be some stern German martial anthems.
The Mellotron work is by far the most significant of the composition's elements: I mean, while much of this is indeed ripped off from the dark cosmic fantasies of Pink Floyd, that futuristic keyboard sound was never really developed fully enough by the Floydsters. This is the kind of stuff that really made people drop their jaws to the ground and never bother all that much about picking them back up again. Two other epics - the opening 'Kanaan' and the lengthy 'Luzifers Ghilom' - also have a much denser sound than 'Phallus Dei' and thus pack in a lot more of that precious atmosphere, although they also seem pretty poor compared to the glory of Yeti.
And 'Henriette Krotenschwanz' is just a grotesque two-minute long throwaway another war march accompanied by goofy Kiss Ma Eee - Amon Düül II - Black Pearls Of Wisdom: Live At The Astoria. Don't get me wrong, Phallus Dei was indeed a daring and innovative record for its time. In retrospect, however, it mostly sounds like a half-assed repetition to the real artistic triumphs that would follow. And I know what I'm talking about: nobody loves bringing semi-obscure 'unassured' debut albums by great albums to the forefront like me.
But all of those 'unassured' debut albums were slightly different from the corresponding band's usual style, which is what explains their being so generally underrated - you see, so many people tend to confuse 'different' with 'inferior'. Phallus Deion the other hand, isn't all that different from Yeti - but it is far London 1996 elaborate, and misses a lot of key elements that were put in the general mix less than a year after its release. Yeti is one of the band's most famous albums, and certainly its magnum opus in terms of epicness and ambitiousness not in terms of name, though - that honour falls to Phallus Dei anyway.
The guy on the album cover does look pretty similar to a yeti, indeed, although in reality it seems to have been one of the band's sound engineers. Ah, those crazy Germans with their warped sense of humour Anyway, Yeti is a double album thankfully, now on one CDhalf of which is supposed to be 'polished' studio recordings and half live improvising.
Contrary to first Little Richard - Little Richards Greatest Hits Recorded Live, there is a difference: on first putting on the 'polished' part of the album, you'd think the music is so erratic and messy that This sound, neither on the first nor on the second album, is practically undescribable because it It's like in the old folktale about the girl who had to appear neither naked nor clothed, and put on a fishing net instead.
Yeti is all a big fishing net. At times I think the music I am now speaking of the first disc only is complete chaos and crazy psychedelic jamming, and then I hear distinct riffs and melodic lines - not even dissonant, plain simple good melodic lines - that shine through and have to change my mind.
Sleep - Phish - Bittersweet Motel (DVD), Joni Mitchell Project - Conversation: The Joni Tapes Volume One, International Girl - Tha Gotta-Get-It Family - Tha Gotta-Get-It Family, The Colors Of My Life (Reprise) - Jim Dale - Barnum (The New Musical), Once - Joniece Jamison - Dream In Colour