Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Krautrocksampler Top 50 Albums

Yeah, I've listened to a few of these records - the alphabetic Top 50 from Julian Cope's genrexploding tome, Krautrocksampler (1995). But not near enough for someone who actually claims to be a fan. (Maybe it's the lack of Agitation Free that agitates me?)

Okay, so I'll link at least one big tune from each... Try to say (or learn) something about each one... And if the full album stream is available, I'll put that one linked from the record title.

1. Amon Düül - Paradieswärts Düül (1970)
They had a single, which was "Eternal Flow." So, Amon Düül was like a hippie arts & music commune happening. But things didn't go so smoothly, leading to a break. Of which the regular version was the lesser.

2. Amon Düül II - Phallus Dei (#13, 1969)
The splitters (II) got the better of it. Amon Düül II let loose and certainly get crazy - all over the place on their debut. I'd just listen to the album from the start (title link), but here's one of the later tunes: "Henriette Krotenschwanz."

3. Amon Düül II - Yeti (1970)
See how there's like a 4-to-1 albums advantage here? Another top-notch record of jammin' out - dig this killer video for "Eye-Shaking King."

4. Amon Düül II - Carnival in Babylon (1972)
Okay, I've never gotten these next two... will have to check them out sometime. I found this 'vid from 1973' (almost at random): "All The Years 'Round."

5. Amon Düül II - Wolf City (1972)
O "Deutsch Nepal" video, you had me at 'animation from Ralph Bakshi.'

6. Ash Ra Tempel - Ash Ra Tempel (1971)
Side A is "Amboss," the German word for 'anvil.' Whereas, side B is "Traummaschine." Traum means 'dream'... and I leave the rest of the translation to you. Ashra, Tempel. Ash Ra. Guitars, rock, ambient, space, long-form, cosmic drift, into... jams.

7. Ash Ra Tempel - Schwingungen (1972)
So, yeah - the self-titled one is the only Ash Ra that I've got. This is post-Klaus Schulze who left both Tangerine Dream and this band after like one album each. You could do worse than to explore this excerpt from "Suche und Liebe" maybe?

8. Timothy Leary & Ash Ra Tempel - Seven Up (1973)
I don't think Timothy Leary was German... maybe Irish? "Time," the B-side to "Space."

9. Ash Ra Tempel - Join Inn (1973)
I've never seen or heard of this album outside of Cope's list (and it's not the only one). Therefore, I'd bet it's just mind-blowing! Is it? "Jenseits [A]?"

10. Can - Monster Movie (#17, 1969)
Legendary band! I wish I could claim to be more of a fan of their original (American) singer, Malcolm Mooney. But that's not exactly the case. "Yoo Doo Right" though, right? Do you?

11. Can - Soundtracks (1970)
These are tunes from/for films. A bit o' Malcolm, and a bit o' Damo (Suzuki) - their subsequent (Japanese) signer. I'm not gonna look it up, but like someone named "Mother Sky" like 30th best 'guitar rock' song or somesuch. It is real good.

12. Can - Tago Mago (1971)
Entering in the classic period of awesomeness, Can's next few albums would be stellar. I'd love to get my hands on a 7" single of epic jam "Halleluwah." Bonus: some video for "Mushroom!"

13. Can - Ege Bamyasi (#4, 1972)
The krautfunkiest. Here's some real official video for "Vitamin C"... apparently? Not from 1972, I am thinking.

14. Can - Delay 1968 (1981)
I myself have never bothered to get this long-shelved Mooney-era album. One day, I'm sure. One song I do have would be "Uphill" - it's on the Anthology: 25 Years collection (1993).

15. Cluster - Cluster II (1972)
Is there even a Cluster I?? O yeah, with Conny Plank. He's gone by this time, so it's just the awesomely named duo of Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius - and makin' like "Live in der Fabrik." It's e-lec-tron-i-cal!

16. Cluster - Zuckerzeit (1974)
The video description for "Heiße Lippen" says this album was produced by Michael Rother, "their bandmate in Harmonia" and member of Neu! (foreshadowing)... That explains quite a bit actually. For some reason, only opening track "Hollywood" is blocked on YouTube - SoundCloud workaround!

17. Cluster - Sowiesoso (1996)
"Zum wohl" or the title track? On the way more mellow, from Rother's motorik movement towards Eno's ambience.

18. Tony Conrad & Faust - Outside the Dream Syndicate (1972)
Just drone out to the whole gig! Know your Dream Syndicate.

19. The Cosmic Jokers - The Cosmic Jokers (#6, 1973)
The whole album there starts with Side 1: "Galactic Joke." Or you could try Track 2 = Side 2: "Cosmic Joy."

The (possibly/partially true) urban legend was summarized in my Top 10 entry for this one:
Haha! The galactic joke is on you - and the musicians here. Kosmische label-head offered drugs to jam, recorded, ripped, and sold it up! You'd think Ash Ra Tempel and Klaus Schulze would be wiser upfront, but they had to find out by hearing themselves playing in the record stores. Not only that, but there were like four Cosmic Jokers albums mixed up out of these drug-jam-parties! It's a trip.
Their Wiki page might give a more technically accurate description, but basically...

20. The Cosmic Jokers - Galactic Supermarket (1974)
The whole album there starts with Side 1: "Kinder des Alls." Or you could try Side 2, parts 1 & 2: "Galactic Supermarket." These first two are the only TCJ that I've gotten - worth pursuing further, though. Let's find out!

21. The Cosmic Jokers - Planeten Sit-In (1974)
Wait, Harald Großkopf? I guess I never put it together, but he's been on all of these. Also, you can proceed straight to a more jamming middlish freak-out section.

22. The Cosmic Jokers - Sci-Fi Party (1974)
Looking at the tracklist, I think this one collects tunes from other projects - possibly alternative takes or mixes or whatever. Like "Der Herrscher" is probably from Tarot (#49).

23. The Cosmic Jokers - Gilles Zeitschiff (1974)
I'm tellin' you - Julian Cope really digs The Cosmic Jokers. Intended videos have been removed at the last minute.

Adapt!! Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

24. Faust - Faust (1971)
There's no denying Faust is legendary, but... There's something that keeps me from getting on board with them. Some thing(s) pretty significant. I've never been a huge fan of cut-and-paste (unless you're like Teo Macero), and I really don't care for much of the components that Faust actually cutted-and-pasted. The problem might be mine, but there it is.

25. Faust - So Far (1972)
This was supposed to be their Faust Sell Out album. I'm pretty good with the lead-off track, but yeah. Maybe the inscrutability of the debut (and the legend) casts too much shade on the rest? I'm going to listen to this record now - until I need to listen to something else for posting.

26. Faust - The Faust Tapes (1973)
Or maybe I should listen to The Faust Tapes, for possibly the first time? "It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl" isn't halfway over. [It was at this point, I began reconsidering the wisdom of putting all fifty albums in a single post. 'Will this benefit anyone... besides me?' Best to plunge through, so as to avoid an existential crisis of confidence. 'What is blog... for?' J'ai mai aux dents. Lalalalala!!]

27. Faust - Faust IV (1974)
So later on, Faust named one of their songs "Krautrock" - why not? The Flaming Lips included "It's A Bit Of A Pain" on their Late Night Tales comp (#5 Repertoire, 2005).

28. Sergius Golowin - Lord Krishna von Goloka (1973)
What's up with these Swiss non-musician, spoken-word figures of mystical youth culture? Like hippie poetry slam in a language I don't speak, with a better soundtrack. "Die Weiße Alm" is The White Alpine Meadow.

English lyrical translation = Kṛṣṇa Consciousmess Wow.

29. Guru Guru - UFO (1970)
No Hinten (1971), no Kanguru (#9, 1972)? Strange. Guru Guru is somewhat notable for their drummer, Mani, being the singer & bandleader. Yet more jazzy-jammy-trippy rock explorations into outer-space. Finishes up with "Der LSD-Marsch."

30. Harmonia - Musik von Harmonia (1974)
Okay, so - Harmonia is all of Cluster (Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius) plus half of Neu! (Michael Rother). I think maybe it started off just a side-project lark, but turned out really good. Check out the "Watussi" and the "Dino."

31. Harmonia - Deluxe (1975)
Haha, "Gollum." Produced by Connie Plank (original member of Cluster)! Drums by Manu Neumeier (of Guru Guru)! I'm gonna get me this one. Gollum.

32. Kraftwerk - Kraftwerk (1972?)
Not sure which one this is supposed to be - the 1971 self-titled debut, or the 1972 sequel? There's links to both. I'm not saying Cope doesn't believe it, but it's questionable to leave off the entirety of Kraftwerk's more famous & influential later work. His list, though.

33. La Düsseldorf - La Düsseldorf (1976)
The other half of Neu! (Klaus Dinger), plus his brother, plus a '72 Olympian. (Maybe? seems unlikely...) "Time" from another 'Konrad Plank' production.

34. La Düsseldorf - Viva (1978)
What?! La Düsseldorf had some hits? Like Wiki-worthy singles? Best-selling "Rheinita" (#3 in Germany), and the higher-charting "Silver Cloud" (#2)... whoa.

35. Moebius & Plank - Rastakraut Pasta (1980)
Yeah, this is Dieter Moebius of Cluster and Conny Freakin' Plank, but still. I don't think this one's ever making my personal (lesser than Julian Cope's) Krautrock Top 50. Hmmm... post idea. Anyway, maybe I just take issue with the name and year and entire concept of this one: "Feedback 66" and also "News."

36. Neu! - Neu! (#3, 1972)
I love Neu! Who doesn't? Maybe I should have started the list with this one. Maybe I do need to make my own Krautrock Top 50 Albums list. I love making lists! Who doesn't?

So this starts off with "Hallogallo," and that's enough to rank it high in any year. And guess who produced? Yup, Konrad 'Conny' Plank again. When you hear motorik, you should first hear Neu!, and then the other bands that followed them. We don't need no syncopation. "Sonderangebot" cymbal-swirls into your cerebral vortex. If you like what Pink Floyd was doing in 1972, or what The Alps were doing in 2008, you should like "Weissensee." Penultimate track "Im Glück" is drone/ambient ultimate. "Negativland" will destroy you. There's another part at the end ("Lieber Honig"), but I want to talk about how Side 2 comprises a three-part suite called Jahresübersicht [year overview]. There's no mention of that anywhere on my copy, but it's all over the internet. Always something...

O wait, there it is! It's written below Side 1's track list, at the bottom of a different column than its segment tracks' titles. I've never noticed that. Wild.

37. Neu! - Neu! 2 (1973)
So this one. The sequel is somehow simultaneously way overrated and unfairly maligned. Yeah, opener "Für Immer" borders on self-plagiarism of previous opener "Hallogallo." Who's complainin'? And sure, all of Side 2 is basically speed-shifted self-remixes of previous tunes. What I want to know is whether Chrome ever covered "Lila Engel." Also weird stuff about "Super 16" and the legacy from the wuxia Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976).

38. Neu! - Neu! '75 (1975)
So the opening track "Isi" was released as a British single but failed. Somehow it fails to surprise me that this wasn't 1975 UK chart material. I would recommend this one (black field, white letters) after the debut (white field, red letters) but before Neu! 2 (white field, gray letters, pink number). "Hero" is a great rock song - it is not about Batman, though.

39. Popol Vuh - Affenstunde (1970)
Although the original Popol Vuh is a corpus of mytho-historical narratives from the Postclassic Quiché Maya kingdom in Guatemala's western highlands, and the band has a prominent leader in Florian Fricke, the main connection that comes to mind will always be film-maker Werner Herzog. Wikipedia lists six soundtracks for some of his most famous movies, but it seems like more. Anyway, none of their albums listed here have anything to do with Herzog. Just thought I'd mention it.

Wiki also says their debut "can be regarded as one of the earliest space music works, featuring the then new sounds of the Moog synthesizer together with ethnic percussion." Not sure of the relevance, but here's 2004 re-release bonus track "Train through Time."

40. Popol Vuh - In den Gärten Pharaos (1971)
I dig this tripped-out, meditative spillage. The title track is the first side, and the second side is called just "Vuh." Organtastic!

41. Popol Vuh - Hosianna Mantra (1972)
Holy stylistic whiplash! So long electro-organ drones into the Pre-Columbian spirit mind, hello piano-forte exploration of European classical odes to Protestant joy. And here's a video for "Kyrie."

42. Popol Vuh - Einsjäger & Siebenjäger (1974)
Pretty sure this was the first Popol Vuh record I ever owned. Way more into a traditional jamband rock style than anything so far. Really nice, tuneful playing. I thought the title was something like "Earth and Sky," but maybe that came from the artwork - it actually translates literally as "one hunter & seven hunters." Starts off with "Kleiner Krieger / King Minos," ends with the massive title track. For more on later Popol Vuh, check out this old post.

Hey, maybe I will leave this as one single mega-post!

43. Tangerine Dream - Electronic Meditation (1970)
Alright, so the debut album - and the only one to feature Klaus Schulze (Ash Ra's debut) and Conrad Schnitzler (original Cluster line-up), as well as constant TG main-man Edgar Froese. I haven't spent a lot of time with it, but seems like a total late-'60s freak-out. "Ashes to Ashes" swings quite groovy.

44. Tangerine Dream - Alpha Centauri (1971)
Definitely the first Tangerine album I ever bought - probably not where I'd start with them. Like with some of the other bigger acts, I think I prefer the material later in or after Cope's timeframes. And as the title "Alpha Centauri" would indicate, here is where their space music begins.

45. Tangerine Dream - Zeit (1972)
Okay, these next two are definitely getting there. I mean OUT there. I realize this one's a double-album of space-drones, but I highly suggest going through the whole experience.

46. Tangerine Dream - Atem (1973)
Or maybe this one instead/as well... It's not a double, the overall tone is quite different. And to think, it actually / arguably gets better over the next handful of albums!

47. Klaus Schulze - Irrlicht (1972)
Nice video for "1. Satz: "Ebene"." Klaus Schulze has been mentioned before, as being present for the beginning phases of Ash Ra Tempel, Cluster, Tangerine Dream, in addition to facilitating the Cosmic Jokers' sessions. But he mainly worked alone, playing synthesizer music. Because I'd heard the most about Timewind (1975), I think that's his only solo record I've listened to. This was the first...

48. Klaus Schulze - Blackdance (1974)
And this was the third - skipping Cyborg (1973) for some reason. "Ways of Changes" serves as the launchpad. You may also remember Klaus Schulze because he was my first guess when the Maserati merch-tablist told me that Jonas Reinhardt were some German guy.

49. Walter Wegmüller - Tarot (1973)
This is a real fun one - like a loonier Sergius Golowin (#28), backed by mostly The Cosmic Jokers (#19-23). It's mystical spoken-word in Swiss German, over rockin' Krautjams. Almost at random, check out "Der Herrscher" [The Emperor?] - less Tarotish, but more hilarious are the band introductions of "Der Narr" [The Fool]. But go ahead & explore around. Here's some Major Arcana of the Wegmüller deck, which I think came with this original album.

50. Witthüser & Westrupp - Trips und Träume (1971)
And of course we should finish on an album that I know absolutely nothing about, at all. From a quick trip around the web via the search engine machine, I'm going to say: acid-prog-folk. The last song "Nimm doch einen Joint, mein Freund" sounds in line with the first - a bit more jangly, jaunty and music-hall. Maybe not exactly my thing, but can't everything be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kraftwerk's later albums are not krautrock, which is why they're not on the list. Contrary to what you said, it would be extremely questionable had they been on the list. Only their first two (or three) albums are actually krautrock.