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‘Cottonwoodhill,’ the acid-damaged Krautrock LP that can ‘destroy’ your brain
09:15 am


brain damage

Cottonwoodhill (1971) by Brainticket
Unless the CAT scan shows lasting damage, I am forever indebted to my friend Aaron Aldorisio. You see, when we were working together in Amoeba Music’s used rock section some years back, Aaron put this album in my hand and said, “Take the Brainticket, dude.” I thought about it. The cover depicted a woman drowning in a bottomless whirlpool of lysergic nightmares, mind forever blown, and that was kind of scary. But then I remembered the lyrics to Cream’s “World of Pain”; and besides, Aaron talked about his love of GG Allin a lot, so obviously I figured, here is a guy I can trust with my nervous system. Besides, what was I going to do, not take the Brainticket?

The liner notes for the Brainticket record made the ultimate claim to heaviness, a champion brag that remained unchallenged until it was (falsely) alleged, years later, that Ozzy and Priest were programming teens for self-murder. Cottonwoodhill remains a special case. Where godheadSilo’s debut, say, only threatened to ruin your stereo equipment, this here record album by Brainticket threatened to wreck your brain itself. Not your “self-esteem,” not your hand-eye coordination, not your response time or SAT scores or some obscure though vital mental process, but the actual glob of tissue between your ears. Says right there on the jacket! And unlike Hawkwind’s Space Ritual, the kidding-on-the-square ad campaign for which boasted that the Hawklords inflicted “permanent brain damage” on concert audiences, the Brainticket record was banned, it’s said, in several countries and issued with this dire warning:

Only listen once a day to this disc. Your brain might be destroyed!

Hallelujah Records takes no responsability [sic].


Brainticket in the studio (via
Led by Belgian jazzer Joel Vandroogenbroeck, Brainticket was an especially obscure Krautrock group that released three albums during the early ‘70s. This was their first. (Some people insist the band was originally called Cottonwoodhill and the first album titled Brainticket. So what?) They’ve reunited several times since first getting back together in the early ‘80s, and Brainticket released a new studio album last year.

Since posting all of Cottonwoodhill might present a grave danger to public health, I’m only embedding the part where you are peaking, your personality has disintegrated into one billion self-annihilating Nerf balls, and grandma is having you placed under involuntary psychiatric hold. I’m not responsible for the consequences if you listen to this on headphones. Hey, dabblers and Sunday drivers: If you doubt that this music can have serious, lasting effects on your cognitive functions, check out the official Brainticket website. Notice anything? Every single link is dead. Think about that before you push play, and remember: You can’t “un-take” the Brainticket.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘Tarot,’ a Krautrock tour of the Major Arcana
09:47 am


Ash Ra Tempel
Walter Wegmüller

Walter Wegmüller is a 79-year-old artist and tarotist from Switzerland. Though you can still find copies of his New Age Tarot and Gipsy Tarot decks, you might start with his Krautrock Tarot.

Released by the Cosmic Couriers in 1973, Wegmüller’s lone solo album, Tarot, is the document of a Krautrock supergroup that cooks food. Joining him are Ash Ra Tempel’s leader, Manuel Göttsching, and bassist, Hartmut Enke; Jürgen Dollase, Jerry Berkers, and Harald Grosskopf of Wallenstein; plus electronic composer Klaus Schulze and multi-instrumentalist Walter Westrupp.

The cutout Tarot cards that came with the album
You got 22 songs, one for each of the Major Arcana. The record came in a silver box containing two discs and a color print of cutout Tarot trumps. A dozen more cards bore credits, pictures of the musicians, and liner notes narrating The Fool’s metamorphosis into The World. In the abominable English of the CD booklet:

Hear, see, discover and travel
of Walter Wegmüller

The travel starts with the madman. He is the beginning and the end at the same time. So you can hear, how he goes through his own world. He stumbles over earthly things and material obstacles and doesn’t know, that it can give. The wizard open the door himself. In triumph, he appears on the scene. There, he lets himself play during an endless eternity. In his scenic railway, he plays his own life into a brand new eternal one.(1) He opens the door which leads to all the secrets. The high priestess gives him the keys of the metamorphosis.(2) The he meets the princess (3). She shows and rules the infinite spaces of his all. Now he comes by the Prince (4). He rules the laws of the world. Now, the trip goes on with the high priest (5). He shows him the way to reach wisdom. And as he goes so through his travel, he stands up suddenly in front of the decision. Which way is the right way for him? Then he chooses the law of senses. The great travel. He gets into the car (7). He lives with good as he lives with evil in all the rides of his spirituality and sensuality. So he discovers the rules of harmony (8). Justice. He separates black from white and he is glimmering when he is seeing for wisdom (9). He leads the ship of chance (10). Field of energy (11); The complete inner world of the subconscious. The exercise (12). The sense and the brink of death (13). He sets up the new birth in a reasonable measure of moderation (14) of the big Pan, the devil, in front of the magic instinct (15). There, the game of female and male oscillates through him. Fight for power. Fight for wealth. The tower (16) grows. Love at first sight. Everything is destroyed. Fell again into spaces of eternity. The stars (17) play the play of plays. The moon (18) plays with them and lets it discover the ways to open dreams. And so the sun (19) shines on the center of life. So, the ancient life comes again. Justice (20); And you live your new space and time dancing world (21).

Thanks for clearing that up, Walt.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Krautrock legend Michael Rother talks about the new Harmonia box set, plus exclusive footage!

Of the so-called Krautrock bands, Harmonia’s music is the most beautiful. It often sounds as if they’re playing colored lights rather than musical instruments. As Julian Cope writes of Harmonia’s first album in Krautrocksampler:

Each piece was a short vignette of sound which faded in, filled the room with its unearthly beauty, then left just as quickly.

Formed in 1973 by guitarist Michael Rother, who had founded NEU! after leaving Kraftwerk, and electronic musicians Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius, who played together as the duo Cluster, Harmonia lived and recorded in a communal setting in the rural town of Forst, where Rother still lives. Brian Eno, who believed Harmonia was “the world’s most important rock band,” traveled to Forst to record with the trio in 1976, after the group had already agreed to break up; he described what he found there as “a small anarchic state.”

Harmonia only released two albums during their brief career, both essential: Musik von Harmonia and Deluxe. Tracks and Traces, the album resulting from Harmonia’s collaboration with Eno, did not come out until 1997; a decade later, the release of Live 1974 brought the total number of Harmonia records to a slim but sturdy four. On October 23, Grönland Records will release Harmonia’s Complete Works, a five-LP box set that supplements all of the above with a new archival release, Documents 1975, a poster, a pop-up, and a booklet with photos from Forst and an enlightening essay by Geeta Dayal.

I spoke with Michael Rother about Harmonia’s remarkable career early one morning in September.

It strikes me that you have a really distinctive guitar tone. I feel like if someone was playing a recording of yours that I’d never heard before, I could identify that it was you. Do you have any insight into how your tone developed?

Of course, this is a compliment. Actually, it should make me happy. It makes me happy—and maybe it’s also true, to a certain degree—but there is no real secret about the guitar. I think it has to do with the way I play guitar.

I used to, in the sixties, when I was still a copyist, a copy guitar player, copying heroes like Harrison, Clapton, Hendrix, Page, and whatever [laughs], I tried to play the rock’n’roll, rock type of guitar. But I stopped that in the late sixties, and the idea was to throw away the fast fingers and concentrate on one note, and then gradually find out what I can express on the guitar without being a copy of someone else.

And, of course, maybe you’re right, the fuzztone is special. I have a fuzz—the original was built for me in the seventies, but not NEU! so, see, it can’t be the only explanation—that was built when I was with Harmonia, by some people in the vicinity, music fans and also musicians. And this guy built a copy of, I think it was a copy of a Big Muff or something like that for me. In recent years, I was lucky that a real audio guru, a real, very talented, experienced studio electrician—electrician, maybe not; like, he knows all about studio technology, and he can build stuff—so I asked him to rebuild that fuzz, and to build it in a slightly smaller case, so that I can carry it around the world. And he laughed when he looked at the original copy from the seventies, and said “Ha, ha! These people have made a mistake!” And I asked him to stick to that mistake, because maybe the mistake is partly responsible for the special sound.

But I think—that is probably one aspect, but the idea behind the guitar playing, how I build up several guitars in one track, I think that’s also a very important factor, creating some individual sound. When I started with NEU! I remember I had this vision of making my guitar sound like an oboe, you know, the wind instrument? Like, fading in? So I had these two volume pedals, and if you listen to tracks like “Neuschnee,” for instance, you hear an example. And by EQing the guitar, and then also, of course, adding delays, et cetera. But the idea of a guitar not sounding like a guitar was something that was, from the beginning, in my head. It was supposed to sound different.

I have to admit that I always pictured Harmonia’s music coming out of the city, in more of a laboratory setting, so I was really surprised to see in the booklet that comes with the box set that it was more of a communal situation with dogs and families… there’s one picture of a guy named Jerry Kilian lying on a couch with a beer bottle underneath. What can you tell me about life at Forst?

That’s an interesting thing, what you say about how you imagine the music to come from the city, because sometimes people say the opposite, and they ask me questions like, “Do you think the music by Harmonia could have been the same if you had, for instance, lived in Berlin, and recorded music in an underground studio without fresh air, without any windows?” Of course, it’s hypothetical; I have no real explanation. But what I try to say to those questions is: I believe that Roedelius, Moebius and I already had some kind of vision for the music which would have been independent of the place where the music is played. But, of course, partly the wonder for this magical place—because it’s not only the communal aspect, it’s also looking out of the window and seeing a river and fields, no human structure in sight, and to have this kind of open space—at least, it was something that appealed to me straight from the beginning, this feeling of being at home, sort of, hasn’t left me since.

You know, I still live here. My studio was the Harmonia studio, where you see the three work spaces of Roedelius, Moebius and mine—I think it’s also in the book—you see the gear set up. That room is still my studio. Of course, it has changed; the gear has changed, and recently, since the arrival of the computer, that has significantly changed again, because I can work, I don’t know, I can work in a closet! [Laughs] All I need is a computer and a guitar, like I work live, you know. That setup which I carry around the world is what I basically need, and of course if I have some more gear, that’s also welcome.

I can’t part with Forst. I used to have a flat; my former partner, she let me use that flat in Hamburg when, in the wintertime, it gets rather dark and gloomy and muddy in Forst, but it’s different from city life, of course. In spring, summer, and also autumn, it’s beautiful. Today, I was up, I went into the toilet and I saw a beautiful sky with fog on the river, and I immediately grabbed my camera. I make photos all the time, because with each light—like daylight, bright sunshine, or dark atmosphere—you always have new impressions of the landscape.

Coming back to your question, apart from the beauty of the landscape, which really impressed me, of course, the thing was the lifestyle of the people and the lifestyle that was possible in this environment, which was, for me, a new experience. I came from Düsseldorf; I’d been living in cities with normal flats, and when I came to Forst, at the time—it’s really a funny anecdote—there was only one tap in the staircase with cold water. There was no sewage, nothing. There was just a pipe going through the wall, and everything went down just outside the house [laughs]. What I’m trying to say is, there was so much freedom to create your own living space, you know? Install heating, install proper sanitary things, and also, something I really enjoyed, I took a sledgehammer and just removed a wall that divided the space I could use, and just took out the wall to have a large room instead of two small ones. Try to do that in a flat in Düsseldorf! [Laughs]

So, the positive side was, we were really free. We could make music whenever we wanted to, nobody complained. We didn’t create much noise, but we had space, very much space to leave our gear. There were other people in Forst with whom we exchanged—like the people you see in the photos, you know, that was the kind of people, musicians came to visit. The basic thing is the freedom, really; it all comes down to the freedom.
The interview continues after the jump, plus the ONLY known footage of Harmonia, a Dangerous Minds exclusive!

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Can, Tangerine Dream, Amon Düül II, and so many more on ‘The German Rock Night’

In 2006, a six-part Rockpalast documentary on German rock music aired on German TV. It was called “Kraut und Rüben,” a title which literally means “cabbage and beets,” but is idiomatic for “higgledy-piggledy,” “topsy-turvy,” etc. If I could speak German for shit, I might be able to tell whether it was any good. It’s probably incredible—the performance footage is terrific, but unfortunately, it’s all truncated, or talked-over by interviewees. This resulted in an outpouring of viewer interest in seeing the unexpurgated performances:

After the broadcast of “Kraut und Rüben,” the Rockpalast documentary about German rock music, viewers would frequently ask when they would get to see the full-length concerts of which only short snippets had been televised. Before Rockpalast, full-length concerts were shown only in exceptional cases, but we have indeed found so many more or less complete clips that we decided to show the ten hours of footage over two evenings.

They cover the full range of the groups that were introduced in the documentary, from Scorpions to Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Eloy, Ton Steine Scherben, Can, Guru Guru, all the way to Amon Düül II. In addition some rarer clips that could not be incorporated in the doc will be shown. The majority of the material has not been seen since the original telecast. We hope that the umbrella term “Krautrock” can once and for all be buried as useless. At the same time, the two nights provide the beginning of a loose series, in which the lost treasures of German television archives could be made available again.


Amon Düül II

Guru Guru

So, for two consecutive Sunday nights, WDR TV aired historical performance footage of German rock bands pretty much nonstop. Plenty of important Krautrock bands are included (say what you will, Rockpalast, that term simply is not useless), and there are gems from bands purveying more standard-issue rock ’n’ roll fare. In the first night alone, there were four songs from Amon Düül II, five from Can, and a television appearance by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider’s pre-Kraftwerk band Organisation. Oh, and the Guru Guru stuff should not be missed.

What follows is only the first night. For the second, see this YouTube playlist. If you carve out enough time to make it all the way through this (and if you’re able to, I think you should, as chances seem really high that you might see something amazing of which you’ve never heard before), I’m certain you’ll get a grin out of the back-to-back juxtaposition in the third video of those binary opposites of German rock, Kraftwerk and Scorpions.

Hours of Krautrock German music after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Cool in the Pool’: Beating the heat with Can’s Holger Czukay, 1979
09:40 am


Holger Czukay

Holger Czukay’s first solo single “Cool in the Pool”
Holger Czukay, the bassist who co-founded Can, quit the group after 1977’s Saw Delight. His departure marked the beginning of the end for Can, who split in 1979 and didn’t play together again for almost a decade.

Around the time of the split, John Lydon, then leading Public Image Ltd., suggested Can take him on as lead singer. “There was all this trouble with Holger leaving, which was a sad thing,” Can’s keyboardist Irmin Schmidt told MOJO. “It was time to stop, and even John Lydon wouldn’t have brought anything into it!” (Lydon didn’t end up singing for Can, but PiL bassist Jah Wobble did collaborate with Czukay a few years later.)

Holger Czukay’s 1979 solo album Movies
Meanwhile, the 41-year-old Czukay had more important things on his mind, like how to beat the heat. With nothing more than a tuxedo, a comb, a bow and a French horn, he made this supremely silly promotional film for “Cool in the Pool,” the first song on his solo album Movies (1979). Most of the lyrics are as straightforward as it gets, though I’m afraid I can’t help you decipher the parts about the donkey dancing forward and the ice cream soda. However, Holger’s vamps can help lower your body temperature a few degrees.

Come on in—the water’s fine!

Holger Czukay “Cool in the Pool” music video

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Trance out to the gorgeous sounds of Cluster and Eno
08:57 am



Cluster, fittingly, is the name of a band around which the Krautrock family tree starts to look more like a tumbleweed. Founded in 1969 as Kluster by Dieter Moebius (Amon Guru), Hans-Joachim Roedelius (Aquarello), and Conrad Schnitzler (Tangerine Dream), the band released three albums, whereupon Schnitzler left. The remaining duo enlisted new collaborator Conny Plank (Guru Guru, producer of too many crucial Krautrock and New Wave albums to even start listing them, insulter of Bono) and changed its name by one letter, to Cluster.

Plank ended his tenure with Cluster in 1975, and Moebius and Roedelius joined with Michael Rother (NEU!, Kraftwerk) to form the group Harmonia. That band was freakin’ incredible—Michael Rother doesn’t do a whole lot wrong, really—and their third album, recorded in late 1976, was a collaboration with their very big fan Brian Eno. (That album, Tracks and Traces wouldn’t see release until 1997, credited to Harmonia ’76, and was reissued in the late oughts under the band name Harmonia and Eno ’76.) Upon its completion, Rother went solo, and Moebius and Roedelius reverted back to the name Cluster, and soon made another album with Eno, under the name Cluster & Eno.

Seriously, with all these back-and-forth hair splitting name changes, I don’t know how the hell even a devoted maven like Julian Cope can keep all this shit straight. There was a a really good Cluster album shoehorned in between Harmonia albums, too, I may as well add.

Anyway, that eponymous Cluster and Eno album is, I dare say, some of the loveliest music Krautrock produced. Unsurprisingly, given the band’s personnel history, it contains echoes of Tangerine Dream and NEU!, but it conspicuously lacks that defining NEU! element, the “motorik” drumbeat. In fact, the album has almost no overt beats at all. Eno’s innovations in ambient electronics were a fine match for Cluster’s love of repetition and intertwining looped passages. The songs sail past you almost frictionlessly, unencumbered by any needless ballast.


More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Early footage of Can in Soest is the funkiest German thing you’ll hear all day
11:22 am



Last week my colleague Ron Kretsch brought us some incredible footage of a Kraftwerk concert from 1970, the year they were formed. That Rockpalast performance was recorded in Soest, which is a town in the Netherlands I had never heard of before.

Now I have two reasons to remember the name. In the comments to Ron’s post, reader “Matteo” wrote, “When they gonna release the CAN concert from the same venue!?” I’m happy to report that that is exactly what has happened! Probably the release of the Kraftwerk show directly led YouTube user “vibraephased 3.0” to put up nearly 80 glorious minutes of Can at Soest from 1970, the year they released my favorite Can album, Soundtracks. Damo Suzuki had just joined the Cologne-based outfit, which had two other albums to their credit, 1969’s Monster Movie, which I don’t think that highly of, and the more rocking Delay 1968, which wasn’t officially released until 1981. Their next two albums would be Tago-Mago and Ege Bamyasi. The point I’m making is that you really couldn’t find a moment that’s more from Can’s prime.

The text in the start of the video reads, “Dieses Konzert aus dem ‘Karussell für die Jugend’ ist der früheste vollständige Konzertmitschnitt der Kölner Rockband. Der neue Sänger Damo Suzuki was erst im Mai zur Gruppe gestoßen.” What that means is “This concert from the ‘Youth Carousel,’ is the earliest full concert recording of the Cologne rock band. The new singer Damo Suzuki had joined the group in May.” I have no idea what that “Youth Carousel” thing was, a venue or a TV show? Keine Ahnung….
The personnel for this concert was Holger Czukay on bass, Irmin Schmidt working the keys, Michael Karoli on guitar, Jaki Liebezeit playing the “Schlagzeug” (a.k.a. drums), and the unforgettable Damo Suzuki shouting his head off.
Set List:
1. Sense All Of Mine
2. Oh Yeah
3. I Feel Alright
4. Mother Sky
5. Deadlock
6. Bring Me Coffee Or Tea
7. Don’t Turn The Light On, Leave Me Alone
8. Paperhouse

via WFMU

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Newly unearthed footage of Kraftwerk—with long hair and leather jackets! Live 1970
02:11 pm



All I can say about this is HOLY CRAP. I’ve seen snippets of this, but never the whole show, and in such good condition. Here is the Kraftwerk Rockpalast appearance from 1970, the year the band formed. The lineup here is Florian Schneider (he’s the one playing flute), Ralf Hütter, and drummer Klaus Dinger (RIP 2008), who would soon leave to form NEU! with pianist Michael Rother. This is a Kraftwerk that is often very, very alien to people who mostly know the band from their late ‘70s/early ‘80s incarnation as the teutonically severe/severely teutonic synth pop innovators who affected the personae of robots and mannequins. This was a spiky, angular, experimental, difficult-listening proto-punk music that has very little of the sweetness or wistfulness of something like “Tour De France.” I love how so much of the camera work is devoted to audience reaction.

Here’s some Google-translated info from the WDR website:

In 1970 - its founding year - were Kraftwerk, although already an avant-garde band, their sounds were still exclusively handmade. In songs like “jiffy” or “Stratovarius” they experimented with distorted sounds of flute and Hammond organ. But the monotonous beat and cool arrangements foreshadowed, in which direction their sound would develop only a few years later.

Rockpalast shows for the first time the Soest concert from 1970 in full length at the power plant as a trio (Ralf Hütter - Hammond organ, Klaus Dinger - drums, Florian Schneider-Esleben - Flute) occurred and astonished faces left behind. An absolute rarity then, and a treat for music fans.


A massive debt of thanks to Chunklet‘s Henry Owings for posting this.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
We aren’t the robots (yet): Early Kraftwerk, live 1973

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Merry Krautrockmas: Can do ‘Silent Night,’ 1976
12:49 pm



No, seriously, Can recorded “Silent Night”! Not even they were immune to the siren call of a calculated yuletide ploy, I suppose, but “Silent Night”?

Just now I played this for my wife and asked “Who do you think this is?”. Without missing a beat, she said flatly “Can.”

I’m a very lucky man!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Turtles Have Short Legs’: Can’s idea of a Krautrock novelty song?
03:15 pm



Can’s decidedly loopy, in every sense of the word, 1971 single, “Turtles Have Short Legs,” finds the Krautrock titans in a decidedly playful mood. As Rooksby suggests at the I Love Total Destruction blog, it almost sounds as if they were deliberately trying to come up with a novelty hit:

Despite Can ascending to near deity status over the course of the last decade, it’s surprising how few people know about this uncharacteristically daft 7”. Recorded during the Tago Mago sessions & released on Liberty in 1971, it’s sufficiently odd to suggest that both band & label realized Can’s only opportunity for blagging a little chart action would be via the “weird” novelty hit route. “Turtles Have Short Legs"could, I guess, be ranked alongside similarly peculiar early 70s smashes like “Mouldy Old Dough” & “Popcorn” though, typically, Can’s effort failed to chart anywhere.

Writing at Julian Cope’s sprawling Head Heritage website, Seth the Man further informs us that…

This was Can’s third single, issued at the time of release of their colossal double LP, Tago Mago. Its A-side, “Turtles Have Short Legs” was unavailable on album until it appeared years later on the Cannibalism 2 compilation. It’s unlike any Damo-era Can piece ever, appropriating an absurd Teutonic toy town piano phrase that winds up subverting it in waves into a slow, untrammeled monster. There are no lyrics although Damo IS singing—but even then the most discernible lines are easily misheard. And those that aren’t are vamped ridiculously by Damo into exaggerated Japanese-accented English, transposing his ‘L’s and ‘R’s as though to put on his detractors, A return lyric comes on like a punch line, as repeats of (I think) “Oh, we can pile it on!” ensue over the buoyantly together group bash out/playtime vibe. But for all its joviality, this confounding track manages to gradually turn over in its sleep into a dense thicket of instruments galloping at a loping pace. All other instruments fall away at two separate clearings with only Damo and the drums to continue alone unfettered only to wind up as a succession of drum rolls and barking vocal pronouncements. Once back into the full ensemble fray, Holger Czukay starts pumping up with his space-filled Jaguar bass lines, and Damo throws in a line about “a cigalette (sic)/Not for the toking.” The guitar-dominated coda, sees Michael Karoli playing around the edges of all the unpeeled paint upon the walls of Schloss Norvenich with extra sensory mojo and feeling at top volume as circling drums just continue pressing onward and upwards; drummer Jaki Liebezeit soon hitting his cymbals not with sticks but carefully aimed and stamina-directed tree trunks, beating the piece to rest.

The above description reads like rock snob poetry to me!

And there’s a promo video for it, too? Apparently so. I’m a pretty big Can fan, but admittedly I was unaware that a promotional film for “Turtles Have Short Legs” existed (although it makes sense that it would since it was a single). From the editing style, it would appear to be authentically vintage, although I can’t say for sure. What’s of interest in this footage is that you get to see two of Can’s inner sanctums—like The Clash, Faust, Gong, etc, these guys always had a clubhouse—their set-up in the Cologne castle and the converted movie theater in Weilerswist that they moved into in late 1971. That location you can tell from the mattresses soundproofing the walls.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
A different sort of Krautrock: The Secret Cosmic Music Of The East German Olympic Program 1972-83

This is a guest post from Jason Toon.

In 1972, film-sound editor and composer Martin Ziechnete was visited by two members of East Germany’s ruling party, the SED. Somehow, they had heard about his experiments with Western-style electronic music, exploring the motorik and music kosmische sounds of West German bands like Neu!, Can, and Kraftwerk. Ziechnete was to go with them in an official car.

“I feared I would lose my job, at the very least,” Ziechnete says in an interview that accompanies Kosmischer Läufer: The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972-83, Volume One. “It would be very bad for someone who worked on party films to be seen to be influenced by the enemy. We drove in silence to the outskirts of Berlin to what I later found out was an athletics camp. They knew all about me and my idea. They questioned me about the concept for hours then left me alone in the room.

“Later an official from the Nationales Olympisches Komitee came in and told me I would begin to work on the project immediately.”

The East German state wasn’t arresting Ziechnete. It was hiring him to create training music for its Olympic athletes. And now that music is available to a wider audience for the first time as Kosmischer Läufer: The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972-83, Volume One.

It all pulses, drones, and bleeps like the Krautrockers that inspired Ziechnete, but feels even more like a transmission from a lost universe. We don’t know how much this music helped East German athletes, but it must not have hurt: the GDR always punched above its weight at the Olympics.

Nike was hailed for its marketing genius when it hired the likes of LCD Soundsystem, Aesop Rock, and the Crystal Method to create hip indie running soundtracks. Kosmischer Läufer proves that East Germany beat them to it by decades.

Ziechnete’s half-hour program was designed and paced to accompany a 5k run, complete with warm-up and wind-down bookend pieces. The fourth of the five pieces, “Tonband Laufspur”, kicks hard to the finish line:



UPDATED: It looks like we were hoaxed about the true origins of this music - it was made recently in Scotland, apparently - but we’re leaving the post up for posterity (and because the music’s still good).

This is a guest post from Jason Toon.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Everyone loves Faust, Can and Kraftwerk, why so little love for the equally epic Amon Düül II???
08:19 pm


Amon Düül II

Every rock snob loves them their Cans, their Kraftwerks and their Fausts, but what about Amon Düül II? Amon Düül II’s thunderous psychedelic Krautrock sound has influenced bands from The Dead Kennedys to The Fall to the early sound of The Psychedelic Furs. They even lived in a commune together like Gong. What’s not to like?

Fans of acid-drenched hard-rocking underground freakout music, you cannot possibly go wrong with either their 1968 debut album, Phallus Dei (“God’s Cock”) or their sprawling two-record set, Yeti.

Pre-YouTube, I’d have assumed that very little footage of Amon Düül II existed—it certainly wasn’t reaching bootleg stalls in American flea markets—but there’s actually tons of great stuff out there. Jammy, druggy riff-rock and wonderfully anarchic. Listen LOUD.

A massive live jam of their “Between The Eyes” single from 1970:

Much more Amon Düül II after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Origins of Krautrock: ‘Kamera Song’ by The Inner Space (future members of Can), 1968
12:59 pm



A few months or so prior to American vocalist Malcolm Mooney joining them, in 1968, the core members of Can (Irmin Schmidt, Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli and Jaki Liebezeit) and flutist David Johnson, under the name The Inner Space, recorded some songs and audio cues for a low budget German political satire titled Agilok & Blubbo. Directed by Peter F. Schneider and starring counterculture feminist icon/groupie Rosemarie Heinikel (aka Rosy Rosy), it would be the first time “experimental” music would be used for the soundtrack to a German film.

Rosy Rosy would go on to sing with Guru Guru, produce radio and children’s programming and write her autobiography (which included details of her trysts with Donovan and Frank Zappa). In 2009, the complete music for Agilok & Blubbo was released by Wah Wah Records.

“Kamera Song” (vocals by Rosy Rosy):

“Flop Pop”:

The ten-minute-long proto-krautrock workout of “Apokalypse”:

Another early Can soundtrack rarity, from the 1968 film Kama Sutra. The band, still billed as The Inner Space (but with Malcolm Mooney at this point and still with David Johnson) back vocalist Margareta Juvan, performing “I’m Hiding My Nightingale” as a band in a nightclub, before they start their own “Man Called Joe” number (from Delay 1968) at the clip’s end.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Tiger B. Smith, totally insane early 70s German proto-metal guitar rock
04:32 pm


Tiger B. Smith

A friend of mine burned me a 4-channel quadraphonic version of Tiger B. Smith’s 1972 Tiger Rock album recently. The hirsute fuzzrocking, boogie-happy German trio (when they’re good) recall Slade, The Sweet, Hawkwind, The MC5, The Edgar Broughton Band, and especially Jimi and Black Sabbath, but about half the album is just bloody awful.

Thankfully this unsung group left behind this boffo clip, all dressed up and rocking out at the top of their game (with a stuffed animal in the shot the whole time, which makes it somehow even better).

After the jump, more from the wild men of Tiger B. Smith….

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Krautrockers in Outer Space’: A music/video mega-mix
05:00 pm



The Future Is Now!

Fairy Tales - Kin Ping Meh
Queen Of Spades - Curly Curve
A Place To Go - Embryo
China - Electric Sandwich
It All Depends - The Scorpions
Ride The Sky - Lucifer’s Friend
No Freak Out - Spermuell
Norderland - Eroc
Gammy Ray - Birth Control
Castle In The Air - Eloy
So Far - Faust
Watussi - Harmonia

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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