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Trance out to the gorgeous sounds of Cluster and Eno
08.19.2014
05:57 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
Eno
Cluster


 
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
04.01.2014
08:22 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
Can

Can
 
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….
 
Can
 
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
03.26.2014
11:11 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Kraftwerk
Krautrock
Rockpalast
NEU


 
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
12.24.2013
09:49 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Christmas
Krautrock
Can


 
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?
08.29.2013
12:15 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
Can


 
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???
02.19.2013
05:19 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
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
02.11.2013
09:59 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
Can


 
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
12.13.2012
01:32 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
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
Disco-Krautrock: Can lipsync ‘I Want More’ at the BBC, 1976
12.10.2012
12:29 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
Can


 
Seemingly searching for a new musical identity, Can performed “I Want More”—their only hit single in the UK, it got to #26—on Top of the Pops in 1976.

Smarmy TOTP presenter Noel Edmonds makes a terrible pun when he introduces them: “I wonder if Can will get into the top tin!”

Then afterwards he “jokes”: “We wanted to have them on at the beginning of the show, but then realized we couldn’t have a Can opener.”

It’s a testament to the greatest drummer who ever lived, Jaki Liebezeit, that this doesn’t totally suck. That still doesn’t mean that it’s not embarrassingly catchy!

“I Want More” hails from their Flow Motion album. More vintage Can can be heard on The Lost Tapes, a recently released box set from Mute Records.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Krautrockers in Outer Space’: A music/video mega-mix
11.17.2012
02:00 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Krautrock


 
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
Julian Cope’s ‘Krautrocksampler’ in PDF form


 
You have to love someone who scans every single page of their favourite book just so they can spread the wordy magic with their friends on the internet. So, big thanks then to Evan Levine at the Swan Fungus blog for doing just that with the rare-as-hens-teeth Krautrocksampler by Julian Cope. A history and compendium of German rock from the 60s and 70s, Levine says of the book:

Back in the great, distant era of erm…the mid-’90s, there was a chap by the name of Julian Cope (ex-Teardrop Explodes/music-writer geek), who decided he wanted to chronicle the history of the Krautorck genre. So, he wrote an excellent book, called Krautrocksampler, in which he not only tells readers exactly when and wear he bought all these much-sought-after-now-sadly out-of-print LPs, but paints a great picture of West Germany in the ’60s and ’70s. When he’s not waxing (his bikini) poetic, he recounts crazy stories, and draws very cool connections between projects and personalities. Cope even proclaims that Klaus Dinger “directly influenced David Bowie to take his Low direction” and “had a direct effect on the Sex Pistols, via Johnny Rotten”. Thassalotta influence!

Having wanted this for a while, now I can read it while I try to track down a copy. In case of imminent yankage I recommend anyone else who wants it gets it now too.

Thanks to Pee Six.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Can: Epic 15-minute live version of ‘Spoon,’ 1972
02.10.2012
01:17 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
Canongate


 
An all-out, 15-minute-long aural assault by Can on Ege Bamyasi’s “Spoon,” here turned into an epic jam ala “Sister Ray” during the Can Free Concert at the Cologne Sporthalle on February 3, 1972 (Available on DVD).

Fun fact: “Spoon” was the theme tune to a popular German crime drama titled Das Messer (“The Knife”).
 

 
Via Exile on Moan Street/Other People’s Props

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Floh de Cologne’s anarchic lo-fi Krautrock
09.10.2011
09:29 pm

Topics:
Music
Politics

Tags:
Krautrock
Floh de Cogne
Die Luft Geh


 
Krautrock meets political theater in Floh de Cologne’s anti-capitalist rock n’ rant “Die Luft Gehört Denen Die Sie Atmen” (The air belongs to those who breathe it) recorded in 1971.

Floh de Cologne’s anarchic politics and free-form musical experimentations evoke The Fugs, Beefheart, Lothar And The Hand People and Frank Zappa, while visually resembling something concocted by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

The lyrics of “Die Luft Gehört Denen Die Sie Atmen” essentially make the case that the earth we live upon belongs to all of us or to no one and cannot be owned by entities like corporations or institutions. Not a new idea but one drolly communicated through the deadpan Floh de Cologne. 
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Anima Sound: Europa Tournee Mit 20km/h

image
 
A tantalizing teaser for a truly rare (as in I can’t find the complete thing on the innerweb) 1971 doc about husband and wife free-improv duo Paul and Limpe Fuchs (and their two small children) d.b.a Anima Sound. The Fuchs’ toured greater Europa in a most odd fashion: in a caravan pulled by a tractor going 20 kilometers an hour with the purpose of bringing their primitive musical expressionism to remote, uncultured public places. Looks utterly fascinating. Evidently this film did a tour of college film festivals last year. Won’t some kind soul in possession of a copy put the whole thing for us all (OK, a handful of weirdos) to view ?
 

Anima Sound: Europa Tournee Mit 20km/h TRAILER from naomi no umi on Vimeo.

 
More Limpe Fuchs after the jump…

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
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