Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cyklus - 1979 - Planet Of Two Suns

Planet Of Two Suns

01. Airflow (4:40)
02. Nito (7:12)
03. Planet Of Two Suns (3:06)
04. Funky Depression (6:23)
05. Zeitblende (3:03)
06. Wolken (7:39)
07. Water And Sun (3:26)
08. Ocean's Gift (4:16)

Jens Fischer - guitar
Achim Gieseler - keys, piano
Matz Steinke - bass
Mickie Stickdorn - drums

Cyklus is a very unknown and underrated ?70 jazz fusion band from Germany who has only one album in their pocket. The album was relesed at Erlkonig label in july 1979 and named Planet of two suns. The album they release is uniquie in his own way , because while more than half is towards ligher sound of jazz fusion not far from Passport or even in places Return to Forever, they have more rougher moments who can pleases every jazz rock listner or progressive fan in same time with complex and subtile arrangements. They never hit big time with their music maybe because they pay too much the year they began their career ? late ?70?s, when prog music was in decline . Well this band like many others from that period is like a kick in the face for those who said that prog/jazz music is dead and not intristing anymore. , 3 members from Cyklus were before this in another german jazz fusion band Aera: matz Steinke from bass, Achim Gieseler - keys and Wofgang Teske drums.

Cyklus is a very underrated jazz fusion band from Germany who release a single album in 1979 at defunct label Erlkönig, named Planet of two suns. While the album is a real pleasure to listen more towards lighter side of jazz but with a good dose of rougher moments, they never gain a wider recognition from jazz listners and even progressive ones. Taken their influences from another great german jazz band Passport and even in places from Return to Forever, Cyklus manege to creat a solid album with great pieces. All tracks are real winners and desearve a close lisning if you want to catch the core of the whole album, the longer pieces ar the best, like Nito, Wolken andFunky Depression, but also the opening track is realy good - Airflow, the rest are ok . 3 stars for Planet of two suns who is great, underrated, unknown - but excellent all the way. 3 members from here were also part of another german jazz rock band named Aera.

Corporal Gander's Fire Dog Brigade - 1971 - On The Rocks

Corporal Gander's Fire Dog Brigade
On The Rocks

01. Paranoid 2:40
02. I Hear You Knocking 2:54
03. Come Back Here 3:48
04. On the Rocks 3:28
05. Hey You 3:57
06. Stealer 2:45
07. Run for Life 5:48
08. Do You Think It's Right 2:08
09. Love Song 3:17
10. Don't Tell Me 3:36

Thomas Leidenberger (guitar, vocals)
Lucian Büler (keyboards)
Andreas Büler (bass)
Lucky Schmidt (drums)

Psych exploitation, done German style.
OK, you guys all know the story, these were in fact krautrockers Wind hiding behind a fake "puppet" name, with Achim Reichel cohort Jochen Petersen in the producer's seat.

Nice (if totally disposable) version of Sabbath's Paranoid - the guitar solo is even more fuzzed out than Tony Iommi's original - a feat !
Otherwise, as is often the case with that kind of cheap exploito record, the production is a bit flat and flimsy, and some songs really do sound as if they were composed and recorded within 10 minutes - which was probably the case.
Anyway, there is a standout track here, so you will be feel bad and full of regrets when you eventually decide to sell your copy : Bokaj Retsiem had "I'm so afraid" - Corporal Gander have "On the Rocks", a funky instrumental featuring organ and flute, and worthy of the best early 70's library music records.

Cornucopia - 1973 - Full Horn

Full Horn

01. Day of a Day-Dream Believer (19:50)
- a. Humanoid robot show
- b. Hope - Part one
- c. Disillusion
- d. Hope - Part two
- e. Death of a clown
- f. D-daily review
- g. Night, night - Mankind's motor-dream
- h. The sound of national caughing
02. Morning sun (version 127) (3:07)
03. Spots on you, kids (12:37)
04. And the madness... (4:05)

- Wolfgang Bartl / bass, backing vocals
- Wolfgang Gaudes / drums, percussion, acoustic guitar
- Christoph Hardwig / keyboards, guitar, backing vocals
- Rudy Holzhauer / percussion, troot
- Wolfgang Kause / lead vocals
- Harry Koch / effects, percussion, voice
- Kai Henrik Möller / lead guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
+ Jochen Petersen / saxophones, flute, guitar

Cornucopia's sole album Full Horn is what I'd personally call a genuine Krautrock gem. Sporting a murky yet highly eclectic and varied sound, this album is a regular force to be reckoned with. Krautrock was more than just a few chosen artists such as Amon Düül, Can and Neu! - and even if those 3 acts pretty comfortably illustrate just how wide the range of sound was, it still doesn't quite put into focus just how sprawling and diverse the scene was.

One of Krautrock's branchings was made up of bands that incorporated fusion into the mix. Kraan, Exmagma, Embryo, Guru Guru and Passport all paddled these waters, whilst still, at least during their first couple of albums, remaining deeply planted within the German kosmische scene - better known as Krautrock today. Cornucopia fit the bill as well, although I think they are among the least fusion sounding of these bands. The emphasis on muddy grainy guitars and gelatinous song structures trumps those small jazzy rhythms that once in a while show their heads - only to be pulled back into the batter - getting thrown around in this psychedelic German Laundromat.

The first cut here is a huge slice of everything under the sun. People around here would probably call it an epic on account of its different movements and the running time of 20 minutes. It quite brilliantly conveys what this album is all about, which is mixing things up - throwing all kinds of different ingredients and differentiating moods into one big bowl and then serving it up like a sonic hors d'euvre. The organs are creepy and sticky like one of those small matinee pauses that used to fill up the tiny breaks in old movies. The guitars fluctuate between roaring fiery creatures going a hundred miles an hour to the swampy entities psychedelically sprinkling over the beat like new falling snow - ever so gently adorning the music in what feels like colourful piglets' tails. The vocals remind me of Amon Düül ll with the somewhat archaic and staccato sounding English. Come to think of it, the music does also seem like a close cousin to said band, although I do find the Cornucopia sound to be original and on its own terms. Still if you are approaching this record as a fan of Amon Düül ll, I almost guarantee sonic satisfaction.

With its belly full of two long cuts, the other one reaching 12 minutes, the band has plenty of time to develop their musical ideas and to branch out in whatever psychedelic and criss crossing musical patterns they wish to. Though most of this is orchestrated and rehearsed, the feel of the thing still omits a certain frivolous and jamming character, that I personally have come to love so intensely. Even within these orchestrated grooves, Cornucopia still manage to break free from the form and give to you something that is rare, extremely difficult and unforeseeable. A perfect example of this remarkable trait, is found on that opening cut called Day of a Day-Dream Believer (and no, it certainly doesn't sound like The Monkeys...), where the track suddenly starts relegating a certain groove that inspires what in the pop world would be called a chorus, or indeed a bridge. Here it actually does the same, although this bridge or whatever you want to call it takes off like an uncontrolled physics reaction. The backing singers fall off their hinges and suddenly start sounding like a pack of wild dogs, barking electronically and on top of each other - all whilst following the music that similarly spirals out of proportion. The music turns gelatinous and gooey - and by some strange miraculous musical connection, all of the 7 musicians come together and land on the same side of the Equator. Unbelievably fantastic playing right there! I just adore how this band churns out jams.

While I do believe I may have conveyed this band a tad too avant guarde in nature, I would like to stress just how winning this formula of splicing the structured way of grooves together with those wild and adventurous jam sections. It never becomes dissonant or harsh, which is why I'll happily recommend this fine album to anyone out there seeking to dive just a teeny tiny bit deeper into the mighty oceans of Krautrock.

Chris Braun Band - 1973 - Foreign Lady

Chris Braun Band 
Foreign Lady

01. Nobody But You (4:29)
02. Foreign Lady (7:35)
03. Time Growing Worse (3:21)
04. While You Are Thinking (2:08)
05. The Narrator (4:10)
06. He´s Got No Joker (3:40)
07. Be Proud (9:32)

- Chris Braun / vocals
- Jochen Bernstein / bass
- Elmar Krohn / drums
- Bernd Adamkewitz / guitar, saxophone
- Klaus Melchers / piano, moog, mellotron

guest musicians:
- Linda Fields / backing vocals, choir
- Peter Hast / percussion
- Jiggs Wigham / trombone

on't know much about Chris Braun. The band was situated in Dortmund, a town in the Ruhrgebiet region. I'm unfortunately not able to compare with the predecessor debut. However - this album has not plenty to offer when trying to examine significant prog elements. Produced by legendary engineer Dieter Dierks at his studio 'Foreign Lady' is fairly diversified with the blues as the fundament but also jazz (piano), heavy rock (guitars) and additionally provided with some weird moog elements. Chris Braun sounds similar to Inga Rumpf, the smoky voice of FRUMPY and this band is a close reference for this album as for the stylistical category.

Nobody but you is provided with a diversified structure, sometimes sounding jazzy because of the electric piano but also alternating with heavy rocking parts. Chris Braun and the guitar, played by Bernd Adamkewitz, are acting in in parallel. One of the better tracks for sure. The same with the title song which begins relatively plain but when Klaus Melchers starts to add some moog scratches the song reaches for his unique identity. The contemporary rock song Times Growing Worse is contributed with a catchy melody but nothing to get excited about.

The same with the following tracks except the long closing piece Be Proud. Starting with some hallucinatory impressions based on synthesizer and mellotron the song develops to a jazz rock grooving thing until Chris Braun undertakes the controls leading the song with a rock structure furthermore. Flute and saxophone are appearing partially. In the same way as the opening song this shines with variety and some experimental approach.

'Foreign Lady' is an interesting blues and rock based album with reasonable songs. Some of them and typical elements like the use of moog and mellotron here and there are caring for some prog relations.

Chris Braun Band - 1971 - Both Sides

Chris Braun Band
Both Sides

01. Town Of Children's Blocks (4:58)
02. Comfort Me In Hell (2:10)
03. Untrue World (2:12)
04. Magical Light (2:50)
05. Anxiety (6:54)
06. Paul (4:17)
07. Icy Shapes (6:15)
08. Things For You And Me (5:14)
09. April Fool (0:11)

- Bill Bakine/ drums, percussion
- Jochen Bernstein/ bass
- Chris Braun / lead vocals
- Elmar Krohn / guitars, flute, percussion, vocals
- Horst Schreiber/ guitars, percussion, vocals

CHRIS BRAUN BAND are a Krautrock group based in Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany who disappeared from the scene after 2 album releases. In 1972 "Both Sides" featured Bill Bakine on drums, percussion, Jochen Bernstein on bass, Chris Braun on lead vocals, Elmar Krohn on guitars, flute, percussion, vocals, and Horst Schreiber on guitars, percussion, and vocals. In 1973 the heavy rock, jazz and psych album "Foreign Lady" featured again Chris Braun on vocals, joined by Bernstein's bass, Krohn's drums, and newcomers to the group Bernd Adamkewitz on guitar, and saxophone, and Klaus Melchers on piano, moog, and mellotron. The guest musicians on the album include Linda Fields on backing vocals, choir, Peter Hast on percussion and Jiggs Wigham on trombone.

They also released two 7" singles in the seventies that have over the years become rare vinyl collector's items. Chris Braun wrote the songs, sung for the band and was founder of the group. Her gravelly voice may be compared to Inga Rumpf of FRUMPY. Her songs are a combination of folk-rock, jazz-fusion, heavy blues and hard rock.

Chicken Bones - 1973 - Hardrock In Concert

Chicken Bones
Hardrock In Concert

01. Feeling 4:44
02. I'm Falling 6:09
03. Water 10:02
04. Factory Girl 10:11
05. Drive 4:23
06. The Day Is Cold 4:52

Rainer Geuecke (guitar, vocals)
Hilmar Szameitat (rhythm guitar)
Werner Hofmann (bass)
Wolfgang Barak (drums)

Together with Bram Stoker's HARD ROCK SPECTACULAR, this album tries to advertise it's contents with it's unsubtle title. But what is here is not so much hard rock as very guitar based blues & prog sort of record, with a clear Wishbone Ash influence. Some of the cuts (mostly long and rambling) have lots of sweet, seventies sounding soloing, and the songs often service those solos, not the other way around. It's also mostly instrumental, and the songs tend to take forever to get going. It actually sounds more typical of a Japanese release from a few years prior than a German product of '76. And despite the "In Concert" in the title, this is clearly a batch of studio recordings. Some CD reissues add a bunch of extra tracks, some of them heavier and better than anything on the original version, which has gotta be ridiculously valuable on vinyl these days. If your tolerance for seventies guitar rock is wide and forgiving, you should give this a whirl. Just don't expect particularly "hard rock" or a "concert" and you might like it.

Changes - 1980 - Some More Changes

Some More Changes

01. Akiko
02. Hautkontakt
03. Blues Open
04. Last Chance
05. Kenny Make It
06. Yaiza

Niko Schäuble (percussion)
Matthias Loose (bass)
Joachim Litty (reeds)
Joachim Seidel (guitar)
Klaus Walter (drums)
Dietmar Peetz (keyboards)

Recall they appeared in the VA - Berlin Fusion album (despite their not really being fusion, as he pointed out in the writeup, describing it as "German jazz") along with Arakontis, Margo, and Chameleon.  Of the 4 artists, the last one is the best or most progressive. 

But I figured I should post these since I mentioned them so recently.  They are a great example of smooth, ECM-style German jazz.  Information here.  Notice the writeup of the band: "An obscure German fusion outfit featuring Wolfgang Engstfeld and Uli Beckerhoff, both formerly of Jazztrack."

Once again, the same remarks as before: the more you hear the more you need to hear.  Jazztrack was a very similar band with smooth jazz and tediously long improvisations who did 4 albums total.  I cannot say I recommend them, unless you're a straight jazz fan.

Changes - 1979 - Home Again

Home Again

01. Home Again 7:04
02. Trees 5:48
03. Little Waltz 7:56
04. Samba Du Commerce 5:59
05. Some Days Of My Life 7:45
06. Blues For Ed 6:58

Bass– Peter Bockius
Drums– Peter Weiss
Piano– Ed Kröger
Saxophone– Wolfgang Engstfeld
Trumpet, Flugelhorn– Uli Beckerhoff

A very similar sound to the Riot album I featured here a while back (Beckerhoff is in both bands), with the same laid-back ecm-like sound recalling Manfred Schoof in the late seventies phase-- boy do I love this german jazz, I don't think I could ever get enough of it. All my previous remarks apply here concerning what I think is the superiority of european jazz to the original american style, particularly in the field of jazz-rock, where compositions tend to be stronger and more varied. And as I said, I grew up with American jazz, in a former life I played jazz piano. I know these are fightin' words, I guess I should qualify by saying I prefer the european style.

Chameleon - 1979 - Chameleon


01. Grubnello
02. Grass    
03. Berufsverbot    
04. Die Drei Phasen
05. Transaction    
06. Spass Im Fass (Fun In The Ton)    
07. Die Konsequenz    
08. Die Gewalt    

Knut Rössler (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, lyricon)
Joachim Essig (piano, synthesizer, string ensemble)
Roland Herbe (bass, piccolo)
Ralph Dietze (drums)

Recorded January 1979 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg.

Standard issue Euro fusion, with soprano sax leads and a warm, sunny texture. Opening track has some fuzz bass and a lead flute line, whereas the opener on side two is a smoker - as we witness the drummer going off on the drum kit in a proto death metal way. These two tracks save this from being a totally mundane affair. On the same Heidelberg based label as the more known symphonic group Pancake.

Cannabis India - 1973 - SWF- Session 1973

Cannabis India 
SWF- Session 1973

01. Hand of the King (7:26)
02. Lapis (11:54)
03. Revolver (4:18)
04. Beethoven's 9th (10:52)

- as Universe:
05. Mirror (3:37)
06. The Hunt (5:18)

- Oliver Petry / organ
- Rudiger Braune / drums
- Dirk Fleck / bass

- Oliver Petry / organ, Moog, vocals
- Detlev Krause / guitar
- Bernd Frielingsdorf / drums
- Detlev Dalitz / bass

As a child in Germany, Oliver PETRY began playing piano at a very young age, switching later to organ after hearing contemporary greats as Keith EMERSON. By about 1970, PETRY, drummer Rüdiger BRAUNE and bassist Dirk FLECK had formed cover band The FUTURES but by 1971, had transformed into CANNABIS INDIA, a faux-classical power trio based near Düsseldorf and part of the famous Wuppertal scene (known as a center of 'Krautrock' with acts as Holderlin garnering national attention).

CANNABIS INDIA featured all-original compositions from PETRY and after good word of mouth began spreading about their live shows, the trio secured billing with artists as EARTH AND FIRE, BEGGARS OPERA, and EILIFF. Their appearances at Berlin's IFA and the first Wuppstock Festival in 1973 were highlights. The band's long-forgotten recordings - done in May '73 at the Sudwestfunk and finally released in 2009 as 'SWF Session 1973' on Long Hair Records - are our only taste of this unit in the studio and present a raw but dynamic early form of heavy, organ-based symphonic rock in the vein of ELP's 'Tarkus' period and smaller bands as Canada's ExCUBUS [then Incubus].

Guitarist Martin KOHMSTEDT [of SOLOMON JACKDAW] joined the band but left in '74, after which CI split-up. Shortly after, Oliver PETRY founded UNIVERSE with ex-SOLOMON JACKDAW members and before this group's breakup, they recorded several cuts at the Studio Neugebauer [included as bonus cuts on SWF Session]. Later, bandmates reunited to work on the FRITZ MüLLER BAND helping to record the album 'Kommt'. Oliver PETRY became lead vocalist for EMPIRE along with Dirk FLECK on bass and released an LP in 1981. PETRY now works as a graphics & sound designer for websites and plans a future music project called The Unbrothers.

Firmly recommended to any fans of vintage organ Prog at its most immediate and sincere, CANNABIS INDIA's 'SWF Session 1973' is a must for lovers of pure old fashioned symphonic rock.

Playing like a lost basement recording of ELP circa 1971, this high-energy power trio pumped out shameless ersatz classical rock and recorded one brief set in 1973 at Germany's Sudwestfunk radio facilities, preserved and finally released in 2009 on Long Hair. Cannabis India was loosely part of Dusseldorf's Wuppertal scene and was led by child piano prodigy (and Keith Emerson devotee) Oliver Petry, backed by the fierce performance of drummer Rudiger Braune and noted bassist Dirk Fleck.

The band had a brief career but developed a reputation locally as a strong live act, and that immediacy comes pouring through on SWF Session 1973, an all-instrumental sample of four cuts including a version of Beethoven's 9th. We're battered open by Petry's machine gun riffing for 'Hand of the King': mean, dynamic, and very cool, Rudiger Braune Keith Mooning his way through it all and the masterful intonation of Dirk Fleck's Fender bass. Many good changes in this 7+ minute chunk of fugue flash, followed by doubly-long 'Lapis' where the Tarkus quotes are most present. Though frankly, CI was probably doing the sort of pure instrumental organ rock that many ELP fans quietly wished their favorite band would indulge more in. No deep lyrics, gonzo improvisations or lovelorn ballads here, just three hungry players with a taste for this new sound in popular music. 'Revolver' is a Gothic dungeon in the great North German school tradition, and the massive 'Beethoven's 9th' is a very fine interpretation.

Cannabis India will remind of any number of other bands during their time and yet don't really play like anyone else. There is an urgency to these cuts that trumps most of their bigger peers and we're fortunate this old relic has survived and been uncovered. Recommended to lovers of the golden age. Two good tracks from Petry's later group Universe are included.

Both Hands Free - 1976 - Both Hands Free

Both Hands Free 
Both Hands Free

01. Space    
02. Gettemoff    
03. Shinohara    
04. Solitude    
05. Silver Sleeve    
06. Phobos    
07. City Slickers    
08. Muff The Diver    
09. Blue    
10. Stop The Music

    Bass – Pete Glennon (2)
    Drums – Dave Hassel
    Keyboards – Ritchie Close
    Saxophone – Phil Chapman

Privately pressed LP released on a label Rick Kemp set up solely for this release after seeing them play in the basement of a Manchester pub.

Taken from the eponymous album on Kemp-Pegrum Music (KP001). Both Hands Free were all session players working around the Manchester studios in the 1970s who got together while backing Tony Christie on a now-forgotten live LP. The jazz fusion style of the band evolved from a love of Weather Report combined with the frustrations of playing commercial material on a daily basis, and the band fine-tuned their chops at a popular Sunday residency at the Cavalcade club in the trendy Manchester suburb of Didsbury. There they were spotted by Rick Kemp, bass player in Steeleye Span. Kemp and Span drummer Nigel Pegrum put up the cash to record the LP with two days at Fairview in 1976 and 1,000 copies were pressed. Drummer Dave Hassel recalls that the chemistry between the band members was sublime and the LP sold well, but the band soon folded due to their many other individual professional engagements at the time. Both Hassel and keyboard player Ritchie Close subsequently worked often with Span vocalist Maddy Prior, while bassist Pete Glennon and sax player Phil Chapman worked extensively as MDs and session men. After accidentally drumming on the St Winfred's School Choir chart-topper "There's No One Quite Like Grandma", Dave Hassel began a close association with Factory Records producer Martin Hannett that saw him feature on, amongst many other things, the Bummed LP by the Happy Mondays. Today Hassel's band undertakes Latin-styled covers of Manchester favourites and on the more serious side is involved with the Royal Academy of Music in Manchester and has written a number of drumming manuals.

Blister Chap - 1980 - Sweet Lilian

Blister Chap
Sweet Lilian

01. Son Of The Hill
02. Clean Street
03. Be A Fool
04. Fear And Joy
05. Sweet Lilian
06. Wallsocket Man

Wolfgang "Keili" Keilhofer (guitar, vocals), Helmut Kestler (bass), Clemens Meyer (keyboards), Klaus Winkler (drums), Rainer Böhm (vocals, 1980-83)

With a moniker of Blister Chap, and a cover that features the male-fantasy-overload of a nice pair of gams in fishnets holding a half-lit cigarette, one shouldn't expect much more than a good time rock-n-roller right? Well, no, not exactly. Blister Chap surprises everyone here with a sophisticated blend of American styled hard rock, AOR and 70s progressive rock. Lots of clavinet as well for gear heads. Even more complex than a similar band - say Canada's Saga - which is bizarre on first sight. Released on the do-it-yourselfer Brutkasten label - and about par for the course for the imprint. You never know what you're going to get, and this one is quite good honestly. Not Krautrock mind you, defying their heritage, but if this were from the UK, then collectors would have more to crow about I think. File next to the Desiree "Make it With a Smile" album.

Blister Chap - 1977 - Goin' In

Blister Chap 
1977 -
Goin' In

01. Too White And Too Loud
02. It's Not Allowed To Stay In This Bar Without A Drink
03. Breathin' Dog
04. Journey Through The Backside Of Your Body
05. Blister Chap
06. 80 Non Toxic Watercolours Paintbox

Wolfgang "Keili" Keilhofer (guitar, vocals), Helmut Kestler (bass), Clemens Meyer (keyboards), Klaus Winkler (drums),

Blister Chap should be proud of creating a couple of the rarest records circulating in the auction bids.Consisting of Wolfgang Keilhofer on guitar/vocals, Helmut Kestler on bass, Clemens Meyer on keyboards and Klaus Winkler on drums at their early stages, they were active since the mid-70's and debuted in 1977 with the album ''Goin' In'' on the private Help label, sort of an ancestor to the legendary Brutkasten label.

''Goin' In'' is definitely among the rarest records to find, however it does not seem to deserve much of its hunting.The style of Blister Chap was really unidentifiable as almost all tracks differ much compared to each other.Of course there is a certain Kraut-Rock vibe in most of them but if classified they would capture most of the Rock/Prog categories.The opening ''Too White And Too Loud'' is sort of straight Rock mixed with Electric Fusion with decent keyboard work, while the following ''It's Not Allowed To Stay In This Bar Without A Drink'' has a very inventive title as well as some great Heavy/Kraut-Rock stylings with an evident BIRTH CONTROL touch.''Breathin' Dog'' is not that interesting, mellow and jazzy Psychedelic Rock which lacks in dynamics and ''Journey Through The Backside Of Your Body'' is no different, only the electric piano adds some nice flavor, but the vocals are hillarious and the music quite boring.The eponymous track is a good Blues/Heavy Rock piece of music with nice guitar work and fine soloing much in the style of the US Rock school, for the first time the vocals in this album sound at least OK.The closing ''Eighty Non Toxic Watercolours Paintbox'' is unfortunately not a great choice.Unimaginative rocker with some deep grooves and bluesy guitars but totally uninspired and cliche.

A couple of good tracks save this album from total failure, but even these are not enough to make the album worth the triple digit bucks it hits on auctions.For die-hard collectors, for whom collecting rare music is way beyond money.

The Blackbirds - 1971 - Touch Of Music

The Blackbirds
Touch Of Music

01. Präludium
02. All You Need
03. Return From The Water
04. Give Me Freedom
05. What Is Free
06. Come Back
bonus tracks:
07. Let's Do It Together
08. Preludium

- Peter Bely / piano, organ, vocals
- Wolfgang Bode / bass, vocals
- Werner Breinig / guitar, violin, flute, vocals
- Charles Sikora / drums, vocals

By 1969 the only holdover from the original band was multi-instrumentalist Werner Breinig.  The rest of the revamped band featured keyboardist Peter Bely, bassist Heinz Koop, and drummer Eckhard Gross.  The revitalized group's first move was to release an obscure German 45 for the Opp label:

- 1969's 'Lead On Light' b/w 'Sherry Baby' (Opp catalog number 40)

1970 found them signed to the BASF-affiliated Cornet label, but under pressure to adopt a more 'progressive' imagine, they changed their name to 'Blackbirds 2000' releasing the single:

- 1970's 'Let's Do It Together' b/w 'Präludium' (instrumental) (Cornet catalog number 5025)

The single did little commercially (good luck finding a copy) and Cornet promptly dropped them from it's recording roster.

The band promptly morphed back to their original Blackbirds name and underwent another personnel shift with Wolfgang Bode replacing Koop on bass and Charles Sikora taking over for drummer Gross.

Signed by the Opp label, the revamped lineup went into Cologne's Rhenus Studio where they were teamed with Konrad Plank.  The result was 1971's "Touch of Music".   So, for what it's worth, it only took me about five years to track down an original copy of the band's sophomore album.  Was it worth the time and effort?  Anyone expecting to hear a collection of beat/pop/rock numbers similar to the debut album was going to be in for a rude awakening.  With Breining responsible for penning all six tracks, this time out the band jumped headlong into the early-1970s progressive pool. 

- Having already appeared as the 'B' side on an earlier 45, the album opened up with the classically inspired instrumental 'Präludium'.  With the spotlight on keyboardist Bely, this one sounded a bit like ELP, Focus, or Procol Harum after they'd spend a day drinking wine at a picnic in a local park.  Upbeat and quite perky, but nothing particularly awe inspiring ...   rating: ** stars
- 'All You Need' followed the same classical instrumental path as the opener; albeit this time around the spotlight was split between Breining's violin and Bely's organ.  About a minute into the song the vocals kicked in sending the song in a different direction.  Very pastoral and calming ...  I'm surprised at how much I enjoy this eight and half minute opus.   rating: **** stars
- 'Return From The Water' was the album's most commercial offering.  A tumbling rocker, that's always reminded me a bit of some of Golden Earrings better work, clocking in at over seven minutes it gave everyone in the band a chance to stretch out, but still managed to avoid the usual boredom that accompanied such jams.  Breinig stole the show with a dazzling lead guitar solo.   rating: **** stars 
- A pretty, floating ballad that again spotlighted Bely's organ, 'Give Me Freedom' sported some surprisingly sophisticated lyrics and showcased a previously unheard knack for attractive group harmonies.  The mid-song shift to an up-tempo rock setting that served to showcase Breining's lead guitar was somewhat unexpected, but not bad.   Very Procol Harum/RobinTrower-ish.    rating: **** stars
- 'What Is Free' found the band dabbing their collective toes in jazz-rock fusion.  The track sounded like they'd been listening to lots of Camel, Coliseum, Curved Air, Soft Machine and other English progressive bands.  It didn't do a great deal for me. rating: ** stars
- 'Come Back' found the band trying to blend classical, folk, progressive, and rock influences into one big musical stew.  Given such lofty goals you wouldn't have expected much to come out of it and while the results weren't perfect, stretched over ten minutes the track did a surprisingly impressive job of retaining one's interest.  The basic melody was enchanting with  Bode providing some creative bass lines throughout.  Yeah, the extended flute solo and Gregorian harmony sections didn't inspire me to get up and rock the house, but like a couple of the other performances, the pastoral sounds were quite calming.   rating: *** stars   

So back to the question of was it worth the extended search?  Nah.  On the other hand, the album was actually better than I anticipated and I can see occasionally playing this one of quiet Sunday mornings.  Not sure how the rest of the family will react, but I'll see.

The Blackbirds - 1968 - No Destination

The Blackbirds
No Destination

01. Golden Sun
02. Space
03. No Destination
04. Long Tall Dorothe
05. Sandmann/s Bound
06. That's My Love
07. Girl I'm Wondering
08. Show Me That You Love Me
09. Something Different
10. She
Bonus Tracks:
11. Lead On Light
12. Sherry Baby
13. Burning Out For Rock'n Roll
14. Sherry Baby

Wolfgang Bode (Bodo): bass, vocals
Werner Breinig: Guitar, flute, voilin
Peter Bely: keyboards, vocals
Charles Sikora: drums, vocals

Boy, talk about a band surrounded by misinformation ...  I've seen these guys described as being Belgian, Dutch, French, German, and even English (the latter being funny given the heavily accented English vocals).  Adding to the confusion, they somehow managed to get their two studio LPs released by a budget British label.  To be honest, I can understand some of the confusion since their home stomping ground was the Saarland.  Located in the Southwest region of Germany, following World War II the region spent a couple of years as an autonomous 'state' with France controlling internal and external affairs.  It wasn't until 1957 that the Saar was reunited with what was then known as West Germany.  Full economic reunion with Germany didn't take place until 1959.   Yeah, I know - who cares ...

Sharing a common interest in rock and roll, in 1965 friends Klaus Altmeyer (rhythm guitar), Werner Breinig (vocals/lead guitar), Siggi Burda (bass), and Helmut Vigneron (drums) decided to form a band.  They began rehearsing at a local school and within a couple of months were playing cover tunes at local dances and clubs.  They also expanded the band to include keyboardist Hubert Koop.  The following year saw the band gain a wider audience via extensive touring, including some regional concert appearances, and local television appearances.  They also underwent a pair of personnel changes with the departure of guitarist Althmeyer and bassist Burda.  Having opted for a more conventional job, Burda was replaced by Heinz-Peter Koop.

Even though they weren't signed by a record company, in early 1968 the band were given an opportunity to record some material at Horst Jankowski's Stuttgart-based studio.  The songs that would appear as 1968's "No Destination" were recorded in a marathon one day session; a feat made even more impressive by the fact about half of the material was written the night before, or simply improvised on-the-spot in the recording studio.  Largely penned by Breining, the album made it clear these guys had been listening to more than their share of British R&B groups like The Animals, The Artwoods, The Spencer Davis Group, and maybe even a touch of Procol Harum.  That also gave the album a slightly dated feel - more 1966 than 1968.  That wasn't meant as a criticism since the writing and performances (all ten songs were performed in English), were uniformly strong and quite different from most of their German contemporaries.  

- Kicked along by a tasty bass and organ pattern, 'Golden Summer' was a wonderful Mersybeat-styled ballad that would have made The Hollies, or The Searchers quite happy.
- Spotlighting Koop's organ and Breining's lead guitar, the instrumental 'Space' offered up a bizarre mash-up of B movie sci-fi sound effects and Stax moves.  Extremely weird and perhaps worth the price of admission on its own.
- Opening up with a Matthew Fisher-styled organ break (think funeral procession), 'No Destination' had a lyric that would make any Gen-X member proud ... "I stay in my bed all of the day because a job is no destination."  (I'm almost embarrassed to admit the first time I heard the lyric I mistook it for 'I stained the bed.')
- Thanks to Breining's operatic shriek (he should not have tried to hit those high notes), 'Long Tall Dorthe' had the distinction of being the most irritating track on the set. 
- Apparently one of the songs written on the fly in the studio, 'Sandman's Bound' seemed to be a pissed off rant in response to having to come up with an album's worth of material on short notice.  Nice guitar solo from Breining.
- Perhaps because it was a rather pedestrian ballad and found Breining again stretching for the high notes, 'That's My Love' was a pedestrian ballad, though Koop turned in some nice Alan Price-styled organ moves.
- A fantastic dark and brooding rocker, 'Girl I'm Wondering' sounded like a Teutonic Zombies track, complete with Rod Argent-styled organ solo.  Nice ! 
- 'Show Me That You Love Me' ... nice rocker, but once again it's marred by Breining's stratospheric falsetto.
- Bland MOR instrumental that sounded like the soundtrack for a laxative commercial - reminds me of something the T-Bones might have recorded.
- Redemption ...  'She' had it all; disillusionment, heartbreak, tasty jazzy guitar, killer organ ...  perfect proto-punk.  Easily the standout performance.

In a strange turn of events the album was picked up for release by the British Saga budget label.  Saga clearly had no idea what to do with the collection doing virtually nothing to promote the LP.  Needless to say it quickly vanished into cutout bins. 

Curiously Saga elected to tap the album for a single:

- 1968's 'No Destination' b/w 'Space' (Saga catalog number Opp 3)

No, it's not quite a lost classic, but it is a fascinating slice of mid-1960s German rock and for the most part it's as good if not better than anything their British, or continental competitors were chuning out.  Well worth tracking down before it gets tagged by collectors ...  

Between - 1974 - Dharana


01. Joy... Sadness... Joy (11:10)
02. Om Namo Buddhaya (2:38)
03. Sunset (3:05)
04. Listen To The Light (6:25)
05. Dharana (21:50)
Bonus track:
06. Voice Of Silence (17:32)

- Peter Michael Hamel / keyboards, organ
- Robert Eliscu / oboe, flute
- Roberto Detree / guitar, bass
- Cotch Black / congas
- Charles Campbell / congas

This original german band is a world music's precursor. A blend of Peter Michael Hamel repetitive keyboards melodies, of Robert Eliscu's oboe, Roberto Detree's classical acoustic guitar and the multi-percussive colorations of Cotch Black.

On their third album, the band turns to a more tranquil, luminous style, quite different from the solemn, obscure, esoteric and incantatory music of the previous "And the waters opened" album.

"Dharana" develops here an aerial and mellow world jazz fusion, softer and less inspired than their previous album.

The longest piece "Dharana" is the most accomplished, with its slow progression. The spiritual inspiration is strong throughout the album, "Dharana" is the sixth of the eight steps of Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga and is linked to a stage of self-trance due to inner silence.

Even if "Dharana" can't reach the previous album's intensity, the cleaner sound production contributes to a pleasant aerial feeling and with this album, Between keeps on creating a unique musical universe, a perfect fusion of western and eastern music. And "Dharana" remains more inspired than Peter Michael Hamel's future works.

Between - 1973 - And The Waters Opened

And The Waters Opened

01. And The Waters Opened (10:51)
02. Uroboros (5:33)
03. Syn (5:52)
04. Devotion (3:43)
05. Happy Stage (11:14)
06. Samum (5:36)

- Peter Michael Hamel / keyboards, organ, voice
- Robert Eliscu / oboe
- Roberto Detree / guitar, moto-celo, harp
- Cotch Black / congas
- Duru Omson / flute, percussion, voice
- Fabian Arkas / electronics

Between's second album (this time released on the Vertigo swirl label) is another sumptuous adventures in the many realms of musics, ranging from classical to world/ethnic to medieval, among others. This album was released some two years after the debut and leader P-M Hamel had spent much time in India (and worked with Agitation Free), while Eliscu played with Popol Vuh and percussionist Black with Niagara. By recording time of ATWO, the group was now only a quartet, Stranz and Galway having understandably moved on. With a stunning colourful artwork, unfortunately not reproduced on the recent Wergo re-issue (which prefers a midnight sun photo montage), ATWO resembles much Einstig musically-speaking, but it is completely acoustic and has a few choirs/chants.

Starting on the cosmic/free form lengthy ATWO track and later on Syn(both filled with low freq drones from Detrée's moto-cello, the listener is reassured right away that he will find the same kind of superb unclassifiable fusion of musics found on Einstig, musics that originally don't have much to do with each other. Uroboros moves between Arabian, with Eliscu's oboe moving effortlessly on a tabla-led raga, something leading the listener to think of Third Ear Band. Aerial choirs open Devotion, soon joined by tabla and organ, the whole thing turning into esoteric chants that would probably be the rage during the new age music boom, some 20 years later. The lengthy Happy Stage returns to an Indio/Arabian that was laid out on Uroboros, with an extra acoustic guitar strumming along. Samum is more of the same ethnic realm, but this time fused with the spacey drones, which allow for the album to end as it had started. .

Oddly enough, the Wergo Cd reissue opts to start on a bonus track preceding the album, but Journey To Ixtland is actually quite well in place with the original opening title track, both being very close to Cosmic "rock" (lack of better word) as electronics, wild percussions and free form improvs make Ixtland a perfect intro to Waters. The other two bonus tracks close the album, both again very much in line with the album, both on the classical/medieval and Indian realms. All three bonus tracks date from early 76, which is chronologically questionable, but artistically it bodes well, and is really unnoticeable without the liner notes.

Between - 1971 - Einstieg


01. Katakomben (4:36)
02. Two trees (2:50)
03. Volkstanz (3:55)
04. Primary stage (4:10)
05. Flight of ideas (6:41)
06. Triumphzug Kaiser Maximilian I (3:14)
07. Barcelona rain (5:16)
08. Memories (4:39)
09. Space trip (9:27)
10. Try Bach (0:56)

- Cottrell Black / drums, congas
- Roberto Détrée / guitar, motocello
- Robert Eliscu / oboe, Lotus flute, krumhorn, vocals
- Jimmy J. Galway / flute
- Peter Michael Hamel / electronic organ, prepared piano

Debut album from a rather uncommon group of musicians from Munich, but probably the first one to delve into what would one day become World music, lead by German P-M Hamel, even if the Munich-based sextet comprised musicians from four different nations (2 Germans, 2 Americans, 1 Argentinean and an Irish) is hardly typical of the style in regard with their entire discography. Indeed musically, Between presented a psych-ethnic-classical mostly acoustic and almost entirely instrumental (the odd scats and chants) fusion that also delves in Musique Concrete and cosmic realm, the whole thing being terribly avant- garde. It wouldn't be too surprising to find out that this album wouldn't have helped Magma, Univers Zero, Art Zoyd and even Henry Cow in their own coming times.

From the Gregorian chants put to psychey congas and crumhorn (and ending in pure Cosmic nightmarish terror, just saved by a gong) of Katakomben to the four-part Space Trip, this album will sweep you from your feet and set you in another world. The feeling is often medieval (as in the awesome and spine- chilling Volkstanz and the solemn Triumphzug) reminding of an easier Third Ear Band, but sometimes veering in a dissonant Indian music (Primary Stage) where Vander's Kobaian Guru Guru (you following? ;- ) friends passed by. Some Kosmik passages like Flight Of Ideas are almost improvised, yet the music is incredibly descriptive of the forest at dawn (my take on it). The four-part monster 28-min Space Trip track is not any different, but has some incredibly haunting ambiances that can go from joys to angst always flirting with the dissonant and almost with the atonal

Einstig is a stunning debut album (at times reminding of Oregon), one that probably influenced a difficult- to-assess number of bands throughout the 70's and it is the first in a line of 6 aesthetically impeccable oeuvres, as Between always resisted commercial temptations. This album received a recent re-issue (as did the following ATWO album) with extensive liner notes (very helpful too) and bonus material on the Wergo label, and it's a must-listen for all progheads loving a challenge.

Baumstam - 1972 - On Tour

On Tour


01. On Tour (3:25)
02. Lucky Strike (3:34)
03. Hold Me (6:12)
04. Jazz Break (3:50)
05. Dusty Road (3:55)
06. Girl I want to stay into (4:08)
07. Last Better (5:03)
08. Fifteen years old Marie (5:29)
09. He's a Liar (5:49

Ulrich Klawitter / Guitar, Vocals
Michael Lobbe / Guitar
Volker Wobbe / Bass
Gerhardt Meyer / Drums

Historically, Baumstam figures among the true great krautrock legends still alive and productive (next to Jane, Birth Control, Grobschnitt, Epitaph). The band has been formed in 1972 in West Germany. During this early period the band featured Ulrich ("Uli") KLAWITTER on vocals and guitar, Michael ("Bich") LOBBE on guitar and Michael ("Hüne") WILLECKE on bass. In 1974, Volker WOBBE (bass) came along for "Hüne" who left the band. They musically incorporate blusey-inflected rockin' improvisations admitting a few proggier tendances. BAUMSTAM is essentialy a live band, touring in Germany for various clubs, concert places, open-air festivals, for different public audiences. A extremely rare and cult album called "On tour 75" saw the light during the 90's. It contains some raw materials taken from live performances. Musically, the live materials collected oscillate between extended heavy guitar improvs, fuzzed out freak'n roll songs and moody psych-melodic ballads. The band dissovled in 1977 because members didn't success to reach a signature on Deutschen Grammophon label. In 2004, after a long time break, the band reformed, including initial members (notably the guitarist and frontman Ulrich KLAWITTER) and new musicians from the young generation (Anna WEIGAND, Adrian KLAWITTER). This rebirth is the occasion for the band to play on stage and to participate to the recent re-discover of krautrock and German progressive rock. In 2005, the actual line up recorded a new album called Dreams of Yesterday which is said to be in the direct vein of BAUMSTAM'ss original musical identity. In September 2008 a new reissue of the "on tour" came out on Green Tree-label. There are 2 brand new songs as bonus tracks on this CD.

Bakmak - 1978 - Forward Flight

Forward Flight

01. Heavy Sparks (3:29)
02. Maracujas (6:24)
03. Homesick Orbiter (8:45)
04. Green Surprise (4:32)
05. Ojo Caliente (4:56)
06. Second Sunrise (3:45)
07. Enchanted Mesa (5:42)
08. Heavy Sparks - Reprise (0:36)

- Eckhard Lüdeke / bass, guitar
- Peter Dörnenburg / drums, percussion
- Christian Lüdeke / guitar
- Reinhold Heil / keyboards
- Frank Lüdeke / flute, saxophone
- Hans Behrendt / latin percussion
- Herwig Mitteregger / roto toms

Bakmak - 1976 - Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

01. Wave (3:45)
02. Austral Sky (5:42)
03. Silver Circle (7:15)
04. Eternal Breath (4:51)
05. On The Rocks (7:25)
06. Criss-Cross (Part 1 & Part 2) (8:12)
07. Out Of Range (2:45)

- Eckhard Lüdeke / bass, acoustic guitar
- Peter Dörnenburg / drums, percussion
- Christian Lüdeke / electric & acoustic guitar
- Reinhold Heil / piano, organ, synthesizer, keyboards
- Frank Lüdeke / saxophone, percussion

BAKMAK was a fusion band from Germany formed around 1972. It's core members were Christian, Eckhard and Frank LUDECKE, Peter DORNENBURG and Reinhold HEIL. Most of the members had a legitimate musical endeavor only as BAKMAK, while Frank LUDECKE worked as a saxophonist and flautist with German jazz funk bands like MESSENGERS, and Reinhold HEIL on keyboards (pianist influenced by MILES DAVIS and FRANK ZAPPA) became more known later on as a soundtrack composer now based in Los Angeles.

BAKMAK's two albums are not unlike many of those in the German 70's fusion scene, resembling the likes of KRAAN and PASSPORT.

One of literally hundreds of German bands playing a fusion style in the late 1970s. The opening track, with layers of Hammond organ in the Larry Young style, held out some hope that this could be something more special, but then the funky soprano saxophone enters in, and the keys switch primarily to Rhodes, and - OH NO - it's yet another funky fusion album. A very good one for the style, but once again a bit too much slickness for me to get my teeth into. Worth a listen anyway.

Baba Yaga - 1974 - Collage

Baba Yaga

01. Mokscha (18:33)
02. Wadia (20:14)

- Ingo Werner / Keyboards
- Nemat Darman / percussions, sitar, santur

Kraut-fusion band formed by Ingo Werner (ex-My Solid Ground) and Nemat Darman (famous Iranian percussionist, multi instrumentalist). Their album "collage" (1974) was recorded in Dieter Dierk's studio. Baba Yaga's music is a convincing medley of ethnic / eastern like improvisations and original spaced out experimentations (with discreet jazzy touches and electronic treatments).

Comprised of former Krautrock entrepreneur Ingo Werner, who up until this album had been in charge of keys and synths for My Solid Ground, and the highly exotic skills of Iranian percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Nemat Darman - Baby Yaga employ a somewhat eclectic cocktail of Eastern raga like textures, space voyager synth surfaces and the odd funk jazz moments. How is that for a mixture?

Being a huge fan of Aldous Huxley - and perhaps an even bigger fan of his novel Island, I jumped on this mother like a starved duck would a burger bun. The reason behind my exuberance is the fact that the first cut's called Mokscha, and anybody who's read Island will know what that stands for. Let me just get all of you people up to speed real quickly. The story goes something like this: The male protagonist of the novel is hired by a giant faceless oil company to investigate the possibilities of acquiring a small island for the intent of drilling black gold. Unfortunately he capsizes his boat on his way to his destination - and washes up on the shore. He gets medical attention, fed, insight into a society completely different than what he has experienced in the west - relying on both science and the old Eastern teachings. He gets philosophy lessons from small children, learn about a culture that attends to everyone instead of the few at the top - and so forth. In short, just like Plato's The Republic and Thomas Moore's Utopia, Island is a modern day take on a man made utopian society. Mokscha is a fungal extract used much like the Indians of the rainforest do - that is to digest this holy liquid hoping to achieve a higher form of awareness, a higher sense of understanding. On Pala, as the Island is called, Mokscha is applied as a gateway experience to adulthood. It's an integral part of growing up - experiencing the magic of life and how all things are interconnected. Without revealing too much of the plot, I will say that the Mokscha medicine does play its part in the story - changing everything around it - including our "hero".

This first track drives forth on manic Eastern billabong rapids - with the hammering of the santur. For those of you who don't know: The santur is a trapezoid-box with 72 strings in it. The player has two "hammers" for lack of a better word, which he uses in the same manner a piano player would, although this perhaps is a much closer musical experience. And boy - let me tell you, this instrument is like a couple of mice on amphetamine running wildly over some kind of harpsichord - the sheer tempo is insane. I get all these pictures of snake charmer ceremonies and dancing elephants decorated in orange and purple colours. On top of this we get tablas and other such percussive ornamentations, but where things start to get intriguing for the Krauthead - is when the synthesizers wobble their way into the track. They sound like electronic orchestrated brooms sweeping an invisible floor - swuuiiish swuuiish. They have a way of fluttering around in the music without ever having to land on anything solid. In many ways, Mokscha is like a precursor to the modern day hip-hop battle, but instead of two rappers having a go at each other, here we are faced with oriental traditional music served savagely and raw - and these snaking creepy synthesizer wielded segments of pure melting sorcery. The track goes back and forth - back and forth, and I can easily picture the otherworldliness and ethereal bewilderment of a Mokscha trip running its course.

Second and last track is Wadia. Now I don't know if this is intentional, but I can't help but draw parallels between the Indian Wadia family, who are this huge ship manufacturers belonging to the most powerful of establishments in the country - and the aforementioned oil company of which our male protagonist represents. I might be wrong but even so - the music doesn't exactly diminish in quality for this reason - let alone evaporate in thin air. Wadia starts off even further to the east. I definitely hear more of a Chinese flavour in the raw naked piano melody. It's no more than simple chord runs and improvisational textures performed ethereally and with a serene feel to them that sort of reminds me of Popol Vuh's Florian Fricke, - BUT it sure is beautiful. The track suddenly shape-shifts, and we're treated to analogue synths, wah wahing fat bass lines coming straight out of a George Clinton project, jazz styled drumming - and kapow we're in fusion country! It's a welcome change from the contour less lands of the lone piano, but to this listener the bridge feels somewhat forced and pasted on.

If you've been looking for a cross breed of Star Wars laser beams and Indian ragas, Shaft funky fusion and Chinese piano Zen - then look no further. This album is as original as they come, and although it may combine its ingredients rather clumsily at times, I still relish the fact that I can put this album on, whenever I wish to travel to the far east on a windswept voyage of maniacal santurs and wobbly synthesizer brooms.

Baba Yaga - 1974 - Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga
Baba Yaga

01. The Man Who Wants To Buy The World
02. Waves
03. In The Morning
04. High Fly
05. Rebekka
06. Turdus Merula
07. Powerful Hand
08. Homage A....
09. Intoxication
10. La Tombeau

Drums, Percussion – Joska Fiedermutz
Electric Guitar – Winfried Schreiber
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Jürgen Dyrauf
Electric Piano, Piano, Mellotron, Synthesizer, Organ, Clavinet, Bassoon, Gong – Ingo Werner
Vocals, Electric Bass, Lyrics By – Bernd Weidmann

Kraut-fusion band formed by Ingo Werner (ex-My Solid Ground) and Nemat Darman (famous Iranian percussionist, multi instrumentalist). Their album "collage" (1974) was recorded in Dieter Dierk's studio. Baba Yaga's music is a convincing medley of ethnic / eastern like improvisations and original spaced out experimentations (with discreet jazzy touches and electronic treatments).

Named after the a fantasy, supernatural, rural female character, Baba Yaga should be considered as a solo project of German keyboardist Ingo Werner, after he left My Solid Ground.Actually his first production features widely unknown musicians such as Bernd Weidmann on vocals/bass, Jürgen Dyrani and Winfried Schreiber on guitars and Joska Fledermutz on drums, while Werner plays all possible kind of keyboards as well as the bassoon and the gongs.The first self-titled production of the group was captured as one of the endless recordings at Dierks Studio near Cologne and it was released in 1974 on the obscure Phonola label.

The first three tracks show a surprising laid-back British-styled Progressive Rock akin to CRESSIDA, FANTASY and GREENSLADE with romantic vocals, light pych influences and Werner's piano, organ and Mellotron in evidence in an attempt to offer a more melodic 70's Art Rock with an atmospheric lyrical content, very far from his previous work with My Solid Ground.With ''High spy'' a change of style occurs, this one being a mix of complex Prog Rock and Avant Folk with dense and complicated music full of electric piano and synths being followed by massive percussions and archaic flutes.''Rebekka'' is closer to smooth Psych/Prog with haunting Mellotron, soft electric themes and choirs leading the way in an atmospheric enviroment.With ''Turdus Merula'' another asset of Werner's musical background comes in evidence, a kind of cimenatic Electronic/Prog with gongs, Mellotron and electric piano, followed by the almost Canterbury-like ''Powerful Hand'' with its complex structure, the British-styled vocals and the sudden breaks.As the album unfolds, its jazzy nature becomes more and more obvious, highlighted by the instrumental ''Hommage a...'', combining the improvised electric piano with the psychedelic rhythm section and a few Mellotron flashes in a typical Kraut/Jazz Rock track.''Intoxication'' kicks off as a furious Heavy/Psych Rock-er with scratching electric guitars, before Werner dominant piano lines produce somekind of Avant-Garde atmosphere.The closing ''La Tombeau'' shows a return to the flipside's opening mood, an instrumental piece entirely built around piano, synthesizers, Mellotron and gongs, creating a cosmic and spacey soundimage.

Ingo Werner's ''Baba Yaga'' may be a confusing and not 100% convincing album with too many things going on in a very short time, but none can accuse this man of not being a talented and flexible composer with some great ideas.This is diverse Progressive Rock with sights and sounds from almost the whole range of the movement, highlighted by its nice keyboard work.Chances are, every prog fan will find something to like in here.Rare, but recommended album.

AG A.M (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ante Meridiem) - 1977 - Erinnerungen an eine positive Phase

(Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ante Meridiem)
Erinnerungen an eine positive Phase

01. Der Steinadler
02. Die Positive Phase Vom Eindruck Eines Kanadischen Spiegels (In Der Gro?en Stadt)
03. Bockenheimer Schlammtango
04. Blancanieve
05. I'll Come Back
06. Die Birke
07. Ballad Of The Lonesome Rover
08. River-Blues
09. Beautiful Remembrance
10. Good Night, Sleep Tight

- Peter P. Dettlaff / vocals, guitar, bass
- Gunter Westenberger / vocals, guitar, accordion
- Bernd Gansloser / vocals, bass, guitar
- Gerhard Muller / drums, clarinet, flute, organ

The full name of Ag A.M. is Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ante Meridiem, (which means something totally weird like "The Anti-Meridian Study Group"). They were a varied kind of folky politico band with a very German sound, and a music that drew in an extremely wide range of styles, ranging from theatrical Floh De Cologne territory, via trippy psychedelia, all sorts of progressive rock styles, and on to country rock even! Oddball stuff indeed, certainly their music was an acquired taste and original too.Nothing historical whatsoever is known about Ag A.M., no, not even the musicians full names! All that they left behind is an odd album that is full of surprises, yet doesn't really fit into any genre comfortably. It's a curiosity, and aptly it's one of the most obscure of 70's self produced obscurities.