Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Alrune Rod - 1975 - Tatuba Tapes

Alrune Rod
Tatuba Tapes

01. Lad os sammen finde de andre (2:12)
02. Her i solen (8:40)
03. Nærmest blå (5:03)
04. Du må ændre hvad du vil (12:54)
05. Senere (3:13)

- Leif Roden / vocals, bass
- Ole Poulsen / guitar, vocals
- Mikael Miller / guitar, vocals
- Tom Lunden / keyboards, vocals
- Karsten Høst / drums

By Bodhi Heeren:

For sure seeing Alrune Rod's final concert, an 8(!!) hours musical feast, one of the (musical) highlights of this life. It was therefore a huge disappointment when the much anticipated album came out comprising of only just half an hour of the magic. And far from the best parts of the show.

Something may have gone wrong with the recording equipment or maybe the fact that the guitars are out of tune - a lot more noticeable on record as it was in real life - led to the decision to only release this small fragment. What we get is good enough though, best the opening track "Lad os sammen finde de andre" ("Let's go together and find the others" that showcases the deep connection between the band and it's fans, and I swear I can hear my self shouting/singing along!

I still hope there will be a release of more from this show, maybe on the bands fan club page that hosts some (legal and free) downloads of this the most fantastic live band. Till then do invest in this short but beautiful item.

Alrune Rod - 1974 - 4-Vejs

Alrune Rod 

01. En Morgen
02. Den Samme Mand
03. De Vises Sten
04. Ringene I Sandet
05. Forårsmorgen
06. Skinner
07. Alt Roder
08. Et Menneske

Leif Roden / bass, vocal
Karsten Høst / drums
Mikael Miller / guitar
Ole Poulsen / guitar

4-vejs ( Four-Ways) is the fifth studio album from legendary Danish psychadelic progressive rock band Alrune Rod ( translates into Mandrake Root in English). I haven´t yet heard Alrune Rod´s 1972 effort Spredt For Vinden ( Scattered by the Wind) which was the predecessor to 4- Vejs so I´m not sure which kind of development has happened between those two albums.
My history with Alrune Rod starts about fifteen years ago in my friends basement. Under heavy influence of mildy mind altering drugs we listened to a lot of sixties and seventies Danish music and at some point one of Alrune Rod´s first two albums would always be placed on the grammophone ( Yes that lucky bastard had the original vinyls) and we would get lost in the dark psychadelic music that graces those for Danish music essential albums. Those albums (Alrune Rod and Hej Du) have always had a special place in my prog heart.

A couple of years ago I bought the CD re-issue Sonet Årene 69-72 where Alrune Rod´s first three albums and their first single with non-album tracks are present on 2 CDs. It´s a highly recommendable compilation for anyone interested in Danish psychadelic progressive rock. I never went further in discovering the rest of Alrune Rod´s discography though until now where I have gotten a hold of 4-Vejs.

The music on 4-Vejs is very different from the dark organ driven psychadelic rock style Alrune Rod are mostly known for. There are eight songs with varying lengths from 2-6 minutes which means that there are non of the 10 minute psychadelic rock songs which was one of their trademarks on the early albums. Instead we´re treated with more ordinarely structured rock songs with very few psychadelic hints. This is not your ordinary rock band though. Alrune Rod is still a bit out of the ordinary and I actually enjoy this album much more than I would have thought possible. There are still some great instrumental parts here and there with both guitar, organ and sax solos albeit a bit more straight than in the early years. I really enjoyed songs like De Vises Sten ( Stones of the Wise) and Forårsmorgen ( Spring Morning).

The musicianship is tight and Leif Roden sings more straight on 4-Vejs than his usual out of tune wailing. All musicians play with great authority but I´ll have to give Karsten Høst on drums a special mention. He is very skilled and his playing is way above the average drummer in this genre. What a great addition to Alrune Rod.

Alrune Rod - 1972 - Spredt For Vinden

Alrune Rod 
Spredt For Vinden

01. Kom Nu
02. Her I Solen
03. En Snehvid Fugl
04. Sammensang
05. Xn
06. Flyv Fugl Fisk
07. Spredt For Vinden
08. Gåseøjne
09. Gåseøjne Fortsat

- Leif Roden / bass, vocal
- Karsten Høst / drums
- Mikael Miller / guitar
- Ole Poulsen / guitar

Spredt for Vinden ( scattered by the wind) is the fourth studio album from Danish psychadelic rock band Alrune Rod ( Mandrake Root). Alrune Rod was together with bands like Young Flowers and Steppeulvene some of the most famous Danish bands from the late sixties and early seventies. Alrune Rod is in fact one of the most psychadelic bands I have ever heard but that´s only on their two first albums. Spredt for Vinden was, in spite of what is said here on PA, recorded in March and April of 1973 and released later that year. Their previous album called Alrune Rock was released in 1971 which means that the band had had a pretty ( in those days) lenghty break from recording. The only remaining member from Alrune Rock is singer and bassist Leif Roden and it was probably because of these lineup changes that it took two years before Alrune Rod released Spredt for Vinden.
The music on Spredt for Vinden is rock with a psychadelic touch. Some songs are more psychadelic than others. Songs like Kom Nu ( come now) and Gåseøjne ( Goose eyes) are very cool psychadelic rock songs but the rest of the songs are also very good even if they are a bit more straight. The biggest change in Alrune Rod´s sound is the lack of a dominant organ. Even though there are both piano and sax and violin on this album Alrune Rod has aimed for a much more stripped down approach compared to the early psychadelic days. There´s also a folky feeling that creeps in on some of the tracks. The title track is a great example of this feature. The only song I dislike is Sammensang ( translated directly it would say Togethersong but the meaning is probably singing together). Here Alrune Rod shows their hippie genes and I cringe with embarresment. Sometimes there´s a bit too much love hippie ideals on their albums for my taste.

The musicianship is really good. In fact I think that this incarnation of Alrune Rod is a much more well playing unit than the old one ( which had their charm in other features). Like on the next album called 4-Vejs Leif Roden has much better control of his voice on Spredt for Vinden than he had in the early days when his out of tune wailing could sometimes test my patience. New drummer Karsten Høst is an excellent and tight drummer while the two guitarists compliment each other well. Great slide guitars and bluesy soloing.

The production is very good and suits the sharper musical approach that Alrune Rod had chosen at this time.

Alrune Rod - 1971 - Alrune Rock

Alrune Rod
Alrune Rock 

01. Om At (7:39)
02. Kender Du Det (6:07)
03. Jeg Tænker Så Tit pt 1&2 (7:08)
04. Rock Søster (7:32)
05. Ikke Forstyrre (8:00)
06. I Din Nabos Lys (2:00)

Giese / guitar & vocals
Kurt Ziegler ‘Pastor’ / organ, piano
Claus From / drums
Leif Roden / vocals, bass

With their third album AR made some concessions to commercial issues, even releasing an English-sung variant of the album, but shorter writing songs (no longer than 8 mins) where vocals take on a much more important and upfront role. With a comparatively bland (but wiser commercially) artwork featuring a bucolic landscape with a farmhouse, there still only six tracks on the album, but the mood is definitely set on more concise songs, allowing much less interplay than on the two previous albums. The group will again have line-up changes with Ziegler leaving, not really being replaced by another keyboardist, but by a second (rhythm) guitarist Ole Poulsen (who will co-write on all tracks) and a bunch of guest musicians to fill Ziegler’s shoes!

Starting on fairly strong Om At, sounding a bit like an average Spirit track, partly because of Giese’s guitar tone resembling Randy California’s, the album is a bit of a pot-pourri, as the next track, a rather dumb-sounding ballad overstaying its welcome. The two- part JegTaenker is definitely more reminiscent of the group’s previous two albums, but much more in its intro than in the latter parts, which can sound symphonic with the addition of a flute on a piano background, but ends in a fishtail fade-out.

On the flipside, Rock Sister features some sax parts, but the songwriting is weak and uninspired, not being helped much by some awful vocals that most amateur bands would avoid. Easily the group’s first three album’s weakest track! Fortunately the follow-up track Ikke Forstyrre is much more promising, sounding like Quicksilver Messenger Service’s debut album, Giese’s guitars is sounding a bit like Cipollina’s superb twangy wahwah guitar throughout much of the album. This track and Om At are the two highlights and just about save the album from sinking. Closing the album is a short and insignificant track, not bringing much more to the album.

On the whole, the album is a much livelier, happier collection of songs, (some of which are fairly good), but it is clear that AR lost a good deal of its soul in this metamorphosis. Significantly, electric and acoustic guitar are more upfront on this album at the expense of the keyboards, and Roden’s vocals are simply too weak to endure a whole album, especially for the sake of the listener’s ear.

This would prove to be their last album for the Sonet label as the group would create its own label Mandragora (but distributed by Sonet, if memory serves) and release three more albums in so many years. In the meantime, their third album is much less essential affair, but most progheads will not escape it, since early AZR works are on the Sonet Arene compilation, which seems to be the handiest and most easily available AR record around.

Alrune Rod - 1971 - Hej Du

Alrune Rod
Hej Du

01. Du Taler Og Sir’ (7.51)
02. Hej Du (15.11)
03. Perlesøen (21.51)

Giese / guitar & vocals
Kurt Ziegler ‘Pastor’ / organ, piano
Claus From / drums
Leif Roden / vocals, bass

If AR’s debut was a dark and un-commercial album, wait ‘til you get a load of Hej Du with its three tracks only (we are in ‘70, well before CTTE or other landmarks), and multi-movement pieces. Sporting a naïve childlike artwork, fans usually regard this album as the group’s definitive statement, and I must say that it does make quite an impression on me, still more than 10 years after discovering it. Actually the group will experience their first line-up change during the recording of this album, with original drummer From leaving the stool to Karsten Host.

Starting with the distorted guitars of Du Taler Sumthinalongthisline (You Talk And Say), the album gives a shot in the anthill of your certainties, but the track is actually fairly weak as the over-powering vocals are not exactly well thought out. The following 15-min+ title track is quite an improvement, as it is reminiscent of the dynamics of the closer Hjem of the debut album. Indeed, the organ and guitar are clashing wildly while Host’s drumming is at times breathtaking.

The sidelong 8-movement almost-22min suite Perlesoen is clearly the album’s centerpiece (even if it stands as its last track ;o), with its interesting mixture of dark organ-based progressive (ala Uriah Heep), psychedelic music (early Pink Floyd), and space rock (early Hawkwind) and bits of soul music (reworked ala Vanilla Fudge), with loads of riffing guitars and wild drumming. Even having some flute parts in one movement, this epic is truly progressive with each chapter developing its own mood, but adding to the whole structure. One of the assets of this track is that a second drummer Klaus From helps out, giving more depth to it. Just past the halfway mark, as the track stops for umpteenth time, the bass picks up with the searing guitar, soon joined by the drums and organs to build a lengthy crescendo, then suddenly, bass and guitar break away some more, before eventually dying out. As soon as gone, an organ line is to be heard lazily followed by another, then almost whispering vocals (at first anyway) with Appice-like drums, the whole thing ending in chaos!

Although marginally better than their eponymous debut album, Hej Du is one of Denmark’s most definitive albums in its genre (if you except the vocally ambitious but ultimately poor opening track), and only topped progressively (but in a very different genre) by Secret Oyster’s outstanding jazz-rock of Sea Son. Highly recommended piece of somber hippie rock especially to most of those symphonic progheads claiming psych rock is not part of “prog”.

Alrune Rod - 1969 - Alrune Rod

Alrune Rod 
Alrune Rod

01. Alrune Rod (10:00)
02. Natskyggevej (9:55)
03. Hvor Skal Jeg Se Solen Stå Op (3:12)
04. Bjergsangen (11:57)
   Fase1: Kom Og Tag Min Hånd
   Fase2: Du Er Så Sød
   Fase3: Når Yderst Er Inderst
05. Rejsen Hjem (13:23)

Giese / guitar & vocals
Kurt Ziegler ‘Pastor’ / organ, piano
Claus From / drums
Leif Roden / vocals, bass

Alrune Rod is probably one of the most important Danish rock bands from the psychedelic era, and along with STEPPEULVENE, generally considered the epitome of Danish psychedelic rock and the Danish counterculture movement of the1960s and 1970s in general.

Alrune Rod, colloquially referred to as 'Alrunen', were formed in 1968 by Leif Roden and are considered to be the pioneers in Danish psychedelic and artistically oriented rock music, along with acts like BURNIN' RED IVANHOE , STEPPEULVENE, CULPEPPER'S ORCHARD, BLUE SUN and ACHE. Alrune Rod debuted with the single 'Tæl Aldrig I Morgen Med' in 1968 and the full length studio album 'Alrunes Rod' in 1969, followed by the highly acclaimed 'Hej Du' in 1970 and 'Alrune Rock' in 1971, which was released in a Danish language version and an English language version. The remaining three albums 'Spredt For Vinden' from 1972, '4-vejs' from 1974, and 'Tatuba Tapes' from 1975 are generally considered sub par compared to their earlier releases. Nonetheless, 'Tatuba Tapes' is notable for being recorded live in the studio.

Their musical style is often described as a hybrid between THE GRATEFUL DEAD and early PINK FLOYD. They initially composed fairly long songs, typically of 10 to 13 minutes of length which blended the heaviness of the blues rock with the complexity of art rock, some of their compositions bordering on bein symphonic. 'Hej Du' is considered their masterpiece with compositions like hard rocking 'Du Taler Og Siger' and the almost twenty-two minutes long 'Perlesøen'. While their early efforts are characterized by a relatively dark atmosphere, their post-'Hej Du' albums contain shorter, livelier and more accessible tunes, which nonetheless retain several progressive elements. Lyrically, Alrune Rod dealt with complex topics like the human psyche as well as society and politics but were not above addressing more trivial topics like love and rock 'n' roll rebellion.

Eponymous debut album from this quintessential Danish group Alrune Rod (Mandrake Root), which was highly touted in the underground scene for their disregard to commercial aspects of the music business. Indeed their heavy psych-prog, sung in Danish (apparently a first), sounds like a darker Vanilla Fudge or Floyd (between Saucerful and Atom Heart) was full of lengthy tracks with elongated solos, dark brooding vocals and multi-movement tracks. Graced with a very sexy psychedelic gatefold artwork, the album has gained a cult status in its homeland and the vinyl is fetching considerable price.
From the very first notes of the opening eponymous track (10-mins long), it is clear that this album is not wedding dancing party music, and should you find a woman willing to make out to it, get a grip on her and marry her! ;o)p) And if the AR track was not enough, wait till you get a load of the following 10-min Natskyggevej (yeah, bless you too! ;o), which is definitely even deeper and sombre with the ever-present organ. Even if sombre, the ambiances are actually often beautiful and sometimes solemn, but also menacing and spellbinding. Closing the A-side is the short and unusual Hvor Skalwhatchymacallit with some acoustic guitars and congas. Bassist Roden's voice can be an acquired taste, especially on tracks were vocals take a more upfront role.

The flipside only contains two more epics, starting with the 12-min 3-phase Bjergsangen which sounds much like its cousins, searing guitar lines, good base work and enthralling drum playing, but the middle section is a bit awkward and add to the feeling that the music also has an anaemic side to it. Ziegler's organ sounds like a cross of Banton meeting Jon Lord through Kaye or Wright, but fails to take the lead from Giese's fuzzed-out guitar lines. Closing the album is the 13-min+ Rejsen Hejm (Pardon my Danish) is the most dramatic of the album, and its dynamics are adding a bit of a third dimension to the album.

AR's debut album is not a really easy listen, especially given that the album is rather long, (approaching the 50 minutes), but should ravish organ-driven hard rock with a psych edge! Although likely to please most progheads, I'd warn those liking very complex symphonic rock (ala Yes or ELP), that they might not find what they're looking usually for in this group.