Embryo – Embryo’s Reise (1979)

capa cópiaThis post is dedicated to German friends, simply, one of our faithful visitors, Vielen Dank! Let’s make another recap on the subject Krautrock, shall we? Years away from the Xhol Caravan entry, Embryo’s galaxy roamed through our World during its existence, influenced by psych, prog, ethio-jazz, fusion, and today’s album are definitely my favorite, a special gem, let’s learn how to cultivate it!?

Let’s go to our music:

Krautrock (Kosmische Musik) is a German avant-garde, experimental rock movement that emerged at the end of the 60’s, intending to go beyond the eccentricities developed by the psychedelic rock of the US, by giving a special emphasis to electronic treatments, sound manipulation and minimal hypnotic motifs (musique concrete/minimalist) Krautrock put the emphasis on extended/ecstatic instrumental epics, neglecting the (trivial) pop universe.

The term Krautrock was first used by the British music press in a very derogatory way, though it rapidly found a better reputation under the underground music circle, gaining (with time) certain popularity, also thanks to the Brain-Festival Essen.

Ash Ra Tempel's Flyer, 1973
Ash Ra Tempel, Bravo’s Magazine / 1973

With their own particular artistic expression, multiple musical collectives supplied psychedelic incantations, mantra-like drones, lugubrious atmospheres, long and convoluted collective improvisations, binary repetitive drum pulses, fuzz guitars, primitive electronic noises, hallucinatory ballads, and garage blues rock trips. Krautrock can be described as an anarchic, intense, acid, tellurian, nocturnal, spacey, dark and oniric adventure through rock music! (phew!!)

The most consistent years of the scene cover a relatively short period from 1970 to 1975. After their first spontaneous, hyperactive and psychedelic efforts, the bands generally split up or declined into other musical sensibilities, more in line with mainstream rock or with ambient soundscapes. Each region develops its particular musical scene, interpreting differently the Krautrock musical structure.

Faust
Faust

For instance, the Berlin school focused on astral synthscapes, weird electronic experimentation and acid jams (Ash Ra Tempel, Agitation Free, The Cosmic Jokers, Kluster), the Munich scene offered fuzzed-out (Eastern) psych rock mantras with some folk accents (Popol Vuh, Amon Duul, Gila, Guru Guru). Cologne and Dusseldorf underground scenes focused on political rock, electronics, pulsating rhythms and clean sounding (Floh de Cologne, La Dusseldorf, Neu!, Can).

Let’s go to our artist:

Embryo is centered around multi-instrumentalist Christian Burchard, founded in the late ’60s after Burchard had played in several jazz combos and allegedly spent a short time in Amon Düül II. Since then, busloads of musicians have played together with him in Embryo and there are probably not two albums with the same line-up.

Nevertheless, some musicians stayed with Burchard for quite a long time, Roman Bunka and Edgar Hoffman were one of those. Two excellent multi-instrumentalists who both remained for most of the ’70s and 80’s In addition, Embryo has also played constantly with musicians from outside Europe, especially from Asia and Africa. (!)

Multi-Arts Embryo!
Multi-Arts Embryo!

The continuous changes in the band line up and the wide range of musical styles probably typify the musical restlessness of Burchard. Although the band started as a Krautrock outfit, it was clear within a few albums that he had a genuine interest in combining jazz, rock and a large variety of ethnic (different) music styles.

Throughout the ’70s, the jazz and ethnic influences were often embedded in a jazz-rock/fusion format, while in the mid and late 80’s the band often focused on purely ethnic music, especially from Africa. During the ’90s, Embryo developed more or less into an ethnic jazz band, rarely restricting themselves to a strict compositional format, always allowing ample room for spontaneous musical interaction.

70's
Kraut-World

Surprisingly, Embryo still exits after 30 years and the band still play many concerts and festivals, throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. (!)

Let’s go to our album:

This double album is certainly one of the best attempts to fuse progressive-type rock with ethnic/world music and few have succeeded as well as Embryo’s Reise (voyage). Indeed around the departure of the ever-important Roman Bunka, plans had been made to travel from Istanbul to Pakistan and Nepal, while recording their musical encounters with the many people found on their road paths!

Embyo’s Reise
Embyo’s Reise

The group was giving improvised multimedia concerts along the way, including stunning live performance paintings, some of these jams are actually really successful, mixing the European (often electric) rock musicians and the acoustic local musicians (Road To Asia), while others are more ethnic players playing freely along.

Symbolic of the 70’s hippy dream, a real must not only in Embryo’s discography!

Embryo Live, Lately
Embryo Live, Lately

The ‘IM’ Highlights are Kurdistan and Cello Celloਤੁਹਾਡਾ ਸਫਰ ਸੁਰੱਖਿਅਤ ਰਹੇ!

Tracks Include:

A1 Strasse Nach Asien (Christian Burchard)

A2 Paki Funk (Michael Wehmayer)

A3 Lost Scooters (Roman Bunka)

A4 Anar, Anar (Traditional, arr. Burchard)

B1 Es Ist, Wie’s Ist (Christian Burchard)

B2 Kurdistan (Christian Burchard)

B3 Far East (Roman Bunka)

B4 Chan Delawar Khan (Traditional, arr. Burchard)

C1 Farid (Christian Burchard)

C2 Cello, Cello (Christian Burchard)

D1 Rog de Quadamuna Achna (Traditional, arr. Burchard)

D2 Hymalaya Radio (Traditional, arr. Burchard)

Credits

Roman Bunka: guitar, vocals, bass, piano, guitar synth, drums, oud

Christian Burchard: vocals, drums, synth-vibes, percussion, tamtam, marimbaphone, pianet

Remigius Drexler: acoustic & electric guitars

Edgar Hoffmann: violin, soprano saxophone, shinai, dilruba, flute, harmonica

Uve Müllrich: bass, electric guitar, oud, rhubab, electric saz, vocals, percussion

Michael Wehmayer: organ, piano, harmonium

Participations

Abdul Jabar: tula / Friedemann Josh: flute / Abdul Madjid: tambur

Schamsdin Masrur: dotar / Mrs. Ramamani: vocals / Mr. Chandramouli: kanjira

Mr. Chandrasekhar: khol / Mr. Gopalakrishna: tabla / Mr. Rajagopal: dhol

Mr. Ramesh: ghatam / Mr. Ramesh Shotam: tavil / Mr. Ravi: dolki

Mr. Sashikumar: mridangam, top pitch / Mr. Sampath Kumar: morsing

Mr. Satyakumar: dholak / Mr. TS Mani: mridangam / Malang Negrabi: zerbagali

Ustad Mohamed Omar: rubab / Machin Abdul Raschid: saranda

Ashok Roy: sarod / Ustad Salim: dilruba / *Ubekannter Zirkusansager: vocals

Bahul Jazz Group of Calcutta: tam-tam, flute, violin, vocals

  • Cover: Hartmut Bremer, Stefan Rustige, Uve Müllrich
  • Engineer: Etienne Conod, Günter Heidler, Rolf Sylvester
  • Mastered: Rico Sonderegger
  • Photography: Georg Kramer, Michael Wehmeyer
  • Recorded: Brian Greenman, Etienne Conod (tracks: A1, B2, B3, C1),
  • Gunni Heidler (tracks: A3, D2), Rolf Sylvester (tracks: A3, A4, B3, C1, D1)

Recordings from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.

Recorded Sept 1978 – May 1979

Remix and playback July 1979 by Sunrise-Studios, Kirchberg, Switzerland.

Notes

Tracks A1, B1 and B2 recorded after returning from the journey in August/September 1979 at Sunrise Studio. Track A2, with vocals from an unknown Circus Announcer*, recorded in November 1978 10 km west of Peshawar, Pakistan in the tent of Jan Bahader Circus. Track A4, B3, B4, C1, D1 recorded March 1979 at Goethe-Institut Kabul, Afghanistan; Playbacks for Track B3, C1 July 1979 at Sunrise Studio.

Track D2 recorded at doon school Dehra Dun, Himalaya, India. Track A3, C2 recorded February 1979 in Bangalore (Heidler, Sylvester), track A3 playbacks July 1979 at Sunrise Studio, KirchbergD4 recorded January 1979 in the docks of Calcutta (Greenman). Track D3 is a ‘field recording’ from December 1978.

Berlin City Nights
Berlin City Nights

Deuter – Aum (1972)

cover

It was English musician, sound designer, and conceptualist Brian Eno who first officially coined the phrase ambient, in the sleeve notes to his 1978 opus Ambient 1: Music For Airports he defines it as music designed to induce calm and space to think. One of ambient music’s prime sources is the classical avant-garde. Among the pioneers were two late-19th Century composers, Claude Debussy, and Erik Satie.

Satie’s concept of furniture music for solo piano or small ensembles now seems surprisingly congruous with Eno’s concept of ambiance: creating a sound environment that complimented the surrounds rather than intruded upon it. More musically direct but just as subtle and suggestive was the work of Debussy, who’s wandering, impressionistic tone poems like Prelude To The Afternoon of The Fawn heralded an openness in Western music, bursting the rules in structure/linear composition.

Debussy & Satie
Debussy & Satie

By the middle of the 20th Century, the American composer John Cage had blown stuffy notions of proper music right out of the water. He pre-empted world music with pieces that evoked the sounds of Africa, India, and Indonesia; he invented and composed for the prepared piano with objects stuck in piano wires to create Asian-like tones and percussive textures; and he perplexed his audiences with collisions of randomly created noise and, most infamously, his piece 4’33” which challenged listeners to consider silence as a perfect form of musical expression.

After Cage, the 60s saw the rise of a school of American composers with classical backgrounds who became known as minimalists (La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass). They took the idea of repetition and explored it over long distances, whether with orchestras, electric instruments or non-Western instrumental combinations. In turn, minimalism was to inform music as diverse as Krautrock, techno and new age music. German composer Karl Stockhausen further explored Cage’s tape experiments with odd collages, a precursor to modern digital sampling.

John Cage, Variations V
John Cage, Variations V

This was also a time of absorption of avant-garde ideas into rock music. In the late 60s rock was enriched enormously by a combination of electronic music technology, psychedelic drugs, and the innovations of jazzmen like Miles Davis. The classical music of India also made a significant impact on Western musicians, initially championed by minimalists from the classical world such as Terry Riley and La Monte Young and then absorbed by The Beatles and The Incredible String Band.

Krautrock pioneers such as Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, and Ash Ra Tempel took the next step by downplaying or abandoning pop’s emphasis on lyrics and taking audiences into totally new spaces. The tracks were instrumental, improvised, spacey and long. Rock was undergoing its own avant-garde and the open-ended sound of one instrument in particular: the analog synthesizer. Such an important tool of expression that music that’s been released since then simply wouldn’t exist without it!

Tangerine Dream
Tangerine Dream

Let’s go to our history:

Born Georg Deuter in 1945, in post-war Germany’s town of Falkenhagen, he taught himself ‘just about every instrument I could get my hands on’, though it wasn’t until after a near-fatal car crash in his early twenties that he decided to pursue a career in music. His first release in 1971, entitled D, marked the beginning of Deuter’s spiritual and musical journey, ostensibly paving the way for a new genre: New Age (Ambient).

Which combined acoustic and electronic elements with ethnic instrumentation and nature sounds, such as whale/bird song, the open sea, wind in the trees, rain, etc.

Deuter, 70s
Deuter, 70s

During the 70s and 80s, after traveling extensively through Asia in search of spiritual and creative inspiration, Deuter settled for a long time in Pune, India, where under the name Chaitanya Hari he became a neo-sannyasin, a disciple of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho). With the aid of a multitrack tape machine, he produced a series of music tapes to be used in active meditations, consisting of several stages of ten or fifteen minutes each, which range between Indian classical motifs, fiery drums, loops, synthesizers, bells, musique concrète, and pastoral acoustic passages.

In the early 90s, Deuter ended his long-standing relationship with Kuckuck, the small record label that had released nearly 20 original albums, and relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he signed a deal with New Earth Records, an independent label founded by fellow sannyasin Bhikkhu Schober and Waduda Paradiso. This proved to be a lucrative move for all involved, the majority of them intended to accompany various healing/spiritual practices such as Reiki, massage and meditation.

Western + Eastern
Western + Eastern

Deuter continues to learn and master an ever-expanding array of instruments, including the shakuhachi flute, the koto, sitar, Tibetan singing bowls, santoor, bouzouki, piano, and keyboard. He has recorded and released over 60 albums and claims to have sold more than he can count during the course of his career. (!)

Let’s go to our album:

This album sounds like when you keep waking up from dreaming and you can’t quite tell what’s the reality and what’s part of your dreams. That alternate dimension between the real world and the dream world, where nothing is in focus and you merely catch fleeting glimpses of images as they roll past your mind’s eye. Each song on Aum fades into silence before continuing into the following track, creating the feeling that they are all separate entities, unrelated to each other.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Drums, flute, guitar, and sitar, combined with the sounds of the ocean, create a variety of different moods and feelings. Some of the pieces are more meditative and reflective, while others are more rhythmic. Deuter is a highly skilled musician who joins his musical talent with spiritual insight and sensitivity.

Welcome to another example of transcendental music, such as Alice Coltrane’s previous post, today’s album has also a distinct imprint, leaving the controversial Guru aside, let’s just stick to Deuter’s heavenly music, ok?

Deuter, Lately
Deuter, Lately

Even though not being a diehard fan of New Age music, this Lp takes us to an atemporal world of discovery, freedom, and breaking of paradigms. Only a political and social landscape as Germany, would have so many strands and styles within a musical scene such as Krautrock, light an incense and put your headphones.

Enjoy the album as a whole and Udhëtimi I Mirë!

Tracks Include:

A1 Phoenix / Aum / Soham

A2 Offener Himmel 1 / Gleichzeitig / Offener Himmel 2 / Sattwa / Morning Glory

B Soma / Sunrat Shabda / Abraxas / Susani / The Key

Credits

  • Artwork (Cover) – Manfred Manke
  • Composed By, Performer, Producer – Georg Deuter
  • Music by, Arranged by – Deuter

 Kuckuck ‎– 2375 017

Darß (Darss), Coastline
Darß (Darss), Coastline

Xhol Caravan – Electrip (1969)

cover

Germany. By the end of the 1960s, the American and British counterculture and hippie movement had moved rock towards psychedelia, progressive rock and other styles that incorporated socially and politically incisive lyrics, 1968 German, FrenchItalian students had created a class of young, intellectual continental listeners. Avant-garde music had taken a turn towards the electronic in the mid-1950s, the minimalistic music current which emerged at the beginning of the 1960s with the works of La Monte Young and Steve Reich using drones and loops (often with synthesizers and tapes) in a kind of psychedelic, space-oriented music.

These factors, plus the Social Market Economy (Wirtschaftswunder) and Marshall Plan, reedified the country in less than 10 years after WWII, laying the scene for the explosion in what came to be termed Krautrock, which arose in a rock festival in 1968 in Essen. Like their counterparts, German rock musicians played a kind of psychedelic music, however, there was no attempt to reproduce the effects of drugs, but rather an innovative fusion of jazz, free-jazz and the electronic avant-garde.

Berlin, May 1945
Berlin, May 1945

That same year, 1968, saw the foundation of the Zodiak Free Arts Lab in Berlin by Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Conrad Schnitzler, which further popularized the psychedelic-rock sound in the German mainstream.

The next few years saw a wave of pioneering groups. In 1968, Can formed by two former students of Karlheinz Stockhausen, adding jazz to the mix, while the following year saw Kluster (later Cluster) begin recording keyboard-based electronic instrumental music with an emphasis on static drones. In 1970, Popol Vuh became the first group to use an electronic synthesizer, to create Kosmische Musik.

Can (w/ Damo Suzuki)
Can (w/Damo Suzuki)

By 1971, Tangerine Dream and Faust began to use electronic synthesizers and advanced production. Other bands like Ash Ra Tempel and Cosmic Jokers also made use of synthesizers and tape manipulation in a way foreshadowing the noise rock.

In 1972, two albums incorporated European rock and electronic psychedelia with Asian sounds: Popol Vuh’s In Den Gärten Pharaos and Deuter’s Aum, meanwhile, a band called Neu! began to play highly rhythmic music. By the middle of the decade, one of the best-known German bands, Kraftwerk, had released albums like Autobahn and Radioaktivität, which laid the foundation for the British 1980s synth-pop, new-wave, electro, techno, and other styles later in the century!

Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk

By the mid-late 1970s onward the terms electronic rock, electronic music, and new age have been used more often than Krautrock and Kosmische Musik, though the early scene continues still today to be regarded as a style in and of itself.

This is just a small digest of one of the greatest scenes in the history of modern music. if you want more (and I recommend) there is a BBC documentary showing all the social and economic background aspects, its developments, interviews with his (many) characters, performances and revelations, such as the proximity with the German new-wave filmmakers, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, and Wim Wenders. And even close relations with the RAF (Red Army Faction) and its members. (!)

Stockhausen (60s)
Stockhausen Respite

Let’s go to our history:

The short-lived Xhol Caravan was one of the earliest Krautrock groups, and their unique fusion of jazz and rock was a precursor to the direction that Embryo, Out of Focus, Thirst Moon, Ikarus, Kraan and countless other German groups would take in the ’70s. Formed by saxophonists Tim Belbe and Hansi Fischer, the group started out in 1967 under the name Soul Caravan. With a Motown-influenced bassist as well as two African-American vocalists, James Rhodes, and Ronny Swinton, the group made competent but conventional R&B and soul music, that same year they released the record Get in High on CBS with little repercussion.

Soul Caravan Years
Soul Caravan Years

By 1968, after several lineup changes, their sound began to develop into a more distinct blend of psychedelic, progressive rock, and free jazz, with a wide range of influences, including The Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa. Eventually, the group coalesced with Belbe, Fischer, Rhodes, Klaus Briest, Skip Vanwych, and Ocki Brevert. In early 1969 they changed their name to Xhol Caravan to release a single Planet Earth / So Down on the Hansa label and later that year, they released the strange and excellent Lp Electrip, also on Hansa.

They were a popular group at the time, constantly gigging and playing festivals, and even appeared live on WDR Radio that year as well as on television with Zappa, Tangerine Dream and Amon Düül II (the legendary band). Fischer left the group before the end of the year, and the band eventually shortened their name to Xhol to avoid confusion with the British group Caravan.

Xhol Caravan Live
Xhol Caravan Live

More studio and live material were recorded that year, though the group was unable to release any of it until they signed on with Ohr Records. In 1971 Ohr released Hau-Ruck, the following year, Motherfuckers GMBH & Co KG came out, with both live and studio tracks (recorded in 1970). Xhol disbanded at about this time.

Let’s go to our album:

Today’s album is shaped more by the precedence than by personal preference! Still, in 1969 only them and Amon Düül II had released an album, the instant classic Phallus Dei (a dedicated post will appear). Both the bands were the vanguard for rock music in Germany and dictated the paths for many other acts. Already considered Germany’s answer to Soft Machine (i don’t like this comparison), the overall here is improvisational jamming with the composed sections not so developed.

This is definitely worth a listen for anybody interested in the early years of the Jazz-Rock movement, the electric flutes and saxes will please you as the druggy atmosphere. The only 5 songs release is once again most important as a whole than any selected piece, therefore enjoy the first steps of a multi-layered electronic genre that will often be shown up here, stay tuned and… Gute Fahrt!

Tracks Include:

A1 Electric Fun Fair

A2 Pop Games

A3 All Green

B1 Raise Up High

B2 Walla Mashalla

Hansa 80 099 IU

Printed by: Mohndruck Reinhard Mohn OHG

Record Company: Ariola Eurodisc GmbH

Credits

  • Drums: Gilbert ‘Skip’ Van Wyck III
  • Electric Bass: Klaus Briest
  • Flute (Electric), Soprano Saxophone (Electric), Alto Saxophone (Electric), Performer (Wienbrücke): Hansi Fischer
  • Noises (Kloabzug): Peter Meisel
  • Organ, Electric Piano, Noises (Plastikgesäuse), Tuba: Öcki Brevern
  • Tenor Saxophone (Electric): Tim Belbe
  • Written by – Xhol Caravan

‘World War II was only twenty years earlier. Those in charge of the police, the schools, the government, they were the same people who’d been in charge under Nazism. The chancellor, Kurt Georg Kiesinger, had been a Nazi. People started discussing this only in the 60’s. We were the first generation since the war, and we were asking our parents questions. Due to the Nazi past, everything bad was compared to the Third Reich. If you heard about police brutality, that was said to be just like the SS. The moment you see your own country as the continuation of a fascist state, you give yourself permission to do almost anything against it. You see your action as the resistance that your parents did not put up.’ (!)

Stefan Aust author of Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (1985)

RAF members in Trial
RAF members in Trial