In 1966,Bolivia was governed by a dictatorship directed by the general René Barrientos, that had overthrown to the president Victor Peace Estenssoro and position aim to nationalist-popularrevolution initiated in 1952 (MNR).
The population was mainly indigenous peasants, while powerfulBolivian Workers Union (VOC), with base in the mining workers ahead, took an iron opposition to the regime that in 1965 expelled from the country it’s Secretary-General, Juan Lechín Oquendo. Generalized disturbances over the country led to a State of Siege state.
In the interim, TheÑancahuazú Guerrilla or Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Bolivia(ELN) was a group of mainly Bolivian and Cuban guerrillas led by the guerilla leader Che Guevara active in Bolivian Cordillera Province from 1966 to 1967.
After returning from Congo’s revolution flop, the guerrilla was intended to work as a foco, a point of armed resistance to be used as a first step to overthrow the Bolivian government and create a socialist state. With no more than 50 members, the guerrilla successfully defeated several Bolivian patrols before it was wiped out by more than 2000 men and Che Guevara captured and summarilyexecuted. (!)
Only five guerrillas managed to survive and fled to Chile. The CIA had been active in providing finances and training to the Bolivian military dictatorship in the 1960s.
Félix Rodríguez was a CIA officer on the team with the Bolivian Army that captured and shot Guevara on 9 October 1967. Months earlier, during his last public declaration to the Tricontinental Conference, Guevara wrote his own epitaph, stating:
‘Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome, provided that this our battle cry may have reached some receptive ear and another hand may be extended to wield our weapons.’ (June 14,1928 – October 9, 1967) / RIP Comandante!!
Let’s go to our artist:
Climax formed in 1968 after its members returned from a trip to America, where they had been almost a year, been influenced by the bands and rock movement of that time. José ‘Pepe’ Eguino and Javier Saldías had separated from the Blacks Birds, while drummer Alvaro Córdoba had also left his naive (beat) band Las Tortugas.
In late 1968 and early 1969, they recorded ‘Born To Be Wild’ Ep which included versions of songs by Steppenwolf, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix. 1970, presents their second Ep, called ‘Born To Be Wild II’, in which Bob Hopkins, an American marine joins the band playing the harmonica and singing. These Ep includes their early compositions, ‘The Seeker’ and ‘Rhythm of Life’ successfully sung by Hopkins.
After extensive traveling the United States and Argentina, Climax launches in 1974 the most representative Lp: Gusano Mecnánico,one of the first concept albums and probably the greatest rock album of Bolivia. With ELP, King Crimson, Miles Davis and Mahavishnu Orchestra influences, it would also be the first full-length album from the band, released in a gatefold cover, based on M.C. Esher surreal etching ‘Relativity’, incorporating worms alluding the mechanization of the humanity.
Following the success of Gusano Mecánico, drummer Alvaro Cordero left the band. Although Eguino and Saldías tried to continue performing several shows with Nicolás Suárez(keyboards) and Felix Chavez(second guitarist), the band didn’t have the same success as the original formation. In subsequent years, there were several reunions, presenting the first formation in some festivals in the early ’90s and last in 2002. Other prominent Bolivian bands are Wara and Estrella de Marzo.
Let’s go to our album:
As well as with their Latin American brothers, the development of the Bolivian rock occurred during the ’60s with the Nueva Ola, and their covers inspired by artists from abroad, styles were more like beat and garage. At this era, bands like Loving’s Dark, Los Grillos, Bonny Boy Hots, and Los Dhag Dhags stood out at juveniles clubs.
Then in the ’70s,a more mature scene unfolds with brilliant acts like Wara, Climax and Estrella de Marzo, mixing folklore rhythms with psychedelia and prog rock. A good chance to know the first phase of the Bolivian rock it’s a compilation of Discos Del Condor called Revolución Psicofásica from 2011, check it out!
There’s a slight jazz bent, crazed instrumental jamming, with fuzzy/freaky guitar solos played Avant style like Fripp, aggressive vocals and a tireless MONSTER drummer. Ranging from Mahavishnu OrchestraandKing Crimson these guys are no joke!
I was surprised with its technical ability, it’s not often common to see a power trio as solid as them, especially in Latin American bands, a pleasant surprise mis amigos.
The ‘IM’ highlights are Transfusión de Luz and Cristales Soñadores.
A1 Pachacutec (Rey de Oro)
A2 Transfusión de Luz
A3 Cuerpo Eléctrico – Embrión de Reencarnación
B1 Gusano Mecánico (Invasión, Dominio y Abandono)
B2 Prana (Energia Vital)
B3 Cristales Soñadores
Bass, Vocals, Lyrics: Javier Saldías
Drums, Percussion: Alvaro Córdoba
Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals: Jose A. Eguino
Composed, Arranged, Performer: Climax
Engineer: Wálter Santa Cruz
Recorded during 1974 at Estudios ‘LYRA’ La Paz – Bolivia.
At the time of the fall of the Egyptian monarchy in the early 1950s, less than half a million Egyptians were considered the upper class and rich, four million middle class and 17 million lower class and poor (!). Fewer than half of all primary-school-age children attended school, and most of them being boys. Egypt’s second president Gamal Abdel Nasser led Egypt through a victorious revolution in 1952. He was a proponent of cultural nationalism as a means of political independence.
Land reform and distribution, the dramatic growth in university education, and government support to national industries greatly improved social mobility and flattened the social curve. From 1953-54 through 1965-66, overall public school enrolments more than doubled. Millions of previously poor Egyptians, through education and jobs in the public sector, joined the middle class.
Doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, journalists, constituted the bulk of the swelling middle class in Egypt under Nasser.
Famous realist director, Kamal Al Sheikhbecame known for making compelling thrillers such as House Number 13 (1952), a film noir about a psychologist who tries to use his friend to commit a murder; Life or Death (1955), which unusually for the 50’s was shot on location in Cairo, and The Last Night which was nominated for the Golden Palme at the Cannes Film Festival in 1964!
The ’50s and ’60s saw the appearance of accomplished realist films from Youssef Chahine, most notably The Blazing Sky (1954) nominated for the Grand Prix at the Cannes. It’s the second film, Son of the Nile (1951) showed an early work of Social Realism, that started his international fame. The film focused on relations between traditional classes and elites, depicting the hard lives of peasant classes. Previous representations of peasants had used them largely as romanticized symbols of national identity.
Let’s go to our album:
Born Salah Eldin Ahmed Ragab(25/07/1935 – 03/07/2008) in Cairo. A Major in the Egyptian Army through the ’60s, and an avid jazz fan and drummer, Ragab first attempted to form a jazz band in 1964, with American saxophonist Mac X. Spears. The group didn’t get very far, then, on December 1966, Ragab met Hartmut Geerken and Eduard Vizvari at a reception following a Randy Weston Sextet show. The three hit it off and decided to form the Cairo Jazz Band (القاهرة الفرقة موسيقى الجاز).
The year that he became the head of the Egyptian Military Music Department, in 1968, The Cairo Jazz Band began to take-off. They were Egypt’s first big band, mixing American jazz with North African music, combining jazz instrumentation with indigenous melodies/instruments, like the Nay (flute) and the Baza (ramadan drum).
Such musical cross-fertilization was not unusual in itself; American musicians from Sun Ra to Yusef Lateef had long been fascinated by the music of Islam and North Africa, incorporating both the instruments and musical forms into their work. But Salah Ragab’s music presents a view from the other side of the musical equation of West meets the Middle East. Aligning himself with the compelling currents of American jazz music, to later be revered as the Godfather and pioneer of Egyptian jazz music!
Let’s go to the pinnacle of Egyptian instrumental music, beyond the barriers of jazz and folk, the refinement and creativity here is frightening! Enjoy this superb voyage, with luxuriant arrangements and also 5 (unmissable) bonus tracks present on the 2006 CD edition, without further ado the great master Salah Ragab.
The ‘IM’ highlights are Egypt Strut and The Kings Valley – Upper Egypt.
Armenia. Beginning in the eleventh century, a long series of invasions, migrations, conversions, deportations, and massacres reduced Armenians to a minority population in their historic homeland on the Armenian Plateau. A large-scale Armenian diaspora of merchants, clerics, and intellectuals reached cities in Russia, Poland, Western Europe, and India. Most Armenians remaining in historical Armenia under the Ottoman Empire in the fifteenth century survived as peasant farmers in eastern Anatolia, but others resettled in Constantinople and other cities in the empire. There they became artisans, moneylenders, and traders.
In the nineteenth century, the political uncertainties that beset the Ottoman Empire prompted further insecurity in the Armenian population. During the WWI, Armenians from the Caucasus formed volunteer battalions to help the Russian army against the Turks. Early in 1915, these battalions organized the recruiting of Turkish Armenians from behind Turkish lines. The Young Turk government reacted by ordering the deportation of the Armenian population to Syria and Palestine.
More than 1 million(!) died from starvation, were killed by Arab or Kurdish tribes along the route, eithermassacredor forcibly removed from the eastern Anatolian provinces, what became known as the (forgotten)Armenian Genocide.
(Due to the graphic content of this little-known Holocaust, we decided not to show these horrors committed on the page, there are links in the text for this.)
Aside from the historical persecution and diaspora, Armenia is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage. The Satrapy of Armenia was established in the 6th century BC, after the fall of Urartu. In the first century BC, the Kingdom of Armenia reached its height extension under Tigranes the Great.
Armenia became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion, in the early years of the 4th century (301 AD). They got their own distinctive alphabet and language, invented by Mesrop Mashtotsin 405 AD, a fundamental step in strengthening the Armenian statehood and the bond between the Armenian Kingdom and Armenians living in the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire.
Located between the East and the West, a place of collisions between great empires of antiquity and the Middle Ages such as Rome, Iran, Byzantium, Arabs, Seljuks, Mongols crossed Armenia and destroyed it interrupting its cultural development leaving behind nothing but the smoking ruins. Having managed to resist each of the powerful newcomers, the people have saved fidelity to their culture which nevertheless underwent some changes. As a result, the national culture of Armenia acquired some features characteristic to both civilization then: Eastern and Western.
Sergei Parajanovwas a Soviet film director and artist who made significant contributions to Ukrainian, Armenian and Georgian cinema, with an own cinematic style, which was totally out of step with principles of socialist realism.
This, combined with its controversial lifestyle, led Soviet authorities to consider him a persona non grata, persecuting, imprisoning and banning its films!
Let’s go to our artist:
John Berberian(October 9, 1941) was born in New York City.Berberian’s parents were Armenian immigrants that came to America in the early 1920s with a rich musical culture. His father was an accomplished oud player, as well as an instrument maker. Oud masters of Armenian, Turkish, Arabic and Greek heritage frequented his family’s home. He first recorded traditional oud music with violinist Reuben Sarkisian, when a student at Columbia University in the mid-1950s. John subsequently recorded for a variety of labels including MGM, RCA, Roulette, Verve and Mainstream Records, two recordings from this series, Expressions East and Oud Artistry, were record-breaking in sales expanding beyond the ethnic market.
As a younger member of the longstanding Armenian community of Massachusetts, Berberian worked on a musical style known as Taksim(improvisation), a firm deeply rooted in traditional Middle Eastern folk music. Berberian has commanded the respect of musicians worldwide, he has been featured in numerous concerts and dances throughout the USA, Canada, and South America, and is one of only a handful of musicians worldwide given the title of Udi(oud master) (!). He presently lives in Massachusetts and maintains a very active performance schedule, up to this day.
Let’s go to our album:
In 1969, two producers from the Verve label, Peter Spargo and Harvey Cowen, tried to do for the oud what others did for the sitar. Spargo knew Berberian, having used him in various sessions. They hired him, with other Armenian musicians from New York and two jazzmen, including Joe Beck; they mostly did not know each other and rehearsed and recorded the same day they met for the first time. Verve fired the two producers before they could make of Berberian the new (sic)Ravi Shankar.
‘The Oud and The Fuzz’ is an original sound derived from the Druze tribe of Northern Africa. ‘Chem-OO-Chem’ is a popular Armenian song, 6/8 is the traditional rhythm for Armenian dances. This features lead vocalist Bob Tashjian. ‘Flying Hye’ (with hye referring to flying in Armenian) starts in 9/8 which changes to 6/8 and has a melody taken from the (famous) Greek dance form of Tsamiko.
Also ‘3/8 + 5/8= 8/8’ refers to how complex Middle Eastern melodies can build up, based upon Turkish classical music. ‘The Magic Ground’ is a based upon A minor (or Kurdi for Arab music), which takes off in 2/4, then breaks into a swing.
Once again do not be fooled by this tacky cover art! Released originally in 1969, Middle Eastern Rock is a unique, compelling fusion record from Armenian-American oud player John Berberian. The results, which blend elements of psychedelia, free jazz, klezmer, African, and Middle Eastern textures, are dazzling, and are sure to thrill anyone with a taste for outside albums, be ready and Բարի ճանապարհ:!
The ‘IM’ highlights are The Oud & The Fuzz and 3/8 + 5/8 = 8/8.
A1 The Oud & The Fuzz (Berberian) (4/4)
A2 Tranquility (6/8)
A3 Chem-OO-Chem (6/8)
B1 Iron Maiden (2/4)
B2 Flying Hye (9/8)
B3 3/8 + 5/8 = 8/8
B4 The Magic Ground (Berberian, Baronian) (2/4)
A2 To B3: Traditional
Art Direction – Sid Maurer
Artwork (Cover Art) – Jim O’Connell, Sandy Hoffman
Happy 2014 to all our friends, I was away for a few days but we’ll resume gradually the number of posts, January is always a little slower, isn’t it? Today’s artist is a small (late) tribute to our Polish friends, nothing less than one of the biggest visitors of our page!
The culture of Poland is closely connected with its intricate thousand-year history. With origins in the culture of the Early Slavs, over time Polish culture has been profoundly influenced by its interweaving ties with the Germanic, Latinate and Byzantine worlds as well as in continual dialog with the many other ethnic groups. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Polish focus on cultural advancement often took precedence over political and economic activity, these factors have contributed to the versatile nature of Polish art. Nowadays, Poland is a highly developed country, however, it retains its tradition.
Poland still suffers from a bad image in a way that people who are not from there see the country as the pool where your local painter, farm-help or building constructor comes from (sic). And those people lack the sophistication we, of course, had in our years after WWII, Right? Wrong!! (XO)
Let’s go to our history:
In fact, Poland has a long history of being one of the most cultural evolved countries in Europe. With an empire that once stretched from the East Sea to the Black Sea with an elective monarchy in the 16th century (probably the first of the western world). Thanks to Nicolaus Copernicus we finally found the scientific proof that the world was round! Musically Poland shows influences from composers like Chopin and folk music like the Mazurka, Bohemian Polka and Polonaise.
Not to mention in its world-famous writers and filmmakers like Adam Mickiewicz and Stanisław Lem; or legendaryAndrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Kieślowski.
Poland should be famous for its jazz scene during the communist regime and has an interesting pop and rock scene evolving in the 70s and 80s, with artists and acts like: Czesław Niemen, Novi Singers, Niebiesko-Czarni, Halina Frąckowiak, Big Band Katowice, SBB, Breakout, Marek Grechuta, and Stan Borys.
But let us return a little bit, to understand the darkest period of the country.
Started on the night of 1 September 1939, when Wehrmacht wore on their battle lines, Polish forces were the first to face the Germanwar machine, unfortunately, defeated in just over a month. Even with the 4th largest army, without the presence of the allies, any country would ever accomplish the deadly feat. The Soviets advanced on 17 September as agreed in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (split into two zones).
The Poles were the people most affected by WWII. There too the war ended in 1945, but the end of the conflict did not mean the liberation of the country. In 1945, Poland was a country dismantled, its western border had been pushed 500 kilometers to the west (!), in accordance with agreements made in November 1943 by Soviet Joseph Stalin with the then British Prime MinisterWinston Churchill and U.S. PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt in Tehran. Millions of Poles living in the east were transferred to territories formerly under German rule. Warsaw was uninhabited and in ruins.
Six million Poles died in the conflict, of which more than 95% were civilians. (!!)
Czeslaw Milosz (writer and Nobel laureate) would recall: ‘For six years, Poland seemed a mechanized slaughterhouse, whose treadmill constantly carried the corpses of murdered human beings’ (!)
Intellectual, religious and noble were transported by the thousands to concentration camps or executed immediately. The goal was Germanizing Polish territories and transform the population into slave labor.
The main concentration camps were located in occupied Poland: Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Chelmno, and Maidanek. Only 10% of the 3.3 million Polish Jews managed to save themselves. The Polish resistance decided on two fronts: against the Germans a military struggle, against the Soviet Union, a policy.
In 1944, when the Red Army began to approach the east of the country, the Poles wanted to present them as masters of their own place. Planned so that, a few hours before the arrival of the Soviets, Warsaw take up arms to expel the Germans. The 1st of August 1944, the Polish resistance began fighting against the Nazis but was left in the hand by the Soviets, because Stalin refused to help. Soviet troops had been halted by Moscow across the banks of the Vistula River – at the gates of Warsaw – and watched 63 days of bitter fighting, with a balance of 200.000 Poles killed. (!)
The Germans dominated the uprising and drove the survivors out of the city that was completely ruined. Hitler even ordered the implosion of what was left standing, consecrating Warsaw as the most destroyed capital in WWII.
The Resistance was cruelly fought by Nazi occupiers, for each dead German, hundred Polish hostages were executed. Until today, the Warsaw uprising isn’t just a national trauma, but also a double symbol of resistance – against the Nazi terror and against Soviet oppression. Every year, the 1st of August, thousands of residents of the capital gather to pay tribute for the uprising.
1945 was the year of liberation from the German terror. The 60th anniversary of this date is remembered by Poles accordingly. But nobody forgets that Poland wasn’t free after the War. The communist regime installed by Moscow only made the Nazi terror be replaced by the Stalinist (sic).
The development of WWII, its battles and countless other situations will be addressed in future posts, this is just a small summary to contextualize, ok?!
Let’s go to our music:
With the coming of the world wars and then the Communist state, folk traditions were oppressed or subsumed into state-approved folk ensembles. The most famous state ensembles were Mazowsze and Śląsk. Though these bands had a regional touch to their output, the overall sound was a homogenized mixture of Polish styles. The whole field seems unhip to young audiences, and many traditions dwindled rapidly.
The entrance of Jazz music, much more appealing to the young audiences, shook up the Soviet structures, in the 50s. Changing once and for all the Polish soundscape.
Before WWII, bands playing in restaurants and bars of Warsaw, Krakow or Poznan already had jazz elements in their repertoire. After the war, the initial period of fascination by youngsters with jazz music was quickly suppressed by communist authorities. The Catacomb Periodtried to ban the genre, jazz was played unofficially as a piece of underground music, but two events helped to change that.
First, Stalin died in 1953 which brought a political change that brought freedom also in the field of art. Second, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck visited Poland which had an enormous impact, it was the beginning of the development of an authentic jazz movement and the start of Polish pop music.
During the 50s and 60s, Polish musicians reached for records of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, of hard-bop quintets as well as for the records of bands led by Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The main promoters of modern jazz during the 50s were Andrzej Trzaskowski, Jerzy Milian, Andrzej Kurylewicz, among others.
Polish popular music in the 60s was relatively tame compared to its Western contemporaries, mostly because the Communist government was rather skeptical about rock’n’rolland tried to limit its cultural influence on the young generation. In fact, to avoid trouble from the association, a new term was coined – big beat and its Polish-language equivalent, Mocne Uderzenie. The big beat performers were mostly imitating British stars of the time, sometimes adding elements of Polish folk music.
The 60s also brought Poland one of its most original artists, Czesław Niemen. He started out performing Latin and big beat songs, but soon transformed into a superstar when his protest song Dziwny Jest Ten Swiat (Strange Is This World) was applauded to no end at 1967 Opole Festival. The key to his success was not only an extraordinary voice and image but also very expressive, soul repertoire and poetic lyrics.
At the end of the decade, big beat finally gave way to more evolved rock genres, which would dominate the Polish scene in the following years: blues, soul, prog, disco, etc. The complete unfolding of the 70s will be studied at a later time, after this overview (phew!), let us return to today’s artist, shall we?!
Let’s go to our album:
Henry Debich (18 January 1921 – 4 July 2001) born and buried at Pabianice, was a Polish conductor, composer, arranger, and educator. Born in a family of musicians, his father, Bernard Debich, was a bandmaster from the factory’s orchestra. Before the war, he had private lessons on piano, trumpet, and trombone. He graduated in Theory, Composition and Conducting at Lodz Academy of Music.
During WWII, he was arrested on May 16, 1940, as part of a large share of the Lodz Gestapo, being placed in a camp in Radogoszcz, and then in Dachau. After the war, he took a job teaching in Pabianicka music school and began working with the Polish Radio. At the same time, he continued his studies at the Conservatory H. Kijeńska-Dobkiewiczowej, and studied music theory and conducting.
Debich was co-founder and since 1952 the conductor and artistic director, of The Entertainment Orchestra of Polish Radio and Television in Lodz. Being a multi-annual music director, conductor and juror at festivals in Opole, Sopot, Kolobrzeg and Zielona Gora. He was the second conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra (1956-1958), and together with its ensembles, recorded music for over 20 films and released more than 50 Lp’s throughout its brilliant career!
As a conductor and arranger, the maestro worked with orchestras in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Netherlands, Cuba, East Germany, Portugal, USSR and so on. He also collaborated with opera and Musical Theatre in Lodz.
Finally, some Polish jazz and funk to roll you upside down! It took a while for us to enter in Poland, this String Beat is almost a sum of every genre that was happening in a strong instrumental act: rock, soul, funk, fusion, soundtrack music, with lots of woodwinds and reeds. It is always good to see the intersection between classical and popular music, with some (dope and mellow) Western covers included.
The ‘IM’ highlights are Bez Metalu, straight from some Blaxploitation movie, this insane groove will leave your jaw open with every single aspect, the arrangement here is some real deal, get ready. And Kameleon, Hancock’s famous song, got a classy drapery here, with swinging guitars, flute/sax solos, and light synths. Frightful!
O Dara Irin Ajo!
A1 Na Opak (Z. Karwacki, J. Delong)
A2 Bez Metalu (M. Racewicz)
A3 Gry Flute (A. Żylis) – [Solos, J. Delong & Z. Karwacki]
A4 Oscypka (Z. Karwacki) – [Solos, A. Szczepański & K. Osiński]
A5 Standard In B (J. Malinowski) – [Solos, J. Delong & Z. Karwacki]
B1 Melodia Z Filmu “Shaft” (I. Hayes / M. Hoffmann)
B2 Opadający Widnokrąg (A. Żylis)
B3 Kameleon (H. Hancock) – [Solos, J. Malinowski &J. Olejniczak]
B4 Obladi – Oblada (J. Lennon, McCartney / M. Hoffmann)
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, French, Italian 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.
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.
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 Pharaosand 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!
By the mid-late 1970s onward the terms electronic rock, electronic music, and new age have been used more often than Krautrock and KosmischeMusik, 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 BBCdocumentary 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. (!)
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.
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.
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!
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)