This post is dedicated to the 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) a certain popularity, also thanks to the Brain-Festival Essen.
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.
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 60’s, 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 ramained for most of the 70’s and 80’s In addition, Embryo has also played constantly with musicians from outside Europe, especially from Asia and Africa. (!)
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 70’s, 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 90’s, 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.
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!
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
The ‘IM’ Highlights are: Kurdistan and Cello Cello. ਤੁਹਾਡਾ ਸਫਰ ਸੁਰੱਖਿਅਤ ਰਹੇ!
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)
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
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.
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, Hymalaya, India. Track A3, C2 recorded February 1979 in Bangalore (Heidler, Sylvester), track A3 playbacks July 1979 at Sunrise Studio, Kirchberg. D4 recorded January 1979 in the docks of Calcutta (Greenman). Track D3 is a ‘field recording’ from December 1978.
Berlin City Nights