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

Magic Carpet – Magic Carpet (1972)

folder cópiaThe emotion provided by Raga (classical India music) is not only effective, it’s a real message, an aesthetic of nature, of the divine, a virtue able to guide the listener to a state of emotional trance. In the ’60s, with the launch of the international success of raga, masters such as Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, leaded European and American artists to become more and more captivated by the dynamical relation between mystical emotion, spirituality, and music. The emergence of Raga schools from everywhere (still perpetuating the ancestral musical traditions), and initiatory travels of Western minimalist-modern jazz composers (Terry Riley, Don Cherry) to India, founded a growing interest for this (transcendental) musical universe.

George Harrison & Ravi Shankar
George Harrison & Ravi Shankar

The emphasis on circular rhythms, ornamentation (gamaka), the use of acoustic stringed patterns, the sense of beatific endurance and lengthy improvisation are the central characteristics of this music in term of practice and sound aestheticism. Emotionally, the function on the listener is hypnotic, voluntary trying to reach him into a higher state of consciousness, modulating his perception of time and space. (!)

The basic conception of drone (continuous sound form) will be taken back in popular music and turned into kosmische electronica (70’s Berlin underground). After Seventh Sons’ first original but rather discreet effort simply called Raga (1964) and Malachi’s Holy Music (1967), famous bands such as The Beatles in Revolver (1966) and Traffic in their album Mr. Fantasy (1967) were seduced by the sonorities of Indian raga music, they also occasionally incorporate sitar elements to their music.

Raga Megha, Kailash Raj
Raga Megha, Kailash Raj

Let’s go to our artist:

Way back in the early ’70s in London, three friends came together to play some unusual music: Sitarist Clem Alford, guitarist Jim Moyes, and tabla player Keshav Sathe, formed a unique Anglo-Indian fusion, calling themselves Sargam (the name of a note in an Indian scale). They made one album under the name Sagram, misspelled by the Windmill recording company and inappropriately entitled Pop Explosion Sitar Style. This album was released without the band’s permission, with a ludicrous cover photograph bearing no relation to any band members or anything about them. (!)

In 1971, soon after the release of Sagram, the Sargam trio was offered another Lp recording contract by Mushroom Records, with the proviso that they find a singer. Having met her when they were both at Chelsea School of Art, Jim Moyes contacted Alisha Sufit. She busked in street markets, singing and playing at the London Underground by day, and did gigs around the clubs and colleges at night.

Cheesy Cover!
Cheesy Cover!

Jim Moyes invited her to play and the four musicians soon renamed themselves Magic Carpet, forming a unique Anglo-Indian musical collaboration, facilitated by the fact that Alisha was writing songs set in open modal tunings on the guitar making them instantly compatible with the tuning of the sitar. The band recorded the Magic Carpet album in the winter of 1971/1972 on Mushroom Records label.

The four stayed together for nearly a year, doing a few prestigious gigs, at the 100 Club in London, Wavendon (Cleo Laine, John Dankworth’s venue), several festivals, Sounds of the Seventies on BBC Radio, but they finally parted company in 1972.

Magic Carpet
Magic Carpet

After a considerable gap, the four met up again. Jim was no longer performing and Keshav had retired, but Clem and Alisha were still playing professionally and it was a natural step to do another album, in 1996 they recorded the album Once Moor (subtitle Magic Carpet II) released on the Magic Carpet Records label. It consists of songs written/sung by Alisha, plus some instrumental tracks, with Clem Alford on sitar/tamboura, Alisha on guitar, and Pandit Dinesh and Esmail Sheikh on tabla.

Let’s go to our album:

Originally published in 1972 for Magic Carpet records, the Lp shows a dynamic mixture of original folk inventions, psych-Hindu sitar gems and gorgeous, omnipresent, accentuated female vocals by Alisha. Lyrically all the album is about east mysticism, love, spirituality, time of Creation and such. The music itself is poetic, combining simplistic folk guitar motifs to raga scales, in spiritual Hindu-folk experience, with soft psychedelic flavor floating all along with the album!

Alisha Sufit
Alisha Sufit

There’s a fantastic interview with Alisha Sufit with long details about them made by our friends from It’s Psychedelic Baby, with a track by track comments, and more!

The ‘IM’ highlights are: Father Time and Take Away Kesh.

बॉन यात्रा!

Tracks Include:

A1 The Magic Carpet (Alisha, Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

A2 The Phoenix (Alisha)

A3 Black Cat (Alisha)

A4 Alan’s Christmas Card (Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

A5 Harvest Song (Alisha)

A6 Do You Hear The Words (Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

B1 Father Time (Alisha, Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

B2 La La (Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

B3 Peace Song (Alisha)

B4 Take Away Kesh (Alisha, Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

B5 High Street (Alisha)

B6 The Dream (Alisha)

Credits

  • Electric Guitar: Jim Moyes
  • Sitar, Esraj, Tambura: Clem Alford
  • Tabla, Percussion: Keshav Sathe
  • Vocals, Acoustic Guitar: Alisha
  • Design (Cover Design)Alisha
  • Photography: Gabriel Weissman
  • Producer, Engineer: Vic Keary

Magic Carpet Records ‎– MC 1001 LP

Fantastic (Pulp) Magazine
Fantastic (Pulp) Magazine