Mental Experience 2016
“The Unknown Krautrock Underground 1972-1976”: a compilation baring rarely seen aspects of the German genre.
This is an initial instalment in a series of platters aimed to cover the whole output of Pyramid Records, an obscure label whose trove of tapes was discovered a couple of decades ago to fascinate prog aficionados ever since. Their original run of vinyl albums seemed to be non-existent, yet producer and engineer Toby Robinson cut enough tracks to fill a few LP collections, and here’s a small selection of it – incestuous in terms of related bands’ members tripping from one line-up to another, but alluring. As obscure as they are, these tracks may help an outsider and aficionado alike track down the genre’s rock roots and strip away its avant-garde garb.
While it’s almost impossible to sniff blues in the wide variety of strains in Krautrock’s DNA, the 14-minute ominous, raga-rippled dirge behind FUERROTE’s “Ganz Wie Du Willst” is built on a traditional 12-bar foundation which comes to the fore on the raw “No God / Astaroth” from BAAL which, with its organ swirl, could reek of a fairground comedy routine… but there’s no humor in this style, right? So much for a trademark motorik rhythm, then, which drives the FX-stricken, if glossy, “Schaudernach” by CHRONOS, although the slide guitars of SPIRULINA’s “The Message” roll over quite a simple beat, enveloping and caressing a transparent tune before its bottom end opens an abyss where weird vignettes paint a psychedelic picture on an ever-thickening keyboard canvass. It’s a disco groove that makes THE ASTRAL ARMY’s “Interstellar Shortwave” so riveting, as booming vocals anchor the relentless layering of guitar harmonies, and cheap cosmic effects sift through infectious riffs, yet Neil Andersen’s “Feuerwerk” is contrasting its own title with a glass-like, minimalist transparency of strum taken into space where “Innerst” from TEN TO ZEN floats as a fuzzy nebula.
Whether this compilation represents Krautrock is debatable – note “Underground” in the subtitle – yet on its own it’s rather delectable.