Worth mentioning the subtitle of this straight off: “Experimental German Rock And Electronic Musik 1972-83”. “Elektronische Musik” is a 2CD comp that pulls off a fine trick that'll be familiar to those of you who’ve enjoyed other Soul Jazz surveys (not least last year’s amazing “Freedom, Rhythm And Sound” revolutionary jazz comp).
Worth mentioning the subtitle of this straight off: “Experimental German Rock And Electronic Musik 1972-83”. “Elektronische Musik” is a 2CD comp that pulls off a fine trick that’ll be familiar to those of you who’ve enjoyed other Soul Jazz surveys (not least last year’s amazing “Freedom, Rhythm And Sound” revolutionary jazz comp).
That trick, essentially, is to mix a scene’s critical texts (in this case, say, Faust’s “It’s A Rainy Day Sunshine Girl”, Neu!’s “Hallogallo”) with some less celebrated, pushing towards hugely obscure, selections. So while “Elektronische Musik” features Can, Harmonia, La Düsseldorf, Cluster, Amon Düül II, Popol Vuh, Ash Ra Tempel and Tangerine Dream, there’s also room for the likes of Michael Bundt, Ibliss, EMAK and so on.
The result is a fantastically compelling survey, and one that cannily negotiates its way around the notion of Krautrock – a word that, perhaps in deference to the sensitivities of some of the bands included – doesn’t appear anywhere on the promo sleeve or in the press release. The timescale it covers stretches further, too, than what’s usually defined as the Krautrock era: it’s an enjoyably perverse fact that the Can tracks featured are not from, say, “Ege Bam Yasi” or “Tago Mago”. Instead, there’s the familiar bubblegum of “I Want More” and, as an opener, “A Spectacle”, salvaged from 1979’s “Can” (not an album I recall having played more than once, to be honest), which sounds impressively like a relative of Miles Davis circa “On The Corner”.
Probably not much point here in reiterating the excellence of the more familiar tracks, though, on days like today, it’d be fairly easy to make a case for “Hallogallo” and “Rheinita” being some kind of unfussily majestic pinnacle of music full stop. Some of the stuff I’ve not come across before is great too, though. A lot of it is clustered together in the middle of CD1, including a jangling, folkish track from Gila, “This Morning”, which is more akin to Trees or Mellow Candle than the orthodox Krautrock canon. Kollectiv’s “Rambo Zambo” begins with a looping flute line highly reminiscent of Kraftwerk’s “Ruckzuck” (Kraftwerk, in fact, are one real glaring absentee here), before wandering into a jam that might be a bit too close to Focus for some.
Best of all, though, is the pristine synth phases of “La Chass Aux Microbes” by Michael Bundt, which would angelically punch its weight in the kosmische run found on Side Two around Tangerine Dream’s “No Man’s Land”. If anyone knows more about Bundt and Gila especially, please share (Nick, I’m looking at you, especially)…