DEUTSCHE ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK 4: EXPERIMENTAL GERMAN ROCK AND ELECTRONIC MUSIC 1971-83.

Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83.

Label: Soul Jazz Records.

Format: CD.

Release Date: ‘16th’ October 2020.

Nowadays, the period between 1968 and the early eighties is regarded as a golden period for German music, and saw groundbreaking artists and groups like Amon Düül, Can, Cluster, Deuter, Faust, Harmonia, Neu!, Popul Vuh and Tangerine Dream released innovative albums that would influence and inspire future generations of musicians. This music ranged from Krautrock to the

Berlin and Düsseldorf Schools of Electronic Music which nowadays, are regarded as the holy trinity of modern German music.

Despite the importance of Krautrock and the Berlin and Düsseldorf Schools of Electronic Music, many of the leading lights of these scenes didn’t enjoy the critical acclaim and commercial success that their innovative music deserved. It was only much later, that a new generation of musicians and record buyers discovered the wealth of groundbreaking music that had been recorded between 1968 and the early eighties and realised its importance. Here were albums that were innovative and way ahead of the musical curve, but sadly, in many cases had failed to find an audience. However, this was about to change.

Belatedly, a new generation of musicians, record collectors and journalists, began to fly the flag for Krautrock and also the Berlin and Düsseldorf Schools of Electronic Music. Suddenly, the music started to influence a new generation of musicians and was growing in popularity.

Before long, the music was receiving the recognition it deserved and eventually few record companies released compilations of music from Germany’s golden era.  This included Soul Jazz Records will released Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83 as a two CD set on the ‘16th’ of October 2020 and features nineteen tracks.

Opening Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83 is Patella Black by Alex. It’s taken from his 1973 eponymous debut which was released on the Pan label. However, Alex Wiska’s career began in 1964 when he joined The Famous Four and then later, became a member of The Playboys. Then in 1967 he formed his own band Ombächli who released their debut single later that year. The following year, Alex Wiska was studying classical guitar at Köln Musik Konservatorium when he met Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit. They would later go on to found Can and in 1973 co-produced Alex’s debut album. By then, he was one of the pioneers of electric Baglama which features on his debut album. It can be heard on Patella Black which is captivating and inventive fusion of Anatolian rock, progressive rock and psychedelia.

Nowadays, Can are regarded as one of the most important, innovative and influential of the Krautrock bands. By 1972, they were signed to United Artists and released I’m So Green as a single. It features a vocal from inimitable Damo Suzuki and is a tantalising taste of one of Can’s classic albums Ege Bamyasi which belongs in every record collection.

One of the oft-overlooked Krautrock groups is Agitation Free. They were formed in 1967 and were the house band at he legendary Zodiac Arts Centre, in Berlin. By 1973, they were signed to Vertigo ad released their sophomore album 2nd. It featured Laila, Part II a breathtaking track where elements of Krautrock, progressive rock and even fusion melt magically into one.

Amon Düül II roots can be traced to a Munich commune where the group was born and became part of the city’s underground music scene. Their music was a mixture of free-form improvisation and psychedelic rock and in 1969 they released their groundbreaking debut album Phallus Dei and followed this up in 1970 with the seminal classic Yeti. Two years later in 1972, the group had signed to United Artists and released Wolf City which brought to an end what was the classic period for Amon Düül II. A reminder of this is the genre-melting title-track Wolf City where they seamlessly combine Krautrock and psychedelic rock to create what was one of the album’s highlights.

Michael Rother came to prominence as a member of Kraftwerk before joining Neu! and then Harmonia. He then embarked upon a long and successful solo career and nowadays is regarded as one of the greatest German guitarists of his generation. His playing is inventive and imaginative.  That’s the case on Flammende Herzen which is the title-track to his 1977 debut album as he plays slowly and carefully leaving space while a Motorik beat accompanies him. Flammende Herzen and the followup Sterntaler are the perfect introduction to Michael Rother. 

In 1978, pioneering avant-garde musician Conrad Schnitzler was signed to the Egg label when he released his experimental electronic album Ballet Statique. The title-track features on the compilation and sounds way ahead it’s time. So much so, that it’s hard to believe that is was released in 1978.

Kalacakra’s contribution to the compilation is Nearby Shiras which is a track from their incredibly rare private press Crawling To Lhasa. It was released in 1972 and is fusion of Kraut-folk and psychedelic rock with a spiritual sound. The highlight of the album is Nearby Shiras which is a welcome addition to the compilation.

Et Cetera was founded in 1971 and later that year, released their eponymous debut album on Global Records. The album featured Mellodrama 2a which was an experimental and innovative fusion of avant-garde, jazz, rock and world music.

By 1979, Roedelius was still signed to Sky Records when he released his new album Selbstportrait (Teil 1 Sanfte Musik). It featured Halmharfe which was a quite beautiful but understated and almost mesmeric soundscape.

Cluster’s Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius joined forces with Michael Rother of Neu! to create the German supergroup Harmonia. Their sophomore album was Deluxe which was released on Brain in 1975. It features Deluxe (Immer Wieder) one of the album’s highlights and a reminder of Harmonica at the peak of their powers on a Krautrock classic.

Witthüser and Westrupp released their debut album Der Jesuspilz/Musik Vom Evangelium on the Pilz label in 1971. The album featured Schöpfung (1. Mose 1) and finds the duo combining folk rock and psychedelic rock on this beautiful track that closes Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83.

Just like the three previous instalments in the series, Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83 features talented, innovative and influential bands and musicians who played their part in what was a musical revolution in Germany. In the late-sixties, a group of musicians set out to rewrite musical history in Germany and create new, exciting and innovative  music for a new generation. They succeeded in doing so, and the proof of that is the music on Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83.

It includes  Krautrock and tracks from the Berlin and Düsseldorf Schools of Electronic Music and further afield. There’s also elements of acid folk, ambient, avant-garde, electronica, experimental, industrial, modern classical, progressive rock, psychedelia and rock. All these influences can be heard on Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83, which is the latest instalment in this occasional series.

Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83 is the perfect introduction to the golden age of modern German music, especially when added to the three previous volumes. This could be the start of a lifelong love affair with  Krautrock or the Berlin and Düsseldorf Schools of Electronic Music.

However, Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83 will also be of interest to anyone who is interested in the golden age of German modern music.

Hopefully, Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83 won’t be the last in this occasional series, as there’s plenty more material awaiting discovery. This could be a compilation series that runs and runs, and it won’t be long until Volume 5.

This critically acclaimed and lovingly curated compilation series combines tracks from familiar faces with contributions from new names and a selection of hidden gems. That is the case on Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83. It’s the latest instalment in a series that looks back at what was the most important period in modern German music, and showcases some of the most important, innovative and influential German artists and bands from this golden  era.

Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83.

3 Comments

  1. Always liked the way these bands avoided copying the Americans – did their own thing. Can, Faust and Tangerine Dream my favourites!

    • Definitely Dave. When a new generation wanted their own music in the late-sixties and didn’t look to America or Britain and copy their music, instead they made their own music.

      Like yourself I’m a big fan of Can, Faust, Tangerine Dream as well as countless other Krautrock bands and bands from the Berlin and Düsseldorf Schools of Electronic Music. It’s great to see compilations like Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83 being released which hopefully, will introduce the music to a new audience. There’s so much wonderful music awaiting discovery albeit that the price of many albums has shot up over the last couple of years.

      • Cheers, Derek, compilations always worth checking because of gaps in one’s collection!

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