Amon Düül II – Kanaan
Amon Düül II – She Came Through the Chimney
Can – Halleluwah
Can – One More Night
Neu! – Hallogallo
Faust – Krautrock
The beginner in the title refers to me. I can’t remember exactly what I was listening to in the late 1990s when the Krautrock revival apparently happened but a fair guess would be the seemingly endless supply of funk compilations that got released around that time. Although all of the tracks posted today have strong driving rhythms and Can could easily be described as funky, I’m not sure if I would’ve viewed any of these experimental Germans as superfly enough for my tastes back then. But things have changed, so for anyone too young to get into it the first time round or who missed the revival, here’s Super Essential Block-Party Sessions Drops Spectrum Vol. 3: More Original Tracks from the Masters of Krautrock.
Amon Düül was the name of a commune (we’re talking about the 60s remember) based near Munich in Germany. That commune became a band playing avant-garde/experimental psychedelic rock and that band was Amon Düül. Due to musical differences or perhaps differences in musical ability, the band split into two groups; Amon Düül (sometimes known as Amon Düül I) and Amon Düül II. ‘Kanaan’ is the opening track on Amon Düül II’s debut album, Phallus Dei, released in 1969. It feels important and epic. This is a tune that hasn’t aged a bit, it sounds as if it could come from an album released this week. I haven’t listened to much Muse or Mars Volta personally but ‘Kanaan’ is what I imagine they’d like to sound like. From their second LP, Yeti, comes ‘She Came Through The Chimney’ an instrumental treat, surely hash inspired.
Around the same time the Amon Düül commune picked up their instruments, Can formed in Cologne. Kraftwerk would have to be the most well known band to come from Krautrock and Can probably occupy a second tier of renown with Tangerine Dream and maybe some of the others I’m posting today. Can went through a few line-up changes but today’s two tunes are from the period in the early seventies when they where fronted by Japanese freeform singer, Damo Suzuki. The lengthy ‘Halleluwah’, taken from Tago Mago, is an amazing piece of music. It reminds me slightly of Junior Kimbrough; in the same way that he played trance-blues this is trance-avant-garde-funk. The rhythm really sucks you in and before you know it 18 minutes have passed but you feel all the better for it. Any enthusiast will tell you that I’ve gone for some of the more easily accessible Krautrock tunes and, with seriously smooth grooves, ‘One More Night’ from Ege Bamyasi is probably the most accessible of the bunch.
NEU! formed in 1971 in Dusseldorf when drummer Klaus Dinger and guitarist Michael Rother left Kraftwerk. ‘Hallogallo’ is the first track from their self-titled debut and if, from all the tunes posted today, I was only able to listen to one ever again, it would be ‘Hallogallo’. The beauty is in it simplicity. The relentlessly driving drumming always feels like it’s threatening to lag behind the beat but never does and because of the repetitiveness any changes are incredibly effective. There’s a hypnotic guitar line and then guitar and synth drones shimmer in and out in an exploratory way, similar to what Eddie Hazel was doing across the pond on Maggot Brain at around the same time. The influence of ‘Hallogallo’ is wide ranging and brings to mind particular tracks by Stereolab, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sonic Youth.
Faust were well known in Britain largely due to a marketing stunt that involved Richard Branson’s Virgin Records selling copies of their third LP for just the price of a single. When they gave the title ‘Krautrock’ to the first track from their fourth album, Faust IV, they were probably making a statement. Perhaps it was that this is our attempt to define the sound of our contemporaries as heard from the perspective of the British press who had coined the term, I couldn’t say. What I can say is that ‘Krautrock’ is almost twelve minutes of the best swirling electric fuzz you’re ever likely to hear.