Krautrock YouTube sampler
Hello again. I’ve been gone, now I’m back. (No that’s not a Morrissey song lyric nor is it a mission statement.) In-between coming to grips with the end of my teaching year and a strange newfound interest in planting seeds in the ground and watching them grow, music has felt very far from my mind. I felt a bit of creative juice over the weekend and saw a few YouTube videos that stirred up a bit of fire in my belly.
Normally I’m not a fan of the all YouTube posts but I think that can be more effective than my own clunky prose and self-pitying reflection. A note, all of the videos come from Germany.
“Between the Eyes”—Amon Düül 2
An early Krautrock track that features some nice, heavy, sturm und drang. The term Krautrock tends to conjur up the electronic end of the German spectrum in the 1970s and hearing this hairy, Deutche hippies rock out at the turn of the 70s turns that thought on its ear.
“It’s A Rany Day (Sunshine Girl)”—Faust
Less of a song than a mantra. Oodles of little things in the mix that one really needs headphones (earbuds?) to appreciate. From the tribal drums to the deep “bawoom” to the undertones and swirls of color midway through the song and finally the completely not out of context harmonica solo and the closing saxophone bleat. A fantastic song, another to push the edge of one’s definition of Krautrock.
“De Luxe (Immer Wieder)”—Harmonia.
The Krautrock supergroup! (übergruppe?) Harmonia. Formed with two members of the band Cluster and the always dashing Michael Roether of Neu!, who joined with the Culter folks after putting his own band on hold. When Neu! broke up in 1975 there was Harmonia (and La Dusselforf, which is the group formed by the other half of Neu!, Klaus Dinger) and there was a great, short body of work that came from the group. This song, “Deluxe (Immer Weider)”_mdash:literally “again and again” or “over and over”—is the title track from the LP of the same name in 1975. As with a LP by the group Can the following year the song would have a faster, more engaging reprise at the end of side one. A masterpiece of music and a fantastic LP.
A band that I am incredibly familiar with; I have absorbed their music like air for many years. In this clip we see the second incarnation of the band, with Japanese shrieker Damo Suzuki at the mic. What is remarkable about this clip is the interplay of the players, from Michael Karoli on guitar, Holger Czukay on bass, Irmin Schimdt on keys, and most impressively Jaki Leibezeit on drums. The song shift that starts at 2:52 into the song, as Karoli fades into the mix before coming back up playing a rhythmic lead and the power behind the shift is all due to Leibeziet. And the shot of the drummer in profile, looking around at the rest of his rhythm section is amazing. Listening to that song you get a sense of how powerful the band was live. Seeking out their Can DVD from 1997 gives you the chance to see their legendary live show in Cologne, Germany in 1972. They give the impression of being a rigid, humourless band. That is. . .
“I Want More”—Can
Ok. Yes this is Top Of the Pops and they are lip syncing. AND it looks like Lou Reed is in the band rather than Michael Karoli, but this song, from 1976’s aquatic Flow Motion is just a pure attempt to get a hit. And boy, what a hit. The song opened side one of the LP and another track, simply entitled “. . . and More” closed side one. I love them both equally. Can’s humor, a trait we don’t generally assign to Germans, would pop up a few years later on their final LP of the 70s, the easily titled LP Can. As the latest in their ongoing project of “Ethnological Forgery Series,” where the band would invent musical genres is the track titled “EFS #99” which when you listen to it is the GREATEST version of Offenbach’s cancan dance in the world. There used to be a clip of the band miming the song in the 70s which has sadly gone off YouTube.
I found a great number of Kraftewerk clips in my journey here and I will be writing about these clips, and the evolution of the band visually next week. Stay tuned!