Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Led Zeppelin - 1975 - The Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn

Led Zeppelin 
The Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn 

May 24, 1975
Earl's Court Arena
London, UK

101. Intro
102. Rock And Roll
103. Sick Again
104. Over The Hills And Far Away
105. In My Time Of Dying
106. The Song Remains The Same
107. The Rain Song
108. Kashmir

201. No Quarter
202. Tangerine
203. Going To California
204. That's The Way
205. Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
206. Trampled Underfoot

301. Moby Dick
302. Dazed And Confused

401. Stairway To Heaven
402. Audience
403. Whole Lotta Love
404. Black Dog
405. after show

Led Zeppelin’s May 24th, 1975 gig in Earl’s Court, the fourth of five shows in London that month, is one of the longest, tightest, and most dramatic concerts they performed in the latter days. Despite Clinton Heylin’s criticism that it is dull and tedious and features a very stoned Robert Plant wittering on about friend and family who have fallen by the wayside, it remains one of the best recordings of the band at the very height of their popularity.
A good quality audience tape was use for vinyl releases in the seventies, but a partial soundtrack to the video surfaced and was used for the compact disc releases. An almost complete soundboard was used in the Empress Valley box set Demand Unprecedented In The History Of Rock Music. They also released the show on its own, but soon after Watchtower issued a competing version of the show in improved sound quality.
In July 2012 Empress Valley reissued several titles including this one in very affordable jewel cases and half way decent artwork. Thankfully they didn’t revisit their TMQ sleeve disaster of the past couple of years, but actually manufactured a title that is worth having. And it has a mega-cool picture on the cover. This is a good and affordable way to obtain the definitive version of this classic Led Zeppelin concert.

The second to last night from Zeppelin’s Earl’s Court run were the first soundboard fragments to surface from these five shows in the UK. Initially, from “Dazed And Confused” through “Trampled Underfoot” had been all that was available from the video soundtrack and this segment was also missing “Going To California” (although a few split seconds could be heard between “Tangerine” and “That’s The Way”). After some time the virtually complete video soundtracks became available but was still missing “Going To California”, the very beginning of “That’s The Way”, and also “Moby Dick”. TDOLZ’s Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It is from this version as was the original Tarantura Graf-Zeppelin-Marsch. Celebration released Odysseus Earl’s Court 75, a four disc set which included for the first time an improved section of tape which included “Moby Dick” from the soundboard but Celebration failed to use the audience source in the acoustic set to complete the show. Watch Tower’s To Be A Rock And Not To Roll and Empress Valley’s He Must Be Dazed And Confused were released after and were more complete versions including “Moby Dick” from the soundboard and “Going To California” patched in from the audience source and more than likely comes from the upgraded video source that now circulates.

The set list is identical to the previous three nights and the encore section wouldn’t be expanded upon until the final night. Some collectors absolutely love these shows while others prefer Zeppelin’s earlier years before Robert’s voice became so road damaged. However, the band is really starting to sound comfortable in their Earl’s Court residency and is very enjoyable musically. An extended 75 set list to include the acoustic songs and the fact that “Tangerine” was played by the whole band makes these shows all the more collectable.

May 25, 1975
Earl's Court Arena
London, UK

101. Before The Show
102. Band Announcements
103. Rock And Roll
104. Sick Again
105. Over The Hills And Far Away
106. In My Time Of Dying
107. The Song Remains The Same
108. The Rain Song
109. Kashmir

201. No Quarter
202. Tangerine
203. Going To California
204. That's The Way
205. Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
206. Trampled Underfoot

301. Moby Dick
302. Dazed And Confused

401. Stairway To Heaven
402. Crowd Anticipation
403. Whole Lotta Love
404. Black Dog
405. Crowd Anticipation
406. Heartbreaker
407. Communication Breakdown
408. After The Show

The final Earl's Court show, the final 1975 show, and the last ever performance of Dazed And Confused. The initial string of numbers are high powered and aggressive! No Quarter is a really great jam and the acoustic section is pretty good. Moby Dick and Dazed are rather boring however, which is sad and rather unfitting as it is the last ever performance of the latter. Stairway To Heaven was dedicated to Plant's daughter: "Carmen - this song's to a little girl who sits probably wondering what it all about ... so, where is the bridge? Well, Carmen, were's your chance to find out where the bridge is ... and if you know, please let me know after the show." The solo is wonderful and the encores contain a tortured Theremin solo from Jimmy before the extra songs are played for the last night's sake.

The band's fifth and final night at Earls Court begins with Alan 'Fluff' Freeman announcing "we are here tonight because you and I have great taste" before Rock and Roll crashes into motion. Page blazes through the second guitar solo in Sick Again. As the song ends, Plant announces "good evening and welcome to the last concert in England for a considerable time." Page shreds frantically through an excellent guitar solo during Over the Hills and Far Away. In My Time of Dying is introduced as "an old work chant." Page solos wildly as Bonzo and Jones pummel the crowd. An incredibly powerful performance, one of the best thus far.

Bonzo is on fire during The Song Remains the Same, thrashing at his drums with wild abandon as Page's fingers race across the fretboard. The Rain Song is absolutely fantastic, one of the best in recent memory. Jones's somber piano solo during No Quarter features hints of Concierto de Aranjuez. The instrumental section is an epic journey. The band receives a thunderous ovation as the piece comes to a close. The climax is reached during the blistering outro. An outstanding performance. Page plays a bit of Tea For One as Plant introduces Tangerine. Going to California is delicately beautiful. Jones's mandolin work is fantastic. Plant makes a few references to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, asking the crowd "what is a shrubbery amongst friends?" before an excellent That's the Way.

The band gets into a bit of Robert Johnson's If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day before Bron-Y-Aur Stomp. Plant gives the crowd a brief history of Johnson's life before introducing Trampled Underfoot. Page shreds erratically through an aggressive guitar solo. Bonzo is introduced as "our blood brother" before a particularly thunderous Moby Dick. Plant says a few kind words about Peter Grant before introducing Dazed and Confused as "the essence of the early Zeppelin." The San Francisco interlude is hauntingly mournful. Plant's ghostly howls echo through the arena. Page's fingers are like razor blades as he slashes and shreds through the frantic guitar solo/workout section. Plant can be heard exclaiming "amen!" off-mic during the call and response section. Page solos wildly during the outro jam. A somewhat uneven final performance of the band's signature song.

Plant dedicates Stairway to Heaven to his daughter Carmen, saying "this is a song to a little girl who sits there, probably wondering what it's all about." Page delivers an excellent guitar solo despite breaking a string near the end. Plant sings the final line in complete silence. As the band returns to the stage, Plant says "is this our swan song, I wonder?" Page hints at Ozone Baby following an excellent funky jam during Whole Lotta Love. Plant unleashes a series of blood-curdling screeches during the violent theramin freakout. Page's fingers get a bit sticky during the extended guitar solo in Black Dog. As the song ends, Plant announces "good citizens of Great Britain, it's been five glorious days... thank you very much for bein' a great audience, and if you see Denis Healey, tell him we've gone."

Plant exclaims "this is somethin' we never do!" as the band returns to the stage once again, joking "any requests?" Page blazes through the fast guitar solo during Heartbreaker. Plant pushes his voice to the limit during the final verse. The band closes the show with an explosive Communication Breakdown. Plant does his best Jamaican accent during a fantastic funky breakdown. As the band leaves the stage for the final time, he announces "thank you very much for showin' us that England is still alive and well." A fantastic finale to 1975. Must hear.


First Class Ticket 
(Cosmic Energy CE-022)

Earls Court Arena, London, England - May 25th, 1975 - The Video

Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir, No Quarter, Tangerine, Going To California, That’s The Way, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Trampled Under Foot, Moby Dick, Dazed And Confused (incl. San Francisco), Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love (incl. The Crunge), Black Dog, Heartbreaker, Communication Breakdown

First Class Ticket was first released by Cosmic Energy last year as their first attempt to bring high definition Blu-ray technology to Led Zeppelin’s final Earl’s Court show on video tape.

Recently the reissued this release but on NTSC DVDs instead of Blu-ray.  The normal disc has as much clarity and are as enjoyable as the first release and is much improved over Empress Valley’s Demand Unprecedented on DVD.   

Cosmic Energy use the same footage as Empress Valley (including the crowd shots at the beginning), and offer an upgrade of the video.  Comparing the two releases, the Cosmic Energy does look more sharp than the Empress Valley.  Without access to the master tapes the editing is understandably limited, however.   

The final minute of “No Quarter” and “Tangerine” are still missing and a high generation copy of the video is used to fill the gap.

A good video of a concert is able to convey not just the personality of the artists, but all of the action on stage and the atmosphere of the event.  One of the concerns about this footage is, since it was produced with the intention of giving close-ups to attendees in the arena, the screen would be dominated with them.  It is good then that the video on this release is not like that at all. 

Beginning with shots of the audience getting to their seats and Earl’s Court filling up, to Freeman’s animated introduction and throughout the three and a half performance by the band, it perfectly captures the excitement and emotion of Zeppelin’s final show in England for, in Plant’s words “a long long time.” 

Many times the cameras pan away to capture the band members interacting with one another.  There are a minimum amount of times when the cameraman’s judgment is called into question, but it is easy to overlook them. 

Conveyed is the power of the music and watching Plant bop along to Page as he plays the opening to “The Song Remains The Same” and other such visuals is exciting to watch.  Some startling images are also captured, such as the light show during “Trampled Under Foot,” the laser beams during “Dazed & Confused,” Page’s hand motions during the theremin solo, and Bonham whaling away at the drum kit.

One of the essential Led Zeppelin videos to have, Cosmic Energy have produced an excellent DVD production of this great videotape. 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Aphrodite's Child - 1972 - 666

Aphrodite's Child

101. The system (0:23)
102. Babylon (2:51)
103. Loud, loud, loud (2:37)
104. The four horsemen (5:57)
105. The lamb (4:34)
106. The seventh seal (1:30)
107. Aegian sea (5:25)
108. Seven bowls (1:25)
109. The wakening beast (1:07)
110. Lament (2:55)
111. The marching beast (2:00)
112. The battle of the locusts (0:56)
113. Do it (1:45)
114. Tribulation (0:32)
115. The beast (2:33)
116. Ofis (0:17)

201. Seven trumpets (0:30)
202. Altamont (4:45)
203. The wedding of the lamb (3:35)
204. The capture of the beast (2:15)
205. "8" (Infinity) (5:16)
206. Hic et nunc (3:00)
207. All the seats were occupied (19:27)
208. Break (2:55)

- Anargyros "Silver" Koulouris / guitars, percussion
- Evengelio Odyssey Papathanassiou (VANGELIS) / keyboards, flute, percussion, vibes, backing vocals
- Artemios Ventouris Roussos (Demis Roussos) / bass, lead & backing vocals
- Lucas Sideras / drums, lead & backing vocals

Guest musicians:

- Harris Chalkitis / bass, tenor saxophone, congas, backing vocals
- Irene Papas / vocals (2:5)
- Michel Ripoche / trombone, tenor saxophone (1:2 & 2:6)
- Yannis Tsarouchis / Greek text
- John Forst / narration

Progressive Rock fans usually are unfair with talented musicians as Demis Roussos and Evangelos Odysseus Papathanassiou (Vangelis), is true that Demis solo career is mostly based in soft pop but people forget he was a very talented bassist with a great vocal range and Vangelis is remembered for his New Age boring albums or commercial soundtracks instead of progressive masterpieces as "Heaven & Hell" or even his albums with Jon Anderson, which are not among my favorites but must recognize as quality music.

It's also a important to remember APHRODITE'S CHILD was not only formed by the mentioned musicians because Anargyros (Silver) Koulouris who had returned from his military Service to record this album is a very good guitar player and Lucas Sideras is a very capable drummer, this two members had a direct participation in the album

Because of the complexity of 666 they recruited also a good number of Greek artists to complement the band as the multi talented and brilliant actress Irene Papas, Harris Chalkitis and Michel Ripoche for the winds, a great lyricist, movie director, book author and member of the European Film Academy Costas Ferris to take care of the lyrics and even the well known artist Yannis Tsarouchis for the Greek text. In other words, the album was carefully planned.

The concept of the album is about the most complex and controversial Book of the Bible, "Saint John's Book of Revelations" also known as "The Apocalypse", a really hard task even today, but harder in 1970 when there was very little experience with conceptual albums, it's important to notice that 666 is considered the first properly concept album, because before it were only released some rock operas which are part of a different sub-genre.

When 666 was recorded the problems inside the band were leading to the inevitable split, mostly because Roussos and Sideras wanted to continue doing commercial music as in their previous albums and Vangelis was decided to take a more complex path, so 666 was really their last attempt to maintain the classic formation of the band allowing Vangelis to compose a real progressive and complex album, but it was too late for the band, and 666 was their last album, an excellent way to close the short story of APHRODITE'S CHILD.

It's hard to describe the music because there's not other band that had a similar sound or style, the Greek influence is also different than the usual, don't expect something catchy or folksy as Zorba the Greek, because the band uses darker religious music over a 100% Symphonic structure with touches of Psychedelia, it's important to remember that Greece is the country where the Orthodox Catholic Church is based, and this influence helps to create a Biblical and mysterious atmosphere.

The greatest achievement of the band is the way they blend this liturgical music with more western influences like pop and of course symphonic prog. But they do something even more adventurous, they include some tracks that sound like prayers by monks, with traces of Gregorian Chants and even complex sounds, they were ahead of their time in many aspects.

It's hard to describe the tracks searching for a favorite or high point, because the album is very faithful to "The Book of Revelations" and any attempt of separating a song takes it from it's natural context and eaks the atmosphere so carefully created by APHRODITE'S CHILD.

For example the track Infinity (sign that can't be reproduced with a PC keyboard) outside of the album means nothing except a woman having an orgasm, but in the context of the album makes sense because the Book of Revelation makes various references to the prostitute that tempted the kings. It may be a good interpretation by Irene Papas but don't place out loud in the CD player of your car unless you have the windows closed because it may be embarrassing.

Disk 1 has many important songs after the weird "The System" which sounds as a strange prayer.

"Babylon" is a rock song with an outstanding guitar work, even though is a studio track, the band created the sound of a crowd to symbolize multitudes on the biblical capital of the world, very good song even if not progressive.

"Loud, Loud, Loud" is a narration of a paragraph of the Bible surrounded by a beautiful piano, for this song the band used the voice of the son of a Greek Diplomat, very atmospheric track.

"The Four Horsemen" is a terrifying song that starts with a scary narration in the form of a sung prayer, talks about the moment The Lamb (Christ) opens the seals to free the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, followed by the band leaded by Lucas Sideras and his accurate drums, really scares me very much.

"The Lamb" is an instrumental with a very Greek sound; the entire band is perfect and well supported by a chorus that adds some dramatics. Almost in the same vein but softer and darker comes "The Seventh Seal" which announces more terrible moments for humanity, the phrase "And when the Lamb opened the Seventh Seal, Silence above the Skies" resumes the terrible message.

"Aegian Seal" has an introduction that you could expect from any Vangelis later album but followed by explosions of music and narrations.

The rest of the first CD is full of laments, tribulations and Greek style music blended perfectly with progressive rock, maybe except for "The Beast" which I supposed would be the darker song but paradoxically is the only poppy track of the album with a guitar that reminds of Clapton's slow hand.

Disk 2 is even better than the first one (if this is possible) "Seven Trumpets" is a 30 seconds track that literally announces the next song "Altamont" which is very atmospheric and elaborate and shows the great skills of Vangelis as keyboardist, who without the wonderful excesses of Wakeman or Emerson does a very precise work, the background voice is very disturbing and scary, as anyone could expect from an album that describes the end of the world.

"The Wedding of the Lamb" is a strange song that mixes Gregorian Chants with Greek Liturgical music, supported by percussion, other typical Greek instruments and the whole band, confusing but very good track. The next song "The Capture of the Beast" is a track based in percussion and chain sounds with some typical Vangelis keyboard interruptions.

Talked already about "Infinity" so I won't do it again. "Hic et Nunc" (Here and Now) is a jazzy tune that works as a relief in preparation for the most important song of the album which is "All the Seats Were Occupied", a 19:19 minutes epic that mixes all the influences, sounds and songs of the album in a single track all surrounded by a mystical atmosphere, extremely beautiful and very complex represents Progressive Rock best face.

The album ends with the only ballad named Break, which sounds to me as a Roussos contribution, not a filler, but not necessary either, because IMHO 666 would have ended perfectly with the wonderful "All the Seats Were Occupied"

After 666 was recorded in 1970, the band broke and the album couldn't be released until 1972 because of many reasons that include the track "Infinity", the controversial concept and an innocent confession made by the band that they were influenced by Sahlep, most people believed it was a demon or a drug when it's only a non alcoholic beverage from Turkey. There was even a boycott by several radio stations, and when the album was finally released by Vertigo (the adventurous face of Mercury), the band was separate for two years.

There's no other possible rate for this essential masterpiece than 5 stars, not only for it's quality but also because this guys were ahead of their own time, something unusual for a band that had previously released only two poppy albums in search for a hit single.

Aphrodite's Child - 1969 - It's Five O'Clock

Aphrodite's Child
It's Five O'Clock

01. It's Five O'Clock (3:29)
02. Wake Up (4:05)
03. Take Your Time (2:40)
04. Annabella (3:55)
05. Let Me Love, Let Me Live (4:42)
06. Funky Mary (4:11)
07. Good Time So Fine (2:44)
08. Marie Jolie (4:47)
09. Such A Funny Night (4:33)

Bonus Tracks:

10. I Want To Live
11. Magic Mirror
12. Lontano Dagli Occhi
13. Quando L'Amore Diventa Poesia
14. Spring, Summer, Winter And Fall
15. Air

- Demis Roussos / Bass, Guitars, Vocals
- Vangelis / Bass, Keyboards
- Lucas Sideras / Drums, Percussion

A year after the release of their début album, Aphrodite's Child followed it up with this set. "It's five O'clock" does not represent any progression as such, the nine pop based tracks here running to around 35 minutes in total. By the time of these recordings, the band were already down to a trio with Anargyros Koulouris having been conscripted in Greece. Interestingly, it is Demous Rousos who therefore plays the guitar parts. Once again, the song-writing is almost exclusively in the hands of Vangelis, this time in partnership with Richard Francis. Demis Roussos does write one track ("Annabella") with Richard Adams.

The opening title track is one of the highlights of the album, with Rousos delivering a fine vocal performance, and Vangelis adding some excellent keyboards. The song was released as a single, backed by the second album track "Wake up". If the title track represents the band at their commercial best, "Wake up" is its antithesis, being pure euro- pop. "Take Your Time" is equally dismissal, but this time the band infuse a country barn dance element into the music.

The ballads are generally the songs which work best here, the aforementioned "Annabella" being another of the better songs. Unfortunately, there are not that many ballads, with songs such as the awful hippy chant "Let me love, let me live" being afforded far more space that they warrant.

Aphrodite's Child are highly respected in prog circles. The simple fact is though that the respect is entirely due to their third and final album "666". On their own, the two albums which precede "666", would probably not even qualify for addition to this site under the proto-prog category. While they contain well performed music with a clear level of sophistication and ambition, they are by and large collections of 60's pop. They can still make for an enjoyable listen though.

The recently released CD version of the album includes 6 further tracks, all of which were non-album singles and their B sides.

Aphrodite's Child - 1968 - End Of The World

Aphrodite's Child
End Of The World

01. End of the World
02. Don't Try to Catch a River
03. Mister Thomas
04. Rain and Tears
05. The Grass is No Green
06. Valley of Sadness
07. You always Stand in My Way
08. The Shepherd and the Moon
09. Day of the Fool

Bonus Tracks:
10. Plastic Nevermore
11. Other People

- Vangelis Papathanasiou / bass, keyboards
- Demis Roussos / vocals, bass, guitar
- Lucas Sideras / drums, vocals

The short story of APHRODITE'S CHILD starts in 1968, when the Greek/Egyptian bassist and vocalist named Artemios Ventouris Roussos (Demis Roussos) and the powerful drummer Lucas Sideras were supposed to meet the multi instrumentalist Evengelio Odyssey Papathanassiou (VANGELIS) who had left his first group FORMINXS, but the first two were not admitted to the United Kingdom because they had no working permits but custom officers discovered photos and tapes in their luggage so they assumed the musicians intended to stay.

A few months later the three musicians join in Paris with Anargyros Koulouris (Silver Koulouris) a very competent guitar player and they decide to form a new band which was supposed to mix traditional Greek music with Western Pop and Psychedelia, but they ended doing much more than was expected.

Due to their financial situation they had to sign a terrible contract with a record company. Soon after the birth of the band, Silver Kouloris has to leave the group because he was called for his Military Service and only joins again for the recording of their last album 666, during these years Demis Roussos has to play guitar and bass.

Their first two releases "End of the World" (which includes two hit singles, "Rain and Tears" and "I Want To Live", the last one reached N° 1 in most Europe) and "It's Five O'Clock" showed a commercial oriented band with a very peculiar sound, but it's not until 1970, when they start to record the brilliant and adventurous "666" that they get a place in progressive Rock history even when the relation inside the band was at the lowest point, mostly because VANGELIS wanted to do more serious music than Lucas Sideras and Roussos.

The paradox is that this masterpiece which combines 100% Symphonic structure, British Psychedelia, Greek Orthodox Religious music with a touch of pop was only released in 1972 (after the band had already split) due to several reasons like the controversial concept ("The Book of Revelations"), the confession made by the band that "666" was conceived under the influence of Sahlep (some people believed this word was referred to some kind of pagan divinity when in fact it's a common non alcoholic beverage from Turkey) and the track "Infinity" sung by the great actress Irene Papas which is really a five minutes orgasm.

After APHRODITE'S CHILD disbanded, the members took different paths, like Roussos who became a well known pop singer and VANGELIS who is still a respected Progressive/New Age artist, but none of their later works will have the importance of "666", an Icon of Progressive Rock and one of the first conceptual albums in history.

The title track sets the pace for this style. A great pop ballad tinted with some sweet psychedelai. But this album shows many facets of this band. Their fully psychedelic sound (but who didn't release psyche songs in 68?) with "Don't Try to Catch the River". Their folk orientation with The Shepherd and the Moon and "Mister Thomas" (which sounds pretty childish and not very interesting).

But even while they play their pop influenced songs like "Rain & Tears", they inject such a great melody and nice keys that I just can't help : I like it very much.

A song as "The Grass Is No Green" is more elaborate and combines psyche and folk influences. Not a fave of mine because it sounds a bit hectic to my ears but some might like it for these reasons.

The Shepherd and the Moon and Day of the Fool have some similarities with Floyd which might surprise more than one proghead.

This album is not a brilliant one but still it is original. Just remember that it was released some fifty years ago and that rock music in Greece was not a usual concept in those days (and still isn't). For these reasons, I will rate this work with three stars; but it holds average music like "You Always Stand In My Way" (even if it is one of the very songs that rocks)

Friday, May 20, 2022

The Cosmic Jokers - 1974 - Sci Fi Party

The Cosmic Jokers
Sci Fi Party

01. Im Reich der Magier (8:27)
02. Der Herrscher (2:48)
03. The Cosmic Curriers meet South Philly Willy (5:25)
04. Kinder des Alls I (3:40)
05. The electronic scene (2:23)
06. Kinder des Alls II (3:43)
07. Interplay of forces (5:13)
08. Planeten sit-in (3:15)

- Dieter Dierks / bass
- Jürgen Dollase / keyboards, vocals
- Manuel Göttsching / electric guitar
- Harald Großkopf / drums
- Klaus Schulze / synthesizers

Ladies and gentlemen... Our next stop will be the to visit the "Sci Fi Party" on route through the cosmos of our minds. "Sci Fi Party" was another chapter in the cosmic music voyage from the collaborative forces of Germany's Schulze, Gottsching, Grofkopf, Dollase and Dierks. This is progressive space like you have never heard before and for those who are familiar with the "Galactic Supermarket" will know just what I mean. Juxtpose Gottsching's guitar expressions with the space keyboard talents of Klaus Schulze and fellow cosmonauts and you have a recipe for space travel. Ever since I found "Galactic Supermarket" I have been addicted to the music of the COSMIC JOKERS discovering their musical genius. "Sci-Fi Party" is a wonderful headphone experience for those late night cold winter evenings alone in your upper flat. Also the cosmic musical theme established on their first album is once again re-introduced to sustain the continuity of their cosmic musical story line. Creative and highly imaginative...!

The Cosmic Jokers - 1974 - Planeten Sit-In

The Cosmic Jokers
Planeten Sit-In

01. Raumschiff Galaxie startet (1:04)
02. The planet of communication (0:55)
03. Elektronenzirkus (0:37)
04. Der Narr im All (1:16)
05. Raumschiff Galaxie fliegt in die Sonne (2:12)
06. Intergalactic nightclub (4:38)
07. Loving frequencies (3:18)
08. Electronic news (3:56)
09. Intergalactic Radio Guri broadcasting (4:24)
10. Raumschiff Galaxy gleitet im Sonnenwind (0:40)
11. Interstellar rock: Kosmische Musik (3:11)
12. Raumschiff Galaxy sanst in die Lichtbahnen (0:44)
13. Die Planet des Sternenmädchens (8:21)

- Dieter Dierks / bass
- Jürgen Dollase / keyboards, vocals
- Manuel Göttsching / electric guitar
- Harald Großkopf / drums
- Klaus Schulze / synthesizers

This album has some quite experimental elements, but the tracks build up quite logically and evolve as an nice cosmic journey for the listener accepting the invitation. The listener is wakened up with strong drones, opening up a voyage trough the hallway of mirroring illusions, leading to a calm, large musical void. Heavy experimental zones follow up, leading to an acid rock jam building over pulsing synths and introducing a nice piano riff. Calm sequences resembling Tangerine Dream's "Rubycon" are presented, before the music fades to a romantic piano playing. Hovering cosmic corridors lead to more longer progressions in abstract electronic space, and a free form architecture of sounds is revealed. The long closing track has quite much similar elements than Pink Floyd's "Saucerful of Secrets", which influence to the sound of these musicians is evident.

I think this album is a compromise of the long logical space jams of the self title master piece, and the less coherent "Gilles Zeitschiff" recording, being more pleasant than the later but not as great as the first one. Quite interesting record still,

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Cosmic Jokers - 1974 - Gilles Zeitschiff

The Cosmic Jokers
Gilles Zeitschiff

01. Tim Bleibt Bei Uns (7:06)
02. Downtown (2:42)
03. Lord Krishna (1:23)
04. Power Drive (1:40)
05. Bei Tim (1:50)
06. Right Hand Lover (1:33)
07. Cosmic Courier Bon Chance (2:55)
08. Swiss High Lands (1:19)
09. Der Magier (2:45)
10. The Electronic Scene (3:38)
11. Electronic Rock Zeitalter (11:09)
12. So Beautiful (3:51)
13. The Queen Of Sunshine (3:22)
14. Meine Kosmische Musik (1:46)

- Gille Lettman / vocals
- Klaus Schulze / electronics
- Jurgen Dollase / keyboards
- Manuel Gottsching / guitar
- Harald Grosskopf / drums
- Dieter Dierks / bass
- Hartmut Enke / bass, guitar
- Walter Westrupp / guitar
- Bernd Witthuser / guitar
- Sergius Golowin / vocals
- Brian Barritt / vocals

Here is an other concept album around « acid test » and levels of consciousness by Rolf Ulrich Kaiser (the producer and invisible member of the Cosmic Jokers). The Kaiser reiterates the use of esoteric, drug inspired recitations already mentioned in his « Tarot » and « Lord Krishna Von Goloka » projects and give the job to his female partner Gille Letmann. The result is not as sensational as in the previous recordings but offers as usual a great dose of Cosmic / Psychedelic effects with the help of ancient Krautrockers. A Further exploration in synthesized/ acid rock based guitar sounding which provides a kind of cerebral climate. Not the most powerful album signed by the Kaiser but greatly significant for listeners who want to get in touch with the unique Germanic / Intergalactic rock music.

Monday, May 16, 2022

The Cosmic Jokers - 1974 - Galactic Supermarket

The Cosmic Jokers
Galactic Supermarket

01. Kinder des Alls (18:54)
02. Galactic supermarket (19:24)

- Dieter Dierks / bass
- Jürgen Dollase / keyboards, vocals
- Manuel Göttsching / electric guitar
- Harald Großkopf / drums
- Gille Lettmann:
- Rosie / vocals
- Klaus Schulze / synthesizers

"Galactic Supermarket" was the second of a series of COSMIC JOKERS releases. Here, you get some of the big names of the Krautrock scene (at least the Ohr/Pilz/Kosmische Musik labels), that is Manuel Göttsching, Klaus SCHULZE, Harald Großkopf, Dieter Dierks, Jürgen Dollase, Rosi Müller, and Gille Lettman, jamming away, creating some of the most freaked out music ever. It's a bit harder to review this album than say, the first ASH RA TEMPEL (where I can describe the first piece as a heavy rocking piece, and the second, and final piece as more ambient and mellow). There are only two side length tracks here, "Kinder des Alls" and the title track. But what is easy to tell, is who is playing what. SCHULZE played organ and synth like it came off Cyborg, Göttsching played guitar like it came off Join Inn, and Dollase played the additional keyboards SCHULZE did not play, like piano and even Mellotron.

This is truly freaked out stuff, with tons of great analog synths, percussion, experiments with echo, and occasional female voices from Rosi and Gille. And while the COSMIC JOKERS more than pissed-off Klaus SCHULZE, this music is way better than SCHULZE would have you believe, and I'd be perfectly happy to have music like this, if you knew this was actually going to be released and the guy behind the label you're recording for didn't try to rip you off. Aside from the controversy, this is truly a classic in spacy Krautrock, highly recommended to all who enjoy ASH RA TEMPEL early TANGERINE DREAM, early SCHULZE, etc.

The Cosmic Jokers - 1973 - The Cosmic Jokers

The Cosmic Jokers
The Cosmic Jokers

01. Galactic joke (22:38)
02. Cosmic joy (19:24)

- Dieter Dierks / bass
- Jürgen Dollase / keyboards, vocals
- Manuel Göttsching / electric guitar
- Harlad Großkopf / drums
- Klaus Schulze / synthesizers

In 1972, Rolf Ulrich Kaiser founded "Die Kosmischen Kuriere" where will be signed all the Cosmic jokers albums. The COSMIC JOKERS is not really a band but a reunion of several German musicians and personalities from the 70s psychedelic and esoteric philosophies (the mystic Sergius Golowin in the Lord Krishna project or the gipsy folk artist Walter Wegmuller in Tarot). The interest of this side project was to create a cosmic music with a virtual musical tribe to develop the world consciousness thanks to LSD. The COSMIC musical team gathered around the same message a bunch of well known musicians from the Berlin scene (Klaus Schulze, Manuel Gottsching...). The COSMIC JOKERS is an extreme musical trip, a unique adventure throw time and space. The music is for a large part improvised with proto-electronic gadgets combined to bluesy & spacey musical sentences built around the talented Manuel Gottsching's electric guitar style (always spacey and bluesy). This is real German acid music, a 'music of paradise', transcending music, breaking of the materialistic world, a protest against the reality. The combination of acid, music and fun acted as a catalyst for Kaiser's visionary powers.

Here is essentially where it all started for The COSMIC JOKERS with their debut album from 1973 and giving us all a very spacey introduction and prelude of what would be to follow. For the uninitiated, The COSMIC JOKERS are the clash of space cadets Manuel Göttsching, Dieter Dierks, Jürgen Dollase, Harald Großkopf and Klaus Schulze. As you may have guessed by now I am a huge fan of these early pioneering space-psych-prog rock albums and none are finer that this 2 epic track album. This album is full of deep space effects, lots of free form jamming, analog 70's keyboards, guitars, amazing pulsating bass lines and trippy vocals and chanting. Musically this album is far out with some way too cool vibes and instrumental parts. This album is one of my late night space-festi-favs and without a question side 2's "Cosmic Joy" is one of my most treasured 70's space rock tracks.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Walter Wegmüller - 1972 - Tarot

Walter Wegmüller

01. Der Narr (3:55)
02. Der Magier (4:38)
03. Die Hohepriesterin (4:17)
04. Die Herrscherin (4:16)
05. Der Herrscher (2:58)
06. Der Hohepriester (3:10)
07. Die Entscheidung (3:51)
08. Der Wagen (5:15)
09. Die Gerechtigkeit (3:01)
10. Der Weise (4:01)
11. Das Glücksrad (3:38)
12. Die Kraft (3:26)
13. Die Prüfung (4:56)
14. Der Tod (1:19)
15. Die Mäßigkeit (4:47)
16. Der Teufel (3:38)
17. Die Zerstörung (4:00)
18. Die Sterne (6:14)
19. Der Mond (2:50)
20. Die Sonne (3:03)
21. Das Gericht (2:06)
22. Die Welt (8:41)

Manuel Göttsching / guitar
Hartmut Enke / guitar
Jerry Berkers / bass
Jürgen Dollase / keyboard
Walter Westrupp, Klaus Schulze, Harald Großkopf / drums

In 1972, Rolf Ulrich Kaiser of Ohr records and a group of musicians from the Berlin Underground scene (Ashra Tempel) seriously started to think about cosmic rock music to satisfy their adventurous life with appropriate sounds. The idea of "Cosmic music" was also born as a protest against UK and United States obvious influences on rock music worldwide. The aim was to create typical German "acid" rock music. To put in practice his project, Rolf Kaiser founded his own label and called it "Cosmic Couriers". The name of "Cosmic Couriers" is an attitude of mind that emerged during the 60's. It was an idealistic movement which conceptually tries to look for ways to stay in high states of consciousness thanks to mescaline, LSD trips. The first album released under Rolf Kaiser's drug inspired philosophy was "seven up" with the guru of "acid test" Tim Leary and Ashra Tempel musicians. Soon after, the Kaiser produced two others albums with personalities from the underground psychedelic movement. There was the mystic, esoteric writer Sergius Golowin (on recitations for the cosmic/psych folk project "Lord Krishna") and the Swiss gipsy folk artist Walter Wegmuller for the project around the symbolism of "Tarot" cards.

In 1972 will be released the "Tarot' album with the help of many krautrock musicians, notably Manuel Gottsching (for many guitars parts), Klaus Schulze (for electronic & effects), a few members of Wallenstein as Harald Grosskopf (on drums), Jurgen Dollase (on keyboards) and Walter Westrupp (on acoustic parts). Musically "Tarot" consists of numerous short tracks that we can describe as a great synthesis of everything that emerged during the first krautrock years. Consequently the stress is put on hallucinatory, psych effects, bluesy/ trance guitar sounds, free form rock augmented with sophisticated synth sounds, acoustic folk passages with flute and guitar, piano pseudo romantic arrangements, odd recitations. Each track represents an idea developed by a "tarot" card. A fascinating travel through the subconsciousness and cosmic energies.

Here are a few lines which sum up Walter Wegmuller's Tarot mystical universe:

The travel starts with the madman. He is the beginning and the end at the same time. So you can hear how he goes through his own world. He stumbles over earthy things and material obstacles and doesn't know that it can give. The wizard opens the door himself. In triumph, he appears on the scene. Then he lets himself play during an endless eternity. In his scenic railway, he plays his own life into a brand eternal one. He opens the door which leads to all secrets.

Walter Wegmuller was a Swiss painter who was an expert on the subject of tarot cards. He is not a musician, but is on this double album to offer up his thoughts on each tarot card with his spoken and whispered words. He has an all-star cast playing the music here including Manuel Gottsching and Hartmut Enke both from ASH RA TEMPEL, Jurgen Dollase, Harald Grosskopf and Jerry Berkers from WALLENSTEIN and Walter Westrupp from W&W and Klaus Schulze. These guys were also known as THE COSMIC COURIERS and THE COSMIC JOKERS. Dieter Dierks and Rosi are also listed as guests. For more background info and the subject matter of this recording I would highly recommend you read the bio here at ProgArchives and Sean Trane's review. The spoken words are all in German which suits me fine as it is all about the amazing music. Speaking of which this is such a great example of what Krautrock was all about. "Tarot" is a cosmic trip with mellotron, synths and electronics creating a spacey base, while the guitar, bass, drums and percussion create a variety of sounds and styles to make your trip both an exciting and relaxing one. I'd like to touch on some of my favourite tracks.

Disc One opens with the only English on the recording as the band is introduced one by one as an uptempo melody is played. Nice."Die Hohepriesterin" features slowly spoken words as waves of mellotron and sound drift along. Great sound. "Der Herrscher" has some fantastic guitar playing front and center from Manuel as spoken words come in. This is one of the few tracks that isn't spacey. Love the guitar that goes on and on. "Der Hohepriester" has this beautiful piano melody with intricate guitar as whispered vocals and flute come in. Simply an emotional, uplifting song that has to be heard. "Der Wagen" opens quietly but the sound is building. Very cool. Spoken words before 2 minutes. Some prominant drumming on this one as spacey sounds are shooting around. A wall of sound before 3 minutes. Spacey winds are blowing before 5 minutes. "Die Gerechtigkeit" is dark and serious with haunting spoken words. It's like impending doom is near. While the next song "Der Weise" is light with piano, mellotron and fragile spoken words. Gorgeous song. "Die Kraft" features tribal-like drumming as Gottsching lights it up with his guitar.

On Disc Two "Die Massigkeit" opens with spoken words as the guitar rips it up big time. Eerie sounds 2 minutes in as guitar is still on fire. Organ replaces guitar late. "Der Teufel" features dual guitar melodies, whispered vocals and flute. "Die Zerstorung" opens with piano as softly spoken vocals come in then waves of mellotron. Explosive sounds before 3 minutes as drums go crazy. "Die Sterne" builds slowly as guitar and spoken vocals come in. Drums 2 minutes in before synths and mellotron washes arrive before 3 minutes. Spacey, cosmic winds 5 1/2 minutes in. "Das Gericht" features beautiful, heavenly nds(mellotron etc.) as spoken words come in. Heaven must sound like this. The final track is "Die Welt" and it ends this double album in fine style. Marching-like drums early as guitar makes some noise. A great rhythm comes out of this with psychedelic guitar playing over top. Awesome sound. Spoken words and spacey waves with mellotron come in. Percussion 3 minutes in. It gets so intense 5 minutes in as Manuel is absolutely on fire ! Drums continue to pound. A wall of spacey sounds can't contain the blistering guitar. In the end though the spacey sounds win out as the song and album drift away.

Essential for Krautrock fans in my opinion. This is the stuff that legends are made of.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Sergius Golowin - 1973 - Lord Krishna Von Goloka

Sergius Golowin
Lord Krishna Von Goloka

01. Der Reigen (16:34)
02. Die Weisse Alm (5:49)
03. Die Hoch Zeit (19:25)

- Sergius Golowin / voice
- Jerry Berkers / electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, bongo's
- Jürgen Dollase / piano, melotron, vibrafon, triangel and guitar
- Jörg Mierke / electric guitar, organ, percussion, voice choir, flute, electronics, conga's
- Klaus Schulze / drum, organ, mellotron & electronics
- Walter Westrupp / acoustic guitar, flute, mouthharp, windspel, psalter, tablas and percussion
- Bernd Witthüser / guitar

In 1973, immediately after the release of « Tarot » with Walter Wegmuller and during improvised sessions of the Cosmic Jokers, Rolf Ulrich Kaiser (producer, founder of the « cosmic couriers » label) publishes an other 'acid' musical experience with his project 'Lord Krishna von Goloka'. For this highly mystical adventure around India, Oriental mythologies and legends, the Kaiser asked the Swiss esoteric writer Sergius Golowin to join the group. 'Lord Krishna Von Goloka' is Sergius Golowin's unique musical collaboration. Sergius Golowin's intellectual & spiritual world (made of occultism, popular legends, shamanism.) takes a major importance for the conceptualisation of the project. Golowin is notably responsible of lyrics, making incantatory voices and recitations in German for intriguing "acid" folk based compositions. The album features usual musicians employed for the Cosmic Jokers jam sessions (the guitarist Manuel Gottsching, the keyboarder Klaus Schulze.). In addition we can notice the obvious presence of the Munich folk artists Walter Westrupp & Bernd Witthuser (on flute, percussions, acoustic guitars.). This album sounds like an evident cross between the pastoral flavour of Teutonic prog folk and the intergalactic mood of krautrock. Consequently, this is an imaginative, freak out musical experience to serve the philosophy of Rolf Kaiser's business "Kosmischen Kuriere".

Before to launch his career in writing, Sergius Golowin worked at the University of Berne, also as a librarian in the city of Burgdorf. During his prolific career as writer he specialised in mysticism and foreign philosophies. He published more than forty books about diverse subjects treating with occultism, tales, sorcery.he also participated to Walter Wegmuller's writing about the fantasy and symbolism of Tarot cards. One of his most famous publications is his dictionary of symbols "Lexikon der Symbole", reissued recently.

An original psych/ folk project directed by the esoteric Swiss writer Sergius Golowin. It is in the mood of Rolf Ulrich Kaiser's « Cosmic couriers » series, including many musicians of the krautrock scene for psychedelic improvisations recorded in three epic pieces. Conceptually this album deals with India mysticism, ecstasy and undirectly with drugs experiences, put in music to create a unearthly, beautiful journey through the cosmos and the hidden side of the Humanity. It contains ravishing, odd, spiritual recitations in German taken from Sergius' personal writings. The musical background is essentially under the direction of the folk duo Witthuser & Westrupp who play here all the acoustic parts (flute, bongos, guitars.) in order to provide a timeless and an exotic touch to the album. With lots of psychedelic, electronic, meditative effects combined to spoken words, the atmosphere of this album delivers a very mysterious, refined 'trip' that can easily haunts the listener, brings him into an other galaxy, far from the materialist preoccupations of our common world. This album is uncomparable, the music is unbelievable and can be considered as the most achieved musical document recorded by Rolf Ulrich Kaiser for his delirious "Cosmic Couriers" adventure. A must of "Cosmic music" and a very nice prog folk effort.

Jerry Berkers - 1972 - Unterwegs

Jerry Berkers

01. Jeder Tag Sieht Ganz Anders Aus (5:38)
02. Glaub Mir, Susanne (3:20)
03. Es Wird Morgen Vorbei Sein (4:15)
04. Dafur Lebe Ich Nur (4:39)
05. Grauer Bettler (3:41)
06. Ich Klage An (4:26)
07. Gelobtes Land (3:08)
08. Seltsam (5:04)

- Jerry Berkers / Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Percussion
- Bernd Witthuser / Guitar
- Jurgen Dollase / Keyboards
- Walter Westrupp / Harmonica
- Bill Barone / Guitar
- Thomas Engel / Drums, Percussion, Vocals
- Dieter Dierks / Vocals

Jerry Berkers was born in the Netherlands. He is best remembered for his work with Wallenstein ('Blitzkrieg' and 'Mother Universe') as well as his appearance on two of the Kosmische Kurrier LP's ('Lord Krishna Von Goloka' and 'Tarot')

He only made one album in solo called "Unterwegs" (1972). The content is made of acoustic instruments, percussions with subtle keyboards parts. For the occasion, J. Berkers invited many of his friends and musicians with whom he had participated to several works for the Pilz / Kosmische Kurrier labels (Jurgen Dollase, Witthuser & Westrupp.). The compositions are melodic, pop, moody with a few complex progressive sounds put into structured short songs. The album was dedicated against the war in Vietnam (as suggest the lyrics.)

Unterwegs is among the least known albums signed on the legendary Pilz (Popol Vuh, Wallenstein, Witthuser & Westrupp...). Recorded at Dieter Dierks studio with Rolf Ulrich Kaiser at the production, I was waiting for my dose of weird kosmische krautrock, however after one listening, I must confess that Unterwegs is slightly disconcerted. Jerry Berkers who worked on several super krautrock projects (Sergius Golowin...) here delivers a very personal solo effort that oscillates between gorgeous melancholic acid ballads and bizarre eccentric country folk compositions. The result is rather inequal. The musical team is made of friends and old musical partners as the keyboardist Jurgen Dollase (Wallenstein) who delivers a great work here (emotional, poetical, classical piano lines), Walter Westrupp, Bill Barone (Wallenstein). The opening track is a powerfully emotional, plaintive progressive rock piece with sumptuous keyboards, sad vocals and charming folk accents. The best composition of Unterwegs with reminiscence of Wallestein at their most melodic moments. Glaub mir is a funny country folk song, but almost without interest. Es wird morgen vorbei sein is a solid, catchy prog rockin' ballad with a really nice groove and always impressive keyboards, soulful plaintive vocals. Dafur lebe ich nur is an acoustic ballad featuring dreamy- like mellotron, efficient simplistic melodies, acoustic guitars & percussions. The ambience is pastoral with a discreet cosmic-psych flavour. Grauer Bettler is a dynamic rockin' song with the great Bill Barone on the guitars. Ich Klage An is a moody, fragile little acoustic folk ballad with really desperate vocals (includes Walter Westrupp as guest on Harmonica). Nothing really impressive excepted two or three tracks but a pleasant listening with touching nostalgic kraut-folky moments.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Klaus Schulze - 1980 - Live

Klaus Schulze

101. Bellistique (21:20)
102. Sense (51:00)

201. Heart (30:53)
202. Dymagic (29:21)
203. Le Mans Au Premier (17:56)

- Klaus Schulze / keyboards

Guest musicians:
- Harald Grosskopf / drums on disc 1, track 2
- Arthur Brown / voice on disc 2, track 2

The first track, Bellistique starts with synthesizers and drum patterns, that come up stronger and stronger until the piece changes into something quieter and darker. Very good starter.

The second track, Sense, is a masterpiece of the Berlin School od Electronics, yes, the intervals of the main sequence don't change during the piece, but the secuence itself changes a lot in terms of intensity, volume, key, etc, creating lots of different soundscapes. The drums amplify the effect. The soloing is intense, it doesn't give you rest at all, it keeps going in time and in terms of melody it doesn't end, so it is like touching a wound that hurts and not realising the finger, truly great.

The third track, Heart, starts very slowly, a bass pulse is there, almost inaudible, then a lead synth is there without identifying when it started. The track changes in something more rhythmic with synth and drum sequences. Good track.

The fourth track, Dymagic, is not what I like the most from SCHULZE, but I recognize it has that experimental edge.

I have the vinyl (with poster) and last CD editions of this album. The vinyl has some scratches here and there, but the sound is better. The bad thing is that the tracks are cut to fit the side of the vinyl. The CD has the complete tracks.

Klaus Schulze - 1980 - Dig It

Klaus Schulze
Dig It

01. Death Of An Analogue (12:15)
02. Weird Caravan (5:03)
03. The Looper Isn't A Hooker (8:17)
04. Synthasy (22:56)

- Klaus Schulze / all instruments
- Fred Severloh / drums ("Death of an Analogue")

Before fading away into obscurity, Klaus Schulze had a few more great albums in him. Dig It is the first of those and a must-have for fans, especially in the re-issued 2005 version.

The opening Death of an Analogue is a hit and miss, the repetitive percussion does not have the qualities from similar Kraftwerk exploits and the track gets really tedious after less then 5 minutes. The easy solution is to start with Weird Caravan, a surprisingly catchy and up-beat song that was the first piece I appreciated on this album. The Looper Isn't A Hooker is even better. Both tracks announce a new flavour in Schulze's music, one that works more on complex rhythms then on melody.

Synthasy is another winner, it starts very experimentally, with an almost kraut-alike opening, halfway in we are deeply submersed in Schulze's lush sound textures. The music is less accessible then the works from the 70's but it is not less rewarding.

Based on these pieces, the album would be a solid 3 stars, but on the 2005 re-issue there is an extra track that adds a marvellous 30-minute soundscape. The booklet says it's from the Dig It period but it sounds like it could have come right from Mirage or X (especially Heinrich von Kleist comes to mind). The first part is very abstract, downright spooky and disquieting, the second part has more harmonious features such as big moog and synth choir sounds, the third part is very experimental and non-melodious again, but as you know, Schulze doesn't need melody to be amazing.

The 2005 re-issue also adds a DVD from a 1980 concert Linzer Stahksinfonie, I haven't looked more then once yet. There isn't much to see actually apart from Schulze in a particularly goofy mining suit, a very sweaty drummer with a stern moustache and typical 80's imagery effects. The sound is OK though and the music consists mainly of improvisations on X material. The Schulze costume makes it hard to take this grave music seriously, so it works better if you just listen and ignore the images!

Klaus Schulze - 1979 - Dune

Klaus Schulze

01. Dune (29:52)
02. Shadows of Ignorance (26:32)
03. Le Mans (23:03) (bonus track)

Klaus Schulze / electronic

Guest musicians:
Wolfgang Tiepold / cello
Arthur Brown / vocals

The eleventh album (in only seven years) by Germany's prolific synth pioneer probably couldn't help leaving many fans scratching their head, arriving as it did on the heels of his monumental twin LP "X". It was, and still is, a truly schizophrenic effort: one half instrumental, and typically brilliant, and the other half a curious change of pace featuring an unlikely collaboration with singer ARTHUR BROWN...yes, the same post- hippie pyromaniac from "The Crazy World of..."

And it's a concept album (of sorts) too, perhaps a signal that Schulze was trying to cash in his kosmische credentials and at least partially engage with mainstream musical trends of the late 1970s. The inspiration was Frank Herbert's popular sci-fi novel, a fixture on counterculture bookshelves during the '60s and '70s (I think because of all that perception-bending Arakeen spice). So was the erstwhile drummer for TANGERINE DREAM paying tribute to a kindred space-art epic, or was he merely hitching his keyboards to a pre-sold commodity?

It's a moot question, at first exposure. The title track (all of side one, on the original vinyl) is classic Klaus Schulze, building on the success of "X" with even more breathtaking sonic vistas, and again employing the talents of Wolfgang Tiepold on acoustic cello. It might seem an odd instrumental match-up, but the combination of Tiepold's melancholy bowing and Schulze's arsenal of electronic effects is strong enough to send a shiver down even the most unsympathetic spine.

Schulze was always a generous composer (or a very lazy editor), and this masterpiece is no exception, clocking in at seven seconds shy of a full half hour. An appropriately arid mood is set in the opening eight minutes of more or less free-form improvisation, before Tiepold's mournful cello melody slowly rises over the horizon. What follows is one of the more stunning evocations of a desert landscape, capturing the essence of its unforgiving beauty better than any piece of music since Maurice Jarre's 1962 soundtrack to "Lawrence of Arabia".

(I speak from some experience: in my vagabond youth I would listen to "Dune" while driving the lonely highways of central Nevada, and to this day the music still conjures vivid images of sagebrush-scented valleys, heat-distorted alkali salt pans, and semi- abandoned Comstock ghost towns caught in a state of arrested decay.)

On this one track Schulze almost redefines the meaning of Space Rock (which, in the Berlin school of electronic meditation, was never really rock anyway) by removing the music from its usual cosmic clichés. The sound here is more spacious than spacey, with an almost classical-symphonic grandeur, and yet still manages to generate surprising tension over its slowly unfolding thirty minute length. The first chord change, teasingly held back until near the 11:00 mark, is a particularly satisfying moment of high musical drama.

Too bad the balance of the album (i.e. side two: "Shadows of Ignorance") is such a flat- footed misstep, at least by comparison. Give Schulze credit for trying to break out of his comfortable ambient shell, but he wasn't the first of his class to fail in the same attempt: TANGERINE DREAM had already released "Cyclone" a year earlier, also with vocals, and with similar mixed results.

The Klaus Schulze/Arthur Brown variation wasn't as willfully commercial, and would hardly justify any accusations of a sell-out. But twenty-six (count 'em, twenty six!) minutes of ersatz poetry sung over a dance-floor sequencer beat can still be more than a little tedious, although this criticism comes with a disclaimer: I admit to dredging my memory of the song out of some very cold storage. Only the magnificent title track remains in my music library, saved on one side of a 60-minute audio cassette tape before the album itself was returned to the used LP trading block.

On later releases Schulze would beat a hasty retreat (again, not unlike TANGERINE DREAM) back to safer, all-instrumental territory. But in retrospect "Dune" marked the end of an era.