Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Eclecticism 01: Krautrock, Eno & Cope

Here is the first of 3 DJ mixes done for the Art Show & Sale that I took part in at my friend Nicky's house last weekend.

The idea was to provide an interesting atmosphere to accompany the pictures in the show.

In this first part I focussed on Krautrock influences, as it has been a part of me for some months now. My good friend The Dazman (guitarist from Head To Head, Nicky's House and also involved in a new musical project with me in Salisbury) is a very knowledgeable fan of the genre, and I owe a debt to him for introducing me to more of these fascinating works.

The mix begins with "Ruckzuck", which Andi introduced me to via this incredible YouTube video:

Next up is a mad track from Julian Cope's "Rite 2" album. Mr. Cope is a well known Krautrock enthusiast, and you can hear it's influence clearly on "Ver". He produced a wonderful book called "Krautrocksampler", saying "I wrote this short history because of the way I feel about the music, that its supreme Magic & Power has lain Unrecognised for too long." It's out of print at the moment I think, and may never be updated/re-printed, because Cope says it contains some factual errors, and that he has since met others he says are better informed, he remains an expert on the music itself though. Here is a list of the top 50 Krautrock albums according to Cope: 50 top albums

Krautrock as a genre is itself a matter of debate in terms of what it actually is. On the Faust website, Rene Layne intelligently argues its origins from the viewpoint of a spectator, saying "I think that there was no real scene back then. There did not appear to be much unity with the different groups and I think most of them had no idea of the size of the German rockscene". She argues some of Cope's observations, and then is criticised herself with a response afterwards. You can read the article here: Faust Pages

Another person with great respect for, and some involvement with these German artists is Brian Eno, and the following track "R.A.F." is here, not because of the Krautrock theme, but just because I thought it fitted what I was after for the art show. I had been listening to DJ Food's brilliant Eno mix, which you can check out here:

More Volts: The Funky Eno by DJ Food

"R.A.F." was released by Eno as a b-side to the 1978 "Kings Lead Hat" single, and it also appears on his "Vocals" box set.

Klaus Dinger & Michael Rother
After that, back to Krautrock with tracks by Neu!, Harmonia and Cluster. These bands are inextricably linked, not only by their sounds, but by the personnel involved. Neu! consisted of Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother. Harmonia is Michael Rother again, but with Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius who, working together as a duo are Cluster.


I do not need to say much about these tracks as the knowledge is all in the listening.. (I am sure The Dazman would agree with me)..

When I recently bought a copy of Cluster's "Sowiesoso", the Dazman said it was "class of the highest order", and, yes, he was right.

I love the covers to Cluster's albums as well as the beautiful music. In the excellent BBC4 documentary on Krautrock, Cluster spoke of their studio, saying that it was in a perfect space in the country where you could see nothing but nature from the windows, many of the album covers celebrate this.
"Base & Apex" is a track I have known for many years, and for me, this (combined with an early interest in Eno's work) is where my interest in this kind of music began. It comes from an album by Cluster & Eno together called "After The Heat" by Eno-Moebius-Roedelius. When I was working as a groundsman for my tree-worker friend Richard (a.k.a. "Slippery Dick" of Glastonbury "Love Shack" fame), we would return after a days hard graft to his place, and stick this, or the "Cluster & Eno" album on and chill out with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a big smoke in front of his wood fire. Bliss.

This is followed by another Eno track, simply called "untitled", which also appears in the DJ Food mix, and on the Eno box set "Instrumentals".

Lastly is another thing of great beauty, the title track from an album called "Evening Star" by Brian Eno & Robert Fripp. I must admit, I am not keen on all of Fripp's work, some of it has dated rather badly, but there are things of wonder to find like this track.

I hope you enjoy this mix, it has become one of my personal favourites. I find it very listenable and good to put on whilst working.

The artists who were involved in the Krautrock movement (and many are still at it today)are some of the most influential and yet underrated artists of our times. Laura Kaye who was on the film crew for the BBC4 documentary sums it up nicely: "As we left, now quite tired from two weeks of relentless driving and filming, we pondered again of the ingenuity and tenacity of this generation of artists who built up a new vision of Germany from a cultural wasteland. Their contribution to the development of music in subsequent years, especially electronic music, is unquantifiable and yet they remain relatively unheard of in many circles, not least in their own country. Without exception they are all still committed to pushing boundaries in music today".

This is by no means intended to be a definitive mix of Krautrock, far from it. I have just chosen a small selection of my favourites that suited the mood for the art show and mixed it with some other stuff that seemed to fit too. There is far more out there to discover that is labelled Krautrock, of all sorts of moods and textures, all experimental and enlightening.

Eclecticism parts 2 and 3 are already there on my MixCloud page, and I shall post them here soon. Thanks.

Simon x

PS: the artwork photo for the mix is a garage door in Salisbury.

1 comment:

  1. A very enjoyable Blog Lord Lewisham. The music by these fantastic musicians constantly amaze me and bring many JOYS into my temporary coil.