Friday, March 13, 2009

Ash Ra Tempel (1971)

If Jimi Hendrix had been a member of Tangerine Dream, the result would probably have sounded a lot like this. Ash Ra Tempel was one of the first and best bands to fall under the Krautrock label, and this album really shows what a powerhouse they were. Comprised of members Manuel Göttsching, Hartmut Enke and legendary synth pioneer Klaus Schulze, the band blasts through two side-long psychedelic juggernauts.

The first track, Amboss, is a high energy mind trip, with tons of absolutely face melting guitar from Göttsching. Schulze,interestingly enough considering his later career, started out as a drummer, and predominantly occupies that role here,although he does dabble with electronics a bit as well.. His drumming is, however, extremely energetic and effective.

The second half of the record, aptly titled Traummaschine (German for Dream Machine,) has a much different vibe. Here we are treated to twenty-five minutes of subdued, trippy synthesizers that float gently around the occasional splashes of guitar and drums, all very tastefully done. The track does eventually pick up some steam towards the end and the album finishes on a high note.

As a whole the album does a terrific job of maintaining a good balance between its frantic and mellow moods, never relying too heavily on one or the other. Göttsching is a greatly under appreciated rock guitarist with far more chops than most "normal" rock bands could claim.
Schulze is just as good on drums as he is behind a stack of synthesizers and the electronics (played by both Göttsching and Schulze) lend the perfect amount of atmospherics to this thoroughly psychedelic romp.

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