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Amon Duul II - 1981 Vortex



ARTIST: Amon Duul II
ALBUM: Vortex
LABEL: Telefunken
SERIAL: 6.24874
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1991, Castle Records, CLC 5023

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Renate Aschauer Knaup - vocals, tambourine * Jorg Evers - bass, acoustic & electric guitars, synthesizer * Daniel Fichelscher - drums, acoustic guitar, percussion * Chris Karrer - acoustic & electric guitars, violin, sax * Falk U. Rogner - synthesizers

Additional Musicians: Lothar Meid - bass * John Weinzierl - guitar * Stefan Zauner - piano, synthesizers

TRACK LISTING: 01 Vortex * 02 Holy West * 03 Die 7 Fetten Jahr * 04 Wings Of The Wind * 05 Mona * 06 We Are The Machine * 07 Das Gestern Is Das Heute Von Morgen * 08 Vibes In The Air

WEBLINKS: www.amonduul.de


Background
Let's face it, there was some weird shit coming out of Germany in the early '70s which was great if you were there and stoned out of your mind, but not so much going on nearly forty years later. For those in need of a history lesson Amon Duul II was one Krautrock's leading lights in a scene that included the commercially successful Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream as well as literally dozens of lesser known, but equally influential and prolific outfits including Can, ethnic progressives Embryo and the ever-esoteric Popol Vuh. The origins of the band can be traced back to the same radically whacked hippie commune that spawned a notorious German terrorist group the RAF which should tell you how far from the mainstream Amon Duul II actually were early on. I'll grudgingly admit albums like 'Wolf City' and 'Carnival in Babylon' had their moments and 1974's 'Viva La Trance' was a creative highpoint but hippy idealism never moved me much and the band's dreams of an artistic utopia didn't exactly pan out. By the end of the decade the trippy experimentation had run its course with their 1978 album 'Only Human' taking on some very trendy stabs at pop and disco.


The Songs
That particular record brought an end to the group but by 1981 Amon Duul II was back at it and taking on some former members along for the ride. The results are mixed, but it's far from a bad album. Vocalist Renate Knaup is an assured singer not that far from Curved Air's Sonja Kristina and her floating voice over the dirge-like synth heavy title track is quite effective. Elsewhere the band pick up were the poppy 'Only Human' left off with 'Holy West' and the arena-rocking 'Wings Of The Wind' sounding quite modern for its time with 'Mona' for better or worse coming perilously close to ABBA. Of course this is Amon Duul II after all and they can't help themselves on 'Die 7 Fetten Jahr' which weirdly translated means 'the seven greasing year'. The record's 'wtf' moment it starts out fine with a haunting Eastern Euro melody but turns ugly quick with cookie monster male vocals that are truly daft. 'Das Gestern Is Das Heute Von Morgen' ('that yesterday is that today of morning') and the creepy atmospherics of 'Vibes In The Air' give the album plenty of prog credo but fall short of holding my attention which is the same problem I've encountered with their early releases.


In Summary
The Amon Duul family tree is mind-boggling to say the least with the several offshoots including a UK version and connections to Hawkwind and even the great Munchener Freiheit, but how much of this kind of thing you need to hear is up to you. Me? I'll pass.


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