Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Deutsche Elektronische Musik [Soul Jazz compilation, 2010]

Soul Jazz Records is one of the premier reissue labels. Since the 90s, they have released dozens of excellent compilations of primarily reggae and rare groove music from around the world. Their reissues always feature excellent design and graphics, extensive liner notes, great sound, and value for money, despite the fact that their collections are usually pretty expensive. I only have a handful of them, but the ones I have are all terrific (a favorite being Studio One Soul, an amazing compilation of reggae covers of American soul—thanks, Nancy).

This collection, then, joins the other happy Soul Jazz compilations on my shelf as a well-informed selection of the wilder music being made in Germany in the 70s and 80s. The biggest name in German rock is missing, but you've probably already heard of Kraftwerk, and the lesser-known artists are worth a closer look. One caveat: the title, Deutsche Elektronische Musik, makes it sound like you're going to be spending time inside a Teutonic electrofunk robot, being barked at in German through a vocoder. Sadly, this is not the case, and the collection's subtitle, "Experimental German Rock and Electronic Musik 1972-83", is a bit more accurate, as there is a pretty equal mix of electric rock and electronic synthesizer music here. So, be ready for medieval prog chanting ("Devotion" by Between), lengthy autobahn jams replete with guitar and flute solos ("Hallogallo" by Neu!; "High Life" by Ibliss), and movie soundtrack synthscapes (the aptly named "Filmmusik" by E.M.A.K.); there are even some contemplative folky moments (e.g., "Morgengruss" by Popul Vuh). But other than Kraftwerk, the big names of experimental German rock are here, and you get representative tracks by the immortal Can, Neu!, Faust, Amon Düül II, and others. As an introduction to German 70s rock, it's wonderful, and follows the Soul Jazz tradition of unearthing wild and crazy musics from around the world.

Here's "Auf Dem Schwarzen Canal" by Conrad Schnitzler:

And by Can, here's "I Want More":

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