Monday, September 26, 2016

Krautrock: Amon Düül, Paradieswarts Düül (1970)

Amon Düül began as a politically-minded hippie commune in Munich in the late 1960s with a number of artists and about a dozen musicians among its members.

In 1968 the musicians split into two distinct acts, adopting the names Amon Düül and Amon Düül II. The first group would produce a few albums in the late ’60s and early ’70s, then another double-LP would appear in the early ’80s. Yet another splinter group called “Amon Düül (UK)” came out with a few more titles after that to complicate the discography even further.

Of the two initial groups, I prefer Amon Düül II whose records are much more musically accomplished and innovative. Julian Cope includes one Amon Düül album among his “50 Kosmische Classics,” their third LP from 1970 titled Paradieswarts Düül.

Like all of their records, this one is comprised of captures of live jams (again, contrasting with often more detailed production of their similarly-named counterparts). There are no less than 12 musicians credited, although what you hear often sounds as though it could have been created by three or four. While recognizing its limitations, Cope calls Paradieswarts Düül “fabulous” and evokes the Velvet Underground by way of comparison, though I’m decidedly less high on it than he is.

Side 1 is taken up by the 17-minute long “Love is Peace,” a genuinely pleasant, slow-paced and repetitive jam featuring folksy guitars, discreet bass, humble percussion (including bongos and African drums), and cameos by a boisterous flute and an uncertain piano. (A harp is listed, too, though I’m not sure where to find it.)

The title gives you an idea of the hippie-fied theme of the lyrics (sung in English) -- the kind of thing you might imagine being sung around a campfire fairly late in the proceedings. Around the halfway point comes a transition introduced by a mildly trippy application of echo, perhaps calling to mind some early Beefheart jams. It’s a nice, mostly charming session, but by the time the chanting comes in near the end, you might be ready to move onto something else.

Side 2 is split into two lengthy tracks, the first being a slow, nine-minute instrumental titled “Snow Your Thirst and Sun Your Open Mouth” during which you’ll bob your head during the first half, then probably lose focus during the more contemplative latter portion.

The third and final track, “Paramechanische Welt,” features seven-and-a-half minutes of unremarkable strumming with some wordless (or at least indistinct) vocalizing. Kind of a “quick-turn-the-recorder-on” situation that didn’t really develop into anything noteworthy. (A CD reissue includes a couple of short, plodding extras that don’t add much to what’s gone before.)

As a whole, Paradieswarts Düül’s has more historical than entertainment value, with the musicianship not nearly as impressive as what you’ll find elsewhere in the kingdom of Krautrock, making the songs only of fleeting interest. First alphabetically, but probably a misleading introduction to the genuine wonders contained elsewhere in the “50 Kosmische Classics.”

Even so, you might still get a groove on to “Love is Peace.”

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