Of course, I imagine it’ll only be a small percentage of you who’ll be that curious. You’ll need to be a music fan, and also a fan of music from the late ’60s through early ’80s -- in particular progressive rock, jazz and fusion, and/or ambient or electronic music. Those are some of the categories that overlap with so-called “Krautrock” music, about which I’ve been writing over on the Phish Coventry blog for the last several weeks. I’ve long been a fan of Krautrock, that somewhat hard-to-define subgenre that includes a lot of German prog starting around ’68 or so and lasting up through the early ’80s and after.
After many years of listening to bands like Can, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Amon Düül, Tangerine Dream, and Popol Vuh, I came across Julian Cope’s history-slash-love-letter to Krautrock titled Krautrocksampler (first published in the mid-’90s). I like some of Cope’s albums, too, especially Fried and World Shut Your Mouth, and enjoyed his book a lot as well even if it is kind of over-the-top sometimes as he gushes over the bands he discusses.
When Cope wrote the book, many of the albums he talked about were relatively hard to pick up, only available as expensive imports. Nowadays just about all of them are easy to find online, which made it possible for me to fill in a lot of gaps as I tracked down records included in Cope’s overview of Krautrock.
A highlight of the book is Cope’s list of “50 Kosmische Classics,” records he designates as “essential” to those wishing to learn more about Krautrock. It’s a good list, even if I’d probably switch out several if I were to make my own top 50.
In any case, I decided to use Cope’s list as an excuse to try my hand at writing about Krautrock, and so have begun doing my own reviews of his “50 Kosmische Classics,” a list that’s arranged in alphabetical order. Here are the 10 I’ve written up so far:
Still to come are Krautrock titans like Cluster, The Cosmic Jokers, Faust, Harmonia, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and others.
AMON DÜÜL I - Paradieswarts Düül
AMON DÜÜL II - Phallus Dei
AMON DÜÜL II - Yeti
AMON DÜÜL II - Carnival in Babylon
AMON DÜÜL II - Wolf City
ASH RA TEMPEL - Ash Ra Tempel
ASH RA TEMPEL - Schwingungen
ASH RA TEMPEL & TIMOTHY LEARY - Seven Up
ASH RA TEMPEL - Join Inn
CAN - Monster Movie
Writing about music isn’t as easy as it looks. It’s a bit like writing about poker, for me at least. In both cases I know how to play a little bit, and even feel like I’ve managed to enjoy some occasional “success” (relatively speaking). But it can be humbling sometimes to try to describe and evaluate what those who are obviously more agile and adept are doing.
If this sort of thing interests you at all, take a look at some of the reviews and let me know what you think.