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Musings from the other side... The Krautrock Special Parts 1, 2 & 3 plus much more...

Mikail Graham's picture

"The Krautrock Special Parts 1, 2 & 3"

For the uninitiated you may be wondering just what is Krautrock? – The following definition is excerpted from Wikipedia to give you a basic understanding of how this music came to be.

“Krautrock is a genre of rock and electronic music that originated in Germany in the late 1960s, with a tendency towards improvisation around minimalistic arrangements. The term was popularized in the English-speaking press. Later, German media started to use it as a term for all German rock bands from the late 1960s and 1970s, while abroad the term specifically referred to more experimental artists who often but not always used synthesizers and other electronic instruments.
The term is a result of the English-speaking world's reception of the music at the time and not a reference to any one particular scene, style, or movement, as many krautrock artists were not familiar with one another. BBC DJ John Peel in particular is largely credited with spreading the reputation of krautrock outside of the German-speaking world.”

“Krautrock was originally a humorous description coined by the UK music press (such as New Musical Express and Melody Maker), where "krautrock" found an early and enthusiastic underground following. The term derives from the ethnic slur "kraut", and its use by the music press was inspired by a track from Amon Düül's Psychedelic Underground titled "Mama Düül und Ihre Sauerkrautband Spielt Auf" ('Mama Düül and her Sauerkrautband Strike Up').”

in the early 1970’s I started listening to what many of us at the time simply called German space music. I’d hear various snippets on bay area FM radio stations like KPFA, that aired programs such as Stephen Hill’s Hearts Of Space, or just browsing through the import section at Tower Records and doing the occasional impulse buy based on the LP name, or sometimes just the cover art alone. Back then it was just a never-ending discovery of trippy psychedelic music, some of which I’ve surmised here in no particular order featuring artists such as: HarmoniaCan, Cluster, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Michael Rother, Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Dieter Moebius, Conny Plank, Klaus Schulze, Conrad Schnitzler, Amon Düül II, Ash Ra Tempel, Faust, to name just a few. And of course there are many, many more to be found if you find you are interested.

By the time I finally got to Germany in the mid 1980s, and where I worked off and on for nearly 16 years, these bands were one of the first things I asked many of my German friends about, as I was so excited to possibly meet some of them, or hopefully see them perform live. But oddly, the majority of those I spoke with had no clue as to who, or what I was talking about. No, they were into American bands like Toto, Van Halen, or German metal bands like the Scorpions and the like. It wasn’t until I started talking to some of Deutsch friends who were a bit older, that I found kindred spirits for this music I’d grown up loving like it was my own. Some of these friends owned music stores such as Amptown in Hamburg and Berlin, and they knew most all of them at one time or another, and had some great stories to tell about the late 60’s and 70’s and what it was like before the American pop scene and western culture in general had begun to take over.

These days it’s rather weird when I think about what it was like when I was first spending time in Deutschland. For example, you could only shop on Thursday night for a few hours, yes folks just one night a week until around 8-9pm. Saturdays were the big day to go and get what you needed until around 4-5pm, and Sunday most everything was closed up tight save for the bakeries and sweets shops. The Wall was still up in Berlin, and it was a rather intense trip when one drove from say Hamburg to Berlin hoping to get through Checkpoint Charlie without being harassed, and you damn well better make sure you didn’t veer off the main autobahn or you’d be in deep trouble with the authorities. Yes Germany was definitely a very different place back then as was the music to be sure.

Noted musicologist and former The Teardrop Explodes singer, Julian Cope wrote a passionate book called Krautrocksampler: One Head's Guide to the Great Kosmische Musik - 1968 Onwards, that will give you a great overview of the underground music scene in Germany from 1968 through the 1970s. But good luck finding a copy as it’s been out of print for many, many years. You can occasionally find a copy for sale on ebay or a pirated pdf on the web if you look hard enough. Or if you are hungry and want to know more right now, check out Julian’s Head Heritage site which will definitely help get you up to speed on the music and scene. And here’s one more for now, a little bonus compilation of Julian’s Krautrocksampler: Top 50 Albums compiled by Julian Cope. Of course there are also lots of Krautrock blogs splattered all over the web, so be sure to have a look see, as you’ll find some real gems on occasion in those searches.

And if you are even more curious and have the time, I highly recommend watching the BBC Four documentary Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany which currently you can stream for FREE on Vimeo or YouTube, just click on the title above, sit back and enjoy.

OK, so back to our first TOS Krautrock 3 Part Special. Some people have asked “why do a special on this music?” or “what made you choose this music?”. To which I say quite loudly HOW COULD WE NOT?

For me Krautrock is some of the most interesting and progressive music ever made period, a sentiment which my partners in this series: Julia Boorinakis Harper and Mark Leviton would most certainly agree. It took us a year or two of various conversations to finally sort out who would play what and when. And it’s clearly not the definitive collection by any means. But for now I think you’ll find these nearly six hours filled with a diverse selection of some of the best of what’s still available. And in case you are wondering, I can guarantee this is definitely not the last of this series, as there will be more episodes coming at a later date. In fact I’ve included a couple of extra TOS episodes that will serve as precursors to this series that I’ve linked to below. All of them will give you some extra bonus hours of Krautrock laden music featuring both Julia and Mark showcasing individual acts that I’m sure you’ll find fun to have a listen too.

For now here is our 3 Part Krautrock Special for you to check out and see what you think. I do hope you enjoy them and of course we’d love to hear any feedback you’d care to offer as well which you can send to: tosradio @ gmail dot com

"The Krautrock Special Parts 1, 2 & 3"

2015 - February 10: 
"The Krautrock Special Part 1 - Julia Boorinakis Harper"
Part 1

CLICK HERE to have a look at Julia's playlist from Part 1 and also find links to purchase the music!

2015 - February 17: "The Krautrock Special Part 2 - Mikail Graham"
Part 2

CLICK HERE to have a look at Mikail's playlist from Part 2 and also find links to purchase the music!

2015 February 24: 
"The Krautrock Special Part 3 - Mark Leviton"
Part 3

CLICK HERE to have a look at Mark's playlist from Part 3 and also find links to purchase the music!


2010 -November 23: “Faust So Far”

The German krautrock band 'Faust' formed in 1971 and became one of the first acts to sign to Richard Branson's Virgin Records. The original band broke up in 1975 after Virgin had rejected their fifth album, but during those 4 short years they created quite a stir in the world of psychedelic experimental music. Join guest host Julia Boorinakis Harper for a look at this unique German band.
Hour 1Hour 2

2012 - January 3: 
"CAN - Part I"
CAN was an experimental rock band formed in Cologne, West Germany in 1968. Later known  as one of the first "krautrock" groups, they transcended mainstream influences and incorporated  minimalist and world music elements into their often bizarrely psychedelic music. On the next edition of The Other Side, join guest host Julia Boorinakis Harper for a two-hour venture into the strange and fascinating alternate musical universe of CAN.

2012 - April 3: 
“Amon Düül Part 1”

Amon Düül began in 1967 as a radical political art commune of Munich-based artists calling themselves, in part, after the Egyptian Sun God Amon. At the time of the conception they were a German political art commune formed out of the student movement of the 1960s which became well known for its free form musical improvisations. This spawned two rock groups, Amon Düül (sometimes referred to as Amon Düül I) and the more famous Amon Düül II. Join guest host Mark Leviton as he gives you a deep look in Part 1 of this other world of music & art.

2015 - November 3: 
“Harmonia - The Complete Works”

On this episode: a showcase of Krautrock ‘supergroup’ Harmonia featuring selections from their brand new Complete Works box set, plus interviews with founders of the band. This legendary German band was formed by Michael Rother of Neu!Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius (R.I.P.) of Cluster, with legendary producer Brian Eno joining in for sessions in 1976. Their first two studio albums Musik von Harmonia (1974) and Deluxe (1975) are great examples of the mid 70's Krautrock sound. The third album Tracks and Traces from their 1976 sessions wasn’t released until 1997 under the title Harmonia ’76. Also included are Live 1974, along with Documents 1975, a new rarities set featuring live recordings from Hamburg and a couple of previously unreleased studio tracks. Host & producer Mikail Graham will also be speaking with Harmonia co-founders Michael Rotherand Hans-Joachim Roedelius throughout the show about how the band came together and much more. Don't miss yet another fascinating evening in our ongoing Krautrock series.

2015 - Novemeber 24: "Amon Duul II - Part Two"
The German psychedelic folk group Amon Duul formed during the sixties as part of a Munich hippie commune. With personnel changes, they reincarnated as Amon Duul II (Two), and became one of the leaders of a movement dubbed Krautrock. Incorporating jazz, noise and even disco, they spent the 70s and 80s touring the world, blowing minds everywhere from Japan to the U.S. Guest host Mark Leviton will helm Part Two of the story of this creative, shape-shifting collective.

Happy listening and thanks for your support of The Other Side and KVMR

mikail grahamThe Other Side host and producer