Argentina

A brand new South American tape batch on Sucata Tapes annonces itself with the premiere of Los Siquicos Litoraleños’ Radio Siquica (Psychic radio). RIYL: Sun City Girls, Sublime Frequencies...

"After their international debut ”Sonido Chipadelico" (Sham Palace/Annihaya) and their recent mind melting tape, Medianos Éxitos Subtropicales Vol.1 (Artetetra) the masters of rural homegrown psych cumbia/rock come to Discrepant (via Sucata Tapes) with an undefined tape of radio experiments done (not) some time ago. ‘’Their music is a unique triumph of homegrown rural psychedelia, standing alone on the edge of an unchartered vanguard. Here is the contemporary group you keep hoping exist, but can never find. Mind-melting tropical psych-rock, pitched-down cumbias soaked in dub brine, swirling solar instrumentals, and surrealist shamanic lyrics laid across guitars, drums, tapes and electronics – bringing together multi-fidelity electric and acoustic psychic sound-forms from the greater depths of sound and surprise.’’ (Mark Gergis)

New Weird South America is a polyglot’s fantasy

...In Argentina’s countryside, Los Siquicos Litoraleños has slowly carved out an idiosyncratic sound indebted to local folk traditions, improvisational and noise music. The group formed in 2004 in Curuzú Cuatiá, a small rural town in Northeast Argentina. Group founder Nico Kokote describes it as a conservative place, in contrast to the group’s freewheeling experimentalism, but crucial to the development of their sound. “You couldn’t have a band like Los Siquicos Litoraleños in a big city,” Kokote says. “We lived very close to each other and there wasn’t much to do except play music all day.” The group would rehearse almost perpetually, members dropping in and out of lengthy, improvised jams: “I remember playing for something like seven or eight hours. We had time to try a lot of different things and I think that openness helped develop an almost telepathic communication.”

The group has incorporated the local folk style of chamamé into their music, as well as what Kokote describes as the “regional atmosphere” heard from neighbors’ radios. Cumbia, Mexican folk music and cheesy Argentinian commercials from the ’60s all make their way into the mix. Indeed, Radio Siquica takes the form of an imagined radio station, a nod to Kokote’s vicarious consumption of music through his immediate environment. It skips between psychedelic, looping rock, lilting acoustic interludes and rhythmic workouts. The group record on whatever equipment they can find, be that Walkmans, four-track recorders, or even digital cameras, layering different qualities of sound on top of one another. Kokote says each sonic layer acts as a “portal to a neighboring universe”, a concept perhaps partly influenced by the psilocybin mushrooms growing around Curuzú Cuatiá. -Lewis Gordon

Side A
Capitulo 14 “Mas música, menos exabruptos” 17:50
(Chapter 14 “More music, less exaggeration”)

Side B
Capitulo 11 “Problemas tecnicos” 14:53
(Chapter 11 “Technical problems”)

Notes
Radio Siquica was a radio program active between 2003-2012.
These are a selection of material produced in Curuzù Cuatià. Ctes (Argentina) in 2009.

Algeria

Killer shots of spiky rock with Algerian style, Arabic vocals and tight traces of reggae, dug out from France ’77 and delivered in 2018 by Geneva’s Bongo Joe

The 45s series goes on and presents for the first time music from the past. This fifth single focus on legendary algerian kabyle rock band Abranis founded in 1967. The band pioneered the fusion of chaabi (traditional) music with 60s-70s western rock, proudly singing in their own berber kabyle language while wearing hippy rockers outfits. Their shows - in deeply influenced by Pan-Arabism conservative Algeria - where often cancelled by governors and the band once was arrested by the police, generating riots. The band kept on playing and recording until mid 90s. This 45t presents two majors tracks from the band:

Side 1: Chenar Le Blues released in 1977 have been a big hit on algerian national radio. The band response to The Doors.

Side 2: Avehri released in 1983 shows the band’s obsession to merge different music styles with the North African traditional airs. This one goes strangely reggae.

Chenar Le Blues originally released on Disques Bordj El Phen in 1977
Avehri originally self released in 1983

1. Chenar Le Blues 3:17
2. Avehri 3:24

USA

'Some of the most emotionally overwhelming recordings I've ever heard. ESSENTIAL if you have a soul!' -No_

'This highly sought-after collection of 43 songs from the Civil Rights Movement includes rare recordings by Fannie Lou Hamer (Go Tell It on the Mountain), Betty Mae Fikes, the SNCC Freedom Singers, Willie Peacock and other activists. More than two hours of Blues, Gospel, Caltpso, etc.'

This double-CD reissue documents a central aspect of the cultural environment of the Civil Rights Movement, acknowledging songs as the language that focused people's energy. These 43 tracks are a series of musical images, of a people in conversation about their determination to be free. Many of the songs were recorded live in mass meetings held in churches, where people from different life experiences, predominantly black, with a few white supporters, came together in a common struggle. These freedom songs draw from spirituals, gospel, rhythm and blues, football chants, blues and calypso forms. The enclosed booklet written by Bernice Johnson Reagon provides rare historic photographs along with the powerful story of African American musical culture and its role in the Civil Rights Movement. "The music of the spirit with the history of the flesh." — New York Daily News

'The civil rights movement used freedom songs to spread their message, adapting folk and pop tunes with contemporary topical lyrics, or writing new songs addressing social injustice in general, and injustice for African-Americans in particular. This is a two-CD, 43-song compilation of such songs, recorded live in mass meetings in churches between 1960 and 1966. The SNCC Freedom Singers, including in their ranks future Sweet Honey in the Rock mainstay Bernice Johnson Reagon (who wrote the liner notes), contribute quite a few tracks, but the majority are by less professional soloists and choirs. Historically speaking, this is a valuable document of a movement whose importance cannot be underestimated; if nothing else, it's interesting to see how folk and pop songs (including such unlikely candidates as Ray Charles' "Hit the Road Jack") were changed to reflect struggle for equality. Musically speaking, it's not that captivating; the fidelity is sometimes rough, and the performances interesting purely from an archival standpoint. This isn't meant to diminish in any way the significance of these songs, just to say that they were effective mostly as organizing tools, not as pure musical statements. Listeners will need to have a strong interest in the historical context of these recordings to justify their purchase, because as music it can make for a dry experience. Some of the SNCC performances, however, do stand up on their own as fine folk/gospel, especially "In the Mississippi River," "Governor Wallace," and "Oginga Odinga," imaginative compositions that are movingly sung.' -AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger

Disc 1: Mass Meetings
1. Freedom Singers - Freedom Medley: Freedom Chant; Oh Freedom: This Little Light Of Mine 1:56
2. Betty Mae Fikes - This Little Light Of Mine 4:16
3. Betty Mae Fikes - If You Miss Me From The Back Of The Buss 3:02
4. Lord, Hold My Hand While I Run This Race [Performer – Unknown Artist] 2:47
5. Willie Peacock - Get On Board, Children 2:07
6. Willie Peacock - Calypso Freedom 6:27
7. Freedom Now Chant [Performer – Unknown Artist] 0:25
8. Hollis Watkins - Oh Freedom 3:06
9. Amanda B. Perdew & Virginia Davis - Ain' Scared Of Nobody 1:47
10. Leaning On The Everlasting Arms [Performer – Unknown Artist] 1:13
11. Rev. Lawrence Campbell - Sermon 6:35
12. We Are Soldiers In The Army [Performer – Unknown Artist] 3:22
13. Fannie Lou Hamer - Go Tell It On The Mountain 3:00
14. Fannie Lou Hamer - Wade In The Water 2:30
15. Willie Peacock - Come Bah Yah 5:22
16. Fannie Lou Hamer - Walk With Me, Lord 1:34
17. Sam Block - Jesus On The Mainline, Tell Him What You Want 3:31
18. Sam Block - Freedom Train 4:33
19. Mabel Hillary - Don't You Think It's About Time We All Be Free 3:39
20. Carlton Reese - We're Marching On To Freedom Land 2:29
21. We Shall Overcome [Performer – Unknown Artist] 3:03

Disc 2: Ensembles
1. SNCC Freedom Singers Led By Emory Harris - We'll Never Turn Back 3:28
2. SNCC Freedom Singers Led By Rutha Harris - We Shall Not Be Moved 2:08
3. CORE Freedom Singers - Certainly, Lord 2:03
4. CORE Freedom Singers - Get Your Rights, Jack 3:47
5. SNCC Freedom Singers Led By Cordell Reagon - Which Side Are You On? 1:55
6. SNCC Freedom Singers Led By Bernice Johnson - Woke Up This Morning With My Mind On Freedom 2:27
7. Bernice Johnson - Been In The Storm So Long 3:51
8. SNCC Freedom Singers Led By Cordell Reagon - Dog, Dog 2:30
9. Integration Grooves - The A & P Song 2:25
10. SNCC Freedom Singers Led By Bertha Gober - Oh Pritchett, Oh Kelly 2:12
11. Bertha Gober - I Told Jesus 3:16
12. Alabama Christian Movement Choir Led By Carlton Reese - 99½ Won't Do 2:26
13. Alabama Christian Movement Choir Led By Mamie Brown - I'm On My Way 3:36
14. Cleo Kennedy - City Called Heaven 9:13
15. SNCC Freedom Singers Led By Marshall Jones - In The Mississippi River 3:36
16. SNCC Freedom Singers Led By Cordell Reagon - Ain' Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round 2:12
17. Jimmy Collier And The Movement Singers Led By Diane Smith - Will The Circle Be Unbroken 3:06
18. SNCC Freedom Singers Led By Charles Neblett - Governor Wallace 2:32
19. SNCC Freedom Singers Led By Matthew Jones - Ballad Of Medgar Evers 4:28
20. Cordell Reagon - Uncle Tom's Prayers 1:07
21. SNCC Freedom Singers Led By Matthew Jones - Oginga Odinga 2:45
22. SNCC Freedom Singers - We Shall Overcome 3:20

Notes
Incl. Pdf

New York City

brutal, powerful poetry

'Never have words and voice been so dramatic to my ears. African beats and jazz instrumentals filter throughout the cd with the voices of anger, intellectualism, passion, and love exploding meaningfully like an adrenalin/steriod- induced beatnik meeting. Strong as a fist and smart as an Encyclopedia, this cd smarts. Beautiful poetry...' -da mirra'

Are they really the original Last Poets?
'Burned into my memory from repeated listens. Instantly engaging & familiar. Sweat & bulging veins are both audible, so then is the beauty. Dahveed Nelson, now living in Cleveland, claimed he started the Last Poets, culminating in an unfortunate bitter & violent rivalry between 2 separate factions of Last Poets. This release does not diminish the power of the 1970's Douglas Records incarnation. Quite the contrary, this release adds to the cultural strength & relevance of both units. As relevant today as when it was released, unlike other counterculture figures like the Fugs.' -robert zeiger

'Credited on the cover as The Original Last Poets, as Gylan Kain was still with them when this soundtrack was recorded. A live recording that was the soundtrack to a film called "Right On", subtitled "A Woodstock In Poetry".  A very powerful spoken word album with some good banter between tracks. Less menacing than "Last Poets" and "This Is Madness", but much more listenable throughout. You cannot underestimate the importance of the Last Poets and how they influenced the future of black music. A excellent slice of music, I cannot recommend it enough.' -MH1000

Notes
The soundtrack to Right On!, the documentary from 1971 that followed a day in the life of The Last Poets - the group of New York City black poets/musicians that were born from the late 1960s African American civil rights movement. As can be expected, you get some interesting and thought-provoking performance poetry alongside the sparse beats of the conga drum.
Apparently, a lot of the poetry performed for the camera was lost because of faulty sound equipment. The liner notes on this LP read "All poems recorded at The Cubicolo Theatre, New York City except Soul which is from the movie soundtrack."

Felipe Luciano - "Jazz" from The Last Poets, "Right On"
One of the greatest spoken word performances ever committed to vinyl.

Gre Washington
10 months ago
'I just saw Felipe the other night at the Schomburg. He looks exactly the same. I can remember memorizing "Jibaro" when I was in the 9th grade so that I could recite it back to him if I ever met him in person. When I saw him at the Schomburg Wednesday night I was so overwhelmed with joy and nostalgia I forgot about my desire to recite "Jibaro" to him. Also, maybe cause I felt so miserably unworthy in his august presence. Young people today will never know what the late 60's to ca. 1979 was like in the country. It was a desperate struggle & in retrospect we made many mistakes, largely because we thought things would change and stay as we had fought for them. I miss the 60's and 70's. For me it was the best time in my life. We'll never have it again of course but the memory lives on vividly in my mind. I'm writing this infant of a poster of Malcolm X "Our Shining Black Prince" given to me in 1969 at the Harlem Cultural Festival at Mt. Morris Park (Now Marcus Garvey Park). That poster of Malcom was given to me by Gylan Kain of the Last Poets.'

1. Jibaro / My Pretty Nigger 3:12
2. Been Done Already 2:34
3. Hey Now 2:42
4. Die Nigga!!! 3:10
5. Un Rifle / Oracion Rifle Prayer 3:13
6. Tell Me Brother 3:59
7. Black Woman 2:29
8. James Brown 2:54
9. Soul 1:20
10. Today Is A Killer 1:46
11. Willie Armstrong Jones 4:10
12. Puerto Rican Rhythms 3:18
13. Poetry Is Black 2:37
14. Jazz 3:38
15. The Shalimar 5:55
16. Into The Streets 1:05
17. Alley 5:55
18. The Library 2:15

Incl. scans

Notes
Herbert Danska’s Right On! film celebrates The Original Last Poets' radical legacy

The restoration of this pioneering film of the original Last Poets offers a rare look at radical Black sentiment in 1960s America.

“A conspiracy of ritual, street theater, soul music, and cinema.”

Formed on Malcolm X’s birthday in 1968 in East Harlem, The Original Last Poets consisted of Gylan Kain, David Nelson, and Felipe Luciano.

Taking their name from a poem by South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile – who believed he was in the last era of poetry before guns would take over – the group’s combination of poetry and music played a pivotal role in the development of hip-hop.

The 1971 film Right On! offers a glimpse into the radical and revolutionary nature of their work – capturing 28 spoken-word performances by The Original Last Poets across the streets and rooftops of lower Manhattan,

“Right On! is a street cry, is a clenched fist. Right On! rises out of Black and 3rd World America. Right On! is now a film, the first ever made of poetry. Not the dead stuff of libraries. Guerrilla poetry: a revolutionary art of / by young poets / actors / warriors.”  -Lazlo Rugoff

Billed as “a conspiracy of ritual, street theater, soul music, and cinema,” Right On! is a pioneering performance film, a compelling record of radical Black sentiment in 1960s America, and a precursor of the hip-hop revolution in musical culture. It features the original Last Poets—Gylan Kain, David Nelson, and Felipe Luciano—performing 28 numbers adapted from their legendary appearance at New York’s Paperback Theater in 1969, shot guerilla-style on the streets and rooftops of lower Manhattan. Opening months after the better-known music documentary Woodstock and almost simultaneously with Melvin Van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Right On! was described by its producer as “the first ‘totally black film,’” making “no concession in language and symbolism to white audiences.”

The Last Poets became instrumental in shaping hip-hop, a debt acknowledged by artists like Public Enemy, NWA, and A Tribe Called Quest. “People say we started rap and hip-hop, but what we really got going is poetry,” group member Abiodun Oyewole has said. “We put poetry on blast.” In the years since the film’s release, the Poets’ legacy has grown, enriched by an evolving company of outspoken, politically engaged voices including Oyewole, Umar bin Hassan, and Jalal Mansur Nuriddin. They have explored jazz, funk, and hip-hop on over a dozen albums, collaborating with Common, Kayne West, Nas, DST, the Welfare Poets, and others.

Right On! has rarely screened after its original release in 1970, when it played largely on festival and university film circuits, and was often thought to have been lost.

The Original Last Poets in Right On! - Poetry On Film

Germany

'Highly stimulating ... Kraftwerk is a pleasure to read' Jon Savage, New Statesman

The story of the phenomenon that is Kraftwerk, and how they revolutionised our cultural landscape

'We are not artists nor musicians. We are workers.' Ignoring nearly all rock traditions, experimenting in near-total secrecy in their Düsseldorf studio, Kraftwerk fused sound and technology, graphic design and performance, modernist Bauhaus aesthetics and Rhineland industrialisation - even human and machine - to change the course of modern music. This is the story of Kraftwerk the cultural phenomenon, who turned electronic music into avant-garde concept art and created the soundtrack to our digital age. 

Author Uwe Schütte is an expert on contemporary German music, particularly Kraftwerk. He organised a conference about the band in 2015, which was attended by academics and fans from all over Europe. He is reader in German at Aston University in Birmingham.

'Kraftwerk are one of the most influential bands in pop history. In a series of albums beginning with the groundbreaking Autobahn (1974), the Düsseldorf-based group fused avant-garde electronic experimentation with pop sensibilities to create a radically new sound. With vocoders and electronic instruments, minimalist arrangements and repetitive rhythms, Kraftwerk made futuristic-sounding songs that shaped the future of music. Their work resonated in almost every pop music genre to emerge in the late twentieth century, from Detroit techno to synth-pop to house. Their presence is ubiquitous in hip-hop: the melody of “Trans- Europe Express” is used in Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul-Sonic Force’s “Planet Rock” (1982) and samples of their tracks appear in work by Jay-Z, Mos Def and Timbaland, to name a few.

The Kraftwerk sound has become so pervasive that it is difficult to convey just how unusual it once was – how odd, in the mid-1970s era of shaggy-haired guitar rock, for a song like “Autobahn”, with synthetic bleeps and robotic-sounding German lyrics, to become an international pop hit. Kraftwerk forever tempered “the heat of rock’n’roll”, as Uwe Schütte puts it in his new book Kraftwerk: Future music from Germany, with “a different model of pop music, the coldness and the cool stemming from the use of machines”. Where their contemporaries emoted and swaggered through an analogue present, Kraftwerk heralded a digital future. In their music, lyrics and visuals, computers are not only omnipresent, but also inextricable from the human performers, fusing with them to form – as the title of their 1978 album put it – a man-machine. Four decades later, this melding of human and machine is so ever-present across many genres that it seems a matter of course.

The vast scope of the change Kraftwerk brought about in popular music is not the only reason they make a difficult subject for a book. The group was founded by two famously elusive and guarded figures, the recently deceased Florian Schneider (who left the group in 2008) and Ralf Hütter (still in the group). The band’s Kling Klang studio was so hermetically sealed from the outside world that even David Bowie and Brian Eno were not allowed in when they visited Kraftwerk in Düsseldorf, but were instead taken for Kaffee und Kuchen nearby.

Other recent English-language writers on Kraftwerk have called their books biographies, but Schütte does not. Declaring his aversion to “gossip and anecdotes” of the kind found in the disgruntled former member Wolfgang Flür’s memoir, Schütte largely avoids the lives of the group’s members, instead setting out to explore Kraftwerk as a cultural phenomenon, an “art project and concept translated into a multimedia combination of sound and image, graphic design and performance”. In its avoidance of biography, Future Music from Germany has an unpeopled quality that, coupled with its sometimes stilted prose, lends it an academic feel. The book proceeds chronologically through the band’s discography, approaching not just Kraftwerk’s oeuvre but the band itself as a Gesamtkunstwerk, a “complete audiovisual work of art” in the Wagnerian tradition. The band’s man-machine imagery, with robot doppelgängers in their live performances and a retro- futurist aesthetic of functionality and simplified forms in their albums design, has inspired artists from Daft Punk to Janelle Monáe, and Schütte’s attention to the visual elements of Kraftwerk is one of the book’s strengths. He shows many of the band’s artistic influences, from El Lissitzky to Andy Warhol. And the visual angle fits the arc of Kraftwerk’s long history: they emerged in the 1970s from the Düsseldorf conceptual and performing art scene surrounding the Fluxus movement, playing their early shows at galleries, and have now partially returned to their art world roots. While they continue to tour concert venues, they had a residency at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2012 and have in recent years devoted increasing attention to curating and fine-tuning the visual aspects of their past albums.

The book does justice to the importance of the visual artist Emil Schult, the group’s long-time collaborator and unofficial fifth member, who designed many of Kraftwerk’s album covers, whom Schütte describes as the band’s “source of ideas, conceptualist, artistic contributor, and … [interface] with the local art scene and the world of art in general”. Schult, who studied with Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, designed many of Kraftwerk’s album covers; co-wrote the lyrics to “Autobahn”, “The Model” and other songs; toured with the group in the 1970s; and created projections of his artwork that are still used in Kraftwerk concerts today.

Schütte’s close reading of the “Trans-Europe Express” video (1977) elucidates the retro-futurist aesthetic and sense of precision that are central to their project. A model of the Schienenzeppelin – an experimental railcar built in 1929 that never made it past the prototype stage – zips through a model cityscape evocative of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. “What we see in these convincing trick sequences”, Schütte writes, “is a future that was never realized, or to put it another way, a future whose unfulfilled promises haunt the present.” Retrofuturism is more than an aesthetic, it is a way of forging a postwar German identity that looks back to modernist movements like the Bauhaus and Expressionism: “Kraftwerk’s recourse to a great German modernist tradition can be seen as a redemptive work: an attempt to fulfil a potential that never had a chance to develop, cut short as it was by fascism”. Kraftwerk’s German identity operates in tension with a European identity that is likewise marked by a “haunted sense of a temporal in-between”. Another track from Trans- Europe Express, “Europe Endless”, is both a fantasy of a Europe without internal borders (which would become a reality in 1985 with the Schengen Agreement) and a “romantic albeit melancholic” lament for an “idealized, cosmopolitan Europe of the early twentieth century”.

Schütte, who grew up in Germany, gives a granular sense of the specifically German aspects of Kraftwerk’s context. He situates “Autobahn” in the fraught political history of the autobahn road system as a Nazi public works project, and recounts how Kraftwerk, in an uncharacteristic act of artistic compromise, modified the originally ambiguous lyrics of “Radioactivity” (“Radioactivity / Is in the air for you and me / Radioactivity / Discovered by Madame Curie”) in response to the German anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s and 80s, first adding “Stop Radioactivity!” at live shows by 1981, then in a re-release of 1991 adding an introduction listing nuclear accident sites as well as additional lyrics about contamination and mutation. In vintage fashion footage in the video for “The Model” (1978), Schütte sees a nod to the 1960s sci-fi series Raumpatrouille Orion, a German precursor to Star Trek.

Schütte also parses German terms closely, explaining at length why all English translations of industrielle Volksmusik, the term Kraftwerk coined to describe their music, are unsatisfactory: industriell refers not to what is commonly understood as industrial music, but to “a modern society based on technology, manufacturing, and the use of machines”. Volksmusik is definitely not folk music here; it means that the music is rooted in a specific place, an explicitly German style rather than the Anglo-American influences prevalent among many of Kraftwerk’s contemporaries, but it also denotes “of the people” in the sense of pop music. This sort of cultural translation is generally helpful, although at times the book reads like a careless, over-literal translation from German.

The German perspective is not always articulated so well. In 1975, Lester Bangs interviewed Kraftwerk in Detroit during their first US tour and wrote an article for Creem magazine, called “Kraftwerkfeature”. In Tim Barr’s account of the interview in his book Kraftwerk: From Düsseldorf to the future (with love) (1999), the “notoriously contentious” Bangs began the interview in his usual gonzo style, cracking homophobic jokes and mocking some band members’ English. But he was so “obviously charmed to bits” by the wry, cerebral sense of humour that Hütter and Schneider displayed, in deliberately playing up to Hollywood stereotypes of Germans and mainstream American fears of the sinister nature of machine-made music, that he ended up writing a “thoroughly compelling manifesto for the group’s cause”. To Barr, “Hütter and Schneider’s performance during the interview was a master-stroke” and “Lester Bangs gave Kraftwerk unforgettable PR”.

Schütte, however, has a very different take: in his account, it is not Bangs’s approach but this interview that was “notorious”. Bangs bullied Hütter and Schneider for being German, barraging them with “stupid Nazi clichés” and “insulting stereotypes”; the band members did not charm Bangs through playful repartee, but were rather pushed by his unfairness to “retort in kind”. Where Barr sees a triumph for Kraftwerk, Schütte speculates that they “may have regretted” the interview. Here we see one of the problems of writing about such enigmatic figures: one can only speculate about how Hütter and Schneider might have felt about “Kraftwerkfeature”, as they never commented on it. Schütte is right that the NME’s title for Bangs’s piece in the UK, “Kraftwerk: The Final Solution to the Music Problem?” is an appalling cheap shot, as is their illustration of the piece with an image of the band superimposed on the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg (to be clear, Hütter is not, and Schneider was not, a fascist). But Barr is essentially right about Bangs’s article: while it is not devoid of jokes about Germans, on the whole Bangs deploys his wit to Kraftwerk’s benefit. There is a valid point to be made about reflexive stereotypes in early UK and US media coverage of Kraftwerk, but here, Schütte does not make it well.

Elsewhere, the book is marred by dismissiveness and curmudgeonly gripes. Take the robot personae of Daft Punk: Schütte acknowledges a French tradition of musical robots that predates Kraftwerk – dating back to flute- and organ-playing automatons of the eighteenth century, and continuing in the mid-twentieth century with the funfair attraction Les Robots Music, an animatronic trio of sheet-metal robots that played real drums, accordion and saxophone. Beyond this tradition, the Daft Punk robots have a number of obvious international influences, such as the film Tron. Yet he disparages the band as “Kraftwerk imitators” and “French copycats”.

Contemporary popular music, meanwhile, is a “conformist … tool for the dull behemoths of a globalized culture industry”. The notion of “sweating rock musicians working their guitars” that Schütte sets Kraftwerk against also degenerates into a straw man, especially on the question of authenticity. “Take Billy Bragg, for example: his fans expect him to believe in what he sings and see his songs as a truthful reflection of English working-class experience”. By contrast, “none of their fans thinks that Ralf Hütter and the other three Kraftwerkers are really robots or man-machines. This approach separates Kraftwerk from multimillionaires such as Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan, who play the lonesome songsmith and regular American guy”. The contrast is overstated on both ends: rock has a long tradition of artists playing with personae, and it is not quite true that nobody thought Kraftwerk were machines. The book later quotes the Detroit techno producer, Mike Banks: “In the early days I never heard anybody say anything about their race. They weren’t Germans, they weren’t white, in fact we thought they were robots”.'

Jane Yager is a writer and translator based in Berlin

Kraftwerk by Uwe Schütte review – a band that saw the future

From ‘Autobahn’ to ‘Trans-Europe Express’ … how the electronic pioneers helped shape a new Germany and changed the history of pop

Karl Whitney | The Guardian

'Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hütter once told a journalist that his group’s 23-minute-long song about car travel “Autobahn” was an attempt to answer the question: “What is the sound of the German Bundesrepublik?” The autobahn system is, Uwe Schütte writes in this engaging critical introduction to the band, a “deeply ambivalent German monument” because it was a pet project of Adolf Hitler.

Schütte sees Kraftwerk’s music as “a contribution to the political, cultural and moral rebuilding of Germany” after the second world war. Their records obliquely approach history, and the process of constructing a future-oriented nation, by focusing on the material aspects of its everyday life: roads, nuclear power, trains, computers. The group enthusiastically embraced Germany’s place in the European project, in songs that addressed the continent’s interconnection (“Trans-Europe Express”) and were often recorded in a number of European languages.

Hütter and Florian Schneider, the founding members, were born into affluent families after the war had ended. They met while students in their home city of Düsseldorf, a wealthy centre for fashion in the midst of industrial Rhineland that was bombed by allied forces during the war but became the capital of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1946. Bonn, the new capital of West Germany, lay within the state’s boundaries, a sign that it had become the centre of the nation’s postwar political power.

Kraftwerk formed in 1970 from the ashes of an earlier band, Organisation. Their name translates from German as “power station”, and, although the group initially pursued an industrial aesthetic in their cover art, beginning with the Warhol-style traffic cones that illustrated their first two albums, the industrial slowly worked its way into the whole concept of the band – the songs and, eventually, its self‑presentation as man-machine humanoids. By Autobahn, their fourth album, they had added Wolfgang Flür and Karl Bartos to their lineup, and by the fifth, Radio-Activity, their instrumentation was entirely electronic. The robots soon followed.

The first, and strongest, half of Schütte’s book traces the cultural context of the band, and their evolution from the art scene in Düsseldorf, where they drew on the idea that artistic practice could help create a better world as developed by Joseph Beuys, who was then based in the city and a friend of the Schneider family. Schütte’s main contention is that, rather than merely being a band, Kraftwerk was in essence a wider art project, “a multimedia combination of sound and image, graphic design and performance”. The group’s career, he argues, is a total artwork along the lines of Wagner’s conception of a Gesamtkunstwerk, one that embraces multiple forms to realise the artist’s vision.

Certainly the band was drawing from the historical avant garde, especially the aesthetics of the Bauhaus, the futurists and German expressionism. The idea of representing its members as robots was drawn in part from Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis; their use of music to represent everyday noises recalled the found sounds of musique concrète. (David Bowie called Kraftwerk’s industrially inspired sounds “folk music of the factories”.) Their aesthetic can be characterised as retro-futurism, and their artistic influences modernist – they looked back as they hurtled forwards.

Schütte attempts to trace their influence, but you can see them everywhere: most fascinatingly in hip-hop, most obviously in techno music, but also in the chrome-helmeted anonymity of Daft Punk, in the industrial philosophy of Factory Records and the Haçienda nightclub, and, ultimately, in the general trajectory of pop music ever since Kraftwerk’s run of great albums between 1974 and 1981 – away from traditional rock and towards the electronic.

Their influence grew even as they declined as a creative force. Since 1981’s Computer World a mere two albums of original material have been released, of which only Tour de France Soundtracks (2003) was on a par with their classic work. Instead, for the most part Hütter and Schneider’s attention shifted to digitising their back catalogue and, later, returning to the live arena.

For the most part Schütte eschews a biographical approach, denigrating Flür’s gossipy memoir I Was a Robot. So the reader gets only a limited sense of the personalities behind the band, and it remains unclear whether Kraftwerk’s relative silence post-1981 is due to indolence or a strategy of mystery-building to drive boxset sales. (Here’s Flür on the bike-obsessed Hütter and Schneider: “They would prefer to study cycling catalogues ... than think up ideas for new songs.”)

Perhaps it’s best to take Kraftwerk at face value: as a corporation whose business is industrial design, and which is engaged in an ongoing process of perfecting its product. That ambition has recently been realised in their impressive live shows, which have been held in museums, art galleries and airports, complete with the highest-tech 3D visuals.

On tour in the 1970s the band had difficulty reproducing their music in a concert setting. Equipment would break down, and for years they never played live at all. But Kraftwerk kept going and technology finally caught up.'

Nigeria

Very rare Nigerian album including an incredible Afrobeat / Afro-Funk track 'Nyong Eyen Unen'. The rest of the LP is in Highlife style.

Label: Anodisc Records ‎– ALPS 1027
Format: Digital, Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: Nigeria
Released: 1977, 2011
Style: Highlife, Afrobeat

Credits
Bass Guitar – Gabriel Akpan
Drums – Amos J. Nkop
Lead Guitar – Eule Wellington
Percussion – Chico
Rhythm Guitar – John Essien
Tenor Saxophone – Alfred Etim
Vocals – Darlington Duke, Eddy Emmanuel

Side 1: Efik High Life
1. Ikang Adaketinsak Medley Part 1 18:43
   1-1 Ikang Adaketinsak
   1-2 Kere Abasi
   1-3 Atuak Ukot

Side 2: Efik Afro Beat/High Life
2. Ikang Adaketinsak Medley Part 2 18:58
   2-1 Akpakpa Ufreke
   2-2 Nyong Eyen Unen
   2-3 Se Nyenede

Nigeria

Nigerian Efik-High Life beauty : deep and funky music from Calabar region

Label: Anodisc Records ‎– ALPS 1049
Format: Digital, Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: Nigeria
Released: 1979, 2013
Style: African, Gospel, Highlife

Credits
Bass Guitar – Gabriel Akpan
Drums – Amos J. Nkop
Lead Guitar – Eule Wellington
Percussion – Chico
Producer – S.C. Anochie
Rhythm Guitar – John Essien
Tenor Saxophone – Alfred Etim
Vocals – Darlington Duke, Eddy Emmanuel

1. Buy Me Lace 7:15
2. Atat 4:51
3. Tribute To Burstic 5:13
4. Burstic Sana Sung 5:45
5. Ini Ke Iso 5:03
6. Competition 4:42

Argentina

"Los Siquicos Litoraleños are the contemporary group you keep hoping exist, but can never find. A unique triumph of homegrown rural psychedelia, standing alone on the edge of an unchartered vanguard."

"Sonido Chipadelico" features some of the greatest moments in the group's dense and damaged repertoire -- mind-melting tropical psych-rock, swirling solar instrumentals, pitched down cumbias soaked in dub brine, and surrealist, shamanic lyrics laid across guitars, drums, tapes and electronics. Rich with strange passion, beauty, horror, experimentation, and humor."

"it being 2013, this is one of the most genuine things that has happened to contemporary music in many years."

"44 surprising minutes of deep, multi-fidelity electric and acoustic psychic sound-forms for a better today."

'Tropical dissonance from the sidereal plains: welcome to the wonky universe of Los Siquicos Litoraleños, the mysterious outfit from the Argentinian Corrientes whose twisted and fragmented psychedelia emanates from a parallel mythological dimension. Folkloric melodies and acid guitar licks are enveloped by straight-up weirdness, coming together in a bizarre field that seeps into your brain like jungle fever. Psychic borrachera guaranteed.'

'Pretty cool weird bizarre interpenetration of lots of Latin musical styles. You can almost imagine it on a Ralph records compilation of Latin music. Weirdly also sounds like a cumbia influenced version of Song Cycle by Van Dyke Parks. Lots of effects done in a real lo-fi way with both folkloric and spacey tendencies. Should appeal to fans of weird experimental outsider music with or without the cumbia influence.'

'Riotously odd psychedelic gloop from Corrientes, Argentina. The instigators of Chipadelia, Los Siquicos Litoraleños (The Psychics of Litoral) have their collective third eye wide open. Drinking from the same demented currents as Os Mutantes, Faust and underground crackpots like Butthole Surfers and Sun City Girls, Los Siquicos offer an inspired mess of fuzz-damaged cumbia, lost-in-a-wormhole vocals, space noise and tangled tape. ‘Cinta Planeteria’ opens like the Tardis dematerialising in the Argentinian jungle, the damp heat sending its controls haywire in a Radiophonic storm of throbbing oscillators and modular bleeps. Out march our heroes, stomping around like a wobbly Jefferson Airplane. Burrowing into weirder subterranean strata, ‘Cachaka Espejo’ oozes with backward organ and ectoplasmic percussion, while some Beefheartian madman rants down the corridor. ‘Chipá Chiriri’ is wonky chipmunk folk, while ‘Gran Carrancho Guazú’ is a cosmic reverie of droned-out vocal loops and Alice Coltrane harp. A trip.' -Stewart Smith

"Debut LP of totally bent Cumbia acid from rural Argentina's legendary Los Siquicos Litoraleños, issued by Sublime Frequencies' Mark Gergis on his Sham Palace label, in conjunction with Annihaya Records from Beirut. ""Sonido Chipadelico" is the debut international release from Los Siquicos, and the collection represents some of the greatest moments from the group’s dense and damaged repertoire. Their music is a unique triumph of homegrown rural psychedelia, standing alone on the edge of an unchartered vanguard. Here is the contemporary group you keep hoping exist, but can never find. Mind-melting tropical psych-rock, pitched-down cumbias soaked in dub brine, swirling solar instrumentals, and surrealist shamanic lyrics laid across guitars, drums, tapes and electronics – bringing together multi-fidelity electric and acoustic psychic sound-forms from the greater depths of sound and surprise. The group hails from the town of Curuzú Cuatiá, in Corrientes, northeastern Argentina – in the area known as el Litoral. Inhabitants of this region are known as Litoraleños. Los Siquicos Litoraleños (The Psychics of el Litoral) aren’t running from their musical heritage, they are staring straight at it – spinning it around, refracting it, and transmuting it into something that is probably one of the most genuine things that has happened to folk, rock, experimental or psychedelic music in many years." -Boomkat

"Sham Palace (USA) and Annihaya (Lebanon) are pleased to present from the mystical locus of Curuzú Cuatiá, in Corrientes, rural northeastern Argentina, Los Siquicos Litoraleños, with their first international full-length release.

The result: a unique triumph of homegrown rural psychedelia, standing alone on the edge of an unchartered vanguard. Los Siquicos have spent the past decade recording and performing mountains of material and distilling it into a rare form of ultra-cerebral roots music from the countryside; rich with strange passion, beauty, experimentation, horror and humor.

Corrientes sits in the Argentine Mesopotamic region, in the area known as el Litoral. Inhabitants of this region are known as Litoraleños. Los Siquicos Litoraleños (The Psychics of el Litoral) aren't running from their musical heritage, they are staring straight at it -- spinning it around, refracting it, and transmuting it into something that is probably one of the most genuine things that has happened to folk, rock, experimental or psychedelic music in many years. Having met through various musical projects in the mid-2000s, Los Siquicos formed as a trio in 2004, determined to develop an unheard style of music. 

They created their own genre -- Chipadelia, (a reference to the traditional chipá bread, typical of northeast Argentina and Paraguay). It involves equalizational demolition therapy -- which they describe as 'using sound to change people's perceptions, and words to produce cognitive dissonance in order to free the masses from the prison of fixed ideas and prejudices.' Being a peripheral band living in a semi-rural town, Los Siquicos remained outsiders to the Argentinian rock circuit for quite a while, though their unpredictable live performances in Buenos Aires caused a stir amongst the local scene.

Their shows often feature extended line-ups, with members cloaked in surreal gaucho costumes, playing segments of free-music and altered versions of chamamé and cumbia tunes influenced by the myriad regional gaucho dance bands. All the while, projections of cows, fractals, UFOs and their beloved countryside play out in the background. At home, they're affectionately referred to as 'El Pink Floyd de los pobres' -- the poor man's Pink Floyd.

Over time, the group has gained underground acclaim both nationally and abroad after sending their signals out in the form of self-released CDs, internet presence, and a handful of European tours. This collection has been culled from multiple recordings made between 2005 and 2010. It showcases some of the finest compositional moments in the group's dense and damaged repertoire -- pitched-down cumbias soaked in dub brine, swirling solar instrumentals, and surrealist, shamanic lyrics laid across guitars, drums, tapes and electronics.

Forty-four minutes of deep, multi-fidelity electric and acoustic psychic sound-forms for a better today. Los Siquicos Litoraleños are the contemporary group you keep hoping exist, but can never find. If you were to reach for spiritual comparisons, you wouldn't be forgetting the most spirited moments from Sun City Girls, Butthole Surfers, Faust, Os Mutantes, Captain Beefheart or The Residents. Sonido Chipadelico opens with the mind-melting psych-rocker 'Cinta Planeteria' -- like a Latin American time-travel experiment gone wrong. 'Cachaka Espejo,' 'Tenemos Semillas' and 'No Sabemos Nada' reinvent cumbia radio tunes as if heard from a distance of at least two blocks away on a dirt road in the barrio, then deconstructed, propelled into the outer ether, and beamed back into a burning dub transistor.

'El Chipa Chiriri' is a subverted chamamé-styled track -- revealing the recipe for the local Corrientes cheese bread. 'Necesita Ecualisacion' is a call for aural and mental equilibrium encouraging change rapidly from the present state of things to an improved and more complex, flexible state. The hypnotic 'Sirena Chunga y la Movida Solar' is perhaps one of the strangest folkloric songs ever committed to tape -- not unlike what light must hear when it travels inside of a vacuum. 'Si, Si, Si' is an uptempo, angular anthem in collaboration with Dutch experimental duo Static Tics. Also included is Los Siquicos' haunting acid-ballad cover of 'Quizás, Quizás,' and much more -- further into the greater depths of sound and surprise..." --Mark Gergis

Regional Psychics:
Piecing Together the Legend of Los Siquicos Litoraleños
– Mark Gergis

“… Here come Los Siquicos Litoraleños in their powered flying saucer low-fi technology, full of gauchos, aliens, cows and armadillo carts, like the ark of Noah and a lysergic apocalypse.” – turismosalvajia.blogspot.com

This year, my label Sham Palace, together with Annihaya Records in Beirut, were finally able to issue the joint production we had discussed for some time – a full-length album from Argentinian underground mavericks, Los Siquicos Litoraleños. "Sonido Chipadelico" is the debut international release from Los Siquicos, and the collection represents some of the greatest moments from the group’s dense and damaged repertoire. Their music is a unique triumph of homegrown rural psychedelia, standing alone on the edge of an unchartered vanguard.

Here is the contemporary group you keep hoping exist, but can never find. Mind-melting tropical psych-rock, pitched-down cumbias soaked in dub brine, swirling solar instrumentals, and surrealist shamanic lyrics laid across guitars, drums, tapes and electronics – bringing together multi-fidelity electric and acoustic psychic sound-forms from the greater depths of sound and surprise.

“…These guys grew from Cucumelo spores on the humid underside of cow patties in Corrientes, Argentina. They make shamanic cumbia folklore with an energy that sprouts from whatever enters their bloodstream.”
– Julia Worley (nobodyslistening.blogspot.com)

The group hails from the town of Curuzú Cuatiá, in Corrientes, northeastern Argentina – in the area known as el Litoral. Inhabitants of this region are known as Litoraleños. Los Siquicos Litoraleños (The Psychics of el Litoral) aren’t running from their musical heritage, they are staring straight at it – spinning it around, refracting it, and transmuting it into something that is probably one of the most genuine things that has happened to folk, rock, experimental or psychedelic music in many years.

Strong allegations, but it’s not often you come across a band who dispel the notion that invention and sincerity in music has had its day. The ways we listen to, purchase, and believe in music have shifted significantly over the past decade or two. It’s a post-post-post-post world, and many music lovers – let down – have found themselves either celebrating derivative throwbacks or trying to forge excitement from redundancy and rehash – wading the shallow pools of nostalgia. It’s the major reason I started re-tuning my own musical and cultural interests so many years ago, and began searching for them in different parts of the world. In an increasingly globalized cluster-fuck of a planet, cultural difference, inspiration and intrigue are something more valuable than any tangible commodity. And just when you’re expecting the curtains to be drawn on originality, a band of Psychics descend…

“Los Siquicos are the most relevant modern-day link to the South American legacies of tropicalia, cumbia, chicha, and psychedelia. They eliminate all the menus, re-configure your eyesight, heat the skins on your eardrums, and dance atop that big rhinoceros in your living room. And wherever they choose to navigate from here, you will feel an urge to follow, but you will never catch them.”
– Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls / Sublime Frequencies)

I was first introduced to Los Siquicos in 2007, when Sascha Roth (curator and organizer of the venerable WORM venue in Rotterdam) began describing their sound to me, and turning me on to their MySpace page.

I asked Sascha about how he first got into Los Siquicos.

Sascha: It was Mr. Sebastian Pappalardo, a catalyst for the more interesting fractions of the Buenos Aires underground scene, who urged me to check out Los Siquicos' MySpace page circa 2007. During my next Buenos Aires visit, I managed to collect a pile of Argentine DIY releases – and the clear winner was an early edit of their 'A Pleno Ritmo Sideral!' – the inlay depicting the band's dumb pose in front of a photo backdrop of their hometown's scorched roadside welcome sign, was a fitting introduction to their music: a demented crossover of chamamé folk, meandering cumbia and distant shreds of dub/reggae; all hopped-up on too much mate, weed and Argentine beef(heart). I'd like to think that this was the odd rural psychedelica that I had dreamed up before even hearing them... the one I knew would exist below the equator. Los Siquicos –seemingly accidently – push the right combination of all the wrong buttons, spiritually re-connecting stuff that's somehow akin, like Billy Bond's 'Tontos (Operita)', Los Speakers' 'En El Maravilloso Mundo De Ingeson' and some Caroliner. The unknown stuff that’s crawling in the whole South American underground right now has yet to develop into something to rival this bands significance anno 2013.

Los Siquicos remained outsiders to the Argentinian rock circuit for quite a while, though their unpredictable live performances in Buenos Aires caused a stir amongst the local scene. Their shows often feature extended line-ups, with members cloaked in surreal gaucho costumes, playing segments of free-music and altered versions of regional tunes influenced by the myriad regional gaucho dance bands. All the while, projections of cows, fractals, UFOs and their beloved countryside play out in the background. At home, they’re affectionately referred to as "El Pink Floyd de los pobres" – the poor man’s Pink Floyd. Over time, the group has gained underground acclaim both nationally and abroad after sending their signals out in the form of self-released CDs, internet presence, and a handful of European tours.

Dick el Demasiado is a half-Dutch, half-Argentinian musician and artist – often described as the "godfather of experimental cumbia." Back in 2000, he was busy laying the mythological groundwork for what would later be known as "digital cumbia." In 2005 he received an email from Nico of Los Siquicos, inviting him to their town.

Dick: Nico (the Alfajor De Corrientes) promised I could perform a concert with merely cows as the audience – and that sounded attractive. I traveled 1500 kilometers into the heat, and there they were – rehearsing in front of the local police station – loud and off-tune. A long run of tereré followed, for years. Thus, now we are an incestuous club – continuously exchanging and displacing each other’s musicians like long distance rental cars. Some of the members of my band went to play with the Siquicos, and some of the Siquicos play in mine – The group: Dick El Demasiado y Sus Exagerados. We are a secret sect … a childlike version of the Charles Manson community – without the ugliness, weapons, or evil looks.

I asked Dick how he would describe Los Siquicos:

Dick: With utmost sincerity: Cucu plays the guitar with scorpion-stings. He is the sweetest, no doubt. He’s the one you have to look for when you’re walking in a swamp, because he is ready to caress yacarés. Germán, the coherent drummer, the man with the permanent tear, is the cowboy. He is not a boy and not a cow, but he knows how to barbwire the Patagonian plains, which he does to survive. Diego is the poet – the Shelley, the Macedonio Fernández, and he walks in sandals. By now he’s in Tierra del Fuego. He plays wonderful, honeywise, and he writes. Pedro is the pastor: a shepherd in Spain. He can play flute, stones and harmonies. He reads. Finally, Nico is the seller of laughing gas and scattered vapor trails – you name it. He will even rent your own passport out to you, and your C.V. with it. He can attack a subject with the tightness of a plectrum and the vagueness of a wah-wah pedal. I don’t think I forgot any of them. They are all wonderful, and hell to herd on a tour. If I left anything undescribed, it would probably be that they are sincere in the utmost, and in spite of their sunglasses, no folky bullshit act.

I was able to discuss the histories and philosophies of Los Siquicos with core-member and visionary Nico Kokote in September, 2013.

Nico: We started in 2004, I think. Cucu and Germáncho were playing in a local hard rock band when I first met them. Rock bands were a very unusual thing in Curuzú Cuatiá then. Most of the music you’d hear was chamamé, cumbia or some cover band making ugly Latino pop. At that time I was playing with a friend from my high school years who was into garage and punk rock, had lots of instruments, amplifiers and a rehearsal space at home. It was mainly for fun, and the intention wasn’t to be involved in a serious project. I just screamed and sang in fake English to his '60s riffs. Los Siquicos Litoraleños were actually thought of as a side project from another band that never had a name. I first came up with the name as a parody of the classical chamamé bands with names such as "Los Amigos Del Litoral" (The Litoral Friends) or "Los Trovadores Chaqueños" (The Troubadours From Chaco) and things like that. It wasn’t really clear if this new band would be a folk band, a cumbia band or a total experimental improv band. The only thing that was certain was that playing rock was not as fun as trying to do something different. That was when Cucu, Germán and I began to make music at Germán’s house in the barrio (later dubbed Rancho Rocha).

Mark: What was the original vibe of the group in those early days?

Nico: We only had a drum set, an amp and a couple guitars. More than anything, it was really good that we could play for hours and hours with no rules at all. Soon, we began to mutate into a really open band with no fixed members. We would do free-form space cumbia jams – filled with long segments (sometimes hours) of pure noise and cacophony. Friends from town would come around and play on whatever instrument they’d find lying on the floor, make some noise, or just hang around. Around that time, our friend Pedro lent us his old PC and some mics so we could try recording something. The result was 'A Pleno Ritmo Sideral!' (At Full Sidereal Rhythm!) – our first record.

Mark: Was the band always actively mutating local musical traditions into your own sound?

Nico: Around 2004/2005, we began to develop a curiosity for the rustic chamamé of the country. On one occasion, Germán and I went to visit the local chamamé musician Pablo "Machaque" Esquivel, and recorded him and his brother Nico Esquivel on a Walkman. It was something that would prove to be very inspirational for us in more than one way. "Chamamé maceta" was the real thing – not the more refined variety found at boring musical festivals. Actually, we had no idea how to play chamamé, but that didn’t matter at all. We didn’t know how to play cumbia, either. We didn't get into cumbia listening or buying cumbia records. Chicha, rebajadas, cumbiambas – we learned about all those things a lot later. We actually liked the sound of the popular cumbia radio tunes as listened to from a distance of two blocks, at least. That sound (as well as the sound of chamamé tunes) was omnipresent in Curuzú houses, and you could hear it coming from the windows as you’d ride on your bike –all the way to the barrio. At a certain distance, you could hear the bass lines very well, while the rest of the song became somehow left to your imagination. We got a lot of ideas connected to that feeling – a cumbia beat coming from the distance on a hot and deserted dirt road.

Mark: Your live shows now are legendary. When did Los Siquicos become a performing entity?

Nico: In 2005 we did our first show under the Los Siquicos name. It was at a biker's festival in Curuzú Cuatiá, and there were lots of Harley Davidson characters in the audience. When we started to play, they began to make noise with their motorcycles. Our sound wasn’t so loud, so the music was overwhelmed by the noise. They were all decked out in black leather jackets – we were wearing funny homemade helmets and ragged tunics. We played the classic festivals, like one for the anniversary of the city, and other such events – organized by the local council. At one, "Festival de los Derechos Humanos" (Human Rights Festival), they presented us as "Los Psicoticos del Litoral" (The Litoral Psychotics). I came on screaming into the mic, "We all have the right to be humans!" while the band played an introductory two-note hypnotic tantric chamamé.

Getting a proper gig in town proved to be a very difficult thing to attain. When Dick El Demasiado visited us, we went to the clubs and played his music to see if we could organize some shows but they weren’t interested at all. Small town mentality – very conservative, you know. Our first "official" show was outside Corrientes, in Buenos Aires in December 2005, at Dick's FESTICUMEX festival (Festival de Cumbia Experimental). We played with Dick and some other bands. It was very different from your typical rock concert, and there was a real sense of risk and freshness.

The live shows eventually mutated legendary elaborate performances, with characters such as “El Entraterrestre” (The Intraterrestrial) dressed in a robe with an E.T. mask throwing tarot cards at the audience’s heads. Strange videos were emerging of the group playing outdoors in full regalia. People began catching wind of Los Siquicos via the internet and word of mouth. Their locally-released CD-Rs were difficult to come by abroad, but occasionally a few new tracks would go up on their MySpace page ¬– sustaining the belief that something very strange was continuing to disrupt the Argentinian countryside.

Nico: In 2007, we began to film our shows and concentrate more on playing live than on trying to finish another record. We did more shows in Buenos Aries, in our own town, and other remote places in the country. When trying to get gigs at the clubs was a lost cause, we’d just end up connecting our amps to an electric generator and playing for nature – sometimes to film it, or to play for our friends. That year we had a humid and hot summer. The house was full of mushrooms, and we were playing intensely. On weekends it could go all day long – with just a siesta break, mate, tereré and then music again. During that summer, we lost our guitars on a trip to the country. We were traveling in two trucks, and apparently they fell from the back. We never found them. Some of the more experimental recordings of the period derived from that simple fact – without our main guitars, we began playing our acoustic instruments again – combined with things like the broken washing machine, the freezer, toy keyboards and the radio with delay/looper. The end of 2007 was also the end of the Curuzú Cuatiá chapter in the history of the band. At the beginning of 2008, I relocated to Buenos Aires with the intention of getting gigs and doing logistics for the band. I also needed money to buy instruments. Buenos Aires is not a good city to live the kind of life a Siquico deserves. It is the predator dream come true, – the caffeine, coke, nerve-city of lobbyists, velociraptors and cheetahs – running or jogging as they search for the next check beneath the downstairs spiral of boredom, but you know, somebody had to do it.

Artist and musician Raed Yassin, a long-time friend and collaborator from Beirut makes up 1/3 of the Annihaya Records label. We had both been in touch with Los Siquicos over the internet since the late-2000s. Even before we started our respective labels, we had discussed wanting to release something from the group. Raed was able to catch the band in the Netherlands on one of their European tours in 2009. I asked what his thoughts were about the performance, and how he thought Los Siquicos fit into the scheme of an Annihaya production.

Raed: I had several different impressions. It was a mix between folk, funny, avant-garde, comedy, black humor, noise, rock, and ethnic music. The originality of it is that it’s unclassifiable. Los Siquicos is a perfect candidate for Annihaya because we usually produce albums that work between the lines and between genres; multi-layered experiences, such as revisited soundscapes, cover songs, and wannabe-sounding mixes that feel like something that has existed before.

"Sonido Chipadelico" has been compiled from recordings made by the group between 2005 and 2010.

I asked Nico how he felt about the group having an international release with a potentially wider audience.

Nico: It‘s great for this music to be heard overseas. I’m curious about what the reactions will be. What I like about the "Sonido Chipadelico material, is that some of the tracks were done under very limited conditions with very cheap equipment. Everything was trial and error then, and we had to get clever with our limitations.

Mark: I’m always struck by the many levels of fidelity in your music. 'Multi-fi' – and perhaps some of the strangest songs ever committed to tape in any hemisphere.

Nico: Yes, Multi-Fi, like multidimensional worlds and psychic portals in every track. We always like to work along those lines. In 2010, we released "Abduccion Nacional y Popular", an album that features the group with different line-ups. Some of the material was from the Curuzu years, and some of it was newer. The idea was to combine different fidelities, as the new recordings sounded far too "clear" and one-dimensional for our ears, so we inserted some Walkman and other lo-fi action between the main tracks. Some of my friends still complain about those kinds of decisions. They wanted us to sound more as we sound live – which isn’t possible, because I don’t think we have a fixed sound – it keeps on changing and changing...

Mark: Yes – and when I hear a track like “Necesita Ecualizacion” (It Needs More EQ), I feel like I’m listening to a wire recording made during a fire inside a bankrupt self-help clinic somewhere. Am I?

Nico: I think that "equalization" is more an accurate metaphor than "tuning in" or "cleaning up," especially when referring to radical change – and changing rapidly from the present state of things to an improved and more complex and flexible state. Our music is not just comedy, it is also equalizational demolition therapy – using sound to change people’s perceptions, and words to produce cognitive dissonance in order to free the masses from the prison of fixed ideas and prejudices. But more than anything we want to make friends. Song, wine…you know…

"Sonido Chipadelico" is available on vinyl LP via Sham Palace (SHAM004-LP), and as a limited-edition CD on Annihaya Records (END09-CD).

Title: Sonido Chipadelico
Artist: Los Siquicos Litoraleños
Label: Sham Palace
Format: LP
Genres: Folk, Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Modern Psych, Cumbia, World, Blues Rock, Experimental Electronic, Krautrock, Misc Central & South America

Side A:
1. Cinta Planetaria (Planetary Ribbon) 3:33
2. Cachaka Espejo (Mirror Cachaka) 2:44
3. Sirena chunga y la movida solar (Chunga Siren and the Solar Scene) 3:24
4. La manera extraña (The Strange Way) 2:27
5. Dulce de pera 2:18
6. Chipá Chiriri 1:47
7. Necesita Ecualización (It Needs EQ) 2:59
8. Gran carancho Guazú (Great Guazú Vulture) 2:12

Side B:
1. No sabemos nada (We Don't Know Anything) (Tropicadelic Mix) 1:54
2. Si, si, si (Yes, Yes, Yes) 3:03
3. Esto quemará como un horno! (This Will Burn Like an Oven!) 1:58
4. 3 maneras de contactar un gnomo (3 Ways to Contact a Gnome) 1:34
5. Tenemos Semillas (We Have Seeds) 1:41
6. Quizás, Quizás (Perhaps, Perhaps) 2:53
7. No estoy pensando, Dr. Ki (I'm Not Thinking, Dr. Ki) 1:59
8. Full Lucita (Full Lucita) 3:37
9. Si, Miente (Yes, It Lies) 2:06
10. Todo roto al Esquivar (All Broken at Dodge) 1:59

Nicola Kokote Aparixio: vocals, guitar, instruments
Raulo Kuku Mente Meza: guitar, backing vocals
Germancho Nutria Rocha: drums, vocals, instruments
Diego Seoane: keyboards, violin, backing vocals

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

A very rare Dutch 1984 12" EP from Dutch funk group Dojoji with Leslie Woods on vocals, produced after she'd left the Au Pairs, breaking up the group. This is bare bones funk that revolves around a core band of sax, drums, bass and not-quite-deadpan vocals.

'Dojoji were an excellent New Wave and Funk group from Rotterdam, The Netherlands that consisted of Pien Selleger and Ted Langenbach (Bass), Ron Louers (Bongos), Ferdinand Rolle (Drums), Leo Anemaet (Guitar), Trubus (Percussion), Hans Rath (Saxophone), Rudy Zinc (Synthesizer) and Fee Arnold (Vocals). Dojoji released a very nice 12 Inch EP on Plexus records in 1984. On this record they also have a singer in the person of Lesley Woods, who was before this in Au Pairs. Great funk like music.'

'Dojoji furthermore resembles some bands on the Cherry Red label like Rip, Rig and Panic or Medium Medium, but it's mainly fueled by the 80's New York styles in-between like James Chance's funky no-wave sounds and many of the boogie and 'break' records from old-school hip-hop. Actually Dojoji were quite unique in Holland and I like this EP a lot due to the use of the synthesizer additions and the percussion elements. Nice stretched out tracks full of life one just has to dance to! It once again shows how Rotterdam was always the most New York oriented city of The Netherlands.' -Bence

Dojoji (1983)
1. Quincunx (Look Out) 6:44
2. Peh Peh Ook 5:25
3. Fer Micello (Leaving Her Dreams Behind) 3:18
4. Kiets Lorren (Runs With Honey) 4:42
5. Katchakali 6:39

Notes
The Dojoji EP track Kiets Lorren is a version of the Au Pairs' song This Country aka Runs With Honey.

Amsterdam

When The Mauskovic Dance Band ‎are involved you know it's going to be good, and MDB are back with a heavy new EP for Dekmantel.

'Normally recording as one half of electronic act Bruxas, Nicola Mauskovic releases his first solo album on Dekmantel as The Mauskovic Dance Band. Blending post-punk and Latin American rhythms with soundsystem-inspired caverns of bass, Shadance Hall is a brilliantly expressive and irresistibly kinetic EP.'

'This time last year Nik Mauskovic introduced us to the Mauskovic Dance Band via a sweaty collection of heavily percussive, no wave-influenced, psychedelic dancefloor treats. That Soundway Records-released album was rightly acclaimed, and we have a feeling that this sequel on Dekmantel will receive a similar level of praise. The band's blueprint remains in tact on the no-wave-plus-percussion-and-synths flex of "Ventura Phase", the formidably dubby and eccentric "Squeeze Dogs" and extra-heavy dub disco workout "Theorie Amerikaan", while "Controleer Jezelf" sounds like Konk after a handful of magic mushrooms and an extra-fat spliff. Mauskovic takes us further into deep space on the flip, delivering intoxicating, low-slung dub revisions of the A-side tracks that are arguably even better than the original mixes.'

Amsterdam might be susceptible to grey skies and rain as any other, but cup your ear to the music flowing out of the Dutch capital, and another story emerges. The Mauskovic Dance Band are a prime example of an act who have been dialing up the sunshine over the river Amstel in recent years. On Shadance Hall, their first release of 2020, they concoct a tantalising brew of no-wave, psych rock, cumbia, power dub and numerous other colourful shades of global grooves.

"No stranger to Dekmantel as one of half of electro-grouping Bruxas, Nicola Mauskovic leads his percussive troupe through a heavy, trippy, disco fiesta with this, their first debut on Dekmantel Records.

The Mauskovic Dance Band’s epic sonic journey on Shadance Hall began deep in the Welsh valleys. Partnering dusty drum machines alongside phat layers of congas, assorted bric-a-brac of percussive tools, and distortion-soaked guitars, Mauskovic’s ensemble suspend the tempo and turn up the grooves. on this soundsystem-inspired, post-punk odyssey. The resulting soundsystem-inspired concoctions are a mixture of 130bpmbeats (‘Ventura Phase’), Jah Wobble-influenced bass rhythms (‘Squeeze Dogs’) and Carnival-ready soca-jams (‘Theorie Amerikaan’).

Taken back to Amsterdam’s famed Electric Monkey Studio (a favourite for Ghanian great Ebo Taylor and Dutch youngbloods Jungle By Night alike, Mauskovic teamed up with engineer Kasper Frenkel to mix down the record. Here the two acted as Mad Professors, experimenting with the recordings and making multiple versions of each track by creating tape loops, bouncing the audio back and forth and layering the resulting recordings in waves of reverb and echo. In classic dub style, the band ended up with dub edits, rich in space echo, reverb, crush, and dub-goodness, completing the second half of Shadance Hall like a funky palindrome. It rounds off an expressive EP steeped in musical history, bursting with inventiveness, projected at the listener as a maze of influences to get lost within."

Live Report: Mauskovic Dance Band at the Shacklewell Arms
Diva Harris , October 24th, 2018

Dancing and sweating and disco intuition on a rainy Sunday night

Ordinarily, it would take some convincing to get people to haul their arses down to a tiny, oddly painted room on a drizzly night to watch a band’s first ever London gig. But not last Sunday, when rhythmic-space-disco-hungry hordes squished into the Shacklewell Arms for a sweaty slice of The Mauskovic Dance Band. Later than advertised, the band clambered onto the stage from the depths of the restless crowd and into their tangle of guitars, keyboards, synths, effects pedals, drums, maracas and infinite cowbells, and set the mood for the next hour or so: let loose, but keep it chill.

Borrowing textures and rhythms from the heritages of the band’s five members – from Afro-Colombian cumbia, champeta and palenque through to disco and no-wave – their music is frenetic and multilayered. It could easily be a bit all-over-the-shop as a live set-up, but The Mauskovic Dance Band are blessed with that rare and magical thing: a synergy and musical prowess which lets them change tempo or direction fluidly and without so much as a glance in one another’s direction. (The only other time I’ve experienced this to such a degree is watching many-membered Aussie psych big dogs King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.)

With little talking in between, the set’s songs pretty much merge into one seamless jam, as Nicola, Donnie, Juan, Marnix and Mano rattle through the galloping ‘The Opposite’, hooky-as-hell ‘Continue the Fun’, and the Casio-keyboard-demo-track-tinged ‘It’s All Mauskovic’. Everything is kept on a steady boil over syncopated beats and the pew! pew! pew! of disco synth. By the time the boys make it to their best-known song – the ecstatic ‘Down in the Basement’ – everyone’s fringes are plastered to their foreheads and the mirrors in the room are completely fogged over with condensation. Does that put us off having a proper mad dance, though? Not a chance. And thus the transportation from damp late October London backroom to balmy tropical fiesta is complete.

The Mauskovic Dance Band are a controlled explosion, playing busy, elastic rhythms – and often multitasking on instruments – without coming anywhere close to losing their cool. What a pleasure; what a way to see the weekend out.

1. Ventura Phase 4:12
2. Squeeze Dogs (Original Mix) 3:33
3. Theorie Amerikaan (Original Mix) 4:20
4. Controleer Jezelf (Original Mix) 5:41
5. Controleer Jezelf (Rhythm Version) 5:29
6. Theorie Amerikaan (Space Dub) 4:14
7. Squeeze Dogs (Crunch Dub) 2:59
8. Ventura (Dub) 4:31

Sweden

'A great album from Dekula Kahanga an African band based in Sweden, released on Sing A Song Fighter records. Beautiful hypnotic music! '

'Swingeing soukous charms laced with talking drums and lead by the colourful palm wine guitar styles of bandleader Dekula Kahanga.'

“Here is the debut album from the sensational live act Dekula Band. Centered around the legendary guitar player Dekula Kahanga (who was in the leading dance orchestra in Tanzania during the 70’s and 80’s: Orchestra Maquis Original) , this African band (based in Sweden) have been a very popular live band for the last years. Whether it's been at one of their monthly gigs at the not so glamorous club Lilla Wien in Stockholm or at bigger venues at Stockholm Jazz Festival.

Dekula Kahanga and the singer Gaby are both from Congo and with the other members coming from Kenya, Uganda, Senegal and Sweden they all bring their special influences to the infectous and hypnotic style of soukous that they have refined over the years.

And now in 2019 they have finally been into a recording studio with Sing a song fighter’s Karl Jonas to document some of their magic. These six tracks are bursting with energy, playfulness and grace from a unique band.”

1. Dr Chaurongo 3:58
2. Zembwela 4:12
3. Bi Bi Theresa 4:42
4. Didier 8:14
5. AIE Mwana 4:18
6. Congo acoustic 3:33

Notes
The front cover photo is Dekula Kahanga in Oman in 1990.

Germany

R.I.P. Florian Schneider (7 April 1947 – 21 April 2020)

'How can Ralf Hutter not recognise this album as one of their best. Absolutely beautiful, melodic, melancholic. It gives a sense of being part of a bigger and better Europe. This is Kraftwerk at their absolute best!' -Alan McSweeney

'This is the best Kraftwerk album! A radical comment perhaps, but this has an intensity, pastoral beauty and inventiveness that is so ahead of its time it's incredible. This album is long out of print and is 100% essential!'

'Kraftwerk's third album Ralf und Florian was released in November 1973 and its title is almost synonymous with a nickname for the duo. The front cover was taken by Florian's then-girlfriend Barbara Niemöller. The LP is a continuation of the ideas on the first two LPs, but the music has a much cleaner sound dominated by electric piano and soft electronic percussion. The first track 'Elektrisches Roulette' (Electric Roulette) is a rhythmically repetitive piece and I think that you can trace the later Kraftwerk sound in this song. The track features electronics, violin, electric piano and drums. It is very much a pop song and maybe the best track on the album.
Next comes 'Tongebirge' (A Mountain Range Of Tones) and it has closer resemblance to earlier LPs. It has Florian's typical flute arpeggios treated to a heavy dose of echo. 'Kristallo' is also the name of a hotel close to the studio and the song featured clear repetitive keyboard arpeggios showing Ralf further developing the automation feel to his playing. The track ends like a catalog of various recording tricks including backward tapes. 'Heimatklange' (The Sounds Of Homeland) which closes side two demonstrates the duo's increasing grasp of dynamics. Side Two opens with 'Tanzmusik' (Dance Music) a strange song with very simple wooden and metallic noises. The rhythm box is naturally present and actual hand claps appear towards the end of the song. The final track 'Ananas Symphonie' features some slide guitar but most important is the emergence of a primitive vocoder through which the words 'Ananas Symphonie' are discernable.' -Soundohm

'Continuing to work with Conny Plank, who once again provides a compelling job as producer and engineer, Kraftwerk went right ahead and named their new album after their two remaining members -- an understandable enough move. Like the first two albums, Ralf and Florian still has not seen official re-release, for all that one can practically taste Kraftwerk's leap into the beyond on it. Given that this was the last album before the most famous lineup was formed and Autobahn was released, it's appropriate to listen to Ralf and Florian as a harbinger for the future, though perhaps all too easy. Take it on its own terms -- a further investigation of electronic possibilities in a more open-ended, less constantly structured fashion than would be the case later -- and Ralf and Florian becomes most enjoyable. "Kristallo" certainly shows how Kraftwerk was right on the verge -- various sequencer-driven rhythms and pulses provide the bed for what sounds like a free-flowing harpsichord solo or its near equivalent. "Tanzmusik," meanwhile, captures the sheer sense of beauty often present in the band's glory days, complete with what sounds like celebratory handclaps and bells, though crucially lacking the elegant melancholy that gave later songs total heft. "Tongebirge" is another one of the tracks that shows Kraftwerk right on the cusp of future changes, Schneider's swirling, lovely flute performance further treated with reverb and flange, while Hütter adds some immediately familiar (from later albums) synth tones. There's still no core rhythm or melody, though, the immediate distinction between this era of the band and the later one. Parts of the lovely, piano/flute-led "Heimatklänge," meanwhile, suggest some of David Sylvian's early instrumental solo work in its sweet appeal. Another hint of the future appears with the final song, thanks to the electronically distorted opening vocals chanting the title of "Ananas Symphonie." The inclusion of what sounds like steel guitar and banjo at the end is something else again.' -AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett

'Ralf & Florian is the lost Kraftwerk album. Not only is it hard to get hold of, something it shares with their first two albums, but it's often overlooked even by hardcore fans. Lacking the harsh, industrial sounds of their earlier efforts, it's still some way off the metronomic proto-synth-pop of their famous works. Instead, 1973's Ralf & Florian is a fascinating collection of experimentations, representing both a bridge between what Kraftwerk had been and what it would become, and also an intriguing direction left tantalisingly half-explored.

Kraftwerk I and II hold their own place in the group's mythology, despite the remaining members having done everything possible to disown them. Even Tone Float, the one album released by Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter's pre-Kraftwerk psych-jazz band Organisation, has been rightly praised as a lost gem in the music press. Ralf & Florian, on the other hand, tends to be forgotten or, if it's mentioned at all, marked as a transitional work before Kraftwerk settled on the sound which would make them one of the most influential bands in the history of popular music.

Perhaps it's because Ralf & Florian is a little, well, unassuming. It doesn't exactly force itself forwards, musically speaking. Its six tracks feel self-contained, dreamy, inward-looking. Even its cover seems quite 'this'll do'. The duo are shown together in an odd pose, Hütter apparently perched on Schneider's knee like a ventriloquist dummy. Both men gaze slightly off to their right, both half-smiling but looking disengaged.

In the photo, while Schneider already has the anti-hippy look which Kraftwerk will soon adopt as their visual signature (short hair, severe side-parting paired with suit and tie), he looks more like a door-to-door salesman than a future-music pioneer. His clean-cut image seems especially jarring next to Hütter's lank, greasy mullet and informal checked shirt. The large semiquaver on Schneider's lapel is the final surreal touch. God knows what discerning early-70s music fans, reared on The Beatles and Stones and the hard-rock of Led Zep, made of the pair. They look unfinished, or to be more blunt, they look like a hot mess.

That album cover also gives no clue as to what the music inside will be like. Or does it? Like the two oddballs on the cover, the music of Ralf & Florian is both severe and freewheeling; it sounds like it was made in a stoner fug by people who agonise over every detail; it is meticulous, at the same time sounding palpably impatient to break through into something else, something it can't conceive of yet. Ralf & Florian is the sound of two music-makers getting frustrated with an entire lexicon of musical expression and beginning their search for what lies beyond it.

As over the whole hippy thing as they may have been, Ralf & Florian is Kraftwerk at the last point before they rejected that ethos entirely in favour of hymning modernity and technology. Ralf & Florian is the only Kraftwerk album which could really be called kosmische. Having abandoned the harsher sounds explored on their first two albums, Schneider and Hütter, along with super-producer Conny Plank, instead worked on compositions which were bucolic, drifting and serene

Perhaps this is what makes Ralf & Florian the black sheep of the Kraftwerk family: it's the only Kraftwerk album which seems to revere nature rather than technology. Where earlier Kraftwerk albums undoubtedly had an urban setting, here the gorgeous, undulating, skipping 'Tanzmusik' seems to follow a river downstream, and the hand-claps, tinkling piano and distant sighs which close it feel like an expression of pure, very human joy. It's about as far away from the man-machine as you can get.

However, this is still an album crafted by the group who would arguably do more than any other to shape the sounds of the next 40 years of music, and the thrillingly strange 'Kristallo' points the way forward, not just for Kraftwerk but for generations of crafty kids with music-making gizmos. Under a constantly shifting, heavily baroque melody which sounds like it's being improvised on the spot, we can hear a taut, minimalist, hissing, squelchy rhythm, which threads its way from early Kraftwerk to John Carpenter to the pioneers of techno and acid house. The combination of this with what sounds like an electric-powered madrigal is jarring in the extreme, and the fact that Schneider and Hütter created something so unusual only to discard it as wanting is quite breathtaking.

Elsewhere, the music is more conventional but no less stunning. The mournful piano and echoing flute of 'Heimatklänge' is simply gorgeous, as is 'Tongebirge', where Schneider's spiralling flute is backed by deep, sombre synth, creating a sound which is at once ancient and mysterious, and interestingly similar to Vangelis' 1982 Blade Runner soundtrack. The opening 'Elektrisches Roulette' ('Electric Roulette'), meanwhile, is a manic mix of just about everything they could throw in - keyboard, synth, guitar, percussion, odd vocal snippets. It constantly shifts tempo, sounds crashing in and out, as if the duo are reinventing themselves during the actual recording, unable or unwilling to settle on any finished form.

The album's main focus is 14-minute final track 'Ananas Symphonie' ('Pineapple Symphony'). Undoubtedly a great lost Kraftwerk track, it's proof of just how unjust it is that the group's early music is virtually ignored these days. Fittingly for the album's final statement, this is also the point at which Ralf & Florian's nature-worship crashes into the sleek, knowingly-kitsch Kraftwerk to come.

Over warm waves of synth and heavily-treated, wobbling Hawaiian guitar, a bland, vocordered voice intones the title. But as the waves turn evermore acidic and corrosive, you feel less like you're on a Hawaiian beach than watching one on a static-snowed old TV set, probably while numbed out of your mind of prescription barbiturates. As the queasy, slightly cheesy rhythm slithers towards its close, you sense that finally Schneider and Hütter have hit upon their big idea: a kind of nostalgia for a future which will probably never come to pass, that's somehow already a little retro, executed in a way which is simultaneously knowing, sincere, camp, chilling, funny, weird, and effortlessly cool because they will play it totally straight.

Kraftwerk will go on to embody this retro-future into the early-80s, but Ralf & Florian is where they started by going back to basics: just the two core members; music which looked to nature. In a way, it was a necessary exercise in clearing their minds of psychological clutter in readiness for the literal clearing out they would do next: from now on each album would be based around a clear subject; no more experimentation and soul-searching in the studio. When Kraftwerk reappeared on the following year's Autobahn, image and sound matched completely in a way which was, at the time, so shockingly different, so jaw-droppingly modern, it wasn't long before others started to copy them.

It's easy to see why, then, Ralf & Florian has been overshadowed. Easy, yes, but that doesn't make it OK. It's a bold, experimental work, quite unlike anything its creators did before or after, and it deserves to have its praises sung. In fact, it belongs more properly in a lineage of early-70s kosmische albums by the likes of Tangerine Dream as well as early ambient recordings by Brian Eno, Neu! and Popol Vuh. Viewed this way, it can be rightly seen as an important work, one which urgently needs to rediscovered and appreciated by a new generation of fans and aspiring music-makers.' -Rich Morris 

1. Elektrisches Roulette 4:24
2. Tongebirge 2:52
3. Kristallo 6:19
4. Heimatklänge 3:44
5. Tanzmusik 6:37
6. Ananas Symphonie 13:55

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