‘Electricity’ – The Influence Of Krautrock On The UK’s Next Generation

IMOGEN HARRISON chats with OMD’s ANDY McCLUSKEY about the impact Germany’s musical agitators had on a new breed of English pop stars


It’s West Berlin, it’s 1968, and in a large rented back room in a building along the North bank of the Landwehr Canal, the future is unfolding.

More specifically, this building is the notoriously short-lived Zodiak Free Arts Lab (or Zodiak Club), which is, by day, home to politically-minded theatre group Shaubühne am Halleschen Ufer. It is at night, however, that the majority of the drama takes place – when it becomes an experimental underground live music venue, home to pioneers of psychedelic Krautrock such as Human Being, The Agitation, and, most notably, Tangerine Dream. Painted only in black and white, and littered with new-fangled instruments, speakers and amplifiers that allowed musicians to turn their hand to anything from avant-garde jazz to electronic rock, the audience frequenting the club is a fairly small one, but their belief that “conventional” music is something to be frowned upon means that this isn’t important. What is important is that this “anti-convention” audience is growing, and fast, as musicians such as Conrad Schnitzler, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Dieter Moebius (the three of whom co-found the club, and later go on to form experimental rock group Kluster), Boris Schaak and Edgar Froese sowed the seeds for a completely new and innovative type of music – known today as Krautrock. It would not only blow their audiences’ open minds with its characteristic improvisation and hypnotic, minimalistic rhythms, but also go on to become highly influential on many genres of music that exist today.

However, although the audience for this new type of music was growing, the majority of Kraut – listeners in the late ’60s were those who had taken part in the ’68 student riots (that had stormed their way across Germany, France and Italy) and who were now looking for fields in which they could indulge in their new-found collective awareness, and even shake off the post-war shame of Hitler and his Nazis. Innovative German rock critic Rolf Ulrich Kaiser had been watching and listening to this new scene unfolding, and was heavily in favour of popularising the genre. Nevertheless, he also realised that without greater mass exposure, it was never going to get off the ground – it would remain labelled as a passing fad, perhaps, or simply as an extension of Anglo-American psychedelia. And that is exactly what this music was not. Whilst American and British rock was generally a development of the blues scale and of the music the slaves had brought with them from Africa in the previous century, Kaiser knew that these songs were innovative, because they were completely different to anything that had come before.

Read more ‘Electricity’ – The Influence Of Krautrock On The UK’s Next Generation

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Cavern Of Anti-Matter

 JOE BANKS catches up with former Stereolab man Tim Gane to discuss his new project, CAVERN OF ANTI-MATTER


 

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“I don’t think coldly about music. I like responding to things instantly.”

Former Stereolab main-man Tim Gane is keen to dispel the image of him as some kind of kraut-pop boffin who carefully formulates songs from elements of the past. Since forming the Berlin-based Cavern Of Anti-Matter with Holger Zapf (synths) and Joe Dilworth (drums) in 2013, he’s released a series of limited edition records showcasing a harder, more electronic sound than his last group, yet one that still bursts with melodic invention. But pre-planned it’s not.

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Edward Penfold

Psych/Garage Bristolians Taos Humm’s EDWARD PENFOLD is striking out with his debut solo release Caulkhead on Stolen Body Records in March. IAN O’SULLIVAN approves


Edward Penfold - Press Shot

Caulkhead (the name given to a native of The Isle Of Wight, Penfold’s place of birth) mixes Floyd/Kevin Ayers-inspired off-kilter pop (‘Up Down’, ‘Sunny Day’, ‘If You Like’) with longer, more meditative and progressive pieces. The overall effect is a blend of the old and the new, nostalgic but of the present day.

“I like songs/art/television etc that stir me,” Penfold tells Shindig! “but which also have humility. It’s important to take things seriously. It’s also important to not take things seriously. It feels like there is a push and pull between the two within everything I do. Whether that comes across, I don’t know.” When pressed for influences, Penfold offers “Syd Barrett, The Kinks, Seal Floyer, Francis Alys, The Royal Family all do it for me.”

Accompanied by the members of the band Taos Humm, Velcro Hooks, Factotum and record producer/engineer Dom Mitcheson (Malthouse Studios) the group travelled from their Bristol base to The Isle Of Wight to record Caulkhead. “It wasn’t a planned thing, other than I had some songs I wanted to record with my friends. I thought it would be nice to do it on the Island.” The LP was recorded on single track tape. “I’m not adverse to digital recording. I just don’t have much experience with it. Tape is easy. Get a good sound, put some mics in a the right places and record it.”

Lyrically, the songs range from observations about the everyday (“the shop where everything costs £1, where the Woolies used to be” from the song ‘Caulkhead’) to surreal flights of fancy (‘Sunny Day’). Penfold, however, doesn’t make a distinction. “I think it is important to make something and consider it later,” he says. “In doing so I feel I always steer back to the everyday. Even the surreal seems to be grounded in literalism”

Edward will be doing a stint of promotion throughout March/April including

24 March Live session with Marc Riley – Radio 6

27 March Benjamin Perry Boathouse – Bristol​

​1st April Royal Oak – Bath

2nd April Prince Albert – Stroud

Caulkhead is released on March 18th on Stolen Body Records

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The Fugitive Truth

In this exclusive adjunct to this issue’s FAMILY DOG feature, co-founder Luria Castell’s daughter Moanna sets the record straight. 

GREG HEALEY listens in


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Family Dog originators Luria Castell, Ellen Harmon and Alton Kelley, snapped in 1965 by fourth man, Jack Towle

 

The story of The Family Dog, as currently documented, is riven with contradictions, in what seems to be a victory of dramatic narrative over actual truth. One individual who had their reputation damaged by this was Luria Castell. Unfortunately, Luria passed away on December 12th 2014, but her daughter, Moanna, kindly agreed to give an interview to clear things up. Read more The Fugitive Truth

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