Krautzone have to be one of my favourite new bands of the last couple of years. Not only are the covers of the albums (by Komet Lulu) so beautifully designed, but the music is powerful, hypnotic, trance-like and just plain out there. Here, we are treated over two CDs to the complete recorded works of the band, plus one never-before released bonus track that gives you enough stoned out vibes for you to go searching the astral plane for a whole evening. All of these releases have been on very limited vinyl editions, so this is a good way to get everything for a fraction of the price the LPs now command.My review of the first CD Kosmische Rituale can be found elsewhere, so its best you probably read that to get a full idea of the album that takes up much of disc one of this set, rather than me just rehash what I said before. So our first trip out is the bonus track “Schwebung”, and for a Krautzone song this is a really short piece, clocking in at a mere seven minutes, but is worth your money for the album alone. Keyboard notes hang in the air while desert guitars cascade over the top like the Paris, Texas soundtrack being played by some strange group of visiting aliens. It’s soporific and transports you to the sands of Mars like an outer space western written by Timothy Leary, and it moves over you like stars in the night sky. The guitar lead is understated but powerful while the drums keep a tribal rhythm. The synth fade out at the end is pure Zeit-era Tangerine Dream. “Superkraut” comes from a very limited split LP with Australian-based psychedelic artist Lamp Of The Universe. This release is probably now the hardest to find out of Krautzone’s back catalogue and consists of two eleven minute movements of pure space rock wonder. Part one starts with a liberal dosing of spiralling keyboard sounds as a wailing guitar from the void screams over the top. The drumming starts subtly as organ chords punctuate the background. The track slowly builds from this as the bass hits in and suddenly we are into Space Ritual-era Hawkwind as the rocket ship momentum begins to explode into flowering light. This is starlight hovering behind the glow of a harvest moon, and as the guitar chords tumble down over each other you get the feeling of pushing out further and faster. It’s a blissed-out peak point that carries on coming as your stomach slowly smiles.
Part two starts with bubbling synths and lonesome sounding guitar notes suspended in the upper atmosphere and glides over oceans. Drums float around as we get into the band’s deep trance mode. Onkel Kaktus‘s bass is slow and thoughtful, Rainer Neeff’s guitar is otherworldly while the interplay between Sula Bassana and Modufix on synths is pure out-there stunning. The track gurgles away in psychedelic stasis as the guitar tries to break free and head off out into the universe.“Spiritual Retreat” was a track split over two sides of vinyl, but here we get it in its whole forty-four minute entirety as one massive kosmische slab. The track starts with more tribal rhythms while a slight synth melody plays two notes over the top as the track quickly ascends, building higher in its energies. This is full-blown freak music of the kind that ancient tribes would have swallowed hallucinogens to and danced until dawn. The lead guitar sparkles with stardust refrains as fires lick around the heels of our ancestors. There’s a primal urgency to the music, the psychedelic equivalent of a cave dance. Changes happen within the structure of the track — almost imperceptibly at times, but they do happen. Instruments fall away and bring the whole song down to earth before it snakes its way upwards again. The guitar plays a haunting melody and seems as light as air as it drifts around your speakers. Everything is swathed in warm echo so every note lasts forever like the solar wind. The music feels powerful, full of magic, something from the dawn of time. Bass and drums battle it out as the track begins to try and break the bonds of the Earth.
Twenty minutes in and notes hang eerily in the air and the guitar feeds back through tons of delay to give a Syd Barrett feel to its tone. The softer passage hits slightly in to Seventies Tangerine Dream mode (but without the sequencer). They have that same kind of deep space throb to them that connects them with vast worlds out there rather than to the inner plane. The track builds again, this time with some Middle Eastern-sounding guitar fugues and suddenly we are transporting ourselves through Egyptian dunes away from the coldness of space. It becomes a soundtrack to staring at the pyramids at dawn, an organ suspended like the Gardens of Babylon while the drums still push ahead beneath. It slowly winds down in a temple sunset fashion, leaving you space to take in all you have heard and come down from the trip in a mellow way.
This is a great release and the amount of music you get for your money is incredible. I look forward to Krautzone’s next release and just pray that at the end of the day this is not the ‘complete’ works.