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Amon Düül - Psychedelic Underground [Aka: Minnelied] CD (album) cover

PSYCHEDELIC UNDERGROUND [AKA: MINNELIED]

Amon Düül

 

Krautrock

2.35 | 58 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars The 60s was a time for extremism and radical experimentation and nowhere was this more true than in the political communes of the world where kindred souls tuned out, dropped out and hooked up with like-minded individuals where they could nurture a new form of community. While the hippie movement was taking over the streets of places like San Francisco in 1967 as the Summer of Love captured the world's gaze, so too was a similar movement gestating in the Teutonic lands of southern Germany. In the very same year a radical commune formed in Munich and named themselves after the Egyptian Sun God - AMON. Seeking to distance themselves from their Germanic heritage, the commune attached the fictitious secondary DUUL to the end and thus a new collective of was born.

While born out of the student movement, the members of AMON DUUL focused on their musical interests and set out to create a new freeform style of rock that was intensely psychedelic in nature but much less structured than their Anglo contemporaries such as Pink Floyd or the pop oriented sounds of the US emanating from the likes of Jefferson Airplane or The Doors. AMON DUUL initially began as a revolving door collective where anybody could join and jam with the lengthy freeform compositions that would spontaneously ooze from all the participating members. Although led by Ulrich Leopold and his brother Peter, the true nature of the frenetic free-for-all style of which would later be dubbed Krautrock was the epitome of a true musical democracy where no one instrument stole the thunder of another.

The nature of the loosey-goosy stylistic approach of musical composition immediately led to the more musically inclined members to quickly splinter off and create the more popular shoot-off called Amon Duul II. Both AMON DUUL and the second version that would capture the world's attention for their more accomplished recordings released their debut albums in 1969. Amon Duul II with their infamous "Phallus Dei" and the original band from whence they were spawned released their first album in the form of PSYCHEDELIC UNDERGROUND which many claim to be the very first Krautrock album that launched the entire movement although it could be argued that bands such as Sweden's Pärson Sound were on the same wavelength and the similarity of the freeform avant-garde jam sessions was more of a product of the entire region during the tumultuous electrically charged latter half of the 60s.

PSYCHEDELIC UNDERGROUND very much lives up to its title. The members that participated in the recording numbered seven with the typical rock setup of guitar, bass, drum, piano and drums with extra percussion provided in the form of congas and maracas. "Ein Wunderhübsches Mädchen Träumt von Sandosa (A Wonderfully Pretty Girl Dreams of Sandosa)" opens the album and provides half of the musical experience of the entire album with a steady stream of tribal drumming, looped guitar riffs and frantic nonsensical vocalizations. The track comes off as some sort of freeform mantra and transcendental meditative zoning out session that for many will be unbearable as the emphasis is on a receptive and hypnotic effect showcasing passion and attitudnal delivery over compositional prowess.

While the rest of the tracks clock in at much shorter length, they basically free flow as if they thread the continuity of the opening track with a rather predictable outcome that finds the steady rhythmic drive and looped melodic limitations skating along for the majority of the album. Only the finale "Bitterlings Verwandlung (Bitterling's Transformation)"displays any sort of deviation from the regularly scheduled program with classical samplings as well as production techniques like backmasking incorporated. In fact the last track is really the only one that feels like a studio track while the rest of them feel more like spontaneous live jamming sessions that were most likely fueled by mind-altering substances which allowed the inner demons to be exorcised into submission.

The development of two separate AMON DUUL bands that splintered and went on their own trajectories is an interesting case study for sure but i will have to join the ranks of the rest of the world in finding the original AMON DUUL to be vastly inferior to the more adventurous and disciplined musical output of the second version, however this feels like Krautrock at its most unadulterated and purest form which and an interesting musical experience that actually allows the listener to be transported back into the time and place and feel like a fly on the wall taking it in despite its clear disregard of any sort of musical standards. For that reason i find PSYCHEDELIC UNDERGROUND to be quite a veritable release although i admit that this is more of a collectible and only reserved for those rare moments when i feel like hearing primal freeform psychedelia from the era. While AMON DUUL will forever remain in the shadow of the Amon Duul II that followed, they nevertheless offered a unique insight into the German musical collectives that launched an entire subgenere within the world of psychedelic rock.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |

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