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A.R. & Machines - Autovision CD (album) cover

AUTOVISION

A.R. & Machines

Krautrock


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Guldbamsen
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Retired Admin
3 stars Pointless and Sweet

What no reviews for this one yet? This is perhaps one of the best examples of meandering music, in the truest sense of the word, that actually works. Snuffling around like blind moles hunting for some tasty earthworms - these tracks seem completely blindfolded and act accordingly.

That´s one way of looking at things, and if your tastes lie in the more complex and shifting parts of music, you´re probably not going to like this very much. The first two songs are what I´d call Krautrock n´ Roll meets Canterbury. The jazzy wind instruments and the Khan like feel of the rest of the band put together with some creepy background atmospherics - generate a slightly psychedelic and again meandering excursion into Canterbury that promises nothing - flips you the bird and just wanders away into a rocking implosion. In a way - the whole philosophy of these two tracks is like back when the beatniks jumped freight trains because they wanted to be transported somewhere, without anything looking remotely like a direction or a final destination, - just freeway dreamings cooked up by these intoxicated jazz enthusiasts who could talk for days on end about how sunshine hits the street and why all things need fire to live. They do overstay their welcome though, but there are sometimes where I think they work the way the authors intended them to do.

Drei in Einz closes the door to the Canterburian dimension with a meandering, slow, melancholic vibe, that sounds like it could have come from one of Kevin Ayers early nonsense albums, or on the other hand maybe it´s a forerunner to the Floyd track Round and Around. Yep I know what you´re thinking, but it´s a lot better and much more delicate - ending with some sprinkling chimes that sound like they, along with the track, is being poured into sand. Psssht and it´s gone.

Hi ho silver and the train to India sets off with Turbulenze, that surprisingly is a very meandering track, that finally opens this record up fully to the Krautrock sound it´s been threatening with. What probably is a hysterical mouse tap-dancing on a small hand drum, is followed up with some bewildering guitar patterns, that waffles around - suddenly changing pace and tone - and the track transforms into something like a psychedelic raga with some eerie electronics in the background - sounding like brightly colored wall-paper would if it could speak.

Perhaps the most meandering of all these tracks is Jay Guru Dev, and what´s really puzzling, is that it just might be my favorite off Autovision. A slowly developing guitar is the essence here. It strums its pointless melody, accompanied by an organ that conjures up the same sort of foggy soundscapes you can hear on Led Zeppelin´s No quarter. There´s almost a serene Popol Vuh feel to this one as well, and I think it´s rather meditative and beautiful - like walking through snow on warm naked feet.

Bringing it all back home - ending the album is a good ol´ mouth harmonica playing a nice little sailor outro, making this album seem all the more impenetrable and fragmentary. It´s a giggle though and it only lasts 30 seconds...

Autovision finds Achim Reichel and his machines a tad disorientated like they just stepped off a spine shattering merry go round, but there is something here - something that speaks to me - something that is simple like pouring water over your sister´s sandcastle, watching how the water just eats up every contour and leaves the once decorated tiny piece of beach like nature intended it in the first place. It´s a self-imploding album this one, and meandering like a waterfall dumping water from high altitudes in the same thundering way it´s always done. But just like the simpleness of such a natural wonder like the waterfall, these individual tunes also emanate a certain natural vibe, and I kind of like it in all of its nonsense. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#522212)
Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars By 1974, the times were a-changing as the psychedelic and progressive rock that exploded onto the scene just a few years earlier was already starting to collapse under its own overindulgence and Germany's burgeoning Krautrock scene was no exception to this phenomenon. Whereas some bands kind of burst onto the scene and exited without a trace, Achim Reichel had a gentler approach. While he started out as a fairly successful pop star in 1960s Germany, he transitioned into the psychedelic prog world without jettisoning his pop creds right away. Instead he kind of fused the two together on his first album"Die Grüne Reese" before jumping all the way into the more elevated freeform psych jam sessions that led him all the way to "A.R. IV." Around the time of the recording of that album though, Reichel knew that the days of his A.R. & MACHINES phase were coming to a close. Not only were times a- changing but the band never really courted the success they had hoped to achieve. In retrospect, Reichel deemed the whole period as a self-reflection in a sonic form event that would be years ahead of the public's musical tastes.

For the next phase, Achim Reichel would release the next album "AUTOVISION" under his own name however this was very much an A.R. & Machines album bringing back four of the most prominent players in that period. "AUTOVISION" is very much a transition album in Reichel's career and simultaneously pays tribute to his final Krautrock phase as it does give clues to his next move in the music industry. In some ways, this album is sort of a combo effect of the entire A.R & Machines historical overview with elements from the four albums prior coming together in one big farewell shebang. While the debut focused on pop-oriented songs based on the rhythmical relationships between echo loops the next three albums meandered more into extended jam sessions that displayed more interaction between the large pool of musicians. On "AUTOVISION," Reichel marries the echo loop guitar effects so prevalent on the debut with the improvisational jams that characterized the feel on the "Echo" and "A.R. IV" albums. The track "Turbulenzen" celebrates most enthusiastically the echo loop guitar effects and revisits the ethnic percussion days with in a more hyperactive mode.

Reichel explains that at this period in his life, he was studying at The Academy For The Development Of Personality where he was living in a small room with a daily practice of meditation and yoga. Beside his bed he kept his recording equipment and found that the best time to grab his instruments and lay down some tracks was after the practice of meditation, thus displaying a musical glimpse of that world that lies between two distinct layers of consciousness. The music very much feels different than the previous albums with a more energetic drive that is both somewhat more improvisational and yet somehow a bit more focused with the compositions differing more than "A.R. IV." Basically this is a Reichel solo album in composition with the Machines crew joining ranks to carry the sound into the recording studio. This one only has four musicians in addition to Reichel which gives it a somewhat stripped down feel from the previous albums but overall has the same tripped out lengthy sonic journeys into that zone between worlds.

One of the most noticeable differences on "AUTOVISION" is in the percussion department. The standard rock drumming is more prominent with the congas and ethnic influences having dispersed into the ethers however the vibraphone effects are back (with the exception of "Turbulenzen"). The jazzy touches are back but are less jazzy and more light and fluffy and merely subordinate to the guitar echoes and are too quite echoey in the production department. Personally i like this one quite a bit and unlike most Reichel fans find this one to be more dynamic and diverse than anything since the stunning debut as "AUTOVISION" as it simultaneously reflects on the short but mind-expanding career of the band and also looks to the future as displayed by the short but prescient "Kopf In Den Wolken - Beine Auf Der Erde" (Head in the clouds - feet on the ground) which is a tiny snippet of German folk music which ushers out the Krautrock leaning album and indicates to fans that this is the next step on the Reichel Reise (jounrey). This is probably one of the most under-appreciated Reichel albums in his A.R. & Machines Krautrock days most likely due to its scarcity but there is nothing on here to prevent you loving it like the rest. Another obscure gem in the world of 70s progressive rock from Germany.

Report this review (#1865990)
Posted Thursday, January 11, 2018 | Review Permalink

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