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21 Feb 2017

El Shalom ‎ “Frost” 1976 Germany Private Prog Rock Kraut Rock












El Shalom ‎ “Frost”  1976 Germany Private Prog Rock Kraut Rock
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If you’re looking for a record that is made up of quite different pieces, El Shalom’s “Frost” is the right thing to do. The five guys from Rheinhausen contributed their completely different preferences, and so it was recorded with their only LP - 1976 in the studio Neubauer and published in a circulation of 500 pieces (Attacca 2/7625) - a multi-layered work with singing in German and English . Their names, El Shalom (Hebrew “for peace”), had been deliberately chosen by the five conscientious objectors. In 1978 they released a single, “Birthday song” / “Money”, this time in the studio by Dieter Dierks, whose back was already on the LP, but in a completely different version. The CD contains also the two single pieces as well as two unpublished in addition………….. 

El Shalom’s Frost is of interest mainly because of the well played instrumentation, where guitars and keyboards are the dominant instruments and many of the tracks feature some very nice guitar leads. This album draws heavily from a variety of influences including Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and, to a much lesser degree, King Crimson. Released in 1976, many of those band’s seminal works had already been released and so it is not surprising to think that they may have had some influence on this German band. The band combine both the dark elements – guitars, bass, and some of the drums – and lighter elements – flute, guitar leads, percussion and some of the keyboard washes (moog, organ and mellotron) of each of these sources. There is a level of complexity to the arrangements that is often mired in muddy production – not on the part of GoD for this reissue, but in the original recording. 
The CD contains four bonus tracks, the 7" re-recorded version of “Birthday Song” (which doesn’t benefit anything from the clearer production) and its flip, “Geld.” The latter two are live recordings from, which shows an El Shalom with an angrier, harsher sound. ……………………. 

El Shalom were a German group from the late 70s whose only album, Frost, has surprisingly eluded reissue until just recently. The band’s style sits nicely along some other later 70s underground German bands; Wind, Sahara, Subject Esq. and Novalis among them. Still, El Shalom does sound a little rougher and unpolished than many of the above, perhaps due to a grittier sounding mix and a slightly more than occasional reliance on established genre clichés. That said, for the most part El Shalom cultivates their own feel, mixing in a rough hard rock aesthetic in with moments of more traditional symphonic splendor. Particularly engaging is the keyboard work of Joachim Brands, whose ready deployment of generous doses of Moog, organ and mellotron will have symph fans salivating. The guitars of Gunter Christ take center stage on other cuts, like the raucous, catchy opener “Der Werbegnom”, which is nothing if not infectious. The worst moments come when the band makes the ill-advised, yet all too common, decision to sing in English on tracks like “Princess June”, “Leipzig” and the particularly twee “Birthday Song”, which does lend an air of amateurish ineffectiveness to points of the album. While these moments tend to stick out on early listen, they in reality only make up minor parts of the album. More representative are the flute-led melodic flights on the morose title track, or the moog backed guitar dirges of “Alvin Zweistein”. The German vocals which tend to dominate the affair are on the whole quite appealing, often reminding of the aforementioned Novalis as well as Stern Combo Meissen with their almost anthemic, sing along feel, particularly in the well developed, addictive structure of “Krieslaufkollaps”. 
- Greg Northrup 

“Owing to different musical tastes of the band, there is a large range of diverse styles that the band has to cope with. By making productive use of these different styles rather than fending them off, a synthesis is created which is interesting and exciting for both the musicians and the audience, integrating elements of jazz, classical music and folk into rock music. This was recorded in 1976 by a quintet of guitars/flutes/saxes, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and vocals, and they definitely had elements of the big progressive bands of the day, such as Yes or Genesis, but in a more underground/primitive/rock kinda way. Originally released in a private edition of 500, this has 4 bonus tracks added.”….. 

The five members of El Shalom were all war veterans, which they also expressed by the choice of the band name (Hebrew “for peace”). The group, founded in Rheinhausen in 1970, existed for nearly the entire 1970s, but only released one album. “Frost” appeared in a small edition (500 pieces) in 1976, which soon turned into a collector’s cabaret. As often with such discs, Garden of Delights has accepted the album and re-released it in 2001 with 4 bonus numbers on CD. 

El Shalom play a somewhat unedited mix on “Frost” (one could of course describe it more positively with the adjective “broad”), from Rocksongs (a little a la The Who), which are reminiscent of the 60s, and more complex prognoses Influences of Pink Floyd (quite clearly) and Yes (only removed). The main part is the electric guitar, the electric guitar, the bass and the drums. Sometimes the flute and other keyboards (piano, synthesizer and restrained electronics play), rarely also a saxophone (in “H., A. and Zwirn”, for example) . Helmut Meier and Karlheinz Schmitz are sung in German and English. The organ is not particularly remarkable. The vocals are wobbly and weakly brisk, but this is a good match for the easy production and bumpy music of the band. The texts, especially the ones in German, are somewhat obtrusive, worldly, ineffective, but also humorous (in “Dergnoggnog”, for example, or in the long “Alvin Zweistein” In the title of the title, the guardian of the little males who wait for the “computer labyrinth” in the brains of men, in the brain of a teenager drunk with alcohol and drugs). 

Harder, 60s-heavy rock, more normal Rocksongs (“Birthday Song”), Symphonic-Psychedelic (a la Pink Floyd at the time of “Meddle”), reserved hard- and / or bluesrock and a complex keyboardprog meet here. There are also a few jazz influences (in the second half of “H., A., and Zwirn,” for example). As expected, the longer numbers (those that last over 5 minutes) are the more progressive and interesting ones. The music of Nektar (“Remember The Future”), the Eloy from the first half of the 70s (in the times of “Power and the Passion”, for example) and the only album of Gäa are quite good comparisons, but El Shalom more versatile and complex. 

Occasionally, memories of Yes come up, towards the end of “Princess June”, for example, when Gunter Christ is almost a la Howe. The music seems to be rough and ruffled, which is probably due to suboptimal production. Nevertheless, there are some quite remarkable points, the dreamy beginning of “Princess June”, for example, or the long middle part of the title, in which the organ and the flute are supported. 

The bonus numbers are once the only one of the band’s 1978 single “Birthday Song” (a new recording of the album track and “money”), both of which are much better produced, but also clearly more commercial, and two at the same time Livenummern (the last two pieces), in which El Shalom now have a fairly normal hard rock on offer. 

“Frost” is a very decent album, which is probably only for absolute Krautrockkomplettisten of interest is. Extremely original is not what is commanded, the sound is quite raw and dusted (which also gives the music a certain urig-krautigen charm) and especially remarkable instrumental and / or composition performances there is not to marvel. Really bad is the disk but not synonymous not. Anyone who appreciates these typical, slightly stuffed, but very well-practiced herb rock products, slices such as. The already mentioned album from Gäa, which is probably also here at his expense….by… Achim Breiling……… 

Joachim Brands – keyboards, vocals 
Hemlut Meier - bass, flute, vocals 
Gunter Christ – guitars, vocals 
Wolfgang Merkins – drums, vocals 
Karlheinz Schmitz - guitar, flute, saxophone, vocals 

Tracklist 
A1 Der Werbegnom 3:40 
A2 Princess June 5:25 
A3 Kreislaufkollaps 5:55 
A4 Alvin Zweistein 7:25 
B1 Frost 8:00 
B2 H., A., Und Zwirn 6:40 
B3 Birthday-Song 2:55 
B4 Leipzig 4:35 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..

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