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6 May 2017

Zarathustra "Also Spielt…“1982 German Private Prog Kraut Rock

Zarathustra "Also Spielt…“1982 German Private Prog Kraut Rock 
Early on in my collecting career (say, 1985?), I was informed that the early 80s version of Zarathustra was a waste of time, and that the 1971 album by an unrelated band was the only Zarathustra worth seeking out. So when Second Battle reissued the Metronome 1971 album (1989), I was all over it, buying the LP re-release the minute it came out. I was happy with the purchase, as it was a decent representative of the Hammond organ rich German culture of the time. And I still own that LP, which I hope to review eventually. 

23 years later, I finally heard the "inferior" 1982 band. Gotta an inside tip for all you out there: I like this one better. SORRY! 

This Zarathustra absolutely nails the 80s neo-progressive meets 60s psychedelic sound. If you like the music of similar German bands like Neuschwanstein, Ivory and Sirius with the psychedelic acid guitar of Iskander (another underrated 80s group), then by all means seek this puppy out. Perhaps only the M.L. Bongers Project approaches this mix of Hawkwind meets Genesis. A really great find. Don't miss your chance to hear it, and hopefully a CD reissue label will take a chance on this one! 

Oddly enough, the dramatic guttural English vocalist (well... that's how it sounds!) reminds me of Rob Halford (Judas Priest) circa "Sad Wings of Destiny". And the distorted vocal opening recalls first album Metal ........ 

Nothing to do with the Hamburg-based early-70's group of the same name, this Zarathustra came from near Marburg and was formed in 1980 by keyboardist Matthias Kamm, guitarist Thomas Launhardt, drummer Andreas Kupfer and bassist Jurgen Rindfuss, before line-up changes led to a six-piece core in 1981: Kamm, Launhardt, Kupfer, new bassist Thomas Weigel, lead singer Stefan Muth and second drummer Michael "Migo" Dild.Their sole album ''Also spielt'' (1982, private) is a weird mix of fading Heavy/Psych sounds and the emerging power of synth-drenched Neo Prog with lots of symphonic arrangements and a light Teutonic flavor.Half about of the tracks are based on piano paces, deep bass, strong grooves and synth flashes with some raw vocals accompanying, very pompous and passionate music, the other half going to a completely different direction with guitar and organ in evidence, characterized by some light jams, extended instrumental rhythms and some bluesy solos on both organ and guitar.Not to mention the very Gentle Giant-like break of ''Balztanz'' in the middle with the high performance on clavinet or the discreet Fusion tendencies.All over the place and absolutely non-commercial music.They continued for about a year or so as Miljö and reformed in 2005 as Z-Clan to launch a new album of an unknown direction, ''Kurzschluss''....apps79............. 

Zoroaster was a persian prophet as siddhartha gautama was the buddha (or as Palo Alto, CA is the sister city to Luanda, Angola) and roughly contemporaneous. In the late nineteenth century he was catapulted into western civilizationary fame with the four-part book by my countryman the brilliant and ultimately mad Friedrich Nietzsche (psychotic from tertiary syphilis presumably, of which many succumbed in that pre-Fleming era). 

"Also Sprach Zarathustra" -- on rereading this book today we can rightly claim it as an absolutely timeless masterpiece of literature and philosophy, very much a prelude to the entire angst-ridden twentieth century. In a bizarre parody of a religious new testament Zarathustra achieves enlightenment after ten years meditating alone in a forest and goes down to the people to tell them his mission. His first episode is a taste of what's to come: He informs some villagers waiting for a tightrope walker of his finds, but they mock him, the funambulist falls to his death, he converts him just before dying by telling him there is no afterlife or hell, therefore he is dying utterly in vain. Whereupon he leaves the village carrying the dead corpse, saying, "what a great haul of fish today, I converted one dead man." 

God is dead -- in fact, he died when he choked on his all-powerful pity, informs the last pope. But he is god, says Zarathustra, surely he died in many different ways. Later still he finds a preacher before a herd of cows preaching a sermon on the mount and invites him to his hovel along with the ugliest man on earth and a piteous person who spends his time feeding leeches in a swamp, for a last supper that features a donkey reciting prayers... 

You can see from this how modern the book still sounds. What is especially beautiful is how we get that distinct frisson of a man on the edge of madness, enraptured with his moral of how spiritualism is dead, there is no god, and life is what we make of it. We must become better than men (ubermensch) (not "supermen" as Shaw mocked him) by our own standards. The first true existentialist, his descriptions of depression as a kind of nausea really ring true to us; meantime, the man himself, wracked with migraines, chronic sciatica, presumably ulcers and some kind of inflammatory bowel disease, in addition to the aforementioned sexually transmitted infection, suffered intensely, lived in rented rooming houses and was addicted to opiates and chloral hydrates, taking an inordinate amount of prescription medication (another explanation for the almost delusional quality to his writing), hardly interacting with other people at all except to ask various and sundry for food. How was he himself an ubermensch except in his fantasy and own mind? This is of course the paradox of the modern human, that having everything, he or she is nothing but a reality show contestant. The modern human is richer than a king with all the foods and clothes in the world for him or her to possess but feels himself a beggar comparing himself to Warren Buffett or Angelina Jolie. He is required to become better than all humans who have lived before, but he can't -- not when there is everything in the world to distract the time with, such as the progressive albums we are wasting all our spare time searching for and documenting to a degree the monks of the middle ages would have found unbecoming for saint or sinner. Like them though, we can drink a trappist ale or local craft beer and forget the future by remembering the past that we live for. And when we die? Will we recall all these albums with fondness and feel we have lived a full life replete with rare records? Zarathustra whispers in our ear, "your soul will die before your body... fear nothing further..." Unfortunately, this is my own modern irony, that without an afterlife or religion, death is the end of everything, the greatest fear of all. 

What we have here is a typical late-seventies / early eighties kraut hard rock private pressing, along the lines of Last Exit, Burning Candle, etc., or the previous Forest album. Some tracks are quite enjoyably hard with driving riffs, there is a lot of variety too, but hampering somewhat is the sound, which seems almost as if it was recorded on a two track mixer.....ProgNotFrog........... 

Matthias Kamm (organ, piano, synthesizer, clavinet), 
Thomas Launhardt (guitar, synthesizer), 
Thomas F. Weigel (bass), 
Michael "Migo" Dild, Andreas "Andi" Kupfer (drums), 
Stefan Muth (vocals) 

A1 Intro / Way To Your Heart 
Written-By – Kamm*, Muth* 
A2 Echoes And Shadows 
Written-By – Kamm*, Muth*, Launh.* 
A3 Frühlingslied 
Written-By – Kamm*, Launhardt* 
B1 Balztanz 
Written-By – Launhardt* 
B2 Go To Get Away 
Written-By – Kamm*, Wild*, Weigel*, Launhardt* 
B3 Herzlichen Funk 
Written-By – Kamm*, Wild*, Weigel*, Launhardt* 
B4 Imagination 
Written-By – Kamm*, Muth* 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





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