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6 Jun 2017

Tyll “Sexphonie” 1975 Germany Kraut Rock,Experimental,Prog Psych Rock

Tyll “Sexphonie” 1975 Germany Kraut Rock,Experimental,Prog Psych Rock
Originally released in 1975 on the German label Kerston Records, Tyll’s sole LP, Sexphonie, will shortly receive its first ever reissue on the Guerssen Records imprint Mental Experience. A band mired in copyright controversy with the better known cult German 70s band Eulenspygel, formed when ex Eulenspygel guitarist Teflon Fonfara was approached by Kerston Records with the intention of releasing a Krautrock album. Teflon’s previous group was not active at that moment, so he assembled a new studio band featuring members and friends of Eulenspygel and apparently their original live set included that bands repertoire, arranged differently, which naturally caused confusion with concert-goers, and after conflicts and legal wrangles with the “real Eulenspygel” the band changed name to “Tyll”. The music itself offers a mix of Acid Rock, Hard Psych, Polit-Rock and Progressive/ Folky sounds with some Eastern influences, not unlike early Amon Düül II, Floh De Cologne and, of course, Eulenspygel……. Tyll can be seen as the illegitimate step-sister to Eulenspygel, (let’s say there was some…..err…. rivalry between the two bands, especially as Tyll had poached Eulenspygel drummer Günter Klinger), yet, whereas by 1973 Eulenspygel’s creative powers were seriously on the wane with the band never again reaching the heights of their early albums, Tyll’s LP was one of those surprisingly creative gems of the mid 1970s that, to the few that heard it, was a welcome breath of fresh air. 
Given that Tyll were an ad-hoc band brought together to make a record and given total freedom to do whatever they wanted……..Sexphonie was typical of releases on Kerston Records at the time (they were very Teutonic (Tyll sang in German), non-commercial, with a very varied range of styles and lots of invention)……..this record has aged surprisingly well. 

Essentially a power trio featuring three vocalists, Tyll’s sound revolves around the inventive virtuoso guitar playing of Teflon Fonfara (who once blew out Camel’s PA system with his tape and delay guitar effects!) which blends seamless fusions of acid rock fury with amiable folksiness. Apart from seven minute Acid Rock squall of ‘Delirium Song/Grammophon’ where Forfara’s soaring guitar playing tears a hole in the sky, Sexphonie if full of a good mixture of songs and instrumentals that are short and sweet like sugar. The Eastern flavoured psychedelic instrumental ‘Asiatische Liebeserklärung’, the gently twisted folk tune ‘Morgenlicht’ and the ambient guitar drift of ‘Kristinas Traum’ are absolutely beautiful, whereas there is also a more Acid Rock/Psych vibe to other tracks with the swirling ‘Paranoia Eines Verliebten’ and enhanced by Günter Klinger’s subtle percussion work, ‘Nervenzusammenbruch Einer Gitarrre’ are the stand out tracks here. Possibly another record that found itself in the in the wrong place at the wrong when first released… 1975, Kraftwerk, CAN and Neu! were busy mapping the musical future and held in that light Sexphonie would, in some eyes, no doubt seem like a throwback to the more anarcho hippy, organic Krautrock of a few years earlier and in that respect there really is not much surprise this record fell of the radar regardless of quality. Sexphonie is an undeniably amazing find after being hidden away for all this time and now being judged in a less significant timeframe is possibly more relevant now than when it was originally released……………… 

German obscurity from the Kerston Records vaults, having the name Eulenspygel all over the place.And that’s because Eulenspygel’s drummer Guenter Klinger was among the the founding members plus they started operating under that name, before changing it to Tyll to avoid reasonable conflicts.Their only album “Sexphonie” (1975) (performed on guitars, bass, drums plus three singers) was a weird mix of Zappa-esque experimental instrumentals, Embryo-like Kraut Fusion, Ethnic overtones with Eastern influences, standard Heavy/Psych rhythmic jams of the German Rock tradition and even some 60’s dusted Pop.Buit they were way too atonal and raw to be appreciated with the happy vocals coming in contrast with the very experimental and difficult music, thus ending up to be rather inconsistent.Jazzy, Folk and psychedelic pieces with lack of cohesion and instrumental variety.This world can live without Tyll as far as I am concerned, moreover when you find out how expensive a copy of this one can be…….apps79 …………… 

Tyll were one of a handful of Krautrock groups on the Kerston label (Gaa, Epidermis, Proton 1 concert), a label known more for schlager, classical, and church music. Sexphonie is a very disparate album and each track is different from the other. You’ll hear fiery fusion workouts, folk rock, world fusion, straight up hard rock, and even some politrock (tongue in cheek apparently) sung in German. Steadfastly using the native language, Tyll will remind the listener of groups such as Drosselbart, Prof. Wolfff, and Franz K. The latter gets a further comparison due to the copious use of heavily affected electric guitar. On the spacier tracks, label mates Gaa are a fair comparison. And in many places I also hear the unique composition style of Lily’s excellent V.C.U. album. Perhaps a bit too scattered to be a classic, but definitely one of Krautrock’s more interesting footnotes………ashratom ………… 

This was Tyll’s debut album Sexphonie, which will be rereleased on the Metal Experience label on 9th June 2016. Sexphonie is an album that back in 1975, was shrouded in mystery and controversy. Indeed at one point, it looked like Tyll’s debut album Sexphonie would never be released. It was, and proved to the opening and closing chapter in the Tyll story. 

The story behind Tyll began back in early 1975. That was when Fred Kersten, the owner of Kerston Records, approached Teflon Fonfara to ask if he would be interested in recording a Krautrock album. For Teflon Fonfara this was interesting proposition. 

Especially since his previous group Eulenspygel had been put on hold. They hadn’t released an album since Ausschuß in 1973. Two years later, and there was no sign of the group returning to the studio or heading out on tour. It was beginning to look as if there was little chance of Eulenspygel reuniting. So Teflon Fonfara decided to take Fred Kersten up on his offer of a week’s studio time. After all, man cannot live on bread alone. 

As a familiar face on the local music scene, it didn’t take long for Teflon Fonfara to put together a new studio band. One of the earliest recruits was Eulenspygel’s drummer Günter Klinger. Teflon Fonfara thought nothing of this. After all, Eulenspygel had been put on hold; and it wasn’t even clear if the band would reunite. However, the decision to bring onboard Günter Klinger would prove to be a controversial. That was in the future. 

With drummer Günter Klinger onboard, Teflon Fonfara concentrated on recruiting the rest of the band. They were all friends of Eulenspygel. This included bassist Achim Bosch and vocalists Michael Scherf, Susanne Schempp and Ulrike Schempp. They were joined by Teflon Fonfara who appeared as Del Fontana. With the lineup finalised, work began on Tyll’s debut album. 

For what became Tyll’s debut album Sexphonie, Teflon Fonfara wrote seven of the songs, and penned Siamesische Überraschung and Grammophon with Achim Bosch. His other contribution was Rita. Ulrike Schempp wrote Für Michael Pfadpfinder; while Michael Scherf contributed the album closer Morgenlicht. These twelve songs would recorded at TFE Studios. 

On 1st April 1975, Tyll arrived at TFE Studios, Neustadt, Weinstraße. The six members of Tyll were ready to record the twelve new songs. Producing Sexphonie was Fred Kersten, who owned his own record company, Kerston Records. It would release Sexphonie once it was completed. So the members of Tyll got to work. 

At TFE Studios, Tyll’s equipment was unpacked and setup. Then Tyll began recording their debut album. Things were happening fast. It was only a couple of months since Teflon Fonfara put together Tyll. Now the rhythm section which featured drummer Günter Klinger and bassist Achim Bosch began laying down the rhythm tracks. Then it was Teflon Fonfara’s turn to lay down the guitar parts. Once this was complete, it left just the vocals to be added. Tyll’s trio of vocalists, Michael Scherf; Susanne Schempp and Ulrike Schempp began laying down the vocals. Once the vocals had been recorded, Tyll had completed their debut album. The six members of Tyll hd spent just twelve days recording their debut album Sexphonie. It was completed on 12th April 1975. 

With Sexphonie recorded, now Tyll and producer Fred Kersten were able to reflect on how quickly and smoothly things had gone. It wasn’t long since Fred Kersten first approached Teflon Fonfara about putting together a studio band. Now Tyll had recorded their debut album Sexphonie, and it would soon be released. Or so they thought. 

What neither Fred Kersten nor Teflon Fonfara foresaw, was the threat of legal action that loomed over the release of Sexphonie. Eulenspygel weren’t happy that Tyll had poached or stolen their drummer, Günter Klinger. They threatened Tyll with legal action. This could’ve been disastrous, and resulted in a long and expensive legal battle. Luckily, common sense prevailed, and Tyll were allowed to release Sexphonie. 

Even the threat of legal action hadn’t unduly delayed the release of Sexphonie. Still, only a matter of months had passed since Fred Kersten approached Teflon Fonfara with the idea of releasing a Krautrock album. Now, the newly formed studio band Tyll were about to release their debut album Sexphonie. 

When Sexphonie was released later in 1975 by Kersten Records, the album wasn’t a commercial success. Certainly nobody was going to get rich after the release of Sexphonie. However, those who bought a copy of Sexphonie discovered an album were Tyll fused acid-rock with hard-psych, polit-rock, progressive rock. There were even the occasional excursion into avant-garde, folk, funk and polit-rock. Sometimes, Eastern influences shawn through on Sexphonie a hidden Kraurtrock gem. 

Following the release of Sexphonie, Tyll never released a followup album. Sexphonie proved to a one-off musical experiment from Teflon Fonfara’s studio band Tyll. However, nearly a generation later, and Tyll’s debut album Sexphonie began to attract a cult following. By then, copies of the original album were real rarities. Very few copies of Sexphonie ever change hands. When they do, the price is beyond most record buyers. This meant that Sexphonie was out of reach of most record buyers. Not any more. The Metal Experience label will reissue Sexphonie on 9th June 2016. As you’ll soon realise, it’ll be a welcome reissue. 

Tim opens Sexphonie. Just a Spanish guitar plays firmly and briskly. Flamboyant flourishes punctuate the arrangement, before a searing guitar cuts through the arrangement. It’s joined by the rhythm section. Before long, there’s a mesmeric nature to the drums. Then midway through the arrangement, Tyll throw a curveball. The track meanders, as grating, jarring, dramatic sounds add an experimental sound. That’s until Tyll kick loose, and a blistering rocky track unfolds. Teflon Fonfara’s guitar plays a starring role, as he unleashes a series of searing licks. Matching him every step of the way are the rhythm section. That’s until a myriad of beeps and squeaks signal that this captivating rocky track is almost over. However, it whets the listeners appetite for this hidden gem of an album. 

Sexphonie is one of the shorter tracks on the album. However, it doesn’t lack in quality. Quite the opposite. Straight away, the rhythm section and quivering, bristling guitar unite, before an impassioned, powerful male vocal is added. It’s augmented by sweet, punchy pop harmonies. Meanwhile, blistering guitars are unleashed. They add a lysergic sound. Meanwhile a nimble fingered bass line sits atop the drums, as genres melt into one. Acid rock, pop and psychedelic rock combine to create a catchy and memorable track. 

A lone guitar plays slowly and thoughtfully on Asiatische Liebeserklärung. Its crystalline sound is joined by Eastern sounds. They create an understated arrangement. That’s until 1.47, when the rhythm section and the guitars join. This fills out the arrangement, and transforms it. Soon, the Eastern influence dissipates, and the track heads in the direction of progressive folk. This allows Tyll to showcase their talent and versatility. 

Just a crystalline guitar is strummed and sets the scene for the vocals on Paranoia Eines Verliebten. They’re shared by a male and female vocalist, and range from heartfelt to emotive, to powerful and dramatic. At the moment the vocal changes, so does the arrangement. The rhythm section frame the vocal and add an element of drama. Briefly, Teflon Fonfara adds a funky, chiming guitar. Later, a manic laugh punctuates the arrangement. So do effects that come courtesy of Teflon Fonfara’s tapes. By then, the story is unfolding, and the drama building on this genre-melting track. Elements of psychedelia rock, folk, funk and avant-garde combine to create a song that sounds as if it belongs on an early seventies Krautrock concept album. However, Sexphonie was no concept album. 

There was neither a concept nor message on Sexphonie. Instead, Sexphonie was almost a reaction against the concept albums of the first half of the seventies. Teflon Fonfara was no fan of them, and seemed regarded concept albums as overblown. He was unwilling to further romanticise concept albums, never mind record one of his own. Instead, this musical maverick recorded what was an innovative musical adventure. 

From the distance, Eastern percussion adds an eerie cinematic sound to Nervenzusammenbruch Einer Gitarre. Soon, a probing bass adds to what’s an unsettling sounding track. It sounds as if it would be perfect for a horror movie. That’s until a blistering guitar cuts through the arrangement. Before long, the unnerving sound is almost gone, and is replaced by a futuristic sound. At the heart of the arrangement is the rhythm section and guitar. The rhythm section drive the arrangement along, while the guitar rings out, and plays a starring role. Effects are added, as the guitar is the last man standing. From there, the arrangement meanders melodically along, before its melancholy sound is just a pleasant memory of what’s been a memorable musical adventure. 

Teflon Fonfara delves into his tapes, and adds the sound of animal as Siammesische Überraschung unfolds. Meanwhile, he adds effects and they add an otherworldly sound to the avant-garde soundscape. Midway through the track, a bass joins a jazz-tinged guitar. They’re like yin and yang, and prove a perfect foil for each other. That’s until a curveball is thrown. The guitar and bass are replaced by the sound of a music box, which adds a wistful reminder of another era. It’s another innovative, musical potpourri from Tyll, as they continue to push musical boundaries. 

There’s a melancholy, cinematic sound to Kristinas Traum as a crystalline guitar chimes and is joined by a bass. In the background, the wind roars and gusts, while a clock chimes. Together, they create a melancholy, cinematic soundscape. 

Delirium Song-Grammophon is a seven minute epic. A rumbling bass leads the way, before scorching guitars, pounding drums and vocals enter. Male and female vocalist share vocal duties. Meanwhile, the arrangement is driven along, with the bass and bristling guitar playing starring roles. The vocals are impassioned and delivered quickly. Adding to the drama, is the rhythm section. They provide the perfect backdrop to vocals that veer between urgent to tender. Later, Teflon Fonfara unleashes another of his blistering guitar solos, before what sounds like the helicopter soars across the arrangement. Not to be outdone, a fleet fingered bass line helps propel the arrangement along. Everyone plays their part in the sound and success of what’s a dramatic, urgent and later futuristic and melodic epic. It shows yet another side to musical chameleons Tyll. 

Rita has a much more understated and sedate sound. Just guitars and the bass combine as the arrangement meanders melodically along. There’s a wistfulness to the arrangement, as strummed and crystalline guitars combine with the bass. Later, Teflon Fonfara adds the sound of a thunderstorm to the arrangement. This works and adds the finishing touch to a melancholy, cinematic track. 

The tempo increases on Suzie Steno, as a bristling, scorching guitar cuts joins the rhythm section. They’re soon joined by the a male lead vocal, which tells the story of Suzie Steno. Augmenting the vocal are harmonies, which sometimes, soar above the arrangement. Framing the vocal are the crystalline guitar and the rhythm section, which provides the heartbeat. Later, when the vocal drops out, another blistering guitar solo takes centre-stage. Its briefly joined by one of Teflon Fonfara found sounds. From there, the rest of this slick slice of hook-laden pop-rock shows its secrets. 

Für Michael Pfadfinder is another ballad from Tyll. Just a guitar is strummed as the rhythm section play slowly. They set the scene for the two female vocalists. One sings lead, while the other augments her vocal. There’s a sense of sadness in their heartfelt, emotive vocals. Then when the vocal drops out, Teflon Fonfara steps up, and delivers a bristling, shimmering guitar solo. He then takes his leave, and the vocalists return as this beautiful, melodic and wistful ballad draws to a close. 

Morgenlicht closes Sexphonie. A guitar is strummed slowly and deliberately, before Michael Scherf delivers his vocal. It’s accompanied by harmonies, and is delivered slowly and with a sense of sadness and regret. Teflon Fonfara adds a mini collage of sound, before this rueful sounding track is but a distant memory. However, Sexphonie is not an album to forget in a hurry. 

Far from it. Sexphonie is a truly memorable debut from Tyll. It was an innovative album of genre-melting music. Lead by Teflon Fonfara, Tyll set out to create the Krautrock album Fred Kersten wanted. To do that, Tyll combined acid-rock with hard-psych, polit-rock and progressive rock on Sexphonie. There were even occasional excursion into avant-garde, folk, funk jazz, polit-rock and pop. This musical melting pot of genres and influences resulted in Fred Kersten getting the Kraurock album he wanted. 

Sexphonie was a captivating album of groundbreaking music, where no two tracks were the same. Tyll were musical chameleons, who could create music that was variously beautiful, cinematic, dramatic, lysergic and melancholy. Other times, the music on Sexphonie was progressive, rocky, melodic and mesmeric. Alas, the album wasn’t a commercial success. 

When Sexphonie was released in 1975, that album passed record buyers by. This was a familiar story. Even albums by some of the biggest names in Krautrock failed to find an audience first time round. Neither Harmonia nor Neu! were getting wealthy making music. Sadly, neither were Tyll. 

After the commercial failure of Sexphonie, Fred Kersten of Kersten records decided not to release a followup album. It was a case of once bitten, twice shy. That was a great shame. Maybe, Tell would’ve made a breakthrough next time around? However, we’ll never know. 

Sexphonie was the only album featuring Tyll, a truly talented and versatile band. They weren’t together long, but left a lasting impression. Tyll were founded in 1975, and by the time the year was over. the band was history. Despite being together less than a year, Tyll left behind a memorable musical legacy. That’s their groundbreaking debut album Sexphonie. If finds Tyll switching seamlessly between musical genres, as they create what’s nowadays regarded as a hidden gem and a lost Krautrock cult classic, Sexphonie………………… 

One of the weirder, wilder albums from the German Krautrock scene of the 70s – as you might guess from the title, and the image of the band on the cover! These guys weren’t the cool, calculating musicians who’d soon move into more synth-based modes – and instead, they’ve got a very psychedelic vibe at times – mixing fuzzy guitar with organic percussion and some lighter touches on acoustic guitar – sometimes in a jamming style, sometimes with shorter songs that have some pretty playful lyrical interplay! The album feels much more like a late 60s “happening” album than you’d guess from its date of recording in 1975 – and titles include “SExphonie”, “Kristina’s Traum”, “Delirium Song Grammophon”, “Suzie Steno”, “Fur Michael Pfadfinder”, and “Nervenzusammenbruch Einer Gitarre”………………….. 

By mid-’70s bolshie proggers EULENSPYGEL were effectively over so, when offered an album deal, their associate guitarist Det Fonfara corralled a studio ensemble, called his endeavour TYLL and came up with this curio. Sculpted deliberately dated in sonic terms, it may touch on Kraut-tropes such as acid-fuzz, bent to a short wigout on the title cut, but there are more strains to the record’s DNA – from vibrant flamenco on “Tim” to raga and Renaissance summit on sitar-kissed “Asiatische Liebeserklärung” with comedy cropping up here and there as three singers engage in dialogue. Not a dull moment, then. 

The focus of “Nervenzusammenbruch Einer Gitarrre” is, of course, Fonfara’s instrument, but it’s the percussion of EULENSPYGEL’s Günter Klinger – a bone of contention later on, when the parent band returned to action – that drives this mesmeric track towards a spaced-out state and decorates the contemplative “Kristinas Traum” with a festive clang. The real celebratory dances, though, lie in the epic heart of “Delirium Song / Grammophon” which DSCHINGHIS KHAN fans should eagerly lap up for its spicy melange of disco and rock, while the FX-stricken twang of “Suzie Steno” could have come from a Joe Meek school of innocent schlock horror. Signing off with “Morgenlicht” – a pop chorale of sorts – “Sexphonie” has a strange, if alluring, appeal; had Fonfara taken his music to the stage, TYLL would have been rather popular………… 

Tyll was a German band formed in the early 70s when Kerston Records approached Det Fonfara about releasing a Krautrock album. Fonfara and former bandmate and ex-Eulenspygel drummer Günter Klinger put together a new band also called Eulenspygel. According to the Cosmic Egg their live set included Eulenspygel songs with different arranagements that naturally caused confusion with concert-goers and resulted in legal issues with real Eulenspygel. So they changed their name to Tyll. Their one and only album, Sexphonie, was one of those albums that almost never happened. It was created in a matter of weeks and, similar to Mammut, they were given total freedom in the studio to do whatever they wanted. The result was a surprisingly creative gem that has been extremely difficult to obtain until now. Tyll consisted of Michael Scherf (vocals), Ulrike Schempp (vocals), Susanne Schempp (vocals), Det Fonfara (guitar), Achim Bosch (bass), and Günter Klinger (drums). The twelve tracks are evenly split between instrumentals and songs, delivering an excellent mix of Krautrock, psychedelia, jazz, and folk music with references to Floh de Cologne, Yatha Sidhra, and Popol Vuh. Det was a quite versatile guitarist be it on Spanish guitar, acoustic guitar, or electric. He even coaxes sitar-like sounds from his guitar. Songs of note are: the opening track “Tim” with its one minute Spanish guitar intro that morphs into a jazzy rock instrumental for another minute, ventures into avant garde territory for a bit, back to rock, and ends with 30 seconds of a rapid one note guitar sequence; the Eastern “Asiatische Liebeserklärung;” the Fripp influenced “Nervenzusammenbruch Einer Gitarre” that also includes some of Ptose’s French insanity; the beautiful dreamlike “Kristina’s Traum;” and the closing track “Morgenlicht.” If you get a chance, be sure to grab a copy for yourself………………. 

“Truly wonderful and extremely little known krautrock released on the Kerston label (same imprint as the Gaa LP) and with something of their widely variable and fascinating approach. With it’s seamless fusions of acid rock fury and amiable folksiness, this project of Eulenspygel’s drummer (using the first name of the notable German roguish literary character that Eulenspygel would take their name from) has a definite stylistic carry-over from it’s parent project, albeit lacking the wildly over-the-top vocals that make Eulenspygel a no-go proposition for some.” 

To my ears it’s all over the place. There’s a fusion of hard-rock and folk rock with some jazzish passages. It’s like if you mixed Hendrix with a heavy dose of Zappa. The first track features fuzz guitar leads, an Eastern melody and syncopated rhythms. Then the third track, the acoustic “Asiatische Liebeserklarung”, is pure raga. The following track is a vocal-heavy acid jazz/rock number. Like I said it’s all over the place. Odds are if you come to this blog in search of either weird acid folk, heavy rock, or the jazzier side of progressive rock records, you’ll find something in this album you can appreciate………………….. 

Bass, Performer [Other, U.a.] – Achim Bosch 
Drums, Performer [Other, U.a.] – Günter Klinger 
Guitar, Performer [Other, U.a.], Design [Cover] – Det Fonfara 
Photography By – Sybille Schlumberger 
Producer – Fred Kersten 
Vocals – Michael Scherf, Susanne Schempp, Ulrike Schempp 

A1 Tim 5:00 
A2 Sexphonie 1:41 
A3 Asiatische Liebeserklärung 3:44 
A4 Paranoia Eines Verliebten 2:26 
A5 Nervenzusammenbruch Einer Gitarrre 5:00 
A6 Siamesische Überraschung 2:59 
B1 Kristinas Traum 1:40 
B2a Delirium Song 4:44 
B2b Grammophon 2:27 
B3 Rita 2:48 
B4 Suzie Steno 3:00 
B5 Für Michael Pfadfinder 2:41 
B6 Morgenlicht 1:31 

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