Mythos - s/t. 1971 Germany


Mythos - s/t. 1971 Ohr

CD reissues: 1994 Spalax (France); 1994 King (Japan); 1999 Zyx; 2008 Captain Trip (Japan mini-LP.)

LP reissues: 1979 Neutron Star (Australia); 1998 Think Progressive; 2008 Wah Wah (Spain)

Packaging details: My first LP of this fantastic album was the Australian issue that I bought in the late 1980s, and the first CD I owned was the digi-pak version from Spalax (which is quite well done actually). See the below review for my admiration of the cover as it weaves into the music. As such, I suggest that the Japanese mini-LP on Captain Trip is a must own. I've also circled back in recent years and picked up a mint original Ohr LP, definitely a personal treasure. For easier to find LP's, certainly both the Think Progressive and the Wah Wah versions are exact replicas and should suffice. I once possessed the TP copy as a backup, and it's quite nice.

Review: I recently spoke in reverent tones about Germany's Ohr label in the Annexus Quam "Osmose" review. We continue our Captain Trip Japanese mini-LP tour with Mythos' debut, yet another classic from the Ohr creative freak factory. The cover's cartoon art is quite telling: We have some sort of winged eyeball ruler sitting on a treestump (or is a rockpile?) with legs crossed, wearing a nifty pair of what looks like PF Flyers. What he's thinking about or what's he's doing there is anybody's guess, but there's a better than good chance his brain flew away after digesting the contents of the album. The back cover may be even better: Four eyeballs wearing viking helmets stand ready to do battle with knives and... carrots ... and ... ice cream cones. Honestly they look like Marvin the Martian hit a tab of acid after taking in Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen". All in day-glo yellow and pink. You don't even need to hear a note and already know it's a classic.

We begin with the 3 minute 'Mythoett', where band leader Stefan Kaske shows off his somewhat Tull-ian flute demonstration. A classically motivated piece, the bass and drums drive the piece forward for a pleasant, if not overly creative opener. Acoustic strumming with an Eastern motif introduces the appropriately named 'Oriental Journey'. Kaske's voice enters and is heavily processed. In later albums, his voice was not processed. Let's just say - be grateful it's affected. Sitar is added as well, giving it the right amount of exoticism. After a couple of minutes, we hit our first "Ohr moment", as spacey flute and bass guitar are put through the mixer in a completely zoned out cosmic way. Cymbals bash, and hand percussion thumps. It's Krautrockian. It's Ohrrockian. It's the work of the Cosmic Joker meister himself: Dieter Dierks. Scorpions be damned. To this point, however, the album is relatively "normal". Then comes 'Hero's Death', and it's time to get all freaky. And downright heavy metal, with a diabolus in musica guitar riff. Disembodied voice enters in while Kaske goes Edgar Froese on us. Which means play the guitar as loud as hell and we'll worry about notes later. You will drown in the strings mellotron against flute mid-section. The heavy metal returns. Fierce, driving and floating. The album cover art is starting to make sense. Bum-bum-bum-bum-badum badum goes the bass. Bum-bum-bum-bum-badum-badum. Epic.

And we're only now getting to the side long track: 'Encyclopedia Terrae'. We're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy, but in the land of the mutated Marvin the Martian. The planet Ohrian. The death march snare drum. The matching bass. The harmonious guitar. Loud, acid guitar thank you. Not Number 9! Bring me K-9! Then Mythos sounds the air-raid alarm. It's serious and it's for real. Synthesizers emulate war sounds while snare drums snap in the background. Bombs are everywhere - no place is safe. The viking eyeballs are winning! In the aftermath we hear church bells and chirping birds as we walk amongst the ruins - synthesizer and bass mournfully play along to the beat. Where better to insert a mellotron blast?

Echoed electric guitar strums as Kaske narrates in heavily accented English: A long time ago there was a man who didn't want to live in this world of killing and fighting anymore. Fully convinced that mankind would improve and become more peaceful during its evolution, and being a man of genius, he built a machine which would enable him to sleep as in death. A hundred years later the machine was supposed to wake him at which time he hoped to find a better world, one that would be worth living in. One hundred years passed.... The machine woke the man, but although nearly everything had changed, mankind hadn't. So the man turned his machine and kept returning to it until the 32nd time, when he awoke to find that there was no more life on Earth. (music stops except one sparsely played synth) There was no bird in the sky, no fish in the sea, no tree and no flower. Man had killed all the plants, all the animals (guitar strums again) and at last even himself leaving the Earth a dead bowl in the universe. Seeing this, the man sat down on the bleak ground and tears ran down his cheeks. His lungs inhaled the deadly air and darkness closed in about him as he followed all the others to a place of no fighting and no killing, no grief, no envy and no sorrow. Would you like to know the name of this place? It's called Eternity and the only gate you must path (sic) through to enter it is the one which separates life and death.

Word.

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