Panko - Weil Es So Schön Perlt. 1971 Germany

Out of nowhere comes this obscure Krautrock tape, that reminds me most of the Erna Schmidt archival release. Also the first album of Thirsty Moon, especially their 'Yellow Sunshine' opus. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Xhol Caravan as well, especially when considering their archival live material. Guitar, sax, flute, fuzz bass, German narration, and echoed voices. The whole album screams 1971 Germany, and no doubt would have found themselves on the Ohr label had they held it together long enough (another similarity with Erna Schmidt). The last track Elektonisches is a bit annoying in its attempt for pure improv experimentalism. The CD adds two 11+ minute bonus tracks that are perhaps even better than the album proper, and showcase Panko's fascination with Middle Eastern music. Similar to Agitation Free and Embryo in that way. Unfortunately, the sound quality is a bit rough, and the source couldn't be improved upon. Even so, overall, Panko's sole album is a superb historical document.

Personal collection
CD: 2014 Garden of Delights

Most assuredly one of the most intriguing discoveries of the last 10 years. A cassette from the early 80s featuring vintage Krautrock from 1971. No one was into this kind of musik in 1983! Except maybe the members of LS Bearforce... Pretty much everyone learned of this cassette via the Mutant Sounds blog, including Garden of Delights themselves (as noted in the comments of the post). And I suspect I know where Eric got his physical copy of the tape, but it's pure speculation on my part (hint - think famous lists). After hearing it, we also put it in the CDRWL immediately, and stated what a perfect reissue opportunity for Garden of Delights. And lo and behold, here we are. The CD is chock full of biographical data - and for the first time that I can recall - even a download blog post was mentioned and they added Eric's usual great review. The CDRWL was sadly left off... always unloved and forgotten (awwww sniff sniff). No matter to me, because this is really what I wanted - the CD. There are two bonus tracks on here that are perhaps better than the tape! On the downside, the sound really couldn't be improved upon. The source is the source, and this is as good as it will ever get. No one takes their time to do it right more so than GoD. A pity Panko never went into the studio. And a note to GoD: While we all appreciate the preservation and integrity of the sleeve design, the bright tangerine (small) lettering against the day blue background is near impossible to read! Once under a bright light, I felt my eyes relax.

Phantasia - s/t. 1972 USA

Kansas City's Phantasia is truly one of America's great oddball albums. Privately released to an audience of zero, it would take many years for anyone to even hear the album much less reissue it (by a German label no less). Other than the overtly psychedelic rock opening Transparent Face and closing Give Life Another Try, one could be forgiven for describing Phantasia as a long extended version of King Crimson's 'I Talk to the Wind'. Basically atmospheric and acoustically driven psychedelic folk, with hazy vocals and melancholic verses. One track is called 'I Talk to the Moon', so there you have it. If that's all there was, I would still give it a high mark as it's well executed, but then there's that one payoff track that takes it to the next level. The 9+ minute Genena sounds like Simon & Garfunkel meets Avalanche's 'Oblivion'.

I can already anticipate the question most of you will have.

Who is Simon & Garfunkel?

Personal collection
CD: 2002 World in Sound (Germany)

The one original I could find online is the first photo. A mere $4K scored that one. Seems almost a bargain by contrast to others of its ilk. For the rest of us, the World in Sound reissues not only allow you to own the album, but greatly enhance the experience. There are very detailed liner notes, a much more attractive cover, very good sound, and the vinyl editions come in a gatefold. All the reissues include as bonus tracks the one sided EP (Walkenhorst-De Pugh. 1972 Damon). The vinyl renditions have this as an additional 10 inch record. The CD is sold out here in the States, but I did secure a new copy from Germany recently, so it appears a small amount of stock remains. There are a few dates usually attributed to this album, but because of those detailed liner notes, 1972 appears to be the correct date.

Gebarvaterli - Im Tal der Emmen. 1978 Germany

Despite the artist and title sounding like some sort of alpine cheese, Gebärväterli is anything but cheesy. Technically the music fits in the large Kraut fusion school of the late 1970s, but this album won't remind you of Kraan, Embryo, Missus Beastly, etc... In fact, there are parts here that recall the great Tortilla Flat (especially in the rhythms and flute solo sections). And when the trombone gets featured, I'm reminded of Nanu Urwerk, another square-peg-in-a-round hole German fusion band. While it's not perfect throughout (sometimes it's pure jazz - fine - but not ideal for me anyway), this is one of the best new-for-me obscurities that I heard for the first time 6 years ago. The two live bonus tracks total over 25 minutes, and are very similar to the album itself. Naturally given the live setting (one from 1977, the other 1981), and the jazzy disposition of the band,  these tracks are stretched out with more room given for solo improvisation. But the melodic core of the song is never lost.

Personal collection
CD: 2014 Bibi Tontrager

Like most albums on the small press Brutkasten label, originals are very scarce and can be expensive depending on who is selling. This is one of those titles that seemed hopeless in seeing a CD reissue, but as we announced on the CDRWL on New Years Day, we now have one direct from the band. And a fine reissue it is, housed attractively in a digi-pak, with great sound and two long and relevant live bonus tracks. There are no liner notes, but even if there were, I'm rather certain they would be in German, as this is clearly an indigenous band with no attempt whatsoever to expand beyond (note the song titles alone).

Mystic Siva - s/t. 1971 USA

There are certain types of underground rock that are highly desirable, more for their mood and atmosphere, verse actual songwriting and talent. The “lost teenager angst” sound is one of the most sought after in this category, as it provides an historic panorama of a certain time and place. Michigan’s Mystic Siva is the Holy Grail for such a sound. Musically, it’s a typical album for the time, not mature enough to be signed by a major label, and the production values are pure garage. Normal 1970 mix of psych, proto metal, some funk, and some punk. But the realism of this album just oozes from the grooves, a miasma of doom and gloom. Yep, the girlfriend just left and that dead end union job at the auto plant is starting to look like a very real place for a very real long time. Throw in some high school mysticism, and you have a world class recording from the vaults of America’s "fly over country”. It is rare to capture that mood, that hopelessness, that despair. Mystic Siva did all of this and more.

Personal collection
CD: 2014 World in Sound (Germany)

This is one those biggies, that consistently fetch multi-thousands in auction. It is very easy to understand why - the album is practically the definition of the private press psych hard rock sound that the music collector world craves. Originals are extremely scarce, and this is about as true a representation of the entire genre as can be. Pirates were quick into the water with this title, and that was my first exposure to the group back in the late 80s (muddy, crappy sound). Because of this, my appreciation of the album had been held back for years. I eventually received a decent sounding CD-R, and by that time the first World in Sound CD had fallen out of print, and the pirates were back. Fortunately World in Sound returned last year with a fine remaster of their original 2001 press, and so I snapped it up. The 2014 version, World in Sound assures us, is the best ever sound yet. The CD is indeed great and features some excellent liner notes as well. Of course, keep expectations in check regarding the sound. Best possible sound? Probably. But they can't perform magic - the originals are what they are, and it's that lo-fi sound that is a big part of the allure to begin with.

Ashra - Correlations. 1979 Germany

In 1979, Manuel Göttsching once again changed directions for his alter ego Ashra project. Reuniting with former colleagues Lutz Ulbricht (guitar and synthesizers), and Harald Grosskopf (drums and synthesizers), Ashra presented their unique variation of the power trio. Correlations was the first of two releases by the lineup. Once again the mood is light, with bouncy almost funky/disco styled rhythms, heavy use of sequencers, and of course, Manuel's spirited but rambling guitar. And yes, it does get psychedelic at times. No doubt Ashra caught the breezy tropical fusion bug that had invaded Germany at this time. One of optimism and good times, if not a bit misguided. An album that has aged incredibly well for me, though I had reservations initially when I first bought the LP (way back in the summer of 1985).

Personal collection
LP: 1979 Virgin (UK)
CD: 2008 Belle Antique (Japan)

Originals are housed in a single sleeve cover that features a very evocative photo. I bought the LP at the same time as the Blackouts LP and my personal story is contained there. This album's long recording sessions were also captured and released in a 3 CD format, which is presumably more stretched out and psychedelic.

Last listen: May 23, 2018

Skywhale - The World at Mind's End. 1977 England

Skywhale's sole album is one of the rare non-Canterbury UK fusion albums that sound more in line with what was happening over the Chan...