Kosmose - Kosmic Music From the Black Country. 1973-1978 Belgium
Kosmose - Kosmic Music From the Black Country. 1973-1978. Archival
CD issue: 2015 Sub Rosa (2 CDs)
LP issue: 2015 Sub Rosa (2 LPs)
I've been sitting on this double CD from Kosmose for a few months now (I bought it based on a recommendation from UMR's good friend Achim, from Germany). The CD is well over 2 hours of music, and could have been released as 3 separate albums. I knew it would take a focused listen - one with a lot of patience. I had to dedicate a single night to it. As Kosmose member Alain Neffe says "We were using improvisation techniques drawn from avant-garde jazz, but with a rock sound, and an electronic sound, experimental, noise based...". If this rings familiar, then yes indeed, it is very much the philosophy of the original Kosmische Krautrock sound. We're talking 1970 era Tangerine Dream here. Where everything and anything was possible - and it's all extremely psychedelic. At that point even Pink Floyd stopped going in the late 1960s.
Perhaps the oddest aspect of this release is the time and place. The recordings come from 1973 to 1978 (dates unknown mostly, only the 'Eighth' song is specifically placed at 1977), though it sounds a few years earlier than that might imply. And Belgium has no such history of freaked out psychedelic music like this, especially from the French speaking Wallonia section. Of course its neighbors do - France and the mother country of Krautrock naturally enough. Kosmose were also using film techniques to create the entire experience as one might expect from the Zodiac Free Arts Lab in Berlin circa 1969.
Really an extraordinary historical aural document, though not exceptionally great. For those who are predisposed to the earliest incarnation of experimental Krautrock, this archival album comes as an assured recommendation. Everyone else might need a bit of indoctrination first. It is not an easy listen admittedly but does get better as it goes, primarily because the album requires a mindset change - that does/will occur over the 2 hour length. Without the proper background, I would probably be the first to raise my hand and complain. But if curious to tackle further, I would suggest you have taken in (and accepted) albums like Tangerine Dream's Electronic Meditation, Annexus Quam's Osmose, Amon Duul II's Phallus Dei, Xhol Caravan's Motherf*ckers & Co, Can's Tago Mago, and Organisation's Tone Float first, then digest this monster of a set. Conditionally recommended to those who love this sort of avant garde psychedelic reckless abandon. I do.
The packaging is an excellent 2 CD digi-pak set from Sub Rosa. And priced competitively. Comes with a full set of liners (in both French and English), photos, track instrumentation, etc... Incredible value really. The double LP set includes tracks ('Second' through 'Eighth'), but leaves off 'Ninth' through 'Twelfth' from the CD (there is no 'First'). So there's roughly 50 more minutes on the CD version. That's a significant loss too, so bear that in mind vinyl collectors. You may want both!