Get Him Eat Him
Giardini di Mirò
The Uri Geller Syndrome (1999, 35.38) ****/TTTT½
Over My Head
Got a Plan
You Bore Me
Everyone Loves You (2000, 41.09) ****/TTTT
|All Alone in the World
When You're Dead
Everyone Loves You
You Have Changed
Everyday it Rains
My Lines Right
Judas (2001, 34.55) ****/TTTTJudas
All Alone in the World
Love to Leave
Almost All the Time
We Are One
How am I Treating You?
Geller are (or rather, were) yet another of Änglagård drummer Mattias Olsson's outfits, specialising in the kind of melancholy pop his bands seem to do so well. OK, not Änglagård. There's some confusion over their debut, The Uri Geller Syndrome, as it seems it was originally released as an Andreas & Jag album, only to retrospectively become Geller's debut. Amusement also, as Uri Geller himself, rather than suing, was delighted by the recognition. Not a man who understands irony, obviously, though I think we already knew that. Anyway, some of the tracks are more upbeat, but it comes into its own on moody numbers such as Mistake or You Bore Me.
Mattias doesn't actually play 'Tron on this album, leaving it to Adam Snyder, Andreas Jansson and Änglagård's inimitable Thomas Johnson (who seems to have now anglicised his name). Shedloads of it all over the thing, of course. Overt cellos on Noones Dad (that's 'no-ones', by the way) and Mistake, along with standard strings and string section, and the rarely-heard Mellotron clarinet can be found on several tracks, including Smashing Riffkin, Come Around and Got A Plan, making a nice change from the usual stuff. Flutes and oboes crop up, too, making this a bit of a low-profile Mellotron Monster.
Everyone Loves You sets out its stall in the expected manner, with 'Tron choirs being pretty much the first audible sound on opener All Alone In The World, followed by double-tracked strings, apparently. Other Mellotronic oddities include the Chamberlin piano (played from a 'Tron) on Simple Truth and wineglasses, as used on Anekdoten's Gravity, on You Have Changed, giving the song added ghostly ambience. One notable feature of the album is the Orchestron sounds layered all over it; Mattias had just bought his, and took it out to play, so to speak. Oh, and this time round the 'Tron's played by Mattias and Andreas.
Judas, originally to be titled Aretha - Live in Pakistan (no it isn't) has more Orchestron, but there's still plenty of 'Tron, of course (Jansson and Olsson again). The album seems slightly more upbeat than its two predecessors, although that's only speaking relatively. They also reiterate two tracks from their first two releases, and I can't work out if they're new versions or not. As the Orchestron level rises, the Mellotron level drops, but there's still five tracks, with the top track having to be Almost All The Time, with some scorching strings and windswept cellos, not to mention flutes, oboes and viola, plus Chamby piano and vibes (!). Phew, wot a scorcher, as they say. Plenty of other 'Tron action, too, particularly on Love To Leave, making this the third in a classic 'Tron trio.
I met the band when they played London in early '02 (they used my Taurus pedals, and Mattias had the most bizarre percussion setup), but within the year they were no more. Despite the fact that most of you reading this will dislike them for not being 'prog', or at least for being 'pop', they're about as far away as you can get from the bland chart fodder choking up the airwaves; that'd be why they weren't more successful, but they're certainly worth hearing if you want something more mainstream than (insert fave prog rave here), but far darker than the rubbish that normally gets peddled to the general public. So; if you like the sound of that, and you want to hear loads of 'Tron, buy.
See: Änglagård | AK-Momo | Molesome
Drawn to the Deep End (1997, 52.49) **½/T
Where Are They Now?
Speak to Me Someone
We Would Be Kings
Why I Was Born
Long Sleeves for the Summer
Save Me, I'm Yours
|Voice of the Father
I Love You, What Are You?
Gene were an indie/Britpop-type UK band from the early '90s, who achieved a modicum of success without really setting the world alight. 1997's Drawn to the Deep End was their third album, and I have to say, a pretty insipid one at that. I can see why this kind of stuff appeals to a young audience who get caught up in the rush of it all, especially live, but in the cold light of day, twelve years later, it falls as flat as the proverbial pancake. Nothing actually stood out enough on the record to attempt to name a 'best track'.
Martin Rossiter and Jack Hues both play (real?) Mellotron, although there doesn't seem to be that much about, with just strings on Speak To Me Someone and Save Me, I'm Yours, unless there's more hidden away in the mix somewhere. Overall, then, a dullard of an album, possibly comparable to the tedious Suede, with little Mellotron. Avoid.
Cooling the Mark (2001, 43.23) **½/½
Jig is Up
All She Wants
Rickshaw Ride Through Thailand
Lion of Judah
General Rudie were a Québecois ska outfit, whose first full album, 2001's Cooling the Mark, sticks to the genre template on most of its sixteen short tracks, exceptions including the didgeridoo on Highway and the Latin ska (!) of Lion Of Judah. Best track? Hard to say, without being more into the style, although they seem to do it perfectly well, by modern standards.
Marc Thompson plays Mellotron, with a discordant, real-sounding flute part at the end of Rickshaw Ride Through Thailand, although that would appear to be it. This strikes me as better than, say, No Doubt, if less successful, but you really don't need to hear it for its minimal Mellotron.
Genesis (UK) see:
Gentle Giant (UK) see:
The Gentleman Losers (2006, 49.02) ***½/T½
|An Empire of Coins
Gold Dust Afternoon
Mansion on the Dunes
Horses of Instruction
|Salt of the Sea
Dustland (2009, 51.54) ***/T
Silver Water Ripples
The Echoing Green
Ballad of Sparrow Young
Lullaby of Dustland
Midnight of the Garden Trees
Wind in Black Trees
The Gentleman Losers are two Finnish brothers, Samu and Ville Kuukka, whose raison d'être seems to be to make the most mournful music ever. I suppose you could categorise their eponymous 2006 debut as post-rock, but that would be to its detriment, this quiet but intense set of instrumentals standing head and shoulders above most of the brothers' contemporaries. Samu plays Mellotron, with a major flute part and strings on Gold Dust Afternoon, uncredited strings on Silver Mountain and credited ones on Light Fandango, although whatever's supposedly on Horses Of Instruction and Laureline is entirely inaudible, so given that there's one definite mis-credit, let's assume that there's more.
The duo follow up with 2009's Dustland, essentially more of the same, although with the surprise gone, it's all rather less effective. Samu on Mellotron again (which of their country's three or four machines are they using?), with occasional single string notes on Bonetown Boys and major flute and string parts on Spider Lily. I can't say I'm fully convinced by all the Mellotron work here; in places it sounds spot-on, while other parts could be sampled. Difficult.
Anyway, two pretty good slowcore releases, albeit ones so similar that you really only need to hear one, in which case I'd go for The Gentleman Losers. Decent Mellotron work on both, but more of it on their debut.
Find Shelter (2006, 35.13) ***½/T
|Tied to the Mountains
Walking on Someone Else's Name
Build and Work
Hand Me, Please, a City
Priests of Cholera
Tied to the Coast
Although best-known as producer for Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart and their ilk, Noah Georgeson is a talented musician in his own right. 2006's Find Shelter is his first album, featuring his startling voice, a powerful, Scott Walker-esque baritone that sounds like it could probably tackle The Great American Songbook, should he ever feel the urge. His classical guitar playing, allied to unusual arrangements and That Voice are a million miles away from what the media assumes people want to hear, although Newsom et al. are beginning to prove the lie to that particular theory. There isn't a bad track on the album, but highpoints include Glorious Glory, solo guitar piece Tied To The Coast and closer Angry Afternoon.
Georgeson plays (presumably real) Mellotron on two definite tracks, although the polyphonic flute part on Build And Work insufficiently prepares the listener for the loud-to-the-point-of-distorting choirs at the end of An Anvil. A quite unique record that demands your attention, then, with a smattering of Mellotron for good measure. Buy.
Gerard (Japan) see:
Excerpts From a Love Circus (1996, 51.55) ****/TT
|Baby on the Plane
A Beautiful Schizophrenic
I Love a Snot
Forget it's a Mystery
Singing to the Birds
Messages From Sophia
Big Big World
Apparently, Excerpts From a Love Circus is Lisa Germano's most upbeat album, which makes me worry about the state of her mental health, though in the nicest possible way. Chiefly a singer and violinist, Germano's actually a talented multi-instrumentalist, who knows how to put together an album or two of bittersweet, dark-but-somehow-uplifting songs such as Bruises. Often compared to the likes of P.J. Harvey or, oddly, Tori Amos, I'd actually say that Germano is the greater talent, with considerably more presence on record, and possibly better songs.
The CD digipack doesn't say who plays what, only who appears, so I've no idea who plays the haunting Mellotron flutes on Baby On The Plane (just about the first sound you hear on the album) and, particularly, A Beautiful Schizophrenic, but they sound highly authentic and are right up at the front of the mix. There's a possibility there's some more 'Tron on the album, but what with the real violin and possibly real flute, it's rather hard to tell. So; good album, great 'Tron, just not quite enough of it.
The World According to Gessle (1997, 53.21) ***/T½
Do You Wanna Be My Baby?
I Want You to Know
Wish You the Best
|Elvis in Germany (Let's Celebrate!)
I'll Be Alright
There is My Baby
Lay Down Your Arms
Mazarin (2003, 48.09) **½/T
|Vilket Håll du Än Går
Om du Bara Vill
På Promenad Genom Stan
Smakar På ett Regn
Sakta Mina Steg
Tycker om När du Tar På Mej
För Bra för Att Vara Sant
Här Kommer Alla Känslorna (På en Och Samma Gång)
Jag Tror du Bär På en Stor Hemlighet
Although I'd never previously heard of Per Gessle, it turns out he's vocalist/guitarist/all-round leader of Swedish megastars Roxette and the less well-known internationally though huge back home Gyllene Tider. Older than I'd expected, he formed the latter as far back as '77, forming Roxette in 1986, both bands still operating in one form or another.
The World According to Gessle, released as Gessle, is his third solo album, the first two dating from the mid-'80s. I am so relieved I don't have to listen to those. Er... Anyway, The World... has many things in common with classic powerpop, notably opener Stupid, although it spoils it with cheesy mainstream hit single stuff like I Want You To Know and B-Any-1-U-Wanna-B. Overall, the two just about balance out, giving the album a compromising three stars. Clarence Öfwerman plays Mellotron, with strings and quite overt flutes on I Want You To Know, background flutes on I'll Be Alright and phased strings on Lay Down Your Arms, which makes a nice change from most mainstream pop acts. Is it real? Who knows? Sounds like it, but I've been fooled so many times now I don't even trust myself any more.
2003's Mazarin is his solo follow-up (under his full name this time), a rather different album, largely because it turns its back on the international market, reverting to being sung entirely in Swedish, as were his first two. Sad to say, it's far blander than its predecessor, being mostly ballads and mainstream pop; about the best thing here is probably Jag Tror Du Bär På En Stor Hemlighet, with its electric 12-string and nice bottleneck work. Öfwerman on 'Tron again, with strings on Tycker Om När Du Tar På Mej, sounding as if they're combined with synth strings, but despite the rumoured use on Om Du Bara Vill and the title track, all I can hear is real strings.
So; a pop artist who manages to be occasionally semi-interesting. Better than one who doesn't, I suppose... If you really feel you have to hear the man's solo work, get The World According to Gessle, but despite the odd 'Tron track, I'm really not recommending these to anyone not already a Gessle/Roxette fan.
Geography Cones (2005, 36.44) **½/½
Pardon My French
Not Not Nervous
Shirt Like a Couch
Early Scarlet Globes
Going by their debut, 2005's Geography Cones, the Rhode Island-based Get Him Eat Him (stupid name, if nowhere near as bad as Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly) played a form of vaguely '60s-inspired indie. Infuriatingly, its snatches of interesting music are swamped by some acreage of by-numbers indie, making this a difficult listen for anyone not already immersed in the genre.
Matt LeMay plays Mellotron flutes on closer Early Scarlet Globes, effected in places; real? Who knows? Anyway, for indie fans only, I think.
Hypnotic Underworld (2004, 70.42) ****/TT
God Took a Picture of His Illness on This Ground
Escaped and Lost Down in Medina
Aramaic Barbarous Dawn
Leave the World!
Dominoes - Celebration for the Gray Days
Ghost are an institution in the lysergically-inclined world of current Japanese psych, having released a sizeable number of albums of stoned-out, semi-improv'd weirdness. Hypnotic Underworld is merely the latest of the band's psychedelic creations, moving between various styles in the manner of a silverfish flitting around your house, almost undetectable, but... OK, I'll shut up. Ghost are extremely talented, though, shifting from the freeform drones of the first part of the album's title track, God Took A Picture Of His Illness On This Ground, through more high-energy stuff like Holy High to the early-'70s style folk/psych of Kiseichukan Nite. Some listeners may be in favour of opening the album with a 13-minute stoned jam, but I'd have rather they'd kicked off proceedings with something more cohesive, but that's just my prog roots showing, I think.
Kazuo Ogino's Mellotron crops up on their cover of an obscure Earth & Fire b-side, Hazy Paradise, with a full-on string part, then short bursts of strings on the other tracks highlighted above, though no extended use anywhere. I'm all for subtlety, but a little more 'Tron wouldn't have hurt... They even get a few chords onto their epic version of Syd Barrett's Dominoes, which they've subtitled Celebration For The Gray Days, for reasons best known to themselves.
Although Hypnotic Underworld has prog touches, it's definitely more psych than progressive, so don't buy it expecting a full-on prog-fest (ho ho), or indeed, a 'Tron one. Five 'Tron tracks, but none of them outstanding in that area. Your call.
Two Years to Never (2000, 52.13) **½/½
|One Step Away
Two Years to Never
All That I am
|Next to Me
Means to an End
Ghoti Hook were a Christian ska/punk band (!), whose name apparently derives from George Bernard Shaw's amusing illustration of the irregularities of the English language, 'ghoti' being pronounced 'fish'. Work it out for yourself. Their last full studio album, 2000's Two Years to Never, is far more punk than ska, better tracks including the punky title track, All That I Am and the jammed-out instrumental stuck at the end of the disc, after a lengthy gap, removed from the timing above.
John Davis plays pretty real-sounding Mellotron strings (complete with pitchbend) on opener One Step Away, although I can't hear it anywhere else. While competent enough, I can't find it in myself to recommend this on any level, as everything it does has been done better by someone else, not least its Mellotron use.
Bimba (1977, 37.09) **/0
Il Vecchio Antonio
Se Vuoi Nasconderti
Il Tempo dell'Amore
Quel Gioco Stupido
|Che Cosa Rimane
Sandro Giacobbe is a mainstream Italian singer, active from the beginning of the '70s to the present day. His fifth album, 1977's Bimba (more easily found in its Spanish release, Niña), is a collection of decidedly ordinary late '70s pop/rock, whose music is more than likely little more than a vehicle for the lyrics, not only meaningless to a non-Italian speaker, but most likely pretty anodyne anyway.
Danilo Vaona plays Mellotron (it's actually credited on the inner sleeve), although, assuming it hasn't been used as a catch-all phrase meaning 'something that sounds like strings', it's presumably hidden in the mix, possibly under the real strings evident on several tracks. So; mainstream foreign-language pop with no Mellotron. No, no, no.
Chore of Enchantment (2000, 59.53) ***½/T
Dusted (for the Millennium)
Temptation of Egg
Dirty From the Rain
Astonished (in Memphis)
Bottom Line Man
Way to the End
...Is All Over the Map (2004, 47.57) ****/T
NYC of Time
Flying Around the Sun at
Les Forbats Innocents
Hood (View From a Heidelberg Hotel)
A Classico Reprise
Anarchistic Bolshevistic Cowboy Bundle
Howe Gelb's brainchild, Giant Sand's 13th album, 2000's Chore of Enchantment, is typical of their skewed take on Americana, sounding like it was recorded in a desert full of cranky old keyboards. Highlights include the creepy Dusted (For The Millennium), the abrasive 1972 and the acoustic Dirty From The Rain, but there's nothing here that will offend those used to a bit of pre-country. Mellotron from three different players, Big Star producer Jim Dickinson, Rob Arthur and Kevin Salem, although there's not actually that much to be heard on the album. Dusted (For The Millennium) has flutes and very background strings, with brief double-tracked, panned strings on Shiver, although it's possible that various cellos and vibes are Mellotronically-produced, too.
A bizarre little coincidence that happened while I was listening to this album: Satellite features the line, "You could get Leonard Nimoy to play the part of Leonard Cohen". What am I reading at the time? Nimoy's second autobiography, 1995's I Am Spock. Much too weird, and probably very Giant Sand.
2004's ...Is All Over the Map caries on in similar style, sandblasted Americana with squalling punk rock guitars, not least on the bizarre Anarchistic Bolshevistic Cowboy Bundle, a segue of Anarchy In The UK and a maudlin country toon; no, I don't know why, either. Other top tracks include Cracklin Water and the Italianate Napoli, which highlights the nearest this album has to a problem: maybe it's just a little too diverse? Anyway, Mellotron from John Parrish on Flying Around The Sun At Remarkable Speed, with a high string threnody, with more of the same on Muss, while Fool remains resolutely 'Tron-free until its dying seconds, when a creakily real-sounding Mellotron choir appears to pipe the song out.
Essentially, if you like Giant Sand, you'll like both these albums, and if you don't... Neither of them's that heavy on the 'Tron front, but they're both good albums in a twisted Americana kind of way.
See: Howe Gelb | Calexico
Song of Solomon (1975, 33.58) **½/TTTSong of Solomon
Darkness Before the Dawn
Christ of Galilee
Billows and Waves
One More Mile to Go
I can't tell you much about Pete Giardina, other than he was a Christian singer-songwriter from Indiana who released Song of Solomon in 1975. It's a sort of soft rock/prog-lite effort, notably on its twelve-minute opening title track, intercut with spoken-word passages from Giardina relating to the book of the same name from the Hebrew Bible (good old Wikipedia, eh?). Unfortunately (if predictably), the rest of the album consists of decidedly ordinary generic soft rock with exceedingly overtly Christian lyrics, although compared to most modern CCM, it's really pretty inoffensive.
An unknown musician (Giardina himself?) plays Mellotron strings on the title track, Christ Of Galilee, Billows And Waves and One More Mile To Go to decent effect, although the last three named are all pretty ordinary musically. This goes for silly prices second-hand, but downloads are out there (ahem), so if you feel a yen to hear some Mellotron-heavy early CCM, feel free.
Rise & Fall of Academic Drifting (2001, 53.20) **½/TA New Start (For Swinging Shoes)
Pet Life Saver
The Beauty Tape Rider
Trompsø is OK
Rise and Fall of Academic Drifting
Punk... Not Diet (2003, 44.53) **½/½Too Much Static for a Beguine
The Swimming Season
Given Ground (Oops... Revolution on Your Pins)
Connect the Machine to the Lips Tower (Be Proud of Your Cake)
Once Again a Fond Farewell
The Comforting of a Transparent Life
When You Were a Postcard
Last Act in Baires
Dolphins Are Here to Watch Your Blue Blood Flow
Ah, post-rock. Italy's Giardini di Mirò's debut offering, Rise & Fall of Academic Drifting, initially struck me as sounding not dissimilar to, say, Pineapple Thief, maybe, although as it progressed it became apparent that Mogwai were probably a safer comparison. Something mostly instrumental, rather drifting and not particularly interesting, anyway. Sorry, does that come across as a bit narrow-minded? I've listened to quite a bit of this stuff in the course of my unpaid 'duties', and little of it holds my attention for very long. Am I missing the point somewhere along the line? Anyway, the enigmatically-named Giacomo F. guests on Mellotron, with a string line under real violin on Pet Life Saver and another background string part on Penguin Serenade, neither anything to write home about.
By the even more oddly-named Punk... Not Diet, from two years later, the band had incorporated vocals as a regular feature, using them on around half the album's tracks. The material is, sadly, no more exciting than before, the album's chief plus point being that it's 'vinyl length' and doesn't outstay its welcome. Mellotron from Luca di Mira this time round, with just flutes on (inhale) Connect The Machine To The Lips Tower (Be Proud Of Your Cake) (exhale), although I can't say they add to it particularly.
Is the Mellotron on either of these albums real? Will we ever know? Does anyone care? Two not especially interesting albums that seem to ride piggyback on others' stylistic achievements, which they have in common with most others bands, sad to say. Even if the 'Tron's real, it's all rather unexciting, so I wouldn't bother if I were you.
Blue Apple (1974, 40.46) ***½/TTBlue Apple
Don't Waste Your Time
Go to Find a Way
Reflections Part I & II
Left the Past Behind
Blue Apple was German hard rock outfit Gift's second and last album, and the only one to utilise keyboards, from Dieter Frei. The music is that typically mid-'70s mix of lighter and heavier rock, with a noticeable blues base, but way better than that produced by many of their countrymen, including Jane and Epitaph. There isn't actually a bad song on the album, with top marks going to the high speed Purple/Heep-ish Everything's Alright, complete with Speed King-style classical organ intro.
Frei's Mellotron is apparent from the off, with a 'Tron flute melody running through the title track, and strings on the other credited tracks. It's a shame more bands from the heavier end of the spectrum didn't use Mellotron, as it can work well in that area; kudos to current outfits such as Sweden's Spiritual Beggars for doing exactly that (although it seems they actually used samples). So, against all expectations, Blue Apple is actually very good, and will definitely be played again. Buy? If '70s hard rock's your thing, yes. Pity about the rather crass sleeve, but it was 1974...
Terra in Bocca (1971, 46.40) ****½/TTTTTTerra in Bocca parte I
Avanti Tutto - Brutto Momento - Plim Plim
Plim Plim al Parossismo - Delicato Andante
Rumori - Fine Incombente
Terra in Bocca parte II
Fine Lontana - Allegro per Niente
Tanto va la Gatta al Lardo - Su e Giù
Larghissimo - Dentro Tutto
Alba di Note - Rimbalzello Triste
Rimbalzello Compiacento - Ossessivo Ma Non...
Ex-beat group I GiGanti's last, and sole progressive release, Terra in Bocca, is apparently a concept album based around the Mafia - a brave subject to tackle at any time, but especially in early-'70s Italy. It's characterised by many multi-part vocal sections, though not in the harmonic sense; this is an album that will make very little sense to the non-Italian speaker, to be honest. For all that, it's a wonderful piece (the album really has to be taken as a whole), being an excellent early example of typical Italian symphonic prog; don't forget, this is actually pre- the first PFM album. Multiple tempo/mood changes abound; this is a band who had obviously listened to King Crimson, then applied the lessons learned to their own cultural influences, resulting in something quite unique.
Much Mellotron throughout, from Francesco "Checco" Marsella, with flute, brass and (especially) string parts throughout; given the year it came out, I rather suspect that what you're hearing is one of the few Mark IIs to make their way to Italy, rather than those three sounds on an M400 tape frame. The 'Tron certainly has that particularly rich, reverbed sound that only really comes from a Mark II, although this is a good year before the first known appearance of the M400 choirs, so their lack proves nothing. Actually, this really is something of a 'Tron monster; I know there's still plenty of extremely 'Tron-heavy albums I've never heard, but it's still sometimes surprising to come across one as powerful as this. Marsella obviously had excellent technique, as it never sounds 'clunky', as it can with rather lesser practitioners.
So; Terra in Bocca really is a rather special album. If the Italian vocals aren't a problem, I can highly recommend it, both for the music and the Mellotron. Buy.
Flippin' Out (1993, 50.17) ***½/T
Ride on Baby Ride on
Where I Find My Heaven
The Gigolo Aunts (formed as far back as 1981) are, of course, named for one of Syd Barrett's finest solo moments. 1993's Flippin' Out is only their third full-length album, full of the kind of powerpop that's now become rather clichéd, but was still relatively fresh back then, given that it was already a second-hand style. Irritatingly, there seem to be two different versions of the album, the original release on Fire, then a resequenced one with a couple of different tracks on RCA, which is the one I'm reviewing here. It's a good album, very good in places, but without that certain je ne sais quoi that can make an album great, despite tracks of the quality of opener Cope, Lullaby and Gun.
Mike Denneen plays Chamberlin, with distant strings on Figurine, Where I Find My Heaven and Pin Cushion, none of which particularly enhances the tracks, unfortunately, which isn't to dismiss its use. Powerpop fans who don't already own this should purchase forthwith, however, although anyone after some major tape-replay work should probably look elsewhere. Recommended, though not for the Chamby.
Gila [a.k.a. Free Electric Sound] (1971, 37.57) ***½/TAggression
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1973, 35.00/40.50) ***½/TThis Morning
In a Sacred Manner
The Buffalo Are Coming
Black Kettle's Ballad
Mindwinds and Heartfrost]
Gila are the sort of German band who fall into the 'are they or aren't they?' debate re. 'Krautrock'. By no means as experimental as early Tangerine Dream or as trippy as, say, Amon Düül II, they were certainly more 'out there' than Eloy, Jane, or many of the other relatively mainstream acts of the time. Their style was based firmly on jamming around a basic song structure, or at least it was on Gila (a.k.a. Free Electric Sound, for some reason). The material's actually very good, although both 'Kommunikation' and 'Kontakt' do go on a bit, to be honest; it's all very druggy, with echoes of early Floyd (pun intended), but there's a solid core of good songwriting, putting them several notches above many of their contemporaries. As well as the ubiquitous organ, there's a little of Fritz Scheyhing's Mellotron to be heard on the album, with the unusual combination of brass and flutes on 'Kommunikation', topping and tailing the lengthy piece (and isn't that a riff later purloined by Porcupine Tree?).
Anyway, two years later, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, with its Native American theme, is a very different album to its predecessor, being less trippy and more folky, with much 12-string acoustic from Conny Veit. Decidedly more song-orientated than Gila, Bury My Heart is generally regarded as a Krautrock classic, though with three decades' hindsight, it probably fits the so-called 'acid folk' genre better. Coincidentally, the two Mellotron tracks are probably also the best musically, though others may disagree. Piano and Mellotron are played by, of all people, the now sadly late Florian Fricke, soon to be the one man musical whirlwind otherwise known as Popol Vuh (German version). There's actually very little audible 'Tron; all I can hear is cellos on In A Sacred Manner, and flutes (as against Veit's real one) on probably the album's trippiest track, Little Smoke. I actually find the album slightly less engaging than their debut, though I can see why some listeners prefer it. Oh, and the CD's bonus track, Mindwinds And Heartfrost, is there more for completion's sake than anything else, as it's very average, with terrible vocals.
So; Gila's a good, if trippy, album, with a little Mellotron among the more usual stuff, while Bury My Heart is folkier, making (in my humble opinion, of course) their debut the better of the two albums, though neither's one's really worth it for the 'Tron.