Various Artists

Cloud Cuckooland

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Eckart Rahn was a German musician who, after several years working in radio and music publishing, started his own record label, Kuckuck, from the German word for "Cuckoo." While Rahn's first love was jazz, he distributed a wide variety of music on Kuckuck, and the Finders Keepers compilation Cloud Cuckooland features 20 tracks from the Kuckuck archives, drawn from the label's pioneering progressive rock, Krautrock, and electronic releases. Rahn clearly wasn't afraid of musical eccentricity or adventure -- "10 Finger Blind" by Ernst Schultz is a piece performed primarily on a manual typewriter -- and while nothing here reaches the heady heights of Can or Neu!, there's no arguing that what's here is uniformly well-crafted and produced with intelligent clarity. Sam Spence's Moog synthesizer pieces walk a fine line between embracing the more outré tones of the instrument and an intelligent, melodic approach, and Ihre Kinder (who evolved from the beat-era combo Jonah & the Whales) are the rare progressive rock band who can actually rock out, with tough guitar work and strong melodies. Out of Focus' arty selections fall more into the category of classic Krautrock, while Antiteater's music is moody and deeply atmospheric (some of their pieces here were used in the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder). Deuter's "Der Turm" is a bizarre bit of twisted Easternism, while the artist offers a more gentle and contemplative sound on "Night Rain." Armageddon's "Oh Man" is about as close to boogie as Krautrock gets, and "Nichts" by Lied Des Teufels sounds like a halfway point between prog rock and jazz fusion, suggesting Rahn wasn't straying too far from his roots. Cloud Cuckooland is hardly the last word on Kuckuck and Rahn's adventures in the music business (he later went on to form the new age label Celestial Harmonies, which he still runs today), but it's a well-programmed look into his adventures in the new German rock of the '70s.

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