Erlkonig is yet another obscure Krautrock band from the mid-'70s, even more obscure than many others, that only released one self-titled album. Their take on symphonic rock, fronted by guitar and keyboards, was extremely lively and powerful, combined with that typical Krautrock angst. The group formed in early 1972 in Helmstedt, a town that at the time sat on the border between East and West Germany. Three of the members -- keyboardist Eckhardt Freynik, drummer Michael Brandes, and bass player Gunter Armbrecht -- were in Paradise on Earth, a group that played a much softer, mellower symphonic progressive rock. When guitarist Friedrich Kruger joined the group, they renamed themselves Erlkonig, a name taken from a famous but mistranslated Goethe poem, and which was meant to capture the spirit of a group capable of many mood changes and dynamics in their music. With Klaus Koch as their business manager and promoter, Erlkonig somehow amassed 20,000 dollars worth of music equipment among them, a lot more than most groups at that time. During two weekends in January of 1973, they recorded the six tracks of their eponymous album at a piano store in Brunswick, West Germany, and not much later the album was privately pressed at one thousand copies, to be sold at gigs and local record stores. With three tracks to a side, the music was mostly instrumental except for a couple tracks sung in English by drummer Brandes. The music was all composed by the leader of the group, keyboardist Freynik, with the lyrics by Freynik and Klaus Koch. The group lasted for almost six years without any changes in their lineup before disbanding near the end of 1977, due to loss of popularity, which they attributed to the rise of disco music. During the group's lifespan they played between 60 to 70 gigs, even opening for Atomic Rooster and Frumpy. A few more demos were recorded a few years after the LP, and show the band veering into a far more pop-oriented mode, with shorter songs that retain only a few of their progressive touches. These tracks, along with a much better fourth demo recorded at the same time as the self-titled LP, have been added as bonus material to the CD reissue of the album, which was released by the Garden of Delights label in 2001.
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