Walter Wegmüller

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Walter Wegmüller wasn't actually a musician, but rather a mystic, artist, and eccentric. Some of the cream of cosmic Krautrock backed him up on his one album, Tarot, which is generally considered a masterpiece.…
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Walter Wegmüller wasn't actually a musician, but rather a mystic, artist, and eccentric. Some of the cream of cosmic Krautrock backed him up on his one album, Tarot, which is generally considered a masterpiece. This Swiss Gypsy was well-known in the late '60s, where he hung out with Sergius Golowin and visual artist H.R. Giger, and in the early '70s, with Timothy Leary, on the run from the American authorities. At this time, Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser, rock journalist and head of Ohr Records, decided to start a new label, Kosmische Musik, to release more cosmic sounds, with the idea of having various visionaries on vocals, which soon lead him to Switzerland. After recording the first of these albums, Seven Up, which paired Ash Ra Tempel with Leary in the autumn of 1972, work began on the second and third records, by Golowin and Wegmüller. By then, Kaiser had gathered a stable of musicians, which included Ash Ra Tempel and Wallenstein, to work on these various projects as the Cosmic Couriers.

As Wegmüller had been working on a set of handmade Tarot cards for several years since 1968, he decided to do an album based on the Tarot deck at the suggestion of Leary. The project started in Switzerland in late 1972, again with Ash Ra Tempel as backing musicians, when Wegmüller suddenly decided there should be a track for each of the 22 cards of the major arcana. Kaiser, becoming more impressed with the project, flew Wegmüller and Ash Ra Tempel to Germany, to add more musicians into the stew. The band Wallenstein, with keyboardist Klaus Schulze, had just finished the Golowin project, so they joined Manuel Göttsching and Hartmut Enke of Ash Ra Tempel, as well as Walter Westrupp from the duo Witthüser-Wëstrupp, for the Tarot lineup to create a cosmic Krautrock supergroup.

The Tarot sessions were recorded in December of 1972 in Dieter Dierks' studios in Stommeln, near Cologne. During one of the sessions, Göttsching, Enke, and Schulze were waiting for the other musicians to arrive, and decided to record an album. Schulze had left Ash Ra Tempel in early 1971, after their first album, so the record, Join Inn, found that band with their original lineup, with the addition of some spoken vocals from Göttsching's girlfriend, Rosi Muller, who also provided backup vocals on Tarot. As for Tarot itself, it was released in early 1973, a double album in an elaborate box that included the tarot deck Wegmüller had painted. As on the similar album by Golowin, Wegmüller talks rather than sings on Tarot, and there are many lengthy instrumental sections as well, though on a much grander scale.

Wegmüller went back to Switzerland and Kaiser soon embroiled most of the musicians from Tarot in a new group called the Cosmic Jokers, but that's an entirely different story. Wegmüller, meanwhile, eventually wrote a book, Neu-Zeit Tarot (New Age Tarot) that was published in 1982 by AGM Agmuller Press.