Various Artists

Deutsche Elektronische Musik

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Subtitled "Experimental German Rock and Electronic musik 1972-83," this two-CD set is exactly that. Krautrock isn't necessarily synonymous with electronic music, but often it was heavily or partially electronic, and these two-dozen tracks (including no more than two by any one act) include works by some of the most renowned exponents of the form. Kraftwerk is a notable absentee, but otherwise, this set includes many of the most celebrated Krautrockers, among them Can, Faust, Neu!, Amon Düül II, Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Rodelius, Ash Ra Tempel, and Conrad Schnitzler. Together with cuts by considerably more obscure artists known outside of Germany primarily to Krautrock specialists, it yields a good cross-section of a style that was likely more influential in subsequent decades than it was at the time. Of course, no project under box set size can cover most of what are considered the key Krautrock tracks, and some aficionados may contend that these two-hours-and-fifteen minutes of music miss some essential high points. However, and importantly for a sampler/introductory survey of sorts, it contains a good deal of variety and covers quite a few corners of the music that's been lumped into this category, which is sometimes stereotyped as cold and metronomic electronic exercises that drain the visceral heart out of rock. There is some heavily rhythmic electronic stuff and synth-heavy sobriety that verges on gloom, naturally. But there's also languorous jazzy jamming (Ibliss' "High Life"), dreamy quasi-psychedelia (Amon Düül II's "Fly United" and Ash Ra Tempel's "Daydream"), atmospheric eerie cinematic ambience (Popol Vuh), and shades of Indian music (Between's "Devotion" and Deuter's "Soham"). And how refreshing to have Faust, a band who could be notoriously inaccessible to the mainstream rock listener, represented by one of their most likeably approachable pieces, "It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl." The accompanying 36-page has an overview essay of the genre and commentary on the specific bands and tracks included in the anthology.

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