Ash Ra Tempel

Join Inn/Starring Rosi

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For Join Inn and Starring Rosi, the fourth and fifth offerings from Germany's Ash Ra Tempel, frontman Manuel Gottsching assembled a pair of trios, abandoning the expanded lineups of Schwingungen and Seven Up for the sort of leaner ensemble heard on the group's debut. On Join Inn, the multi-instrumentalist is joined by bassist Hartmut Enke and drummer/keyboardist Klaus Shulze for a pair of extended compositions. During the appropriately titled opener, "Freak 'N' Roll," the group ebbs and flows across 20 minutes. At times they echo the stiff, motorik drive of some of their Krautrock contemporaries; at others, they resemble a live rock & roll power trio attempting to leave the stage behind. "Jenseits" is a spoken-word piece delivered by Rosi Muller. Enke reduces his bass work to minimal statements that ring out against the shimmering electronic backdrop provided by Gottsching and Shulze. Prior to the recording of Starring Rosi, both Enke and Shulze left the band. The vacancies were filled by Dieter Dierks (bassist on Seven Up) and drummer Harold Grosskopf. The resulting compositions were the group's most accessible for a number of reasons. Song lengths were greatly reduced for one (nothing stretches beyond ten minutes) and the prominence of Rosi Muller's breathy spoken word lent the album a sense of unity. While the improvisations often seemed directionless, the psych-folk structures that lay beneath provide the band with a welcome set of boundaries.

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