Various Artists

The World of Krautrock

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The title of this double CD might imply a larger breadth than it really covers. Everything here is Krautrock, to be sure, but Popol Vuh is the only name likely to be familiar to some general rock fans; Guru Guru (represented by three cuts) and Witthuser & Westrupp might be known to specialists, if only because they were discussed in Julian Cope's Krautrocksampler guide. It's filled out by cuts from little-known Krautrockers Birth Control, Wallenstein, Broselmaschine, Holderlin, and Walpurgis. Not all of this is the kind of hip, off-kilter experimental rock associated with Can, Faust, and the like. Some of it just sounds like Teutonic variations of the pomp-rock more associated with standard art-rock bands like Yes, ELP, and Focus (if you doubt the appropriateness of the description, listen to Birth Control's "Just Before the Sun Will Rise"). There's more diversity than the Krautrock label might imply, too. Wallenstein's "The Priestess" sounds like eccentric British early-'70s rock in the mold of Kevin Ayers or Kevin Coyne; Bernd Witthuser's "Dracula" is bizarre sing-along folk-rock; and dig the transition from sitars to an adaptation of Jimmy Page/the Yardbirds' "White Summer" on Broselmaschine's "Schmetterling."

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