Sand

Ultrasonic Seraphim

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This two-CD set contains all of Sand's one and only album, Golem, from 1974, as well as whole lot of additional Golem-era tracks and three cuts from Born at Dawn, an unreleased solo effort by Sand vocalist Johannes Vester recorded shortly after Sand's demise. Golem is a strange blend of dark, off-kilter folk music with a very heavy dose of electronic effects. In fact, "Helicopter" starts off with several minutes of rotor-blade-sounding electronic pulses and other effects before heavily processed vocals and guitar strums take over. The music moves from abstract soundscapes to surreal songs, and all of it is filtered through a special artificial head recording system to make for particularly good headphone listening. With Klaus Schulze at the controls, many of the songs have a similar cosmic trippiness to his early solo stuff and Ash Ra Tempel, with lots of electronic swooshes and washes. "May Rain" bounces on an odd om-pah rhythm as the acoustic guitar notes swirl around. There is very little percussion, except on "On the Corner." The highlight of Golem is the haunting two-part "Sarah," starting off as a slow, eerie dirge with whispery voices and then becoming cosmic folk with more distorted vocals. The bonus tracks offer some alternate takes of Golem material, some of which are radically different, like "May Rain" stripped down to gentle acoustic guitar and vocal, as well as pieces that didn't make the album but are also excellent, such as the desolate folk piece "Desert Storm" and the long electro-pulsing "Power Station." The two tracks called "Vulture" are even more abstract and droning. The three pieces from Vester's solo effort are far more conventional folk-rock when compared to the Sand tracks, though they are still a little odd, with dark lyrics and even a hint of Sand's magic.