Necronomicon

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A group like Necronomicon typifies some of the mystic and magic around a lot of early 1970s Krautrock in the way they take the idealism of the late-'60s hippy era, and filter it through a Teutonic angst…
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Artist Biography by

A group like Necronomicon typifies some of the mystic and magic around a lot of early 1970s Krautrock in the way they take the idealism of the late-'60s hippy era, and filter it through a Teutonic angst that has more in common with late-'70s punks and more recent movements like grunge. The title of their one and only record, Tips Zum Selbstmord (How To Commit Suicide in German), certainly seems more in step with punk's nihilism, even as it raised a few eyebrows when it came out in 1972.

In early 1971 the group formed in Aachen, Germany, near the borders of both the Netherlands and Belgium. Taking their name from an H.P. Lovecraft novel, the initial group consisted of Norbert Breuer on guitar and vocals, Harald Bernhard on drums, and Walter Sturm on guitar and vocals. They soon recruited organ-and-keyboardist Fistus Dickmann and bassist Detlev Hakenbeck and constructed an elaborate live repertoire of heavy progressive rock songs with long, complex structures and arrangements. Whereas many German bands at the time sang in English, Necronomicon sang in German, and their lyrics dealt with environmental problems, air pollution, the nuclear arms race, and the suppression of women. With over-the-top acid guitar riffs and more Pink Floyd-ish psychedelic moments, the group's music was dark and powerful.

By February of 1972 Bernhard Hocks had replaced Hakenbeck on bass and the group received financial support to record an album. In that month or March 1972 they entered a semi-professional studio in the Netherlands to record Tips Zum Selbstmord. The record was self-released not long after that, in a limited edition of 500 copies with an elaborate multi-paneled cover that folded out in the shape of a cross, with illustrations done by drummer Bernhard depicting nightmarish images of tortured bodies and anguished faces. The record has since become one of the highest priced collectors items among German rock records of that era, fetching prices as high as $850.

In late 1972 Necronomicon went through some lineup changes; Sturm quit to join Rufus Zuphall, while Dieter Ose replaced Dickmann on organ and keyboards, and Gerd Libber replaced Hocks on bass. Throughout 1973 they worked on new material, and some of their compositions at this time were nearly an hour long, and almost impossible to play live. In 1974, Sturm returned to the band, and the group even recorded a demo cassette live in their living room. By now the group was playing more melodic progressive rock with much less anger and angst. The group may have existed as late as 1981 though no other recordings were made. In 1990 the Little Wing of Refugees label released the 4-record set Vier Kapitel that included Tips Zum Selbstmord, two records worth of live material from the early days in 1971, and 45-minutes from the 1974 cassette. Though on most of it the sound quality is not very good, the brilliance of Necronomicon's music still shines through. Little Wing eventually released Tips Zum Selbstmord by itself on CD in 1996 with a generic cover.