Friday, November 27, 2020

Amon Düül II - "Wolf City" [1973]

Artist: Amon Düül II
Title: Wolf City
Genre: Krautrock
Country: Germany
Release date: 1973

Track List:

  1. Surrounded By The Stars
  2. Green-Bubble-Raincoated-Man
  3. Jail-House-Frog
  4. Wolf City
  5. Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strasse
  6. Deutsch Nepal
  7. Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge
  8. Kindermörderlied
  9. Mystic Blutsturz
  10. Düülirium

Yes, it's that band whose song Deutsch Nepal took the name from, and that has influenced quite a lot of other industrial artists. That said, Amon Düül emerged from the hippie rock scene of the late 60s (that was so disliked by most early industrial musicians, and not without reason), but eventually became one of the seminal bands in the Krautrock genre, starting from their highly innovative debut album "Phallus Dei" (1969):

"Amon Düül was initially an anarchist commune, but it split into two factions, Amon Düül (sometimes called Amon Düül I for disambiguation) and Amon Düül II. ADI was more politically inclined, but ADII preferred making music. Their anarchist tendencies are clearly seen in their music, especially on the albums Yeti, Tanz Der Lemminge, and Wolf City.

The band can be seen as having two distinct periods in their glory days, the improvisational period and the compositional period. The improvisational period consisted of albums such as Phallus Dei and Yeti, and, to a lesser extent, Tanz Der Lemminge. These albums all featured long, improvisational tracks (Phallus Dei was entirely improvised, and disc two of Yeti was as well, but Tanz Der Lemminge only featured one improvisation). Their compositional period starts with Carnival in Babylon and is highlighted by Wolf City. In this period, the band moved to more structured composed pieces. Many fans saw this as a poor move, but some believed that Amon Duul II proved that they were just as good at composing as they were at improvising"

I personally consider "Wolf City" their best album from their "glory days", and that's the album I would recommend to start listening to ADII discography from. Renate Knaup's vocals are certainly not for everyone's liking, and take some time to get used to them, but I think her voice sounds great in the opening track "Surrounded By The Stars" (my favourite song from ADII!). In general, the album sounds quite original and futuristic, and certainly not outdated even today. Check out one of the bonus track "Mystic Blutsturz", which might be considered one of the earliest examples of darkwave or dream pop. Not very familiar with the rest of their discography after "Wolf City", but as far a I know, there was a significant drop in quality of their music after 1975, so maybe I haven't missed much...

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