Sunday, 8 September 2013

Bröselmascine - Selftitled (German Folkprog 1969)


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Inspired by the American folk music of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs and Joni Mitchell, German master of acoustic guitar Peter Bursch formed the first line-up of BROSELMASCHINE back in 1968 alongwith flautist/vocalist Jenni Schucker - a female singer with an irresistible whispy voice - Willi Kissmer on vocals, guitars and zither, Lutz Ringer on metallaphon and bass, and Mike Hellbach on congas, tabla and mellotron. Although many tracks bear German names, almost all are sung in English. The quintet disbanded after a first album in 1971 and Bursch, keeping only guitarist Kissmer from the original line-up, pursued his musical endeavours under the name of PETER BURSCH UND DIE BROSELMASCHINE, joined by percussionist Mani Neumeier (GURU GURU), drummer Jan Fride (KRAAN) and three other musicians.

Their eponymous LP is definitely their best: a wonderful acoustic album full of finesse of subtle Indian, Middle-Eastern flavour (sitar, tabla, flute) as well as Irish/Scottish traditional folk (mandolin, multi-voice harmonies). Their second album, released under the moniker PETER BURSCH UND DIE BROSELMASCHINE, unfortunately doesn't even come close to the first. In spite of its decidedly folk flavour and many guest appearances, it is altogether different and less inspired, putting the emphasis on Bursch's acoustic guitar techniques (although Kissmer's electric guitar steals the show at times).

For fans of EMTIDI, early HOELDEERLIN or other such cosmic folk bands, the first BROSELMASCHINE album is a breath of fresh air.

 This is one of those rather obscure gems that is probably more folk than progressive, but the interplay of Celtic and Middle Eastern sounds atop a bed of what almost sound like Peter, Paul and Mary covers makes for a very charming album and a good use of a little more than a half-hour of your time.
Bröselmaschine was basically a one-shot German band who seem to have been heavily inspired by American folk singers of the sixties, plus featured the stunningly gorgeous and folksy vocals and flute of one Jenni Schucker. Amazingly Schucker doesn’t seem to have appeared on anything after this release.

This album was impossible to find for decades until it was reissued on CD in 2005. I just read this week that Akarma is releasing this on domestic CD in December 2007. I have the Ohr German import version that was released a couple years ago, which was the only other CD version I’m aware of. I don’t know if the Akarma release has the same tracks as this one or has some bonus material, so I will have to check into that one. But since Peter Bursch’s material after this release is generally considered inferior I’d be surprised if any bonus material amounted to much.

The tracks don’t range too far from my opening description, with the exception of the lengthy “Schmetterling” which does manage to blur the line between Middle Eastern-inspired folk (sitar, flute, zither, metallophon – you get the idea) and full-blown psych. There is even an extended flute solo that places this album squarely at the end of the flower-power era.

The rest of the album is much closer to rather tame hippy folk, although the presence of the zither, congas and tabla do manage to give the remaining tracks a bit of a dated sound.

On “The Old Man's Song” Schucker manages to come off sounding a bit like Grace Slick circa Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow days. This isn’t really a psych number though, as much as it is a rather intense folk piece accented with a light touch of slightly psych-and-blues guitar, tabla and the ever-present zither. Albums like Joe Byrd’s American Metaphysical Circus and the Comfortable Chair’s self-titled release also come to mind. [progarchives.com]

Personell:
- Jenni Schucker - vocals, flute, shells
- Willi Kismer - vocals, guitars, zither
- Lutz Ringer - metallophon, bass
- Mike Hellbach - congas, tabla, spoons, mellotron
- Peter Bursch - vocals, acoustic guitar, sitar, flute

01. Gedanken (5:06)
02. Lassie (traditional) (5:06)
03. Gitarrenstuck (2:03)
04. The Old Man's Song (5:26)
05. Schmetterling (9:31)
06. Nossa Boba (8:06)

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3 comments:

Doug said...

Thanks Chris.I have never heard of(or maybe just totally forgotten) this band.I will listen with interest.

And ... WELCOME BACK!

Anonymous said...

Good to see you back, Chris!
Back then Peter Bursch lived nearly just around the corner.
I remember visiting him a couple of times; we listened mostly to those hard to get John Fahey albums!
Rank Stranger

Nektar said...

This is one of my all time favouries. Thank you.

The correct year of relase is 1971