Saturday, August 15, 2020

Amondüül II - Wolf City (German Progressive Rock 1972)

Size: 144 MB
Bitrate: 320
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan SHM-CD Remaster

Wolf City is the fifth studio album released by the German Krautrock band Amon Düül II.

Like its predecessor, Carnival in Babylon, Wolf City is a more conventional recording than the band's earlier albums, with shorter track times and more straightforward song structures. This was likely due to the band's increasing commercial popularity, both at home and in the UK. Despite this, some of the album's tracks, such as "Jail-House-Frog" and "Deutsch Nepal", are still overtly experimental.

Amon Düül II's fifth studio album is a more conventional recording than most, though there's still a lot of the involved experimenting and dark undercurrent which sets the band apart from the mainstream, along with the off-kilter hooks and odd humor which saved them from being lumped alongside more serious (and less easy to take seriously) prog rock outfits. 

After the lengthy explorations of Tanz der Lemminge, Wolf City seems targeted to an extent at a commercial English-speaking audience, perhaps reflective of their increased status in the United Kingdom, if not in America. Regardless, opening song "Surrounded by the Stars," the longest track on the album at just under eight minutes, is also one of the band's best, with strong vocals from Renate Knaup-Kroetenschwanz, a dramatic building verse (complete with mock choir), an equally dramatic violin-accompanied instrumental break, and a catchy chorus leading to a fun little freakout. 

Knaup actually takes the lead vocals more often this time out and turns in some lovely performances, as on the beautiful, perhaps slightly precious "Green-Bubble-Raincoated-Man," with a great full-band performance that grows from a nice restraint to a slam-bang, epic rockout. Lothar Meid gets his moments in as well, his sometimes straightforward, sometimes not-so-much vocals adding to the overall effect as before. 

The one full instrumental, "Wie der Wind am Ende Einer Strasse," is excellent, with guest Indian musicians adding extra instrumentation to an intoxicating, spacious performance. While Wolf City generally sounds like a tight band playing things live or near-live, there are some equally gripping moments clearly resulting from studio work, like the strange loop opening the title track (percussion, guitar?). 

Concluding with the groovy good-time "Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge," including some fantastic E-Bow guitar work, Wolf City works the balance between art and accessibility and does so with resounding success.

Amon Düül II
Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz – vocals
 Chris Karrer – guitars, soprano saxophone, violin
 John Weinzierl – guitars
 Falk-Ulrich Rogner – organ, clavioline, synthesizer
♦ Lothar Meid – bass, vocals, synthesizer
 D. Secundus Fichelscher – drums, vocals, guitars

Guest personnel
 Jimmy Jackson – choir organ, piano
 Olaf Kübler – soprano saxophone, vocals
 Peter Leopold – synthesizer, timpani, vocals
 Al Sri Al Gromer – sitar
 Pandit Shankar Lal – tablas
 Liz van Neienhoff – tambura
 Paul Heyda – violin
 Rolf Zacher – vocals

01. "Surrounded by the Stars"  Karrer/Rogner  07:44
02. "Green-Bubble-Raincoated-Man"  Weinzierl  05:03
03. "Jail-House-Frog"  Weinzierl  04:50
04. "Wolf City" Karrer/Fichelscher/Rogner/Weinzierl/Meid  03:18
05. "Wie der Wind am Ende einer Strasse"  Karrer/Fichelscher/Rogner/Weinzierl/Meid  05:42
06. "Deutsch Nepal"  Kübler/Meid  02:56
07. "Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge"  Fichelscher/Rogner  04:54

Bonus Tracks:
01. "Kindermörderlied"  Karrer  05:59
02. "Mystic Blutsturz"  Weinzierl/Knaup-Krötenschwanz  10:11
03. "Düülirium"  Karrer/Kühler/Weinzierl/Knaup-Krötenschwanz  04:25

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