Switched On – Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4 (Soul Jazz Records)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Deutsche Elektronische Musik has proved to be an enterprising series from Soul Jazz Records, with its packaging proving to be every bit as colourful and quirky as the music it presents. While the mention of Krautrock will make readers think of bands such as Can, Neu! and Popol Vuh, the crate diggers at Soul Jazz present some of the lesser names alongside these luminaries.

It proved an effective formula on the first three volumes, each offering a double album’s-worth of treats, and the fourth looks set to offer similar rewards.

What’s the music like?

A great deal of fun. One of the great things about this set of tracks is the feeling that the rules have been pushed to one side. Anything goes, and as a result the variety of grooves, colours, riffs and moods range far and wide.

To offer a few highlights, Agitation Free offer a lovely bit of pastoral cheerfulness with Laila, Pt. II, a mood which could also be levelled at Between’s Triumphzug Kaiser Maximilian I. Can’s I’m So Green is typically excellent, with a shuffling groove, while Michael Rother’s Flammende Herzen expands really nicely from a dreamy interlude to a more driven groove.

My Strand-Eyed Girl from Virus is very Doorsy, with that late 1960s psychedelia feel, and E.Mak impress with their more modern sounding Tanz In Den Himmel, and its hazy block chords. On the stranger side of the fence sit the German psychedelic band Kalacakra, with a long, drone-led ritual of goblin like voices. Meanwhile Roedelius offers a nice, woozy instrumental in the beatless Halmharfe – the lack of beats immediately compensated by Dzyan’s descriptive drum workout Dragonsong.

Finally Günter Schickert applies a really excellent beat and guitar panning for Suleika, a track which has already found favour with the likes of Richard Fearless, then Witthüser & Westrupp apply some dreamy meandering for Schöpfung (1. Mose 1), before it grows into a more athletic wig-out.

Does it all work?

Not all of it will be according to taste, but that is part of the appeal with this series – Soul Jazz include so many different free standing styles that it would be almost impossible to like them all. This instalment is noticeably more relaxed in its grooves than the last, but the musical positivity is still ever-present.

Is it recommended?

Wholeheartedly. If like me you already owned the first three volumes of this excellent series, there is no need to hesitate about the possibility of adding a fourth. It is another history lesson cum late night party soundtrack.

Stream

Buy

You can hear clips from the compilation and purchase from the Soul Jazz shop, Sounds Of The Universe

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