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(60 min, Inside Out)
TRACK LIST: 1. Just One Way 3:46 2. Vollgas Ahol 6:07 3. Silky Way 4:01 4. Rendezvous in Blue 5:56 5. Let's Take a Ride 5:24 6. Rund Um Die Uhr 3:31 7. Yaqui Yaqua 5:19 8. Wiederhoren 7:13 Bonus track: 9. Ein Wiederhoren Mit Einem Bass Solo 19:28 All tracks: by Kraan. Produced by Kraan. LINEUP: Peter Wolbrandt - guitars; vocals Hellmut Hattler - basses Ingo Bischof - keyboards Jan Fride - drums DISCOGRAPHY (full-length studio albums only): 1972 - "Kraan" 1973 - "Wintrup" 1974 - "Andy Nogger" 1975 - "Let It Out" 1977 - "Wiederhoren" 1979 - "Flyday" 1982 - "Nachtfahrt" 1989 - "Dancing in the Shade" 1992 - "Soul of Stone" 2002 - "Through"
Prolusion. KRAAN is the flagship of Germany's Jazz-Fusion, even though their native brothers in style, Passport, perhaps had some wider international success (thanks to the deal with Atlantic Records they had from the very beginning of their career). Although I've heard only two albums by Kraan until now, "Andy Nogger" and "Let It Out", it's enough for me to regard them as one of the ten best bands of the genre, whose peak of activity falls in the heyday decade of Progressive Rock history. Revisited Records, which is a division of Inside Out Music, has recently re-released three out of the four albums from the mid-period of their creation: "Wiederhoren", "Nachtfahrt" and "Live '88". Each reissue represents a deluxe digipack with enhanced booklet, new photographs and liner notes, the CD's upper side being designed in imitation of vinyl discs. To read the review of "Nachtfahrt", please click here, while "Live '88" will be reviewed for the next update.
Analysis. On their fifth studio album, "Wiederhoren", Kraan appears in its classic lineup, which was in the ranks from 1974 to 1982 and from 2001 to present. Like most, if not all, of the Progressive Rock units born at the dawn of the movement, this band has always had its own voice, rooted in the free spirit of the era, as well as in the specificity of their country's cultural traditions. If I were prompted to find any points of comparison, I would call Brand X and Happy The Man, but with the reservation that both of these appeared on the Progressive Rock map no less than three years later than Kraan. From the creative standpoint, there is no difference between "Wiederhoren" and the band's previous two albums, all being masterworks. All the most notable aspects of Kraan at their most glorious: originality, power, intensity, melody, emotion, technical filigree and precision are here in abundance. Classic Jazz-Fusion aesthetics, in combination with the same distinctive spirit of the epoch, is obvious throughout the album's eight tracks, most of which are similar among themselves by structural and stylistic characteristics. Each member offers equal amount of fire and coloration to the overall effort, though these are bassist and guitarist (who sings in addition) who are usually at the axis. Very few places for rest, as well as non-composed improvisations (Symphonic Prog lovers, please note this) can be found on the instrumentals: Vollgas Ahol, Rendezvous in Blue, the title track, Rund Um Die Uhr and Yaqui Yaqua. These are quirky, intelligent compositions with constantly shifting themes, laced with original chord progressions, dramatic intensiveness and high dynamism. The latter two feature pretty unique vocalizations and acoustic guitar solos interwoven with basic fabrics. Although the band's instrumental ambitions are restrained to a traditional guitar / bass / keyboards (mainly pianos) / drums setting, there is such a giddy amount of "dramatic personae" within the music that it would be impossible to retell all of its peripetias. Brilliant stuff. The songs: Just One Way and Let's Take a Ride are among the very best Jazz-Fusion works with vocals I've ever heard. What slightly distinguishes them from the instrumentals lies in the presence of a Rock component and the wide use of congas, apart from drums. Silky Way is the only significant digression from the primary style. This is mainly slow and quiet instrumental symphonic Space Fusion with no drums, by beauty and atmospherically comparable with Carried by Cosmic Winds from the "Planets" album (1981) by Kraan's countrymen Eloy. The 20-minute bonus track is from one of the live performances the band did the same year in their motherland. It begins and ends as a modified version of the title track, while the middle can hardly be perceived as anything else but bassist Helmut Hattler's benefit performance. There is a long, highly diverse and masterful bass solo (processed via Taurus pedals, as I suppose), following which, there arose a storm of ovation from those attended the show.
Conclusion. What distinguishes Kraan from many other Jazz-Fusion outfits, and what always impressed me very much, is the detective-like construction of their music and its 'mystical' undercurrents, seducing the listener to undertake more and more happy dives into it. In the second half of the '70s, there were few of this genre's representatives who played as inspired and masterfully as Kraan did on "Wiederhoren" - you could count those on the fingers of your hands. Ultimately recommended, unless you suffer from fusion-phobia:-). Top-20-1977
VM: October 2, 2005
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