Sunday, December 22, 2013

Amon Düül

This is the earliest known film of Amon Düül made in 1968 in Munich. Amon Düül was a German political art commune formed out of the student movement of the 1960s that became well known for its free-form musical improvisations. This spawned two rock groups, Amon Düül (sometimes referred to as Amon Düül I) and the more famous Amon Düül II. After both groups disbanded in the 1970s, some of the original members reunited in the 1980s under the name Amon Düül again, though this incarnation is commonly referred to as Amon Düül (UK) to avoid confusion with the original one.

Amon Düül engaged in exuberant open-ended experimentation that at times equalled their psychedelic rock equivalents in countries such as the USA or Brazil (e.g. Os Mutantes), with a focus on political activities. The members were close to Kommune 1 in Berlin and boasted, for a time, a prominent member in the model and activist Uschi Obermaier. Amon Düül signed a contract with the firm "Metronome Records", and continued for seven years with varying degrees of success and in various guises. They wound down in 1973 after releasing four official albums (and a posthumous fifth), though all except one were recorded at the 1968 sessions for their debut. Apparently, the man responsible was producer Peter Meisel, who released the albums without the band's approval in an attempt to capitalise on the success of Amon Düül II. The LPs are these days regarded as unique, if unessential, records in the history of German rock. In contrast, their Paradieswärts Düül album featured a pastoral, folk-influenced sound (produced by Julius Schittenhelm) which is highly regarded amongst krautrock fans. The name 'Amon Düül' was trademarked by Chris Karrer and Peter Leopold of Amon Düül II, meaning that re-issues of Amon Düül's albums have been required to license the name from them.

Rüdiger Nüchtern’s short film Amon Düül II Spielt Phallus Dei dates from 1968 and is a single camera documentation of the Krautrock legends performing the title track from their soon to be released first album. The band perform in a studio in Munich against a wall with psychedelic projections, with shots of a sunrise, sunset, clouds, trees and the German countryside added in. The personnel here are Christian ‘Shrat’ Thiele (bongos, vocals) Peter Leopold (drums), Dieter Serfas (drums), John Weinzierl (guitar), Falk Rogner (organ), Chris Karrer (violin, guitar) Renate Knaup (vocals) and Dave Anderson (bass).

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