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Saturday 3 February 2024

V.A. Saturday

I'm a big fan of a well selected and well sequenced Various Artists compilation. Some of my favourite albums from then 1988- 1993 period are V.A. records, Creation's Doing It For The Kids and Keeping The Faith, the Emotions Electric: Retro Techno compilation of Detroit techno, the fist volume of the Cafe del Mar series. Jon Savage has compiled numerous compilation albums, punk, post- punk and his Perfect Motion: A Secret History Of Second Wave Psychedelia. Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs have assembled umpteen good ones. I thought I'd start a Saturday series of Various Artist compilations and see where it goes. There's a backlog of compilations from last year I haven't got near writing about yet and this might be a good way to make it happen.

This one has been sitting on my hard drive since the middle of last year, a twenty track compilation called Silberland Vol 2- The Driving Side Of Kosmische Musik 1974- 1984. I've no idea where it came from or who sent it to me but I burned it to disc and have been playing it in the car this week. It's on Bureau B, a Hamburg based label which releases 'past and future classics'. There are enough familiar names on this- Cluster, Thomas Dinger, Mobius Plank Neimeier, Faust and Roedelius all feature- and some lesser known ones too- Asmus Tietschens, Lapre, Adelbert von Deyen and Serge Blenner are all new to me. The compilers have done a very good job of unearthing twenty relatively unknown kosmische tracks, all in one way or another,built around the motorik drumming West German music is famous for, with some genuine surprises- the synths, keys and electronic sounds here in some cases sound like proto- techno. All twenty tracks are worth hearing, many are groundbreaking, progressive and experimental and most are very accessible too. As my car has eaten up the miles between home and work this week, the non stop rhythms and melodies of these pioneers and innovators from the Federal Republic Of Germany have made it less of a chore. Here are two, one from near the beginning of the album and one from near the end. 

Cluster were Hans- Joachim Roedelius and  Dieter Mobius, a duo who met in 1971 who relocated from Berlin to the rural village of Forst in Lower Saxony. Their album 1976 Sowiesoso is one of my favourites from the scene/ period. The track on Silberland is Prothese, taken from Cluster's Grosses Wasser album, released in 1979, chirruping synth riffs, clanging distorted piano chords and rackety drums, with occasional guitar notes and speaking voices. 


Die Partei's Guten Morgen In Koln, from 1981, is early electronica, stuttering drum machine and synths and a lovely arm synth bassline, sounding remarkably like the kind of bassline that would end up emanating from Detroit a few years later. This is as much early 80s synth pop as kosmische but it fits in perfectly with the sweep of West German musik presented on Silberland Vol 2. Which begs the question, why don't I have volume 1?

Guten Morgen In Koln


John Medd said...

You mentioned the Cafe del Mar series - I used to lap those up. I used to dig the Fabric sets too.


Swiss Adam said...

Yep, Cafe del Mar Volumes 1 and 2 are essential, after that the quality wanes a bit but still some gems. And yes to the Fabric series, great sets.

Khayem said...

Great stuff, Adam. The Trance Europe Express compilations from the same period were also superb, the first two especially.

From a decade later, but the Select Cuts From Blood + Fire comps were excellent and one of very few reasons (label co-founder) to be grateful for Mick Hucknall. I must dig them out.

JC said...

Great idea for a series.