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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Amon Düül (UK): Fool Moon


1) Who Who; 2) The Tribe; 3) Tik Tok; 4) Hauptmotor; 5) Hymn For The Hardcore.

Four years later, long after the sympathetic, but unfortunate Menmachines has been completely wiped out from the memories of those few who happened to have it rubbed in, «Amon Düül» are back — as usual, uncalled for, unexpected, and unwelcome. But most likely, they knew it, and this time, there are no rational calls for accessibility or fitting in with the times. Instead, in order to find new inspiration, they recruit the assistance of former Hawkwind partner, the crazy sci-fi poet Robert Calvert — and try to come up with a record that would combine the classic «Teuto­nic coldness» of Amon Düül II with the surrealistic/cosmic aura of classic Hawkwind. Two re­cords, in fact, both released the same year; but I have been unable to determine which one came first and which one came next — the UK incarnation of Amon Düül is not exactly an Elvis Pres­ley-level act, to have every aspect of their discography easily available to the public through re­liable, uncontroversial sources. So let us begin with Fool Moon because I like its title more.

Of course, combining the spirits of Amon Düül II and Hawkwind is the kind of goal that would be surmised from such a pooling of talent. And, to a certain extent, that is the kind of general sound that Fool Moon gives the listener. The feel of its psychedelic jams does somewhat remind of Yeti, even if the sound is much thinner and the recor­dings feel far more pre-planned. And Calvert's trademark sci-fi recitals do recall the spirit of Hawkwind, at least as far as the «ridiculous» aspect of Hawkwind is concerned (because Calvert's presence on the band's albums, with a few spontaneous exceptions, generally contributed to the effect of teenage-style silliness rather than overwhelming admiration).

Unfortunately, one thing Fool Moon is rather poor on are ideasparticular ideas, ones that form the backbones of individual tracks and, when the stars are right, turn them into masterpieces. There are but five tracks altogether, and, of the 43 minutes that they occupy, at least 10-12 are gi­ven away to the proverbial nothing, a.k.a. noise. The industrial percussion clanging on 'Who Who' and the endlessly annoying clock ticking on 'Tik Tok' (Dark Side Of The Moon made its point far more briefly — and far better) are bad enough, but worst of all is 'Hauptmotor', which begins with six and a half minutes of «hot summer day sounds»: birds chirping, flies buzzing, and somebody quite busy sawing up logs in the backyard. Not only is it utterly pointless (why not go out and buy a Nature Sounds CD instead?), but, I must add, having to listen to this in the dead of winter, with -20 Celsius outside the window, is not my perfect idea of assimilating an important artistic statement.

However, even once these 12 minutes fly out the door, the listener is still stuck with a surprising paucity of tricks. 'Who Who' only exists to show how fun it is to play with spooky echoey vocals over industrial-bluesy cling-clanging (now we raise the volume — now we lower it!). 'The Tribe' is probably the best of the lot, a sharp, aggressive guitar jam with convincing blast-offs from Weinzierl, but even that track does not get too far along, and it certainly represents nothing that we already haven't heard before. 'Tik Tok', once the instruments finally take over the clocks, be­comes a decent blues jam with one excellent riff and lots of complementary wanking. The musi­cal part of 'Hauptmotor' is just one musical line repeated over and over again, over which Calvert half-sings, half-recites something in German. And 'Hymn For The Hardcore' (I suppose that is a fairly tongue-in-cheek title) is four minutes of... sitar noodling (and rather primitive at that — like some talentless fan's tribute to 'Within You Without You'; again, I fail to understand why I need to be listening to this when I could choose Ravi Shankar instead, or Alice Coltrane at least).

In short, Fool Moon is one of those quintessential records that solemnly try to make a point by being utterly pointless. The riff of 'Tik Tok' and the solo on 'The Tribe' should be amputated and saved for future generations who might want to put them to better use in a context that makes more sense. Everything else is, at best, a curiosity, especially for its time: one thing I will admit is that not many acts sounded like that in 1989. (Quite a few acts sounded like that fifteen years ear­lier, though, which might explain their not wanting to sound like that in 1989).

Check "Fool Moon" (CD) on Amazon


  1. no thumbs = thumbs neutral
    usually anyway. I think there have a been a few exceptions to this.