Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Japrock vs. Krautrock

I first developed a taste for Krautrock from a friend who suggested a few bands I might like to check out, and also lent me his copy of Julian Cope's great book Krautrocksampler from a good few years ago now. I tracked down lots of Can material quite quickly, including some of the solo and collaborative efforts of its various members. I also managed to find copies of a couple of Neu, Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Cosmic Jokers, Faust and Ash Ra Tempel releases. Can, Faust and Neu were probably my favourite of that batch. I didn't discover the likes of Amon Düül, Harmonia and Popol Vuh until much later. Harmonia were a really great find and I was quite surprised to not have discovered them earlier through my following of Brian Eno.

I have made extensive use of lastfm.com over the past few months to discover more Krautrock but today something I was listening to or reading brought back a distant memory of a book I'd seen called Japrocksampler, again by Julian Cope. I remember looking a t it briefly in the shop at the time but then promptly forgot about it. So, it was with great interest this week that I have been exploring Japrock on lastfm.com. I'm definitely a novice in this area but have unearthed some interesting bands and songs already.

The Flower Travellin' Band were a bit of a surprise. Admitted I've only heard a couple of tracks so far but was surprised that they were a bit blues/rock oriented. I had some sort of impression that the genre would be really quite weird and experimental, so whilst this was not unpleasant, it was slightly unexpected.

My expectations however were soon set right when I heard some material by Magical Power Mako. The tracks which have come up so far are from the more recent albums, but are still challenging in their own way.

Probably the most bizarre discovery however was Les Rallizes Dénudes. Not only is their music interesting, but the band history is also somewhat out of the ordinary in that one of the band's members took part in a plane hijack with the Red Army Faction, and ended up taking asylum in North Korea. That is so much more rock'n'roll than throwing the TV set out of your hotel room window.

Having been impressed with what I've heard so far from this genre, Japrocksampler is definitely a book I'll be tracking down, and the Japrocksampler web site is a great resource too. As with some of my other less mainstream tastes such as Nurse With Wound, Throbbing Gristle, etc., it's not the sort of music that the rest of the family appreciate too much, so listening becomes somewhat more of a private pleasure.

I'll probably write more blog entries on this fascinating subject once I know more about it and have discovered which aspects I like more/less than others.

I don't own any Japrock records or CDs that I've grown out of and/or stored electronically yet, but I do have some Krautrock CDs and records for sale for anyone interested.

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