Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Violin From the Archangel's Thunderbird

While I'm fairly certain I've posted about the genius of Amon Duul II on this blog before...or perhaps at least over at Planet of the Scrapes...I feel that it's important to delve more deeply into their work here - and even more specifically into the wailing, warbling, sky-reaching violin of Chris Karrer. The history of the Amon Duul commune scene - and the excellent bands that were born out of its fecund radical womb in the 1960s - has been covered in detail elsewhere (most notably Julian Cope's amazing Krautrocksampler) so I'll just cut to the fucking chase won't I. Karrer. His violin playing is truly radical and like nothing else out there. Just listen to side 2 of Amon Duul II's seminal Phallus Dei (seen below in a freaked-out live version) for a truly mind-destroying door-growing manifestation of this claim. It's like a gypsy hoedown on the surface of Mars. What if Ludwig Van was born in 1942, ran away from Germany for a while to discover the joys of consuming pounds of hash in some forgotten corner of Morocco, then decided that the piano didn't let him play between the notes enough, picked up a violin, plugged it in through an array of fucked synthesisers and just let it scream? Karrer's playing is unmistakably classical but it's so munted and stoned out that it's like the entire European musical tradition was re-interpreted by some extra-terrestrial being and beamed directly into Karrer's brain. The delay present in a long-distance phone-call comes to mind. In a way this could be said of Amon Duul II in general...they wanted to escape post-war Europe and the guilt of simply being German by making something not made on this Earth...something from another world entirely. Karrer's violin is just that...otherworldly...but full of a screaming desperation that is entirely human. Amon Duul II had the good fortune of becoming a fairly big deal on the live and recording circuit during the late 60s/early 70s, making the radical violin of Chris Karrer perhaps one of the more widely heard examples of a truly mind-altering approach to violin performance. The radical credentials of Karrer's violin are unquestionably strong. The whole Amon Duul concept is deeply radical and truly adversarial in its complete rejection of so-called Western Civilisation. These Amon Duul II fiends still live the commune experiment, still live off-the-radar, still fight the good fight through sound and art. While other German revolutionaries chose to take the great leap into death and destruction, Amon Duul II and the violin of Chris Karrer chose to use sound as their weapon, but perhaps weapon isn't the appropriate word here, I prefer "vehicle". Karrer and Amon Duul II provided a vehicle to reach a better world, a vehicle with no fixed coordinates and no damn plan but to make a better world by taking Earth's inhabitants far out into space and finding a new one altogether. Dial this badboy up to around the 3 min mark to see Karrer pick up his violin if you're attention span is too short to watch the whole thing. It's all brilliant so I recommend the latter. God's Cock...parte 2 is the more violin-orientated one I believe...

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