Agitation Free - 2nd

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Garden Of Delights
Catalog Number: CD 071
Format: CD
Total Time: 40:45:00

Agitation Free's second album, 2nd was also essentially the last album the band made, though Günther and Gustl Lütjens, the latter of whom joined the band after the album's release, recorded music under the Agitation Free name. Lütjens replaced Stefan Diez who had joined the band to replace Jörg Schwende; Schwende's drug problems made him "increasingly unreliable, and you never knew if he would make it to gigs," it relates in the liner notes. As a result, the band replaced him with Diez. Schwende died in May of 1990.

As much as I liked Malesch, I like 2nd much more. The middle-eastern motifs are essentially gone, though that isn't why. In fact, it is of the Southern part of the US that comes to mind ... which I will explain as we go along.

The musical atmosphere of 2nd is very laid back, all but two pieces being languid, mellow, spacey, guitar lead rock. That exception is the 2-minute long noodling by Hoenig, as he experiments with his synthesizer in "Dialogue And Random" - blips and burps and bumps of sound that could easily be used for sound effects in a 70s B sci-fi flick or the like. These type of effects recur in the first part of "A Quiet Walk." Here they are subtle, leading into an even more subtle section... where one can just hear a quiet throb. Guitar does play a role in the latter half of this two part piece. While one guitar plays in a very liquid electric style, the other plays in a dryer, acoustic style - each though reminding me of good country music. They both have a twang, but it is a twang even a prog lover can appreciate.

The album opens with the lovely "First Communication" - a true delight for lovers of guitar, being a shimmery, spacey piece of music. "Laila, Part 1" follows in this same tradition, being the track that begins with the type of guitar solo that ended many a song in the 70s. Part two brings cheerfully bouncy bass up into the mix. Thinking of The Allman Brothers band here wouldn't be entirely out of place. Maybe because of the clear, crisp, crying guitar notes that are being played. Not because Agitation Free sound like them, but there is something in the style that is similar. Though the prominence of the bass also makes me think of early Yes. All sounding like the cool jam played during the extended solo section... where otherwise "conventional" rock bands showed their improvisational spirit. Here it's all "meat" and no "fat."

"In The Silence Of The Morning Sunrise" has a knowing feel to it. Though there is no trumpet, guitar is again the lead instrument, it has that cool sophistication that I associate with Miles Davis. I always picture Davis as the kind of performer who could be on stage with a huge audience surrounding him and yet to him there is only himself and the music. This piece has that same kind of feel, very internal, and yet then very personal. Chirping sound effects, which is meant to represent birds, sometimes goes off into very unbirdlike tones, giving this otherwise very stately track, some lightheartedness. It a strange dichotomy that somehow works wonderfully. I mean, it's not kitschy like, oh, Steve Miller's "Jungle Love," just to snag an example - though there the chirps came at the beginning and end.

"Haunted Island" is creepy, as befits its subject. There are some vocals here, sung in a very dry and echo-treated way... sometimes given an underwater effect. The sung-spoken delivery made me think of The Doors' "The End." Here, too, Rausch plays a bit of mellotron. Here again we a treated to more guitar, here sounding a bit darker than on previous tracks.

While "Dialogue And Random" might get a little trying after several listenings, the rest of the album holds up beautifully. Really great, amazing stuff.

First Communication (8:18) / Dialogue And Random (2:00) / Laila, Part 1 (1:32) / Laila, Part 2 (6:45) / In The Silence Of The Morning Sunrise (6:29) / A Quiet Walk (9:11) a) Listening b) Two - Not Of The Same Kind / Haunted Island (7:10)

Stefan Diez - guitar
Michael G?nther - bass
Michael Hoenig - keyboards, synthesizers
Burghard Rausch - drums, assorted percussion, voice and mellotron
Lutz Ulbrich - guitar, 12-string guitar, bouzuki


Jackie and Frank Diez - vocals (6)

Malesh (1972/2002)
2nd (1973/2002)
Last (rec. 1973/74; 1976) Fragments (rec. 1974;1995) At The Cliffs Of The River Rhine (rec. 1974;1998) The Other Sides Of Agitation Free (rec. 1974; 1999) River Of Return (1999)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin DE

Added: September 22nd 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1524
Language: english


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