Erlkoenig - Erlkoenig

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Garden Of Delights
Catalog Number: CD054
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:34:00

Erlkoenig's self-titled release, originally released as a private pressing LP in 1973 and reissued last year by Garden Of Delights, is very much of its time. That which puts in squarely in the early 70s is the keyboard work of Eckhardt Freynik. The liner notes quote from two sources, The Crack In The Cosmic Egg and Cosmic Dreams At Play, both of which mention that lyrics are in German ... though seem to be refering to the album, not having actually heard it. The lyrics are, in fact, in English. However, the album is mostly instrumental and this is what provides the most interest. Erlkoenig were, in addition to Freynik, Günter Armbrecht on bass, Friedrich Krüger on guitar and Michael Brandes on drums and vocals. Freynik, Brandes and Armbrecht played together as Paradise On Earth, later joining up with Krüger to form Erlkoenig in early 1972. The original album consisted of 6 tracks; an additional four bonus tracks are added to this CD release, though the latter two seem to be the same track with different titles and lyrics.

Owing to the unique sound qualities of the keyboards that Freynik used, one will hear sonic similarities to other bands of the period, which might fool one into saying that Erlkoenig sound like some artist or another. One element in "Erlkoenig Impression," just to give you an idea of the tone colours being uses, sounds like the keys in "Green Eyed Lady." Freynik plays a combination of organ and piano. For a brief moment there's a passage that makes me think of the Animals' "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood." "Tomorrow" is dark and moody, though it seems like it could have been a Beatles track, sung by John Lennon. Mmm...the though that came to mind is that this what Lennon night have done if he had been a bit more arty in the Beatles early years. Well, that is until we get a guitar and percussion duet, which morphs into a classical piano and percussion piece. Jethro Tull will, for a brief moment, come to mind during the intro to "Divertimento," the most classical-jazz influenced track with Freynik playing beautifully free piano notes. Brandes' drums and percussion are minimalistic. Easily one of the best, if not the best, tracks on the album.

"Thoughts," is exactly that -- it begins as a collection of musical musings that one might find as accent or bridges in some longer work, before one thought is settled upon and explored from that point forward, until a new, but related "thought" is explored -- each thought leads to another. These musings take the form of guitar string flutterings and transitional keyboard phrases. It contains varying textures with organ, piano, guitar (sounds like an acoustic, but none is mentioned in the credits). The musical interplay between the quartet, shows why this LP has been sought out, fetching $45 mint in the collectors market.

The track that seems the most "progressive" (as in genre) is "Castrop-Rauxel," contain very faint echoes of King Crimson's "Court Of The Crimson King" in terms of feel and instrumentation, much less so in structure -- vocally its quite different, sonically quite similar (the same could be said of the first bonus track, " The Lad In The Fen," a track recorded as a demo). Even early Genesis comes to mind a bit during a certain understated keyboard passage -- not to over use the words, but it's moody and musing.

"Love Is Truth" is an acoustic-feeling track evocative of the feel-good 70s. It is, in contrast to everything else, bright and sunny -- as the title might suggests. At times I thought of the Eagles, though Freynik's organ gives it an added flavor. You could almost sing "Tequila Sunrise" to this song -- it's lasts all of two and half-minutes. At a little over three minutes, "Run Away" is a track that wouldn't have seemed out of place for Supersister, say, and early 60s UK rock (Kinks maybe). These two are in a more "mainstream" direction, and fall in contrast the 6 or minute tracks that make up the bulk of the album.

But for the two upbeat bonus tracks, the album overall is dark and moody, though it goes down well. It is a solid and very well played release. Though there are some very active sections, because it so moody, it doesn't otherwise manage to generate any excitement. The lyrical phrases anyway don't lead you to think that this is an upbeat album - "I hope tomorrow is soon" ("Tomorrow")..."I wish the Monday away" (as in "would be gone," as I read it, in "Monday Morning." one of the bonus tracks). The exception is the lively, rockier track "Blind Alley," which sounds very contemporary. Not really jazz-rock, but along the same musical lines. It is Krüger's guitar which is the lead instrument here, playing an extended solo. It's a taut track, focused and deliberate. An abrupt change signals the track's closing, in which keys once again take the lead.

Worth seeking out for the instrumental tracks alone. The interesting tidbit is that the album proper was recorded over a period of two weekends -- for what might be called a hastily assembled release comes out as very strong and thought out release.

Erlkoenig Impression (6:20) / Tomorrow (5:02) / Thoughts (9:31) / Castrop-Rauxel (7:13) / Blind Alley (5:07) / Divertimento (8:04) / Bonus Tracks: The Lad In The Fen (7:26) / Love Is Truth (2:30) / Run Away (3:10) / Monday Morning (4:51)

Eckhardt Freynik - organ, piano, flügel
Freidrich Krüger - 6 and 12 string guitars
Michael Brandes - drums, vocals
G¨nter Armbrecht ? bass

Erlkoenig (1973/2001)

Genre: Rock

Origin DE

Added: May 18th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1520
Language: english


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