Kalacakra - Crawling To Lhasa

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Garden Of Delights
Catalog Number: CD 053
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:35:00

Kalacakra were a German psych duo that played a very heady mix of percussion, flute, drones, and effects. But that short statement doesn't really aptly describe what Kalacakra sounded like. While perhaps and idealized (or romanticized) image, if you were imagine yourself stoned in the 70s, listening to two equally stoned musicians follow their muses, somehow managing to make it all work together, then you have at least a bit more info to go by. Throw into that mix the Lollipop kids from The Wizard Of Oz (equally stoned out of their minds) speaking in tongues, and to themselves, off in some hallucinogenic fantasy world ... then this is the additional element that...doesn't quite work for me. I mean, it's all part of the music and all, but... it's not the attractive element. That's just "Nearby Shiras," the first piece (misspelled on the sleeve as "Naerby Shiras").

The speaking/voicings in "Jaceline," the next track, are much more pleasing, and leads into the much more interesting core of the album, including "Raga No. 11" and the acoustic, mellow, lyrical "September Full Moon," with its gentle, warm flute tones and rich guitar. This latter track has a very intimate, live feel. If there are any drawbacks, it lasts a just a little bit too long.

Psychedelia returns with "Arapaho's Circle Dance." The 4/4 circular rhythm is both mesmerizing and very evocative of dancing. "Arapaho" is a Native American word, and the music reflects this very same heritage. The album proper closes with "Tante Olga," which takes nearly the same rhythm as "Arapaho," but speeds it up a bit, and adds vocals -- you are in the center of party (even down to what sounds like pop-tops spitting open). The vocals have a bluesy cadence. Other than some interesting guitar leads lifted from classic blues-rock (though no track in particular), this track pretty much stays in one place. Percussion comes in to change the vibe, but this only makes the track dissolve into what would result if the guests were taking up the band's instruments while the band were on a break ... only some how finding a groove towards the end. Vocally, it sounds as if Van Morrison were holding court, but not making much sense.

Two bonus tracks are included, "Vamos" ("We Go") and "Déjà Vu." which date from 1983 and were recorded by Heinz Martin in his home studio. The difference in feel is immediately evident... "Vamos" is more new agey in feel. I thought of James Reynolds's in particular (The Mind's Eye "soundtrack"), but many other synthesists come to mind as well, including early Steve Roach and Tangerine Dream (yes, that would be 80s TD). Synths, drum machines, guitars cutting across the instruments, but not in a lead role, ethnic percussion. All the right elements in the right place, but not a great deal of warmth, though it doesn't sound bad. "Déjà Vu." is more of the same, though it has more of a dark edge than does "Vamos."

Crawling To Lhasa is the only release that Claus Rauschenbach (guitars, congas, percussion, vocals, harmonica and "slentem") and Martin (electric guitar, flute, piano, vibraphone, schalmei, cello violin, and synthesizer) produced. Kalacakra, where the "c" is pronounced "tch" as in "stitch," means "Wheel Of Time" in Tibetian (Lhasa is the capital of Tibet). It is the rhythms and patterns of the music from that region and surrounding regions, that informs the music. Sans vocals, and released today (for the first time) this would have likely been placed in the same bin as Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Vidna Obmana, etc. (to name the usual "suspects"). As it was, when originally released, this album didn't sell well. It is only in the "after market" that interest was piqued. Today, depending on the condition, a vinyl copy can fetch up to $350 USD.

As you expect, because this is a carefully tended Garden Of Delights release, there are informative and extensive liner notes, which detail the duo's brief history, as well as the release history -- official and unofficial -- for the album. Taken from an LP, as the master tapes were lost, the GoD production is crystalline, as they employed the Cedar NoNoise system to clear out the clicks.

Overall, it's a very interesting archival release, mainly for the middle four tracks. If you are into German psyche and/or "third world" musics, you will find either or both tastes satified. Recommended.

Nearby Shiras (9:16) / Jaceline (6:15) / Raga No. 11 (5:34) / September Full Moon (9:35) / Arapaho Circle Dance (2:28) / Tante Olga (7:31) / Bonus Tracks: Vamos (6:48) / Déjà Vu (5:38)

Claus Rauschenbach - guitars, congas, percussion, vocals, harmonica and "slentem"
Heinz Martin - electric guitar, flute, piano, vibraphone, schalmei, cello violin, and synthesizer

Crawling To Lhasa (1972/2001)

Genre: Psychedelic-Space Rock

Origin DE

Added: June 2nd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 578
Language: english


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