One of the most wonderfully ridiculous things about Krautrock is the wide variety of music that ends up shoved in that section of the record shop and Between is a fine example. Formed by two German students of composition and an international line-up of musicians, they attempted to build a bridge between classical and popular music. Their debut album “Einstieg” has little in common with it’s shelf-mates.
“Katakomben” begins with haunting Gregorian chants before suddenly a funky bongo joins in. It all works in perfect harmony, though I can never quite work out why the sound of what seems to be men and women being mauled by tigers is on there. “Two Trees” has hints of Popol Vuh soundtracking a medieval banquet but with intricate percussion. It’s a very heavy on the flute, hardly surprising as Jimmy J.Galway the flute player would go on to be Sir James Galway, the internationally famous flautist.
“Volkstanz” is the track most indebted to the groups mentor, Karl Orff, bursting with drama and easily the closest to straight up classical on the album. It makes you want to gallop across misty medieval fields on your steed, chasing the ghosts of dawn. “Primary Stage” is a fast, frantic number with Galway playing his flute like its a knife and Cottrell Black doing freestyle scat singing while playing so fast he threatens to melt his congas. It is as strange as it is incendiary.
“Flight Of Ideas” takes Sir James Galway to a place you never thought he’d been – dark, abstract Euro horror-style soundtrack. It would seriously not be out of place in a Jess Franco movie. “Triumph Kaiser Maximilian I” perhaps seems to most perfectly sum up the Between ambition. The flute, organ and singing are all in the classical school but then the bongos and guitar lean more towards the freak folk/rock side. It is a total genre fusion.
“Barcelona Rain” allows their Argentian guitar player Robert Detrée and oboe player Bob Eliscu to get all Popol Vuh complete with sounds of rain until the thunder strikes and then just as you are relaxing and blissing out the whole ensemble freak out like some wild, free improvisation which wakes you from the spell.
“Memories” is another wild, jazzy number with Egyptian hints and saxaphone honks. There is an underlying tension building within the track and it breaks down further and further into abstraction. I find myself reminded of the wilder sides of Basil Kirchin or even Luc De Ferrari.
“Space Trip” is, as the name suggests, the most way-out track on here. A long, discordant track with what sounds like weird electronics but could just be some extraordinary playing on the classical instruments. It follows on heavily from “Memories” taking things even further out into the unknown.
“Try Bach” is a little skit bringing things to a humorous close which appears to depict Sir James Galway attempting Bach on his flute before swearing and snapping it in two. It makes a nice bit of light relief after the intensity of the previous three songs and also adds a nicely memorable touch, making sure you go away from the album with a cheeky smile.