To discover music for the first time via the purchase of a physical copy of the record – it’s a rare thing nowadays with all the everyday talk about music on social media platforms and all that digital jazz!
I hadn’t heard about Jürgen Karg before when I encountered a copy at my local second hand record shop. Filed under “Electronic Music” it was sitting between the usual suspects: Klaus Schulze, Vangelis, Eberhard Schoener, Tangerine Dream… etc. – but the second I took a look at the intriguing cover – a black and white picture that looks like it was taken at the set of Tarkovsky’s “Stalker” – and read the appealing title “Elektronische Mythen” (Electronic Myths) I was quite sure that this record had to be a good one. 35 Euros, mint condition. I didn’t hesitate to buy it and the investment was worth every damn dime. (Of course, the first thing at home was to look at discogs if I paid a reasonable price or not… well, the vinyl fever,… what can you do?). Okay, enough of the record-collector’s pathetic memories.
“Elektronische Mythen” is the only thing Jürgen Karg recorded – as far as I know. He also participated on Wolfgang Dauner’s Free Action record in the late sixties. “Elektronische Mythen” was released about ten years later in 1977 on the Mood label (co-founded by Dauner) even though the back cover indicates that the first track “Die versunkene Stadt – Atlantis“ was produced within the period of 5 years between 1972 and 1977. I have no idea why it took Karg so long to record that music, what else he did all the time or what he’s doing today. Is he still alive, did he already die? It’s all a complete mystery.
The music on “Elektronische Mythen” is made by synthesizers and tape recorders and to give you an idea about how it sounds: Klaus Schulze’s “Irrlicht” can be seen as an older brother of “Elektronische Mythen”, maybe. And since I drew that connection already: It could have worked fine as an alternative soundtrack to Tarkowsky’s “Stalker”.
There’s an eerie yet dreamy atmosphere to the music. It’s a quiet record for the most, but it can make your skin crawl from time to time. Daphne Oram’s “Oramics” also come to mind, when listening to Karg’s music. All in all it’s a very challenging listen. At first you might think that not much is happening at all within the two sidelong pieces, but the closer you listen the more you discover the changes in the tempo and mood of the music.
And the more you listen, the more you begin to ask yourself: Why and where to did Jürgen Karg disappear? Maybe the record was a commercial failure, maybe no one took note back then, because the record was released on a label that specialised in Jazz, mostly? I’m pretty sure “Elektronische Mythen“ would have drawn more attention and would be more present in the collective memory of Krautheads worldwide if it would have been released on Sky back then.
Until now “Elektronische Mythen”remains as mysterious as its creator – maybe both get rereleased/rediscovered some time. Given that Karg’s still alive I’m not sure if he wants to be dragged to daylight but “Elektronische Mythen” definitely deserves a wider attention. It’s a great record.
review by Holger Adam