Kalacakra – Crawling To Lhasa

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The duo of Heinz Martin and Claus Rauschenbach recorded and released “Crawling To Lhasa” in 1972. It is the only album the duo recorded and it’s a very funny experience to listen to it. Musically it sits somewhere between early Amon Düül, raw Captain Beefheart (the bluesy “Tante Olga”) and often it’s not unlike some of Witthüser & Westrupp’s folk music (who came originally from Essen, a town next to Duisburg).

With Witthüser & Westrupp, Kalacakra share a sometimes silly sometimes witty sense of humor: Like the second song “Jaceline” – about a girl named Jaceline and her parents named “Herr und Frau Jaceline” who have friends named “Herr Jaceline und Frau Jaceline” which had seven kids named “Jaceline, Jaceline, Jaceline, …” like a mantra it goes on and on and on about various things and people named “Jaceline”.

They must have had a lot of good weed back then. And that Jaceline-rhyme is even more hilarious if you are familiar with the dialect spoken by the locals in the Duisburg area (called “Ruhrpott”) where such a French name is usually pronounced as “Schakkeline” (and this wrong and somewhat sloppy pronunciation indicates a certain kind of provincial mentality of the locals, so to speak). It’s as complex as easy to get when you’re German, but we’re reaching a language barrier here – the joke and its meaning aren’t transferable into the English language.

The same goes with “Tante Olga”. A bluesy jam with two separate vocal-tracks mixed together. One is in English – a Don-Van-Fliet-like rant; the other’s in German: Martin and Rauschenbach laughing and talking about getting another beer, about not having enough cigarettes and even about the fact that they don’t understand what the English voice-track is singing about: “Was singt der da?”

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This dope-fuelled humour is as important as all the faux-indian-styled instrumentals such as “Raga No. 11”. Of course, the repetitive and instrumental folk jams are the reason why the record is loved internationally. “September Full Moon”: nine minutes of flute and guitar strumming, a simple and beautiful melody – perfect music to light another spliff. The more bluesy “Arapahos Circle Dance”: tambourine, harp and electric guitar n’ bass playing a psychedelic miniature. Nice one.

Considering the drugs-induced humor and the beautiful psychedelic music “Crawling To Lhasa” seems like the perfect snapshot from the times past: early 1970’s in Germany, when wearing long hair wasn’t just a fashion-decision. These beautiful outsiders created something back then that’s dated on the one hand but on the other hand it is revived by beer-drinking potheads like Sylvester Anfang II who nowadays seem to carry the same spirit: having fun, not taking yourself too serious and making great music.

Technical note: This once hard-to-find release has been rereleased/bootlegged several times. It’s best to search for the Garden Of Delights vinyl-reissue from 2010, because it comes with a 4-page libretto displaying labels of all bootlegs and previous pressings plus rare pictures and bilingual linernotes (German/English). It even features pictures of the obscure NDW-records Heinz Martin played on (as Heinz Robert Martin). One thing that is absolutely embarrassing about the re-release: it features two additional tracks recorded in the late 1990’s (“Deja-Vu” and “Vamos”) – cheap keyboard & drum-machine driven world-music-tunes, disgusting.

 

review by Holger Adam

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