The combination of singer-songwriter Bernd Witthüser and multi-instrumentalist Walter Westrupp with Rolf Ulrich-Kaiser on production creates a union of esemplastic power. “Trips Und Träume” is the most overtly psychedelic folk entry in the krautrock cannon. The vocals are loud and clear in the mix and there is much strumming of the acoustic guitar.
Yet, “Trips Und Träume” is so much more than that. Westrupp creates some beautiful and amazing, not to mention mysterious sounds. Album opener “Lasst Uns Auf Die Reise Gehn” begins with some startlingly vivid and trippy zither playing. It is not just the melody that is impressive but the resonant recording of it which lends this traditional instrumental an almost mythical air.
The next track “Trippo Nova” is a totally different beast. A slow, trippy driving, motoric folk track. It veers quite close to Faust circa “So Far” at times but is its own beast, a psychedelic folk travelogue and a full, wide nine minutes long.
Side A closes with the infectious but dreamy “Orienta” which is somewhere between Kaiser’s opium dream production and what sounds like Amon Duul II doing “Zorba The Greek”. It is as silly and amazing as it sounds.
Side 2 begins with the beautiful, full-fat instrumental “Illusion 1” where Westrupp plays flute, percussion and trombone. It is a full wall of sound effect, shimmering with melody and reverberation.
Bar the fun little oompah break down in the middle, “Karlchen“ is a bit dull for us non-German speakers. It’s mostly narration and a minimal guitar and flute backing. However, I’m told the narration is telling a story similar to childrens classic “Where The Wild Things Are” only being the story of a dog who runs away instead of a child. This strikes me as a wonderful idea, so I love the track for that, even if I can’t follow it.
“Englischer Walzer” is a minute and a half of drunken waltz, full of midnight magic and mushroom madness. Doesn’t sound particularly English to this ears but perhaps I’m missing the joke.
“Nimm Einen Joint, Mein Freund“ brings it all to a cheeky ending. It begins all pastoral and whimsical, again not too far from Faust’s similar experiments on “So Far” but then builds up into a spritely sing-a-long in celebration of taking drugs. Perhaps to keep it to the people who need to know, it is sung mostly in English. In fact, it might all be in English but just a bit in incomprehensible in places.
While obviously a product of its time, “Trips Und Träume” is also way ahead of its time and has aged beautifully. You really don’t have to look too far in the record shops to see its influence there in the current wave of acid folk. Yet, there is a warmth to this album that eludes many of its imitators. Partly this comes from the duos sense of humour that sneaks into the music and prevents it becoming pompous or pretentious. Another important part is Kaiser’s high-tech production makes it feel vividly alive as it comes out of your speakers. While Kaiser’s legacy is not without its controversies, when you stick this on it speaks for itself.