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There’s no doubting that the sheer scale of Embryo-related work is enormous. Hailing from Munich and featuring input from more musicians than I could mention, the band’s back catalogue is stupendous. The embryonic Embryo began life through former Jazz organist Christian Burchard in 1970, and the group was swift to fuse jazz with space rock , Krautrock and African vibes – quickly forming an ever-evolving sound that somehow remained consistently their own. Today, more than 35 years on, Embryo are still going strong.

Here’s the story of how I discovered Embryo:

I first encountered Embryo nearly four years ago, while sifting though a bunch of dusty uninspiring German LPs. At that stage I was really digging anything on the Ohr label, so when I noticed Embryo’s first LP I was all too quick to snap it up, paying through the nose for it (and without the all-important balloon attached to the cover). Despite the silly price, it was just what I wanted. Long, fuzzed out, scorching screaming guitars similar in style to Krautrockers 9 Karat Gold, mixed with echoes of Doldingers Motherhood.

Despite this early Embryo enthusiasm, I then bizarrely forgot all about them until about a year ago. When looking through the Krautrock section in a reputable London record store I stumbled across "German Rock Scene Vol 2" at a snip. Once home I played the Embryo cut "Music of Today" (taken from Surfin LP). I was blown away with how much the sound had evolved. The underlying Krautrock tones were still present and correct, but this track had a groove, and a really tough one at that.

With bass, two guitars playing off each other and a thumping beat, this really was something special. I needed more. Hot on the trail I purchased "We Keep On", and again I was blown away. Another really strong rhythm section, at times slightly reminiscent of vintage Can (particularly "Mother Sky" from "Soundtracks"), long bass, guitar and heavy drum freakouts – the way it should be!

Hot on the heels of this purchase I then picked up what many consider to be Embryo’s ‘tour de force’, "Steig Aus". From the enigmatic and legendary Green Brain label, this is considered by many to be Embryo’s best LP and is a largely instrumental effort consisting of a few intricate suites. This is not Embryo’s most accessible LP, but it’s a great listen. The amazing musicianship between the players is awesome.

After Steig Aus I obtained a copy of "Rocksession" – Embryo’s second and final Green Brain LP and by far the best and most whacked out psychedelic kraut jazz monster I’ve ever heard. It’s even got the Legendary Sigfreid Scwhab on there, again amazing drums and bass workouts. This is the best Embryo LP (IMHO) and certainly the one which I would recommend to any new Embryo-ites. I have yet to obtain a copy of Embryo’s "Rache" but it’s reputedly very good.

There you have it – a concise introduction to a band many believe are the only Krautrockers to rival the mighty Can.

Lee Brady November 2005.

Selected Embryo Discography
Opal (Ohr) 1970

Embryo’s Rache (United Artists) 1971

Father Son And Holy Ghost (United Artists) 1972

Steig Aus (Brain) 1973

Rocksession (Brain) 1973

We Keep On (Basf) 1974

Surfin (Basf) 1975

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