Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Jürgen Karg
Elektronische Mythen

Released 1977 on Mood
Reviewed by Lugia, 01/03/2004ce

Jürgen Karg - "Elektronische Mythen"
Mood Records 23 555. Recorded 1972-77, released (presumably) 1977.

1) Die versunkende Stadt - Atlantis (21:32)
2) Vollmond - Selene (21:06)

This is a straaaaaange piece of atmospherics. On the one hand, you can definitely hear the dissonant and sometimes cold academic electronic sound in here. But at the same time, there's a firm kosmische rooting in play on the album; the trippiness and outer-spaciness is undeniable. It's...well, if you're the adventuresome sort whose tastes include things like Morton Subotnick's stuff, "Canaxis", the noisier and more amorphous bits of the Berlin School, early Kluster, Conny Schnitzler and Asmus Tietchens, and Stockhausen in his more surreal moments, you will be all over this like white on rice!

Two side-long pieces here, on this release on Wolfgang Dauner's Mood label. "Die versunkene Stadt - Atlantis" starts things off with some serious strangeness. Heavy atmospherics sweep in and out, giving way to bursts of Subotnicky bleep-ping-ploing-isms. Dissonant, too, and in some places all but industrial in texture. And then everything will suddenly give way to total outer-spatial drifts...which then get colored up by backward-tape sounds, and the whole build starts over again. And again. And again. The layering here is fantastic...there's a real sense of foreground/background to this piece, and you can hear how, when there's something 'big' going on, that there's stuff behind that, and such. Karg is equally at home with synths as he is with tape, if this is any indication, as there's a constant interplay between things that are obviously 'generated' and others that have been definitely treated and tampered-with via tape techniques. Five years of work went into this puppy, and the compositional craftsmanship shows; this is one potent and heady dose of electronic avant-style sound, folks.

"Vollmond - Selene" is a bit different, but we're still in academic-style turf here with the dissonances and alien textures. A less-dense but still complicated piece, this work features a strange interplay between long, droning, buzzing sounds that would sound right at home in Karlheinz's more out-there work and intrusions of odd tinkly-klangy bells and twiddly bits, like some sort of Tinkerbell-as-rethought-by-Walter-Gropius sort of gig. Much spacier than the first work, this is prime stuff for eyes-rolling-back-in-head times. Less formalized, too; the different elements of the piece float in and out, like weird meterological shifts, with less of what one would term a clear 'plan' being afoot. Karg can't leave the tapes alone here, either, as the 'tinkly' parts often have a very disorienting backward-and-forward characteristic to them that is just so damn neat! Putting my electroacoustic composer hat on here a sec, I just have to say that this guy has got some mad, MAD compositional and technical skills going on!

Which brings up the question...what the hell happened to this guy? Far as I know, this is the ONLY Jürgen Karg thing out there, and I have done a bit of looking because this was so avant-trippy-cool, I wanted more. But alas...nothing else comes up on the radar. And it's not like he did this on some bargain-basement junk; the gear list on here notes that his studion included no less than FOUR EMS synths (VCS3s, I'm assuming) with EMS Sequencer-256es, FIVE different tape machines (some with varispeed), and the usual mixing desk, reverb, filters, EQs and so on. Save that we're talking about the mid-70s here and none of this would EVER be considered 'usual' for a personal facility in those times! Clearly, this was someone who was serious about his craft, and "Elektronische Mythen" definitely shows this. So you would expect to see more of his work out there...but it just isn't so.

So...if you see this supposedly-somewhat-rare thing, in its otherwise-unassuming black and white jacket with this balding and somewhat-nerdy-looking guy on the cover, BUY IT, DIG IT, TREASURE IT! That's an order for those of you intrepid listeners who're into the deeper electronic/kosmische headzones! This will not disappoint, not for a second. Nuh-uh!

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