Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Amon Duul - Psychedelic Underground

Amon Duul
Psychedelic Underground


Released 1969 on Metronome
Reviewed by phallus dei, 19/05/2000ce


Amon Duul's debut album is 90% attitude and 10% skill, but man, what attitude! Imagine what would have happened it the cast of Gilligin's Island had brought a copy of the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat with them on their ill-fated voyage. After lots of communal sex and a diet of magic mushrooms, Psychedelic Underground is the music they would have made after going crazy from being stranded for all those years, with only "Sister Ray" to keep them company.
The album kicks off with a seventeen minute "song", snarls screams and chants over a mammoth drum beat. This is the sound of your soul being purified by fire, burning away years of negative karma. Then a cut into a beautiful guitar/violin piece, one of the most soothing Amon Duul songs ever. The violin is the grim reaper, slowly bringing his scythe across a barren land. The impure souls from the first song have been purified to ash; the grim reaper scattering their remains over the burnt earth.
Side two begins with the sounds of a far away factory as the sweatshop workers try to bring some joy into their opressive exsistence by making rhythms out of their motions. A man moans a minamalist mantra, then presto, the AD train returns, a thousand people locked on a groove that they just discovered, bringing truth to the cliche "If it ain't broke don't fix it".
"Der Garten Sandosa im Morgentau" is the weirdest song on this very weird album. The band moans in a kind or Ur-language, perhaps the universal tongue that exsisted during the consruction of the Tower of Babel. Rainer Bauer than says his only true words on the whole album - "Girl, girl" - a basic deconstruction of the typical rock lyric, giving someone enough material to write a thesis of this song. Then an acoustic guitar appears, strummed with holy conviction, fighting the snarls of an angry woman who sounds like a beast from the wilderness.
From here on out it's cut-up land, first a cut to German Christmas music(!) then a cut to the best AD riff yet, the guitarist sounding compleately tired, sweat flying off of his arms as he tries to keep up with the rest of the band. Then some choir music comes in, ready to do battle, a showdown between "heathen" prehistory and what Julian Cope calls "The cult of the straight line" Neither one is the winner, though, as both destroy each other before quickly fading out into nothingness, leaving only fleeting memories of true pagan sound.


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