Embryo: 40 (Trikont/Yellow Eye)

 |   |  1 min read

Embryo: 1000 Feet (1971)
Embryo: 40 (Trikont/Yellow Eye)

Might as well confess, until a fortnight ago I had never heard of Embryo at any point in their 40 year career -- but they are already well on their way to becoming my new favourite German jazz-rock ensemble.

From my reading of the impressive booklet which comes with this double disc they should have been across everyone's sightlines at some stage: they played straight after Hendrix at his final concert; were the first Kraut-rock band to play a major festival in Britain (Reading in '73); played with jazz musicians such as Mal Waldron; spent time with Fela in Nigeria and Ravi Shankar in India; have had over 400 musicians pass through their ranks (which makes the Chills seems stable); they toured in Morocco; brought Trilok Gurtu to the West; Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand was in the band when he was studying in Germany; they have most recently played with NYC underground rockers No Neck Blues Band; seem to have been on the road or performing in most parts of the planet for the past four decades . . .

This loosely chronological collection brings together 28 rare tracks (rare? I guess so given how little I knew) and charts a journey from slightly pro-rock through the wonderful Morocco with Mal Waldron (Embryo mainstay Christian Burchard is a drummer who plays mean vibes also) then into India with altoist Charlie Mariano on the experimental Ticket to India with extraordinary guitar by Roman Buka, and later a sarod player Kenneth Wells from Canada who they discoverd busking in a tube station in Munich, as well as Indian ensembles in Bombay and Calcutta.

Then there is music influenced by their experiences in Morocco, flamenco (with Chris Karrer who was in a version of Amon Duul), Yoruban sounds picked up in Lagos . . .

This is an extraordinary travelogue in sound made all the more fascinating by the sheer diversity (and alarmingly high standard) of music on display. Some of this stretches right out (Ticket to India is a compelling 11-plus minutes) and other have an almost pop economy.

Quite a discovery. 

Share It

Your Comments

mark - Sep 20, 2010

that's the thing i love about this site Graham - being introduced to new music. Now i am going to have to go and track down music from this band. The digging never stops :-)

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

Kim Paterson: The Duende (Sarang Bang Records)

Kim Paterson: The Duende (Sarang Bang Records)

Auckland trumpeter Kim Paterson has been around for perhaps as long as most jazz listeners can recall but has been poorly represented on albums under his own name. In fact I'm scratching to think... > Read more

ORNETTE COLEMAN AND THE NAKED LUNCH SOUNDTRACK (1991): Something else, again

ORNETTE COLEMAN AND THE NAKED LUNCH SOUNDTRACK (1991): Something else, again

Movie director David Cronenberg was a gutsy guy, asking Ornette Coleman to play on the soundtrack for his inspired but ultimately flawed realisation of crusty old Bill Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: Candice Milner

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: Candice Milner

No musician just appears out of nowhere . . . although Candice Milner, now 18, comes pretty close. Her single Run For It won the audience.co.nz monthly chart in June and that set her on the path... > Read more

Charley Pride: Lawyers, sums and money

Charley Pride: Lawyers, sums and money

The phone call was going to be a simple one. The gentleman in question was truly one of country music's real gentleman, Charley Pride, the black singer who had conquered the whitest music genre... > Read more