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

ALBERT AYLER: Opening the door to the future

ALBERT AYLER: Opening the door to the future

Albert Ayler -- the inspired, heroic, driven and sometimes difficult saxophonist who committed suicide in 1970 at age 34 -- still stands at a crossroads in jazz. By the late Nineties –... > Read more

The Gary Burton Quintet: Dreams So Real (ECM/Ode)

The Gary Burton Quintet: Dreams So Real (ECM/Ode)

Another in the on-going series of mid-price reissue of ECM albums from the vaults, this recording of material by Carla Bley comes from 1976, and vibes player Burton with a band of luminaries who... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Teddy Pendergrass; The Real Teddy Pendergrass

THE BARGAIN BUY: Teddy Pendergrass; The Real Teddy Pendergrass

When the great soul singer Teddy Pendergrass was involved in car accident in early 83 which left him a paraplegic, he was at the height of his career as a crossover artist whose smooth style of... > Read more

JACK BODY INTERVIEWED (2001): From street to string section

JACK BODY INTERVIEWED (2001): From street to string section

The music skitters off the disc as the Greek fiddle player takes to the tune at alarming speed, the notes slewing into each other. The piece is Horos Serra, recorded for a 1973 collection, and... > Read more