Erna Schmidt, "Live 69-71" (Garden of Delights) Cyberhome: ERNA SCHMIDT On paper, this doesn't seem like the kind of album that would appeal to me: late sixties / early seventies psychedelic blues-rock rock played by a quartet of completely stoned German youths - with long guitar solos. Perhaps it shouldn't really be this fun to listen to, but this disc has a unique charm all its own, and somehow manages to elevate itself above the (for me at least) abysmally boring stuff that normally comes from this genre. A few words about the band - Erna Schmidt formed in Germany in the mid-sixties, and went through more personnel changes than any band should. This recording somehow consists of a static quartet of 4 musicians, guitarist Hubert Stutz, bassist Walter Laible, wind man Hartmut Mau, and drummer Wolfgang Mathias. The 10 "songs" on this album were, of course, recorded live and seem to be mostly or completely improvised. The pieces themself are about what one would expect - distortian-heavy onslaughts of powerful, rocking psychedelic craziness. To their credit, Schmidt spice things up dynamically and occasionally lay into more subdued sections. Although there are guitar solos aplenty (and generally pretty good ones), the saving grace of the band is the flute of Mau - the timbral and stylistic shift of his playing keeps things fresh instead of running the songs completely into the group through hour after hour of guitar solos. Whichever instrument is in the spotlight, the others do a good job of supporting it - Laible's bass seems especially whimsical and fluid in the background and Mathias drums (really cheap-sounding, as German bands of this ilk always seem to have) often give the music a charmingly sloppy intensity, but he plays a good groove when the time comes as well. I don't know if anyone else will really enjoy this album, but who knows - if it worked for me, it may work for you. Even if this kind of music isn't up your alley, you should check Erna Schmidt out. ~Jon Dhamra Murphree~
EER Editor's note: My listen to this CD transported me back into an era of ancient jams, loosely organized open-air concerts, and that elusive Woodstockian hubris -- and the axework is strong and wide open.
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