Tonzonen Records specialises in German psychedelic/space music and related subgenres, and has released four albums so far. First up is Beyond the Acid Dream by Sounds of New Soma, a duo formed by Alexander Djelassi and Dirk Raupach in 2013. This album also features guest appearances from jazz musician Andreas Lessenich on sax. The album comprises four long tracks between eight and eleven minutes in length, based around floaty, spacey ambient music with experimental aspects, and adding improvisational jazz segments which whilst having an avant garde nature are relaxing rather than jarring, and fit in completely with the chilled-out and mind-expanding mood of the pieces here. The sax melodies also take on a world music character at times, with Nektar der Götter introducing a Middle Eastern feel alongside more obviously jazzy improvisational sections. This album is a fine example of experimental psychedelic ambient music, well worth investigating further if you enjoy this genre. The album is vinyl only and limited to 300 copies on white/grey marbled 180g vinyl.
The label's second release is Love Machine's A Present to the Galaxy, comprising two mid-length and two long tracks. Hermes Red Shoes is influenced by late 60s US West Coast rock, recalling in particular The Doors and Jefferson Airplane. The track is organ driven and topped off with the deep, dramatic vocals of Marcel Rösches. Flower is lighter in mood, with sunshine pop tinges and jazzy electric piano and drumming. A Present to the Galaxy is a multifaceted 19 minute epic, beginning as a psychedelic folk-rock thing, before bringing in melancholic vocals, hypnotic repetition, jazz sax, and atmospheric soundscaping with spacey effects. This is another limited edition heavyweight vinyl LP, with 300 copies on black vinyl and 200 on red.
'Krautrock' is a controversial term, coined by the British music press in the 1970s. Some find it grossly offensive to use a music genre classifier with its roots in an ethnic slur; others see the word as merely tongue-in-cheek. Whilst some German musicians loathe the term, there are others who embrace it. Tonzonen Records and its associated bands evidently fall into the second category; the label's third release is the CD New Way of Krautrock volume 1, released in association with Underground Äxpärten as part of a planned 5-part series. Lover 303 appear with a form of psych-rock that takes in electronic, almost dancey, aspects, along with spacerock touches, repetitive hypnotic rhythms, drones, feedback, and complex, busy drumming. Electric Orange make powerful and multifaceted psych-rock, bringing in Spanish and Middle Eastern-inspired melodies, organ-led parts, spacey electronic parts, and sections that combine chilled-out ambience with heavy intensity. Knall make improvisational rock that takes on board blues and funk aspects alongside hypnotic psychedelic jamming. Sounds of New Soma appear with a non-album track with more of their evocative sound explorations. More beat-driven than the album (which didn't include drums), and there's maybe a touch of prog in there too, but still plenty of the psychedelic, ambient and experimental aspects that made the album so great. The Spacelords combine chilled-out ambient drones with fierce heavy rock guitar in their multi-part piece Prelude-Rhinoceros-Bison. Aphodyl appear with an epic track almost half an hour long, which is multifaceted and has an improvisational quality, incorporating Middle Eastern-tinged electronic music, intricate rock guitar soloing, spacey effects, and even a touch of the James Bond theme! Larman Clamor appear with a psych-folk instrumental that's all too brief at just over a minute long. The compilation flows well as a complete album and includes some very impressive sounds from bands I'd like to hear more from. Limited to 1000 copies.
The latest album on Tonzonen Records is the self-titled album by Knall. From the hard-hitting Zongazonga to the free-flowing Kartoffelsuppe to the chilled-out and spacey Cuddle, all the tracks are united by the band's wild improvisational approach and tendency towards hypnotic repetition. This is another limited edition 180g vinyl album, with 200 copies on orange vinyl and 300 on neon yellow.
Find out more at www.tonzonen.de and www.tonzonen-shop.de
UPDATE - Since writing the above article, I have received two new albums from Tonzonen Records, both from bands from outside of Germany. Les Lekin are an Austrian three-piece whose All Black Rainbow Moon is an album of instrumental music on the darker and heavier side of psych-rock. The album includes five tracks (four long, one shorter) which combine hypnotically repetitive heavy riffage, squalling noise, and deep rumbling distorted bass, to create an intense, doom-laden atmosphere. As with most Tonzonen albums, this is another limited edition 180g vinyl LP, this time with 250 copies on red and 250 on white vinyl.
Barcelona band Lubianka, featuring former members of Venus Anadiomena, have released their second album, Cerimònies. They begin with a basis in psych-rock, though the overall sound is eclectic, with an experimental edge, and looks to the future as much as the past. Fins Que El Sol combines experimental music, spacerock, funk, jazz, and heavy psych-rock. There's plenty of freeform improvisation and intense noise, but shaped into a coherent whole. Sa Clau combines bendy, surreal aspects and hypnotic repetition along with a style perhaps best described as psychedelic shoegaze. On Els Sants Es... begins with a spiritual, meditative sound, combining Indian-influenced music with relaxing drones, before giving way to a mixture of hazy psych-rock with drawn-out vocals, fuzzed-out wah-wah, spacey bleepery, shamanistic chanting, and heavy riffage. Ouroboros starts off as a chilled-out blend of drone, spacerock and ambient, before morphing into a wild psychedelic jam based around heavy guitar and organ, interspersed with echoey Om chanting conjuring up a vivid scene from a Himalayan monastery. Stockhausen Melancolic Jazz combines cinematic neo-classical music, electronic experimentation, and jazz of both the melodic and freeform varieties. An impressive, forward-looking album bursting with new and creative ideas, again available as a limited edition 180 gram vinyl LP, 200 copies on black and 300 on gold vinyl.
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