Sounds November 10, 1984
Spacebox "Kick Up" [Spacebox SP2] [****1/2]
The hero is back! Not Indiana Jones you fool. Uli Trepte, the guru (guru) of acid rock. He of Faust and Neu!, RMO and
IST, first and last of the freakout Free Kraut rockers.
Trepte's aim has always been true. No compromise, no sell-out. No contracts, no money...times are hard, but he's a stayer.
His nine year old band Spacebox have just released their second album, once again on their own label. A vast improvement
on the eponymous debut, "Kick Up" is just that - a hefty boot up the backside of big bad pop, dated yet refreshingly
new, free yet tight, laid back yet screamingly violent. Confused? Say hello to Uli, the walking talking paradox.
A basic line-of of Trepte (bass, vocals), Lotus Schmidt (drums) and Julius Golombeck (guitar), they're augmented by Embryo
veteran Edgar Hofmann on violin and assorted reeds and together they give birth to a wailing writhing bastard blues, recorded
on two-track during what must have been the ultimate in stoned sessions.
Despite the Neanderthal recording gear (they used just two mikes!) the sound is surprisingly crisp and the whole album
has a spontaneity and vitality sadly lacking in most of today's suffocatingly plush productions.
It's a great tragedy that "Kick Up" won't get the attention it deserves, but then again had a major label been
involved I doubt whether this music could have been made.
- David Elliot
Melody Maker February 1987
Guru Guru and Uli Trepte [United Dairies]
"Too much is not enough" announces a Guru Guru lyric. Repeat this until it confounds pop's taboos. There come
moments in pop when past persuasions struggle to be heard again. The release of these Seventies Guru Guru sessions, like
the re-surfacing of Faust recently, is on such a cusp, a reminder that "progression" and the "avant garde"
are about to be possible again.
Guru Guru's studio work might be the legacy of the early Faust, or of Pink Floyd as they neared the "Saucerful of
Secrets" period. Sketches of melody, simple-minded song structures with a breath of Syd Barrett, are dissolved by being
over-developed, by the interspersed freak-out and improvisation.
The live side really is open-ended flux. The 'solo' has been emancipated from the hierarchy of the 'song' or composition.
This un-composed music comes close to the meeting of free jazz and rock in their contemporaries like Robert Fripp, with its
unforeseen departures, surges, scramble and sprawl, and it resembles Faust in lack of resolution and un-edited feel.
Unlike orderly pop, it's borderless, difficult to assimilate not music to bring you to your senses but to bring on displacement.
- Paul Oldfield
Audion February 1987
Guru Guru/Uli Trepte: Live '72/Session '74 (United Dairies UDT 07 cassette)
As a long time fan of Uli Trepte's Guru Guru, it was indeed a welcome surprise to learn of this album. For me the Guru's
were one of the best and important bands of the early 1970's Krautrock scene.
Side 1 is the Guru Guru side, opening with the intro to Spaceship; lots of swirling guitar, bass and radio effects; then
jumping straight into the most imaginatively lyrical BO DIDDLEY, this is far freakier than the LP version, the solos are more
meticulous, Uli's bass really booms and Mani's drums rattle along - in fact there's more of everything here, and 17 odd minutes
of this is to say the least mindblowing. It often amazes me how Ax Genrich managed to get the sounds he did out of his guitar,
on the whole - playing guitar as imaginatively as this seems to be a sadly lost art of this period. It's great to have another
20 minutes of the classic Guru's, but I wish there were more,
Side two is all the more curious, as I know very little about Uli's activities in 1974. Around this time he was involved
with Kickbit Information, but Uli says they never recorded any material. One musician definitely featured is Kickbit and
ex-Frumpy drummer Carsten Bohn. There are no track details, musicians, or recording dates given, so a lot of what you'll
read here is guesswork....
Track 1 is a typically Trepte style song, with bizarre lyrics "Cosa Nostra, CID, Japan, made in Germany, The Beatles,
Chips with fish, united dish!", perfect poetry if you read it right! It sounds a bit like a jazzy version of early Guru
Guru, though here there's also some nice distorted electric piano, lots of radio noises and voices, the guitar solo is a lot
more straight-forward than Ax's style, although it does rip along furiously.
Track 2, I'm informed, features Rosi Muller on vocals, however the band almost certainly feature Christian Burchard on
marimba and Edgar Hofmann on flute, so what Rosi was doing here I don't know. The song is very odd and unique, though is
mostly instrumental - spurned along by numerous solos.
Track 3 is again with Embryo musicians; it's undoubtedly Roman Bunka singing and Burchard's vibes. It's the perfect fusion
between the best Embryo and Guru Guru - the only thing I find disappointing with this cut is when it finishes, I could do
with 20 minutes of music like this!
Track 4 is a version of EARMIKE SONG, which first made it onto vinyl on Spacebox's KICK UP album in 1984. This version
is far jazzier; Uli's vocals are often treated so much that he sounds like he's being strangled. I must admit that this track
is a bit out of place here (style-wise), though it does help fill in another hole in Trepte's career.
So, if you're a Guru Guru fan, into Krautrock, psychedelia or avant-garde, I'd say that this is an essential purchase
both for its excellent music and as a piece of musical history. This album should also be out on LP soon!