In 1967 two beat groups from Berlin were on the verge of splitting up. The leading forces behind these groups were Lutz 'Luul' Ulbrich and Michael 'Fame' Gunther. They decided to join forces, and with some other remaining musicians they took the name Agitation Free. Agitation Free were probably the first German group to use slide projectors and a multi-media show during their live appearances. For this reason they were engaged as the household band at the Zodiac, Berlin's answer to London's U.F.O., where the psychedelic underground was literally flowering. Such later famous groups as Tangerine Dream and Curly Curve (well, not so very famous in this case...) also appeared at the Zodiac regularly. In early 1968 Agitation Flee were expanded by John L. on lead vocals. Not exactly a gifted vocalist, he sometimes entertained the audience by walking around naked with a painted penis on stage! He was fired about a year later, apparently the rest of the group had grown tired of this particular (peculiar) Stage Show. His voice was luckily preserved for later generations when he "sang" on Ash Ra Tempel's brilliant Schwingungen album in 1972.
1970 was a very erratic year for Agitation Free. Lutz Kramer quit, and was temporary replaced by Ax Genrich, soon to be a member of Guru Guru. Agitation Free shared a practice room at the Wilmersdorf music academy with Ash Ra Tempel and Tangerine Dream at (his time, and many experiences and ideas were swapped. There was also quite an exchange of members between these groups. Agitation Free's instructor was Thomas Kessler, a German avant-garde composer. He taught them to play with notations, composition and harmony learning. When Genrich joined Guru Guru, he was replaced with Jorg Schwenke. Chris Franke then accepted Edgar Froese's offer to be the new drummer in Tangerine Dream after Klaus Schulze quit. Gerd Klemke stepped in as Agitation Free's drummer for some months of the last half of 1970. Finally a quintet was stabilised in 1971. At the beginning of 1972 the group went on an expanded tour to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Greece, sponsored by The Goethe Institute. Michael Gunther recorded local musicians they met and jammed with on the tour. Extracts of these recordings were included on Malesch (released Summer 1972), which collected the impressions from their eastern travels. This excellent album revealed a very talented and competent young group, and it was dedicated to their teacher Kessler. "You Play For Us Today" opened with a short dialogue, before a deep, majestic organ tone created a trance-like mood. Gunther came in with a great, steady bass riff, flavoured with eastern rhythms (Uli Popp guested here on bongos). "Sahara City" started with a long and floating guitar glissando, but had a fast, heavy finale. "Ala Tul" and some other tracks featured the leader of Between, Peter Michael Hamel, on hammond organ. "Pulse" was an early experiment with electronic sequencing. "Khan El Khalai", "Malesch" and the short 'Ruckzuck" gave plenty of time for Schwenke and Ulbrich to show off on guitar. An immaculate record!
In March 1973 Jorg Schwenke had to quit due to his increasing drug habits. His replacement was Stefan Diez. A second drummer was also added to the line-up: Dietmar Burmeister who had recorded on Seven Up with Ash Ra Tempel. A 90 minutes long production for radio, consisting of edited live performances (made during a ten days live session in a house in the German countryside) was broadcasted in April 1973. The six-piece group went on a very successful two months tour in France. Recordings for radio were also taped during this tour. Parts of these finally made it to vinyl on Last three years later, namely "Soundpool" (renamed version of "Ruckzuck" from Malesch) and a 17 minute long version of "Laila" (a composition included on their forthcoming second album).
With Diez, but without Burmeister, the band went in the studio to record 2nd in July 1973. This time music was more subdued and meditative in a sophisticated way. The eastern flavour was not so distinctive this time, but the musical quality was certainly intact! "First Communication'' started the album off with white noise, wind and a distant bouzouki played by Ulbrich. A harmonic melody line on guitar slides slowly in and builds up a really great track, almost predating some of Fichelscher's guitar work with Popol Vuh. "Dialogue And Random" was a short synthesizer experiment by Honig, not bearing any resemblance to his solo albums. The tuneful two part "Laila" finished side one. Electronic bird sounds on "In The Silence Of The Morning Sunrise" opened the other side. The track built up to fragile, jazzy rock almost in the melodious Terje Rypdal vein. "A Quiet Walk" included more atmospheric, electronically created environment sounds, before bouzouki and treated guitar introduced melody lines. "Haunted Island" finished the album in a dramatic vein with a heavy rhythm, mellotrons and Burghard Rausch's treated recitation of an Edgar Allan Poe poem.
Shortly after 2nd, Diez quit and the band's activities now decreased. For a last tour of France In January 1974 Gustav Lutjens was engaged as Agitation Free's new second guitarist. Their last studio work was a recording of a Erhard Grosskopf composition ("Looping IV") in February 1974. This would fill up the second side of the Last album, which was only released in France posthumously in 1976. It was a nice testament to a superb band. They performed a few concerts during the Summer of 1974 and then disbanded after a final goodbye concert in Berlin, November 1974.
Lutz Ulbrich teamed up with Manuel Gottsching in 1976 for several Ashra-projects. He has also made scene music for some theatres in Berlin. Michael Honig, as Franke had done five years before him joined Tangerine Dream, but was with them for just two months (including a tour in Australia) in the Spring of 1975. Before that he had a short collaboration with Klaus Schulze (doing concerts in Brussels, Zevenaar and Paris in November and December 1974). It was also planned that Honig should join Ashra for a tour in November 1976, but this didn't happen.
Agitation Free was one of the best groups to appear in Germany in the early seventies, and their albums are obligatory in any German rock collection!
1. You Play for Us Today — 6:08
2. Sahara City — 7:42
3. Ala Tul — 4:50
4. Pulse — 4:43
5. Khan el Khalili — 8:10
6. Malesch — 8:10
7. Rűcksturz — 2:09
Lutz Ulbrich: Guitar, 12-String Guitar, Zither, Hammond-Organ Jőrg Schwenke : Guitar Burghard Rausch : Drums, Marimbaphone, Vocals Michael Hoenig : Synthetizer, Electronic Devices, Steelguitar Michael Gűnter : Bass, Live-Tapes
Guests: Uli Pop : Bongos (on "You Play For Us Today") Peter Michael Hamel Hammond-Organ.
Action: 10% discount coupon for Depositfiles Gold accounts for 6 months and 1 year periods. The coupon is very simple in usage: you enter it on the Gold account payment page and after the prices are recalculated can buy an account with the discount. Your coupon: vkanhlm5uqib3uugw6aqifkcudbnzqej
Oldish Psych & Prog offers progressive psychedelic rock music mp3 lossless downloads