the Crack in the Cosmic Egg: A most unusual and unique group, the Munich combo Between (formed in 1970 as Between The Chairs) were the brainchild of musical theorist and experimentalist Peter Michael Hamel. As such, Between drew together a wide range of international musicians into a musical and cultural melting pot. Between were aptly in between everything, both musically and culturally. Featuring avant-garde tendencies within a music that blended the medieval, the ancient and the futuristic, with jazz and rock musics, the initial results on their debut EINSTEIG were most inspiring. Arguably a step on from The Third Ear Band (sans the mantric rhythms) Between were invention in the extreme, in a music that was melodic yet challenging. Not surprising for a band that featured such acclaimed musicians as James Galway (yes, the Irish flautist), Roberto Détrée and Robert Eliscu. There are some extraordinary cosmic excursions here too, all amounting to a revolutionary mixture of psychedelic and world musics. EINSTEIG is still as remarkable and fresh now as when it was created. Further albums developed the Between sound on an increasingly ethnic level. AND THE WATERS OPENED with its atmospheric dronings from Détrée's moto-cello is probably Between's most innovative and fascinating, it's an album that oozes beauty and mystery. It's almost chilling! DHARANA and CONTEMPLATION were the most ambitious on a cross-cultural level, and were much more serious in their attitude. Both of these combined Indian and African musics into a larger more symphonic sound, notably so the lengthy excursions that encompassed the second side of each. Finally, with SILENCE BEYOND TIME Between moved both closer to esoteric ECM Records jazz realms, notably because of Roger Jannotta's presence and other influences, and also moved closer to traditional ethnic musics. It's a great shame that Between split after this. Peter Michael Hamel has been quite prolific since, going on to work solo in systemic/new-age music and also serious avant-garde. Also, Roberto Détrée has continued his work with novel instrument creations. During Between's history Peter Michael Hamel also worked with Agitation Free, whilst Bob Eliscu worked on and off with Popol Vuh in tandem with Between, and Cotch Black was also in the fusion group Sinto, and the jazz/percussion ensemble Niagara.
An oddity in Between's discography is the album HESSE BETWEEN MUSIC, which wasn't really a Between album as such, but a radio-play project of one Gerd Westphal with Between and guests based on the texts of celebrated German author Hermann Hesse. Its message is lost to non-German ears, and musically only some of it is real Between. Approach with caution!
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