Harald Grosskopf is a legendary German drummer. After he was a member of bands like Wallenstein in the early seventies, he was among the first (if not the first) to play drums together with sequencers. He was a regular guest on albums by Klaus Schulze in the second half of the seventies. After he joined Ashra the band headed more into a rock direction on the albums "Correlations" and "Belle Alliance", never forgetting their electronic roots. His first solo-album "Synthesist" is heralded a classic (soon to be re-released by Groove). The track "So Weit-So Gut" was used as theme music for the German electronic music radioshow "Schwingungen". Well, Harald is still there and more present than ever. He works with his friends Steve Baltes from Ashra and Axel Manrico Heilhecker as Sunya Beat (Harald and Axel) and N-Tribe (Harald and Steve). Recently they released "Four Times Three" (4x3) under their own names. On "Yeti Society", an album Harald created together with Steve Baltes, the emphasis (not surprisingly!) is on rhythm. The seven tracks on the CD all have the intriguing rhythms of Harald (electronic and acoustic) and Steve (electronic). This, together with interesting and daring melodies, makes it a CD that stands far above the music one usually hears in this style of electronic music. From the symphonic sounds on "Circumspection", "Bravery" with it's ongoing drums and nice melody, the somewhat more traditional sounding "Elephant Island", "Endurance" with a typical Manuel Goettsching-sequence to the big sounds on "Endeavourance". It all sounds new and innovative. The master of rhythmic electronic music has surprised us again. 2004. Press information This release from 2004 features 44 minutes of enthralling electronic music. Joining Grosskopf on this release is Steve Baltes. It's no surprise that percussion plays a vital role in the music on this release, but complex electronics provide more than support. The blend of these two elements is crucial and wildly satisfying. Rapid-fire rhythms evoke a tender urgency that is superbly maintained and embellished upon by the versatile electronics. From symphonic flairs to innovative dance prospects to sparkling atmospherics, this music continues to expand and delight with each passing moment. The melodies are vigorous, refusing to rely on simple repetitive structure; surprises abound as Grosskopf explores the unexpected...while never straying far from his dedication to the gripping compositions. The novel rhythms wind like serpentine creatures of immense eloquence. The nimble electronics flow like cosmic brethren, inextricably linked to the beats in a manner that enhances the components, transforming the union into a loving gestalt of enormous charm. One loses any feeling of separatism in the melodies, the tempos merging with the harmonics, producing inspiring music that uplifts as it sneakily hypnotizes. These tracks are relatively short (averaging around six minutes), forcing the tunes to develop quickly, get to the point, mesmerize, and then exit with suitable grace. Also included on the CD are two videos, one by Andreas Kolinski for the track "Bravery", and another by Sebastian Senc for the track "Endurance". Matt Howarth / Sonic Curiosity Harald Grosskopf is a veteran of more than 30 years in the e-music community. His original claim to fame was as the drummer for Ashra. Like another famous drummer/percussionist (Klaus Schulze), Harald has become a talented multi-instrumentalist. Yeti Society is a very cool set of exploratory space music. It is high energy with intense rhythms, deep atmospheres and cool experimental sounds. In other words - it has everything that space exploration music must have. (Exploratory space music is exactly what it says - music for exploring deep space, it is similar to Ferde Grofe's On the Trail in that it evokes imagery of movement through the environment.) The elements of Harald's sound design swirl around and through each other offering many avenues of adventure. Listeners are free to choose their destinations and destinies. Harald is merely a guide. This is more great music from the good folks at Groove. It also adds to Harald's legend. Jim Brenholts / Ambient Visions The artistic maturity of Harald Grosskopf has allowed him to follow, within his style, multiple aspects of electronic music during the last 30 years. This is a daring release merging Space Music with Synth-Pop and other, more difficult to place, traits which contribute to endow this release with a great originality. As a general rule, the compositions possess rather strong rhythms, even if there are some passages of a more deliberate nature, which also turn out to be mysterious and hypnotic. 'Yeti Society' is, no doubt, a work that cannot leave any listener unconcerned. With Grosskopf has collaborated Steve Baltes. Edgar Kogler Having now listened to 'Yeti Society' four or five times now l can confirm that we're firmly in 'Mars Polaris' Tangerine Dream territory with a strong hint of Chicane and the lightest smattering of the Deep Forest sound thrown in for good measure. That pretty much nails it l think!!! So the big question - is it Berlin School or is it ambient? Well the truth is.......neither. It is however an eclectic mix of pure spacified bliss interspersed with dancified synth riffs and drum loops. Though what all this has to do with any kind of 'Yeti Society' has me at a loss,( we're not painting any great sonic pictures here folks!!!) the album's concept actually being based rather vaguely upon Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton's ill fated South Pole attempt, 1914. Grosskopf has produced an album, assisted by long time collaborator Steve Baltes, which carries on in a rather schizophrenic manner skipping with surprising ease between it's rather spacey roots and out and out euphoric techno beats. 'Circumspection'(7.20) setting the scene for the entire album with World Music type chants leading to a huge nasally sounding pad. A drum loop stutters it's way into the piece and three minutes in a theme reveals itself in a very modern day Schulzian fashion which really kicks to life, dominating the track to it's close when a sub harmonic bassline joins forces creating something quite memorable and fantastic!!! Certainly a track you need to hear on a big speaker setup to get the most from it. The drum loops are back, as too is the sub harmonic bass as 'Bravery' (5.22) gets going in a Drum n' Bass style that would normally seem completely out of place leaving crowd running for cover, but Harald and Steve make this one work just fine. The percussion leads the way with a sonic backdrop of synth FX and subliminal voices. A simple theme is played out as the track gently modulates pushed along by a simple bassline, coming out sounding not unlike Paul Nagles live efforts with Binar. The track doesn't really appear to have any kind of a conclusion though, that outlandish Drum n' Bass sound also being unintentionally sterilized in a clinical European hi-tech kind of way instead of being more low-fi and grungy. Track three, 'Elephant Island' (6.34) is a real standout track on the album; for the first time on this outing a piece that really breathes. Not exactly my most favourite of style's drifting in with a mystical air and tribal colourings. Strong hand drumming patterns emerge from the sonic melange playing against more drum loops and a rather sharp resonant bass. All very World Music orientated, but none the less a very cohesive track, worthy of note. As 'Endurance'(5.42) springs to life it seems pretty obvious to me that we've just entered Synthetik, Intelligentsia styled uptemponess. A nice organ sound bounces around the mix prior to a deep space swathe of synths taking us back to the beginning's of the track only this time strongly augmented by a choppy synth sound acting as counter rhythm, the track just takes off brilliantly in a 100% Chicane trance house mode. This is great, if not alittle misplaced, enjoy it for what it is!!! Synthwise we're really into that Mars Polaris sound on this track more than any other as 'South Georgia'(5.30) strikes home. Again like the previous track it takes until the halfway mark to find it's feet, heavily processed guitar and Hammond organ picking out the tempo in a metronomic way. A wave sequence unfortunately introduces some slight digital clipping on this track, an artefact not too noticeable though thankfully. Track six and 'Broad Liquids'(5.25) see's the sub harmonic bassline return together with a pacey drum loop sounding rather like the System 7/ Steve Hillage ramblings of about a decade ago. All alittle simplistic seeming like a mere filler track, sounding constructed rather than composed. A thoroughly forgettable piece. The very cosmic 'Endeavourance'(8.11) announces itself with the chants returning once more over a deep space soundbed of synths. Voices almost buried in the huge soup of electronicness chatter away. This a piece with all the trappings of an epic Vangelis inspired workout. Huge shifting synth pads drifting over light intermittent percussion. All excellent stuff which see's the album to it's close as the chanting returns. The album also features extra data tracks which playback as QuickTime movies on your PC/Mac for the tracks 'Bravery' and 'Endurance'. The visual foray for 'Bravery' should go down well as it's typical of the sort of video fly throughs that we can experience at NSC shows as we buzz over lakes and mountains in an otherworldly digital landscape. The video, not unlike the audio track failing to find it's conclusion. The 'Endurance' visual takes a very different approach to video production,( apparently having been first screened at the 2004 E-Live festival). It's just as valid an artistic statement as the other track visual, this one asking some big questions along the way about mundane everyday life but doesn't really serve to help answer them. At forty four minutes audio playing time the album is going to get some flak but not from me, it's a thoroughly modern, rhythmic sounding album that comes across as the sort of mainstream electronic fair that will please and surprise many. Though on a personal note l would have loved to hear the album recorded with real drumming throughout as l find this culture of over reliance on pre-made drum loops rather facile and one dimensional. Come on Harald, get ya' drums out!!! B22 Harald Grosskopf has taken his inspiration, and also the song titles of the album, from Ernest Shackleton's diary of his (failed) South Pole expedition from 1914-1916. Especially his persevering and impressive attempts to save his crew were a direct source of inspiration. Then the music: 44 minutes and 5 seconds, divided across 7 tracks which don't differ too much in length. It is true, the forceful, energetic and restlessly sounding beats we know from Harald are still quite prominent, but beside there seems to be more room for recognizable and clearer melody lines. This became more or less obvious on 'Digital Nomad', and is (in my view) furthermore continued on "Yeti Society". By the way, Harald takes a bit more time for his intros and outros too. By the end of 2003 I received demos of the first two album tracks, 'Circumspection' and 'Bravery' (at the time resp. Provisionally called 'February2003' and 'January2003'). In the very last 'KLEM-blad' -edition I wrote about the February-demo: energetic, restless, fidget, alternated and surrounded by cosmic, harmonic chords and melody lines, introduced by an ethnic sounding voice sample. I still find this a very strong number. It almost reached my personal EM-top 5, which I had to send in for E-dition's EM-top 100. The rapidity and unquietness are also to be found in the tracks 2, 4 and 6. We could, amongst others, sea and hear 'Endurance' at E-Live, last October. The projected video, also added on this album as a Quick Time file, illustrated the routine of daily life, with many obligations and little time for amusement. In this track the harmonious 'cosmic bridge' around the beginning of the 2nd minute attracts attention. The tracks 3, 5 and 7 are slower and sound more relaxed, whereby no. 7 ('Endeavourance') reminds me a bit of 'Cryonic Suspension' on the "Digital Nomad" album. And, yes, I've already told you about the total playing time (44:05). Short, indeed, but you could say that it's been compensated by some Quick Time and Jpeg files added to the audio tracks. Anyhow I can strongly recommend this album to all of you. Luuk Molenaar Il trionfo del ritmo (Vers. Stampabile). Qualche anno fa nelle discoteche di mezzo mondo trionfava la musica 'progressive'. Nulla a che vedere con quanto sono soliti ascoltare i visitatori di MovimentiProg, tuttavia quel termine avrà sicuramente stuzzicato la curiosità di molti. Un musicista caro agli appassionati di prog italiano come Franco Falsini (Sensation's Fix) si è dedicato alle sonorità techno e progressive, un gruppo come i Gong ha spesso negli ultimi anni sfiorati ritmi trance e lassù in Germania molti musicisti hanno imbastito un lavoro di contatto tra il vecchio suono del kraut rock e le nuove tendenze elettroniche, gli Ashra in generale e il loro batterista Harald Grosskopf in particolare. Grosskopf non è affatto nuovo alla ricerca elettronica: egli è stato uno dei primi (se non il primo) a studiare e suonare batteria e sequencer. Con la band di Gottsching abbandonò temporaneamente lo studio elettronico in favore del rock (penso ad album come 'Correlations' e 'Bella alliance'), tornando poi alla ricerca con il popolare primo LP solista 'Synthesist'. La stessa ricerca sul ritmo è alla base del nuovo disco 'Yeti Society', prodotto con l'inseparabile sound-painter Steve Baltes e pubblicato dalla prolifica Groove. Si tratta di un disco aggressivo ma pieno di attenzione al dettaglio, che tesse trame ritmiche di gran vigore senza dimenticare la suggestione ambientale. Grosskopf alla batteria acustica ed elettronica, Baltes alle macchine: il duo elabora un accattivante miscela di colori. 'Circumspection' ad esempio, il riuscito brano d'apertura, si candida a paradigma dell'intero disco: un piatto ritmico sul quale adagiare - senza neanche troppa grazia - arzigogolati segmenti melodici. In conclusione 'Endeavourance': un brano molto più calmo, evocativo, lento, che funge da 'camera di decompressione' E' un disco dall'impianto ritmico centrale, come accadeva - mutatis mutandis - per i lavori di Billy Cobham o per certe intuizioni dei Liquid Tension Experiment di Mike Portnoy. Ottimo il lavoro sui loops, anche se abbastanza prevedibile; tuttavia brani come 'Bravery' e 'Endurance' non rinunciano alla tipica fisionomia teutonica, pur sorreggendosi su beats ossessivi e impetuosi. Il secondo è infatti un tipico pezzo techno alla Ashra, fluido e martellante al tempo stesso. 'South Georgia' è più morbida, 'Broad liquids' si avvale anche di un riff graffiante di chitarra elettrica, pur restando alquanto scontata. 'Yeti Society' è un disco molto interessante. Un lavoro del genere testimonia anche l'evoluzione musicale di un protagonista del rock europeo degli anni '70, e questo dovrebbe far riflettere molto. Donato Zoppo.
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