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D/B Recommended: Embryo & Masters of Africa @ Monarch Berlin | Wednesday, 15.08.2012

One of the most original and innovative Krautrock bands, Embryo fuses traditional ethnic music with their own jazzy space rock style.

Over their 30-year existence, during which Christian Burchard has been the only consistent member, the group has traveled the world, playing with hundreds of different musicians and releasing over 20 records.

Originally a jazzy space rock group, Embryo was formed in 1969 in Munich, Germany, by former R&B and jazz organist Christian Burchard, Edgar Hofmann, Luther Meid, Jimmy Jackson, Dieter Serfas, Wolfgang Paap, Ingo Schmidt and John Kelly.

Embryo | Opal

However, the lineup was already different by the time of the sessions for their debut album. The resulting record, Opal (1970), is considered the band’s masterpiece of their early, more psychedelic sound. By the time of Embryo’s Rache (1971), the group was already adding ethnic touches to their music.

In 1972, the same year they played at the Olympic Games in Munich, Embryo was invited by the Goethe Institute to tour Northern Africa and Portugal. In Morocco, the band was fascinated by the different tonal scales used by Moroccan musicians, profoundly shaping the group’s music to come.

Embryo | Live at Kalkutta Jazz Festival 1979

In 1973, the band was joined by saxophonist Charlie Mariano and guitarist Roman Bunka, who were both influential in moving Embryo towards their genre-blending mixture of space rock with ethnic sounds. We Keep On, released in 1973, was the most successful album in the group’s career. However, after Surfin’ (1974) and Bad Heads and Bad Cats (1975), Burchard decided the band was moving in too commercial a direction and led them on an eight-month excursion to India, where they met local musicians.

Shoba Gurtu, an Indian singer the band met during their travels, would later record an album with them, 1979’s Apo Calypso. Embryo also set up their own record label, Schneeball, with the rock band Checkpoint Charlie during this time. The band then took off on a two-year journey through the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, during which the band’s bus broke down in Tehran in the middle of a civil war in 1981. The double album Embryo Reise (1981) captured this musical expedition as did the documentary film Vagabunden-Karawane.

Embryo | Mühldorf

After touring Asia, the Middle East, and Egypt during the early ’80s, Embryo released their first studio album in seven years, Zack Gluck, in 1984. The band then toured Africa and became involved with Nigeria’s Yoruba Dun Dun Ensemble. However, after internal conflicts, Embryo split up. Burchard then continued under the name of Embryo with new musicians while a new group, Embryos Dissidenten, was formed. The band released 2001 Live: Vol. 1.

Mokhtar Gania, the band leader of the Masters Of Africa, is a son of the great Maâlem Boubker and the younger brother of the legendary Mahmoud Gania. He has played at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark in 2003 sharing the stage with Bill Laswell, Jah Wobble, Gigi, Sussan Deyhim and others. He is currently considered one of the hottest gimbri players around and Gnawa musician with heart and soul.

Mokhtar Gania | Lmoussawiyine

Gnawa music is a mixture of sub-Saharan African, Berber, and Sufi religious songs and rhythms. It combines music and acrobatic dancing. The music is both a prayer and a celebration of life. Though many of the influences that formed this music can be traced to sub-Saharan Africa, and specifically, the Western Sahel, its practice is concentrated in Morocco and the Béchar Province in South-western Algeria.

During the last few decades, Gnawa music has been modernizing and thus becoming more profane. However, there are still many lilas organized privately, which conserves the music’s sacred, spiritual status. As a result, Gnawa music has taken a new direction by fusing its core spiritual music with similar genres like jazz, blues, reggae, and hip-hop.

Embryo & Masters of Africa  LIVE

Wednesday, 15 August 2012 | 21:00 CET
Monarch | Skalitzer Str. 134 | 10999 Berlin/Kreuzberg

embryo.de | kottimonarch.de