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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tortilla Flat, Germany

Tortilla Flat - Für ein ¾ Stündchen. 1974 private.

I bought this LP from a well known German dealer in the 1990s. Comes in a cheap folder cover.

Review below originally published in Gnosis on March 30, 2001

In the early 1970s, there were plenty of German bands playing an exciting blend of psychedelic, cosmic rock, and free jazz. There was another movement that played music which was later to be known as Industrial with its metronomic, rigid rhythms and fuzzy sounding instruments. All of the above are generally tagged with the all encompassing Krautrock tag. However, there was a much smaller group of bands in Germany that took to the Canterbury sound, a complex, highly melodic and jazzy approach to music that was popular in England at that time. Brainstorm, Tomorrow's Gift on Goodbye Future and, to a lesser extent, Missus Beastly were proteges of this style. Tortilla Flat falls into this latter group, though with a Continental slant very similar to the Dutch group Supersister.

Tortilla Flat's sole album is an instrumental exercise in superb jazz composition combined with tight rhythms and driving rock guitar. Tortilla Flat were a six-piece with flute, electric and acoustic guitar, bass/fuzz bass, drums, percussion, and electric piano. The primary lead instrument here is the flute, with plenty of room given to the Rhodes piano and biting fuzz guitar, while the melodies are bouncy and playful, recalling Supersister's 1970 masterpiece Present From Nancy. The sole difference is that Tortilla Flat is a bit more jazzy and less psychedelic than their proteges from next door. This fact probably has more to do with the styles of the year 1975 than anything else. The seven tracks on display feature plenty of room for improvisational jamming over complex rhythms while the compositions are memorable and, at times, beautiful.

Even better is the SWF Sessions which I will cover when we get to unreleased albums.

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