Karthago “Second Step” | MIG
In the last month of 2011, MIG (Made In Germany) Records reissued a very important progressive rock masterpiece Second Step from Berlin based group Karthago. As crucial components to the formation of the krautrock movement that swept across Europe in the late 60′s and early 70′s, Karthago’s technical and creative approach is off the charts, glowing on the same level as any of the best innovators of the time. Second Step picks up right where their debut self titled full length left off on for burning scores into a region of sound few have gone. The one thing that I love about this band is their eagerness to pull from so many fields of sound that many other krautrock bands did not. One moment with Second Step and you will know exactly what I am talking about. was originally issued on the German label BASF (Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik) in 1973 and features eight songs of sonic greatness. This expanded reissue see’s the inclusion of two bonus tracks, extensive liner note work and remastering on the original tapes that gives it that extra punch. To see their work reissued in this form only confirms how important this movement was and how much it is still growing in awareness. Karthago are mind blowing, don’t hesitate to check this band out.
From Made In Germany Records | http://www.mig-music.de/
Karthago, the music scene and Berlin have gone through many changes in the time between the release of Karthago 1 and the production of Second Step.
We were all looking for something, and we learned a lot.
It was almost a routine for us to drive along the transit routes between West Berlin and West Germany.
Communes in the countryside who loved music were our strategic linchpins so that we could be with like-minded people. Here we talked endlessly about music, concerts, record labels, freedom, society and alternative ways of living. Whenever we were in the mood for jamming, we jammed, be it day or night.
We did gigs all over the country. That’s how we got to know (West) Gemany and landed our first gigs in neighbouring countries. Wherever we performed, to us it was a bit like exploring the world.
We acquired musical know-how and increased our standards. The choice of instruments and brand names became a credo of our own creativity and individual power of expression – as long as they were useful to imitate a trendy sound of one of the top stars or to create something unheard-of.
Our standards increased not only as regards the musical equipment we were using but also as regards our musical attitude that was changing during that time. We realized all of a sudden that only those who appeared as composers on a record were the ones who would make good money.
So all the band members started to compose their own songs and teamed up with different songwriters.
The endless concert tours helped to weld the “gang of eight” together or to build tension and have quarrels, always depending on the amount of success we achieved or the mood everybody was in. Soon the band suffered its first casualty of rock ‘n’ roll: drummer Wolfgang Brock couldn’t deal with the circumstances anymore and left the band.
He was replaced by Norbert “Panzer” ["Tank"] Lehman. C+M Hudalla’s promotional photo showing both drummers – Wolfgang about to leave and Panzer having become a member of the band – was quite sensational at that time.
Back then, everyone was keen to jam with other musicians. Thanks to word-of-mouth a musician could turn into a hot tip on the scene. Joey Albrecht was already quite a celebrity in Berlin. People loved to jam with him. And Panzer who was a talented and ambitious drummer was given Joey’s phone number by Stephan Diez and Hans Hartmann who were very well known on the progressive Jazz scene. After a long odyssey, Joey and Panzer finally had their first jam session in the legendary rehearsal rooms at Wrangelkaserne in Berlin.
Although being on the same wavelength in terms of music, it took a while until Panzer who had already jammed with individual band members was rehearsing with the band Karthago as a whole. The band was impressed by his drum playing. Even Wolfgang Brock stated that Karthago and Panzer would be a much better match – and left Karthago of his own free will shortly after that.
Compared to his predecessor, Panzer had very different drum styles and a distinct personality taking the band on a high-flying trip in the first months. At festivals Karthago was way ahead of the pack when it came to the response of the audience – the sound and energy that came from the musicians on stage was gigantic.
Due to disagreements with the management, producers and record label releasing one record per year (which had been our set objective) turned out to be more difficult than we thought. We had to wait for two more years until we could produce Second Step in cooperation with the new Hudalla management.
In the course of making this record the band members soon were competing with each other to decide who would compose and contribute own songs to the album. This was also an important milestone in the band’s history.
There’s no point in arguing about which album – Karthago 1 or Second Step – was more of a Krautrock album. Both of them were recorded by a band that was influenced by US mainstream music but Karthago was a child of their time – the band’s roots were obvious and are therefore interesting to music lovers.
In comparison to our first album we had much more time to prepare Second Step which derived great benefit from that fact. We decided to produce the record in Hamburg which back then used to be the Mecca of the musical scene. We chose the Windrose Studio with Thomas Kuckuck as producer who was a legend in sound engineering. Already being a band of renowned reputation within the German music scene, befriended musicians showed up during the recording sessions. That’s how Inga Rumpf and Ringo Funk, for example, came to sing backing vocals on the song “Oberbaumbrücke” – without being explicitly mentioned on the album sleeve.
We had chosen the studio, as well as the producer and we pushed our claim of the recording budget – to sum it up: We had prevailed against the record company which was a wonderful act of self-fulfilment, in times when usually musicians could be happy if they received an advance payment or a royalty statement, not to mention seeing the money actually being transferred to their accounts.