Sunday, October 5, 2014

Gomorrha - Gomorrha / Trauma (1970-71 germany, excellent heavy prog krautrock)

Back at the times when new German music was still far from being of importance, in the Rheinland there were already brave rock pioneers on their way to create something new. The Cologne band Gomorrha developed 1969 from the longstanding friendship between Ad Ochel (rhythm guitar) and Eberhard Knetsch (organ, piano, bass, vocals). As a duo they started working on a music style that shouldn't have anything in common with the goody-goody chart stuff. Instead, they oriented towards the picturesque sounds from "Swinging London" where it was possible to climb the ladder to success even with cryptic ideas. This was the way they were heading: with vivacious songs, independent style elements and messages. 

Ad and Eberhard had to realize, though, that there was no chance of the two of them pulling it off alone; re-enforcement was needed. They combed through the local scene, invited people to sessions and did everything to get the best selection Finally with success: terribly talented people showed up, like Ali Claudi, an exceptional lead guitarist, and Helmuth Pohl, the new man at the drums Ad Ochel, too, developed into a gifted sound architect and tinkered with his rhythm guitar for as long as it took to get the most unbelievable sounds out of it.

As a quartet, Gomorrha quickly got experienced enough to undertake their first psychedelic manoeuvres. Their music was written strictly according to the lyrics, they wrote in German and polished the phonetics until language and melodies went together as well as possible. Within the next months they collected enough material 10 present themselves at the record labels. The first songs were reminiscent of the Beatles and were received positively. Finally Gomorrha got a contract with Cornet, where at that time the future krautrock guru Conny Planck earned his daily bread. 

As the album was produced in officially, the working conditions of Conny and the band were quite hectic: always on call for the times when the studio was free to use - which was mostly the case in the middle of the night. Conny Planck wrote a naïve cranky liner note: "A normal person is able to hear a frequency of 25-18000 hertz. Within this boundaries much is possible. From Mozart to jet lighter. Here now is Gomorrha, a band which has discovered in this sound forest a playground for themselves. And to play is fun. I realized this in the cellar of a bourgoise home in Cologne where I happened to be. The guys invited me to join in and together we brought the playground into the studio, where this record was made. If you want to, sing along. Or do you have a violin?"

Contrary to their hopes, the German lyrics didn't go down well with the rock audience, who was enthralled with the English language Some people even asked the group to play only their instruments, others left simply left the gig. When at some point the artistic frustration was too much, all the songs were translated into English, and they go themselves a new lead singer who was at ease with the new English Ivrics Peter Otten. The label, Cornet, was co-operative.

Gomorrha were allowed to produce a new English version of their album which was supposed to be published under the title of Trauma. Once they were at it, they subjected the old songs to an extensive cosmetic operation, souped up the sounds and reduced the beat in the songs towards a more modernised arrangement, so that Trauma is a lot more progressive than the first publication.

Nevertheless, Gomorrha had developed enormously during all this; as a result, they couldn't identify any more with either of the two versions of their first album. It remains a secret, however, why BASF, who had taken over Cornet's catalogue shortly before, was accused by the music press (e.g. Sounds, 1/73) of having published Trauma without the band's knowledge and consent. Nowadays it's difficult to say how these accusations came into being, and which agreements were made. But there still exist contracts today which prove that the publication was perfectly legal. On the other hand, Gomorrha had developed their whole musical concept in the meantime, and singer Peter Otten saw himself not as a story-teller but as a musical dooms day prophet.

In the end, they got a new contract with Brain, the brand new progressive German rock label. So it was only natural that Gomorrha rather promoted their current work than "airy tale music" (quote: Eberhard Krietsch) from days long gone and which, moreover, published almost at the same time as 'I TURNED TO SEE WHOSE VOICE IT WAS .
by Reinhart Kolzsch, 1997
1. Journey - 3:12
2. Trauma - 13:13
3. Yesterday - 3:44
4. Lola - 4:25
5. Dead Land - 3:28
6. Summer - 2:49
7. Rainbowlight - 2:42
8. Dance Of Circles - 3:07
9. Firehands - 3:18
10.Lola (Bonus German version) - 3:59
11.Totes Land (Bonus German Version) - 3:26
12.Flammenhande (Bonus German Version) - 3:10
13.Reise (Bonus German Version) - 2:37
14.Regenbogenschein (Bonus German Version) - 3:02
15.Gestern (Bonus German Version) - 3:23
16.Kreiseltanz (Bonus German Version) - 4:09
17.Sommer (Bonus German Version) - 3:50
18.Trauma (German Version) - 9:11

*Ali Claudi - Guitar, Vocals
*Eberhard Krietsch - Bass, Keyboards, Organ, Vocals
*Peter Otten - Vocals
*Helmut Pohl - Drums, Flute
*Ad Ochel - Guitar, Vibraphone, Vocals

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