The older I get, the lower my tolerance for directionless jamming. If I listened to Yeti when I first listened to Tanz der Lemminge I imagine I would have loved it as much as I love that album. But I’m not a lot older and these endless jams and snippets wear on me in a way they never used to.
I feel like Tanz der Lemminge has the better songs, in part because it has their best ever song, but also because there are only a few discernible “songs” here, as you would expect with this band. Though I must say on my final listen I found I was softening on this view at least a little bit.
Of course, the point of Amon Düül II is not the songs, it’s the aesthetic and the jamming, the idea that anything is possible musically. And that’s very much true of this record as it is of their other two “classic” albums – there are plenty of moments that surprise and delight even if it sometimes feels as though you have to wait a while to get to certain ones.
Like Phallus Dei and Tanz der Lemminge, it is a fundamental step between psychedelic rock and Krautrock, the more early Krautrock I hear the more I realize that Amon Düül II truly were their own thing and did not really influence that much of the rest of the scene – if it can be called a scene – except in the sense that super long improvisations were a path forward. Early CAN, for example, seems much more directly influential.
Regardless of whether or not they were truly influential, this record is basically on a part with the other two in terms of guitar and violin solos and eerie keyboards and other sounds, and heavily accented vocals, of course.
But listening to one of these records for the first time so far into my adult music-listening life shows me that perhaps I have been a little too enthusiastic about Tanz der Lemminge over the years. Yes, this band is singular, but I’m not sure they’re as much of a big deal as I initially thought they were.