Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Duncan Fallowell: Why isn't he in BBC4's krautrock documentary?
I'm answering the enquiry about me and krautrock which appeared on your comment board. No, I did not know anything about the BBC4 documentary which I see is being broadcast this Friday. Yes, I did introduce krautrock to the UK and spent a lot of time in Germany at the beginning of the 1970s.
I'd like to boast: I am the only person in history who bought the first albums of the Velvet Underground, the Stooges and Can upon their release, so when I became the Spectator's rock columnist in 1970 one of the first things I did was go to Cologne and connect up with Can who became good friends and I wrote a lot about them. I also hung out in Berlin with Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel and told Tony Stratton-Smith of Charisma Records to sign up the former but he was too slow and Polydor got them, later Virgin Records.
David Bowie arrived in Berlin much later at the end of the 70s and of course was never in on anything seminal. In Munich I was with Amon Duul and Popol Vuh (re last, see video below). The latter was the brainchild of Florian Fricke who was the first person I ever knew to sleep under a fur blanket. Fur was popular at the time - see the film Performance for a graphic illustration of this and remember too the famous fur-topped bar at the Byblos Hotel in St Tropez (since removed). Florian was a delightful man, quiet, intense and generous, and a wonderful pianist. He already knew Herzog and Popol Vuh subsequently provided the music for all Herzog's major films. Sadly Florian died early from a stroke.
I hope Friday's documentary mentions him because I'd call him the inventor of 'ambient music' in the current sense of the phrase. As we know, ambient music as an idea was the invention of the Franco-Scottish genius Eric Satie.
With best wishes, Duncan Fallowell
Popol Vuh - Improvisation (1971)