Steig Aus marks a turning point for Embryo. Recorded in 1971-1972, during three separate sessions that also gave birth to Rocksession, the album captures the group actively looking for the ethnic fusion that will soon become its main m.o. for the better part of the decade. It also signals the beginning of the group's distancing from the record industry -- both albums were rejected by their major label, which led to a transaction with the forward-looking small label Brain. Steig Aus features extremely inspired jazz-rock jams, which makes it a lot less friendly than their 1974 hit record, a lot jazzier too, but still a breathtaking journey into Krautrock-meets-American free jazz-meets-North African percussion. The first session yielded the side-long "Call," a loosely structured suite, and "Dreaming Girls," a Miles Davis-like ballad. Both tracks feature drummer Christian Burchard, bassist Jörg Evers, violinist Edgar Hoffmann, U.S. organist Jimmy Jackson, and American jazz keyboardist Mal Waldron. The latter, who had previously played with Eric Dolphy and Max Roach, among other luminaries, was called in as a guest. "Radio Marrakesch/Orient Express," which ended up opening the album, was recorded a while later, when the group reconvened in the studio, minus Hoffmann and Evers (the latter being replaced by Dave King). The track is already opening a window on Middle Eastern influences, with extra ethnic touches (particularly in the percussion department) added a few months later, when the group came back from a trip to North Africa. Steig Aus is a pretty unique cross between German psychedelic rock and American electric jazz. It is probably not the best place to start exploring Embryo's discography, but it deserves special attention nonetheless. AMG.
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