Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



German Ethno Beat group, hailed by Rolling Stone as 'the Godfathers of World Beat'. Trio of Friedo Josch (b 21 July '52, Mainz; wind instruments/keyboards), Marlon Klein (b 13 Dec. '57, Herford; drums/percussion/keyboards/vocals) and Uve M]auu[llrich (b 7 Dec. '47, Binz, R]auu[gen; bass/guitar/vocals) recruited others to add colour or bring in particular skills. By '88 they drew the likes of Brian Eno, Paul Simon, David Byrne and other Talking Heads to their New Music Seminar show at the New York Palladium, which later appeared (edited for length) as Live In New York on Exil '91. The German rock scene had taken the sensibilities of Californian rock, parleyed them with London psychedelic mimicry, spliced in a taste for technology and produced bands such as Amon D]auu[]auu[l, Kraan, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream; Dissidenten's forebears were Embryo (for a while they were dubbed Embryo's Dissidenten). They met percussionist Trilok Gurtu '73 (later with John McLaughlin and Oregon) who seeded the thought of integrating Indian elements in their music, and came across Indian music again through meeting the Karnataka College of Percussion at a Calcutta jazz festival '79. That year the album Embryo's Reise ('Embryo's Journey') appeared on Schneeball, recorded in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India '78--9; as the sleeve notes recalled, 'Aside from our concert dates roughly scheduled in advance, we sought contact with interesting people from native music scenes, and organized concerts ourselves.' Describing their past in the early '90s, M]auu[llrich offered, 'We played everywhere in Germany. Embryo was kind of the flagship of hippyism in Germany. You know, get stoned, drop out and all that stuff. Where could we go from there? Any attempt to play outside [Germany] was ridiculous because we didn't want to be a stadium rock act. We found the only possibility of gaining an international audience was ... not going West but going East.' They decided to stay in India, completing a valedictory tour; returning to Germany they split from Embryo (which continues through successive incarnations to the present day); Josch and M]auu[llrich returned to India; M]auu[llrich stayed almost five years and began supplying Western-style music to Hindi film music, working closely with Louis Banks who introduced him to Indian megastars such as R. D. Burman and Lata Mangeshkar. They began playing in Europe early '80s with the Karnataka College of Percussion, who returned to India while the Germans went to Tangier to work with author and composer Paul Bowles.

The proto-Dissidenten took shape around '81; the group included keyboardist Mike Wehmeyer. Debut Germanistan on Exil '82 teamed core trio Josch, Klein and M]auu[llrich with the KCP, Wehmeyer and honorary session Dissidenten. Marlon Klein had previously drummed with Pili Pili (a multinational group featuring the vocalist Ang‚lique Kidjo who later established a career as a soloist). The lands of the Maghreb would influence Sahara Electrik on Exil '84 (incl. the mesmerizing 'Fata Morgana', the sort of song one has never not known), the limited edition anthology Arab Shadows (released mid-'80s to capitalize on their dancefloor success) and Out Of This World on Sire '89. This Arabic influence carried over to the Tangier demi-monde of Bowles, largely in aural form, but there was a glimpse of the Bowles connection on Out Of This World which published his fable 'The Hyena' as part of its artwork. North Africa was also made manifest in their Life At The Pyramids on Exil '86. India had continued to exert a pull, evidenced by their collaboration with KCP on Germanistan and, most accomplished of all, The Jungle Book on Exil '93. Named after Rudyard Kipling and using a crack crew of Indian and Western guest musicians including the KCP, The Jungle Book wove recordings of Indian life (such as the sounds of Bombay street life and a cart driver gently crooning to himself) into a tapestry of the subcontinent. Typifying the way they work disparate influences into a whole is 'A Love Supreme', inspired in part by John Coltrane; The Jungle Book remains one of the most important East--West fusion albums. Describing their set at the Tanz&FolkFest Rudolstadt mid-'96 in a lineup that included Andreas Grimm on keyboards, Noujoum Ouazza on mandocello and vocals and Mannickam Yogeswaran on vocals, Folk Roots wrote, 'Nobody who saw them in Rudolstadt could argue their place in the history books and nobody could deny their musical finesse and vision.' Mixed Up Jungle '96 on Exil had remixes, first called Jungle Book Part II, catering for the Goa and rave audience and building on the million-selling success of 'Fata Morgana' in South America. After working as producer on Dr Raghavendra and the KCP's Shiva Ganga on Exil '95, Klein also produced Manick Yogeswaran's Tamil Classics on Exil '97; Yogeswaran, featured vocalist with Dissidenten since '94, had been singing in the Vinayagar temple in Madras since '85 in a South Indian classical context. Yogeswaran also sang lead vocals (with M]auu[llrich's teenage daughter Bajka, Ouazza and Dorian Wright) on Instinctive Traveler, also '97, which blended North Indian, Tamil, Native American, Arabic and Hawaiian voices, explosions of funk and ululation Ojibwa and Islamic style, and an atmosphere punctuated with sounds to soothe the savage breast.