Cosmic Jokers came about after a bunch of all night LSD-charged jam sessions between members of Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel and Wallenstein were helmed by, and featured, Krautrock producer Dieter Dierks. This two track, self-titled debut was the first of five the band recorded and is regarded as a very fine slice of space rock indeed.
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Back in the mid ‘70s my parents were probably listening to this record, smoking weed (though oft has it been denied) and having conversations along the line of “let’s never have an annoying son who’ll work in a mid-level record store and write weird fanfiction about our past”. Look at them now. The Cosmic Jokers really do belong in ‘74, though: their record sounds like the rare spot of a parents’ record collection you daren’t venture to, a space rock jammer that both tempers and extends inclinations of prog and Kraut way past local orbit.
At least it’s chill. “Galactic Joke” runs around a wah-ed up chord sequence so diluted it sounds more like a waterfall than psych rock. It stays in the same place for its first ten minutes and no one in the room cared -- they didn’t have anywhere to be, so the solos came and went a bit, the drums flailed every which way (albeit quietly), and the general space effects saunter like a hot sun you can’t really be assed to opt out of in favour of shade. As the track continues it gets more cosmic, and maybe a little noisier, but the Cosmic Jokers never properly get going. Their spaceship doesn’t have a second gear, and it makes for an ambient listen.
If you’ve listened to prog, you know its form: for any moment of plain sailing there must be a total and utter miscalculation, as in the vampiric and overloud key motif that comes in at the end of “Galactic Joke” -- it sounds like Yes, who are obviously great, but actually bad. Thank god for “Cosmic Joy”, the record’s flipside saga, which is a drone of rumination that sounds like Tangerine Dream’s long sustains bent into the shape of a Salvador Dali painting. Cool. Shame I was minus forty two years old when this album came out.
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