The Krautrock, Global Groove ensemble’s first album on Madlib Invazion. Official release date: Nov. 19. Vinyl is shipping now from Rappcats.
The late Christian Burchard, who founded the Embryo ensemble in 1969, loved the slogan “Auf Auf,” German for “Up, Up,” or “Keep On Going.” Anyone with anything more than a passing interest in the German Krautock scene of the 1970s and 1980s knows that Burchard followed that intent all around the world, tirelessly seeking out new sounds and inspirations and creating a catalog of music unlike most anything else the world has ever heard.
Madlib has often said Embryo is his favorite rock band. Of course the hip-hop producer with the deepest musical knowledge knows Embryo is more than just a rock band.
When Marja Burchard, Christan’s daughter, who grew up with Embryo and toured with them for years, took the reins of the ensemble after Christian’s death in 2018, she started recording what would become the album Auf Auf. It was recorded over the course of two years, finishing it in the throes of the Covid pandemic in 2020. She approached Madlib and Egon – who had visited and jammed with Christian Burchard and Embryo musicians years ago in a Bavarian wine cellar – with the idea to issue Auf Auf on Madlib Invazion.
The reply was a resounding, definitive yes.
So here is Marja’s take on the Embryo ethos, continuing with her father’s intrepid style, and leading the band in her own style. Auf Auf ranges from the deep, free-form jazz of “Alphorn Prayer” to modal music from Afghanistan on “Baran” to psychedelic-tinged jazz-rock of the title track.
Joining Marja are those like Embryo veterans Bunka, on oud and guitar, and Karl Hector and the Malcouns/Whitefield Brothers/Poets of Rhythm producer and guitarist Jan Weissenfeldt and others, including important players on the global scene from Afghanistan and Morocco.
Annotation: Original music composed, arranged and performed by Embryo. Recorded by Maasl Maier and Elias Kahl in Filmwerk Helmbrechts and Kösk München, Germany. Mixed by Maasl Maier. Produced by Maasl Maier and Marja Burchard. Executive Produced by Madlib and Egon. Mastered by Jason Bitner. Art direction by Errol Richardson.
Embryo is: Marja Burchard – Organ, Rhodes, Synthesizer, Vibraphone, Trombone, Santur, Percussion, Drums.
Maasl Maier – Bass, Guitar, Saxophone, Synthesizer, Cümbüs. Jan Weissenfeldt – Guitar. Wolfi Schlick – Flute, Soprano & Tenor Saxophones. Jakob Thun – Drums. Sascha Lüer – Trumpet, Soprano Saxophone. Roman Bunka – Oud on “Besh.” Mohcine Ramdan – Ghembri, Vocals on “Yu Mala.” Abdul Samad Habibi – Rubab on “Baran.” Parvis Ayan – Tabla on “Baran.” Johannes Schleiermacher – Tenor Saxophone on “Auf Auf.” Groxi – Drums on “Alphorn Prayer.” Münchner Alphorn Kollektiv on “Alphorn Prayer.”
Photos by Egon from the 2010 meeting: Madlib, Embryo, and J Rocc.