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18 Jun 2016

Message “From Books & Dreams” 1973 Kraut Rock

Message. “From Books & Dreams” super rare 1973 original Kraut Rock lp on Bacillus records


A half-British, half-German affair (the same line-up that would record the eponymous masterpiece Message), From Books and Dreams is a dark, hard-rocking psychedelic album. The production makes for a very spacy, dirty and blurry atmosphere that serves the album well. I recommend listening to this album in the evening (preferably an autumn evening), light up a few candles, unplug the phone, sit back, lie down or whatever, and listen…

1 - Sleep : Not really a song, more of an introduction. A feeling of intense, wrenching vertigo, similar to the moment before falling into subconsciousness and the dream realm, is well depicted here. Blurry, psychedelic, a perfect mood setter.

2 - Dreams and Nightmares (Dreams) - One of the two very high points (personnaly I can’t find any weak points) of this album. Starts where Sleep left off, with an hypnotic guitar theme, repeated for a while (the German influence, I guess) and built up until a riff change and vocals kick in. Now, some may not like Tom McGuigan’s voice, I know I really love it. Not always on tone, he more than makes up for it with intensity and theatricality. Alan Murdoch shines all through the song, with amazing hard-rocking catchy riffs and a main theme that will be stuck in your head for days, months, maybe years. The rythm section, not as creative as on the eponymous album, is nonetheless very tight and enjoyable to listen to. A great support for Murdoch’s riffs. Lyrically, the song dabbles in the nonsense of dreams (as does the whole album), therefore do not expect lyrics to make much sense, all the while still making sense (as dreams do). The song segues into :

3 - Turn Over! : A dark, psychedelic guitar pattern graces the song, serving as background to Tom McGuigan’s saxophone wailing. This closed side one of the vinyl, as the words ‘Turn Over’ are repeated quite a few times at the end of the song, when the needle reaches the end of the lp (this trick was also used by Ange on Le Cimetière des Arlequins, and probably by countless others in that period).

4 - Sigh : Another psychedelic rocking number, but less dark than anything on side one. The majority of the chords are happy sounding, but that doesn’t make the song less interesting. Once again, Murdoch’s guitar lines are the focus of the song, and McGuigan’s vocal melodies are also very interesting.

5 - Dreams and Nightmares (Nightmares) : The other high point of the album. The inclusion of keyboards makes for a haunting effect. Catchy dark riffs all the way through, interesting chord progressions… a great track.

This is my second Message album, and even though it is a bit less progressive than the eponymous, it is nonetheless an amazing album. Might not be a masterpiece, but it is damn close to being one..

Highly recommended to all you Krautrock fans out there.. Melomaniac.....

From Books and Dreams was the second album from Message, a British and German group, originally released in 1973 on Bacillus/Bellaphon on SQ Quadrophonic (you needed SQ equipment to be able to play it in quad). The group at this time consisted of vocalist/saxist Tom McGuigan (who also played a little Mellotron), future Birth Control bassist Horst Stachelhaus, guitarist Allan Murdoch, and drummer Günther Klingel. The music is not unlike a harder rocking Nektar without organ (Allan "Taff" Freeman had appeared on some of their albums, not this one though). The cover is downright creepy, with the skull and a snake crawling through an eye and nose socket. "Sleep" is the opening cut, with spooky spoken dialog, which leads up to "Dreams and Nightmares (Dreams)". This piece really rocks and I really dig those guitar riffs. "Turn Over" is another spoken dialog piece, and a voice that says "Turn over" over and over. It was apparent the band meant the "turn over" to be on the run-off which would loop forever until you lift the needle (if you own a non-automatic turntable, that is), but that didn't quite happen, instead, it repeats it several times, before the run-off, and then goes silent. I own the original LP, so I should know. "Sigh" really blows me away, with some really powerful vocals from Tom McGuigan, which then leads to the epic "Dreams and Nightmares (Nightmares)". I really love that short Mellotron passage making me wished McGuigan used Mellotron more throughout the album. More spoken dialog follows. I'm pretty certain McGuigan is Scottish because I notice a Scots accent when he speaks.

Many people end up disappointed because it doesn't meet their expectations of what Krautrock is. No, this isn't Neu, Faust, Can, Amon Duul II, early (pre-Autobahn) Kraftwerk, and so on. This is British style hard rock with prog trappings. Since two of the members were British, that helps. You'll like this better if you fancy the idea of a harder-edged Nektar. I really love this album and I highly recommend it!.....ByBENJAMIN MILER...........

Completely agree with Melomaniac on the 4.5 star rating for this one. Gotta love the album cover as well. The vocalist really reminds me of John Wetton, but the music is a Psychedelic / Krautrock blend with lots of heaviness.This was recorded at Dieter Dierks studio in March of 1973. Some sax and mellotron on this one as well.
"Sleep" is like the introduction with lots of atmosphere. Spoken words before 1 1/2 minutes.This is very spaced out and haunting. "Dreams And Nightmares (Dreams)" has this catchy guitar melody with a steady beat. Vocals 2 1/2 minutes in and the guitar lights it up briefly at 3 minutes.They're giving it all they got 7 minutes in. Vocals are back 9 minutes in. Guitar solo a minute later goes on and on. Nice. He's still ripping it up 11 1/2 minutes in. "Turn Over !" opens with gentle guitar and a dark mood. Sax joins in. This is great ! Drums before 2 1/2 minutes as the tempo picks up. Big finish then spoken words end it. He keeps saying "Turn over" as in when your sleeping on one side, turn over. Also it's the end of side one. Haha. "Sigh" opens with drums and guitar. Vocals a minute in. Bass 2 minutes in. Passionate vocals follow. It turns psychedelic after 3 1/2 minutes before kicking back in. Crazy sax after 5 minutes. Vocals are back 6 1/2 minutes in.

"Dreams And Nightmares (Nightmares) Introducing The Myth (including) The Unpleasant Spell" is spacey with mellotron to open as reserved vocals come in then drums as sound builds. Love the guitar and sound 3 minutes in. Sax 4 1/2 minutes in. It settles down before 6 minutes before kicking back in a minute later. Great sound ! Vocals are back 8 minutes in. The guitar lights it up before 9 1/2 minutes followed by spoken words as they continue to trade off. Vocals are back before 12 1/2 minutes. Amazing track. There is a bonus track called "Painted Lady" which opens aggressively with drums, bass and guitar as vocals arrive. Blistering guitar follows ! The guitar in this one is incredible.This song rocks.

Highly recommended to all you Krautrock fans out Mellotron Storm ......

An album named like this sporting a spooky art work with pirate skull and a slithering snake worming through it - should preferably inspire nightmares of werewolves and darkness. The themes within speak about the other side of reality, the one that peeps through in the middle of the night, disturbing you in your sleep with tales of ancient memories, forbidden fruit, poisonous creatures and man made taboos being crossed by yourself seen from a bird's eye's view.

First of all, I'd like to give a shout out to my good friend John(Mellotron Storm) for introducing me to this album. Just by reading his review, I knew that I was in for a treat with From Books and Dreams. The album is a sweet concoction of grungy gritty hard rock and psychedelic Krautrock themes. Even if this mix has been done a thousand times before, back then it was still an infant musical child slowly learning to stand on its own two feet. Whereas we now have a cornucopian factory hall production of bands trying to infuse Black Sabbathy grittiness with the psych tendencies of old - often ending up in the aptly named sludge genre, back then the psychedelia of the 60s had only just begun to branch out in all of these fascinating hybrids. For my money, it was Germany who spawned the most astonishing and breathtaking metamorphoses, and Message is certainly among those acts that modelled these two hardy ingredients into something unique, black and fiery.

Message wield a brawling dirty guitar-based sound that ploughs through the airwaves like a rusty scythe. The grim reaper of string instruments fuels this band's energy, and you can almost feel the dark and murky ambiance of this band creeping up on you like an out of breath shadow trying desperately to catch up. This is no Black Sabbath - even if I portray it as such, the emphasis on cosmic feathered hard rock is far too obvious for that to be true. Even so, the overall production of the thing still puts pictures in my head of ghastly tombstones, neon skeletor and a swampy atmosphere that occasionally gets split wide open by the sharp scythe-like guitars.

This is essentially riff based music, but spiced up with sparsely used saxophone, synthesizers and mellotron. On several occasions though, the band changes course within the basic song structures - heaves the anchor, and flies away on sprawling magnificent fusion sweeps led by a manic saxophone. These are beautiful sections, and when the guitars finally interrupt with their sweetened melodic flavours, the music suddenly develops a counterpointing shadow effect to the otherwise harsh murkiness of the heavy riffage.

The front singer is actually English, which does add a certain quality to the vocals. Let's just say that English sung albums coming out of Germany from around the same time were very often clouded in heavy Bavarian accents, which to me personally can spoil an otherwise exceptional record. Well not this one. The vocals fit the music, although they have a confrontational manner - they clash into the given structure - sounding almost cacophonous at times, though never out of place. They depict the dreamy images of the lyrics in a way that lifts the overall feel of the album, making the music and lyrical themes collide in a natural symbiosis. Especially the divided title track proves this rather peculiar meeting.

If you already enjoy the works of Nektar, Nosferatu, 2066 and Then and other such acts that flirted around with the sticky combo of hard rock n' psychedelia, then Message's second outing should please you like a hundred handshakes from Jimmy Page. I love this album - the way it keeps fresh and still sounds like a death defying creature coming out of fog-ridden bogs, - and to top it all off, it just so happens to rock like a regular mountain of Guldbamsen ........

Great cover. I tend to associate it with another Krautrock album, Delusion from McChurch Soundroom. Similar cover, lyrical content, sound and style.

The Dawn Anew Coming, the debut from Message in 1972 takes a progressive melodic fusion of psych, jazz-fusion and folk and shades it with an overcast of a heavy sky. Early Tull, King Crimson, Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash. Well done prog.

As with thier first album, the band entered the studio with the great German producer, Deiter Dirks in 1973 and released, Of Books And Dreams. Ominous and repressive, a conscious effort to uncover the unconscious thought that effects personality through morbid fears and compulsions that accompany dreams. A play on the psyche, lyrically and musically.

"Sleep" introduces the listener with spoken words over a tumultous and tempestuous psychedelic/space splattering. A terrifying trip though trivial.

Sliding into deeper unconsciousness, "Dreams And Nightmares (Dreams)" culminates with the bass and the psychically induced guitar sequence from Allan Murdoch and expands and finally explodes into a ravishingly riff. One of the better openings I have heard from a heavy prog song in the first half of the '70's. The vocals of Tom McGuigan scream in, somewhat dischordal but deeply discerning. Fortunately it's Murdoch guitar that dominates most of this track with McGuigan's vocal chorus sustaining and limited in only in two parts of the song. At the ten minute mark, Murdoch slaps down a Iommi-esque solo that could be transported from Sabbath's self-titled debut. After the manic solo the bass slowly pulses and winds down this terrific and trembling track. The apex of the album.

Track three, "Turn Over" hears for the first time McGuigan's sax soloing over an eerie ambient guitar and then a rhythmic riff kicks in and the sax snakes out a shivering free-form jazz/psych synapses. Overload.

"Sigh" is the most melodic track from the album and McGuigan's vocals are annoying and overbearing, almost abrasive but fortunately at around the three and half minute mark Murdoch takes over with his guitar, showcasing shifting styles and sets the rhythm for the insane sax soloing and interplay for the next three minutes and the last two minutes ends as it as begun, with the addition of a sinister scream sequence. "Ahhhh".

The second part of "Dreams And Nightmares", "Nightmares" is 13 minutes of Krautrock psychosis. "Introducing The Myth" opens up with McGuigan's Mellotron as a sombre backdrop to his restrained vocals which are actually not so abrading as to his abandoning screaming. Again it's the chilling interplay of Murdoch's guitar and McGuigan's sax that take over this nightmare, "The Unpleasent Spell" and eventually the sandman (McGuigan) speaks in a suffering, aggravating and daunting tone. The closing of "Nightmare" trembles and traumatically tails off into silence. Terrific and terrifying.

If you're searching for a scary, spine-tingling sound experience, this is it. This album is mostly tagged as Krautrock but the sub-genre encompassess so many styles from proto-metal to electronic experimentation, so don't be decieved by the label as the Germans (though Message is half British) can be prolific at being heavy and dark. Really this is guitarist Allan Murdoch's trip though Tom McGuigan's multi-instrumental talents are substantial, it is his vocals that might be disturbing to some. The production of Deiter Dirks is somewhat similar to that of Nektar's first three albums in which he also produced as he did with many of the "heavier" Krautrockers in the early '70's.

Message would then make a signficant shift on thier next album to a jazz-fusion/eclectic prog and then sadly meander into that menancing "mainstream", melodic AOR/hard rock style that so many did in the mid/late '70's.............

The second LP of Message can at least not be accused that it is stylistically not fixable. There's a dark, heavy rock on "From Books & Dreams", with spacerock and psychedelic chords, just as you would expect from the "creepy" cover.

With "Sleep!" The disc is quite promising and spacey-krautig loose, when all sorts of long-drawn-out Klaenge, Prukungsgeklapper and mysterious voice intertwines mixed. Then the first part of "Dreams And Nightmares" rattles out of the boxes. The piece is a rather monotonous hardrock jam, dominated by guitar and sax, and I am given meaning-heavy singing, dull bass guitar, and tinny, riot-heavy drums. Heavy-Space Krautrock? Hard-Psych? Black Sabbath for arms? However, the piece lulls me quickly with its monotony. Apparently the band must have foreseen this possibility, because at the end of the "Turnover", where guitar, sax, bass and drums behave, almost jazzy, before the hard rocking starts again Listen to the LP to turn around. With "Sigh" it goes more in the direction of the simplest hard rock of the first LP, before the hard Sax guitars go with the second part of "Dreams And Nightmares".

The inclined reader will already have noticed that "From Books & Dreams" does not particularly appeal. To me the part is too uninspired and too monotonous. Perhaps metal historians or hardcore fans of krautiges Hardrock and Psychedelisch-Spacigem with this disk more to Breiling .....

Line-up / Musicians

- Gunther Klinger / drums
- Tom McGuigan / vocals, woodwinds, synthesizers, Mellotron
- Allan Murdoch / guitar
- Horst Stachelhaus / bass

- Rab / percussion
- Werner / percussion

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sleer (2:51)
2. Dreams And Nightmares (Dreams) (12:45)
3. Turn Over (4:02)
4. Sigh (8:07)
5. Dreams And Nightmares (Nighmares) (13:13)

About this release
1973 - Bacillus(Germany) gatefold
1976/1981 - Bacillus(Germany) reissue
1993 - Bacillus(germany) CD
2003 - CMP(Germany) CD: bonus tracks, remastered
2010 - Second Battle(Germany) LP: reissue, gatefold, colored vinyl, remastered, limited edition

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