Many bands have crashed and burned through the volatile era that was the 1970’s of rock and roll, while there was of course the endless myriad of bands who helped shaped the foundation in numerous ways. But in the midst of the Led Zeppelin’s, Black Sabbath’s, Aerosmith’s, and Pink Floyd’s, you had that small colony of obscurity that was just as soul-crushing and musically brilliant .
Progressive rock was the pretentiously intellectual and interminably ferocious fiber that was greatly needed for the dietary imbalance of the genre; prog rock ushered in a thought-provoking dexterity that unveiled a more vulnerable and edgy side of rock. And even though the genre was massively popular and gave birth to some of the most well known and beloved bands today, there were still those who struggled to reach the surface of critical recognition, and thus disintegrated into the rubble of the footprints of those who left their indelible mark. That of course didn’t mean these little known bands weren’t in a class all on their own; there were just as many important bands who held the thread together even if that meant not reaping the benefits of those who stood at the forefront of the Pantheon.
And that’s where a band like Krokodil comes in: A prog rock maelstrom hailing from Switzerland who just never quite received the kind of respect they deserved. They were mildly well known in their native country Switzerland, having released a total of five albums throughout their 1969-1973 session; they had a couple of 7″ singles, but that was about it as far as substantial relevance. Their main area of expertise lied within the enigmatic restraints of the sub genre “Kraut rock” which was categorized as having the same essential nutrients as that of Progressive rock; the experimental sound that was birthed in Germany was akin to jazz improvisation-style rock and lengthy, foreign rhythms. This is exactly what Krokodil specialized in, especially on their 1971 opus, An Invisible World Revealed.
From its dreamy, incoherent vocals and acoustic-driven harmonies overlapped by monster riffs, all the way to its grimy misplacement of harmonica playing that somehow molds this sound into something unique, this is the kind of band you accidentally discover and fall madly in love with once you immerse yourself in its cryptic musicality that boasts a delicate kind of mysticism in the midst of its bluesy temperament.
The opening track, “Lady of Attraction,” mirrors a similar tone to Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan,” in terms of vocals and progression; a swirling, underwater type sound that quietly draws in your undivided attention. “With Little Miss Trimmings,” is a one minute instrumental of the bands recurring acoustic backdrop; a jangling speed rush that takes you into the fifteen minute epic, “Odyssey in Om.” The first half of this tune perambulates its way into your ears sensibilities with Middle Eastern dissonance that bounces around freely like something you’ve never heard in a ’70’s hard rock conversion before. The second half, however, makes no bones about hitting you hard in the face with that explosive mouth-harp descending throughout as the space-induced vocals bellow out more mythological lyrics that you can’t quite decipher or make out entirely, but you don’t really because it’s the music that’s diverting your attention elsewhere.
“Green Fly,” the albums fourth song, is more along the lines of your typical blues-rock attack with heavy riffs and lyrical anguish that keeps the rhythm in your soul occupied. The penultimate song, “Looking At Time, “arguably the best song on the album, maxes out to about fourteen minutes and is simply there to showcase just how nasty you can get with an open chord progression, slide guitar licks, and more throat-grabbing harmonica. The first section of the tune sounds like it crawled out of the bowels of the Louisiana Bayou, while the middle section becomes surprisingly somber and melodic with a tasteful, Jimmy Page-esque guitar solo thrown in for good measure, before doing an abrupt turnaround back into the first section’s main riff; you simply haven’t heard a fifteen minute song that keeps you hanging on to the point where it feels like a six minute song until you’ve listened to this one.
Finally there’s the closing track, (“Last Doors”), which is a perfect bookend to an album like this, leaving you with a farewell track sprinkled with more lovely pastiches of cool riffs drenched in wah pedal, of course more mouth harp redundancy, and satisfying guitar solos for any Blues rock hound to get their fix to. Don’t sleep on a band like Krokodil. Look this album up and see for yourself why this is a truly underrated gem of an album and why it’s one of the best to ever creep its way out of the 1970’s.