Walter Wegmuller

There’s a lot of envisioning in my pick of the day. Walter Wegmüller, a Swiss-born renaissance man; part poet, painter, musician, and mystic, joined up in 1973 with some then little known Krautrock musicians like Manuel Göttsching (from Ash Ra Tempel) and Klaus Schulze…who later became giants in the scene, and some lesser known like Witthüser & Westrupp and Wallenstein to create a one-off supergroup recording of “cosmic” music that was tied to some kind of artistic vision he had in mind. “Die Herrscherin” (the Empress), my track of the day, is itself quite a rare groove…and quite possibly one of many tracks that make up one of the greatest cosmic, folk, space, kraut, wtf ever rock albums…to be completely forgotten.

Ash Ra Tempel recording Join Inn during their free time from the Tarot sessions.

Around 1972, Walter had completed a series of handdrawn Tarot cards. Somehow, he managed to meet Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser label head of the outstanding OHR record label home of a lot of your favorite, or should be favorite, Krautrock bands, and convince him to record an album with tracks dedicated to each major arcana card in the Tarot series that he could then use to both release his art project to the masses and also a killer soundtrack to go with it. Each track’s sonic sound would shift with the change of a card. Its a heady concept that acid pioneer Timothy Leary provided the idea for, and one just crazy enough that Rolf jumped at it. He provided the best musicians in his stable to respect and bring about into fruition the vision Walter had of this all encompassing art project.

A sampling of the deck of Cards included with Tarot.

The track “Die Herrscherin” gives you just a taste of this unique gumbo of sound. Over Klaus Schulze-led synthesizer and percussion work, Manuel and Witthüser & Westrupp use electric and acoustic guitars, respectively, to dance around whatever mysticism Walter is intoning in his Francophone-inflected German vocals. As the track gets sonically spacier Klaus introduces Mellotron choirs and drone to wash away the stately avant-romantic sound they were just crowning and get you ready for another tone, the massively heavy revolving sound of “Der Herrscher” (The Ruler).

Enlarge to view some of Walter’s interesting musings from the liner notes.
If you have the time, I’d recommend listening to the whole album. No other album quite captures all the varied styles and one-off sounds, some forgotten, and some carried away with in the future by other bands, that Krautrock, Ambient, and Space Rock would invent. As you get into side four, and the card “Die Sterne” (The Stars) is shown, and you start to hear our future (through a track that has sounds you hear in modern bands)…that’s when it gets revealing. Who knew that all you needed to foretell all these musical visions was a Swiss mystic with a deck of trocca cards and some kind of revelation?
Bonus track time, my favorite songs from it, the modern folk of:
– Die Entscheidung (The Decision)
Die Zerstorung (The Destruction)
Die Sterne (The Star)

or might as well listen to the whole album, and go somewhere else (sonically/mentally) for a while…