** Edition of 300. ** Over their decades of activity, the Italian imprint, Alga Marghen, has illuminated a near countless number of historical artefacts within the field of experimental sound. Their latest, a previously unreleased body of recordings from 1973 by Anima - the duo of Limpe Fuchs and Paul Fuchs - entitled “Underground Altena”, encounters them casting their gaze toward a fascinating juncture between the krautrock scene, free jazz, and experimental music. Beautifully pressed on vinyl, comprising two visionary long form works, its incredible sounds - radically pursuing freedom with every texture, tone, and beat - entirely redefine the terms through which understandings of German 1970s musical experimentation has been historically approached.
Founded at the periphery of the kraut / kosmische scene by then husband and wife team, Limpe and Paul Fuchs, during the late 1960s, Anima was easily one of the most singular and unique projects to have ever emerged from the European sonic counterculture. At the time of its inception, Paul was an avant-garde sculptor, while Limpe was a conservatory trained percussionist, violist, and vocalist. In addition to emboding a radical form of free living, and farming in the small Bavarian village where they lived, their collaboration centered upon a meeting of their respective creative worlds; Paul’s work and understanding of objects, and Limpe’s musical understanding.
Anima’s distinct sound was largely the result of the pair’s invention, building, and playing of unique instruments, notably the Fuchshorn, Fuchszither, Fuchsbass, and a ‘pendulum string’ based on a Pythagorean monochord, alongside regular instruments and vocals, within a radical approach toward the achievement of freedom through creativity. The result, which appeared across eight full lengths documenting their activities until they disbanded during the 1980s, as well as a handful of more recent archival releases, are some of the most remarkably experimental and sought-after releases to have emerged from Germany during those years. Describing that period’s activities, Limpe recalls: «In the Anima duo with Paul Fuchs beside the drum set I used iron tools and metal sheets from the workshop. Instead of the hi hat cymbals I had a metal ring with five strings and plucked them by foot with a plectrum. Paul had built the Fuchsharp with two pickups and glided up and down the scale.»
“Underground Altena”, comprising the contents of a tape recently discovered by Limpe Fuchs in her archive, gathers two long form works - “Underground” and “Altena” - recorded by the duo in 1973. The title may be a reference to the legendary jazz festival in Burg Altena, Germany, that they played at during this period (the documentation of which can be found on B.Free’s “New Jazz Meeting Burg Altena 1972-1973” box set, issued back in 2016). Heavily guided by Limpe’s unique approach to percussion playing and vocals, with Paul delivering a striking arsenal of tonal interventions on his invented instruments, “Underground” and “Altena” plays like the outer reaches of free jazz dropped in an alien landscape. Howling and clattering, entirely free and spontaneous, while never losing the sense of a deep sense of consciousness, purpose, and control, it’s hard to think of anything else quite like it before or since.
As is widely known, since the disbanding of Anima, Limpe Fuchs has gone on to have a solo career that has positioned her as one of the great legends of experimental sound and musical practice. The absolutely incredible recording - never before heard or issued - that make up Alga Marghen’s release, “Underground Altena”, return us to where it all began, and one of the most incredible musical projects to have emerged from the 1960s and '70s German scene. Available as a stunning vinyl LP, we struggle to find the words to recommend it enough. Otherworldly, visionary, and inspiring as records come.