Embryo with Charlie Mariano and the Karnataka College of Percussion – Life (1980)

lpfrontcover1Embryo is a musical collective from Munich which has been active since 1969, although its story started in the mid-1950s in Hof where Christian Burchard and Dieter Serfas met for the first time at the age of 10. It was one of the most important German jazz-rock bands during the 1970s and has also been described as “the most eclectic of the Krautrock bands.

As far as EMBRYO live albums go, each one that I’ve heard so far, seems to have their own individual direction and sound. The “BREMEN 1971” radio broadcast is typical Krautrock from their early period, then INVISIBLE DOCUMENTS seems to start the crossover from Krautrock, into freejazz, and worldmusic. With “LIFE” I think that Embryo really took their adventurous nature with world music to the extreme, for maybe the first time. Much of this CD sounds like it was recorded by Indian musicians, rather than some jazzfusion Germans. Although the famous Jazz sax player Charlie Mariano is sitting in on this set, you also have the “Karnataka College of Percussion” providing a thick bed of Indian percussion. Since EMBRYO, like MAGMA, is a band lead by a jazz drummer that went rock in the 1970s, this thick percussion sound works with the EMBRYO band concept. I would not buy this, expecting anything like the EMBRYO you might know from OPAL, or FATHER SON AND HOLY GHOST, or even APO-CALYPSO. Instead, this is the band, as explorers of world music, with Jazz icing on the cake. As far as the sound goes, it’s fantastic. The recording is clean and sharp, and the orchestrated plethoria of drums represents itself well. My only criticism of the CD, is that EMBRYO seems dominated and overwhelmed by the Karnataka College of Music’s percussion. Still, it’s enjoyable listen that sets the stage for their double live CD, LA BLAMA SPAROZZI, which documents their Indian-Middle Eastern touring from the end of the 70s and into the early 80s. I personally love Indian music, and enjoy the jazz sax solos, and vibraphone playing, mingled into it. I believe that Embryo’s more extreme, purist world musical experiments ended up influencing a lot more followers of this genre than they are given credit for. (by W.T.Hoffman)


This record has a surprisingly low average rating, most probably because hardly anyone understands it. The Karnataka College of Percussion is an Indian school where you can be taught the Indian art of drumming. It is a highly sophisticated art, and it is all the more difficult to play live. Embryo prove that they have learned their lessons well, and Charlie Mariano was trained in Indian music too, so he definitely is an asset. It is, however, NOT an album of traditional Indian music, played by a jazz rock band plus extension, it is a collaboration and definitely a fusion of Western and Indian music. One of the tracks on the album even is in 6/8, a meter Indian musicians don’t play in at all. Since I am a drummer and can appreciate the complicated patterns played here I will give the album five stars.
(by baldfriede)


Christian Burchard (vibraphone, marimba on 01., 02. + 04.)
Edgar Hofmann (saxophone on 01., 02. + 04.)
Friedo Josch (flute on 01., 02. + 04.)
Uwe Müllrich (bass on 01., 02. + 04.)
Michi Wehmeyer (harmonium on 01., 02. + 04.)
Jay Zier (guitar on 01., 02. + 04.)
T.N. Ashok (vocals)
B.N. Chandramouli (kanjira)
V.R. Chandrasekhar (mridangam)
N.N. Dinesh (dholak)
M. Gururaja (jew´s harp)
Principle T.A.S. Mani (mridangam)
M.R. Mohankumar (drums)
M. Raghavendra (vocals)
R.A. Rajagopal (dholak)
T.N. Ramesh (ghatam)
T.N. Shashikumar (dholak)
S. Srishyla (mridangam)
Charlie Mariano (saxophone on 01. + 04.)


01. Cello Cello (Burchard/Mariano/Hofmann/Josch/Wehmeyer/Müllrich) 15.27
02. Telisirama (Burchard/Mariano/Hofmann/Josch/Wehmeyer/Müllrich) 7.16
03. Talatarangini (Traditional) 14.44
04. Marokkanische Seerauber (Moroccan Pirates) (Burchard/Mariano/Hofmann/Josch/Wehmeyer/Müllrich) 11.35