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Sand were a one-record oddity from the early '70s who might have been lost to obscurity if David Tibet of Current 93 hadn't discovered their album Golem in the record collection of Steven Stapleton of Nurse with Wound. Sand's record of strange surreal music is a highly original masterpiece of cosmic Krautrock. The group was originally from the small town of Bodenwerder, in Lower Saxony in the northwestern part of Germany. In 1970, Johannes Vester, brothers Ludwig and Ulrich Papenberg, and a couple other musicians formed the group Part of Time, inspired by Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, and other psychedelic bands. They played many gigs, and after a short while moved to Cologne, where they met the members of Can as well as Klaus Schulze. In 1971 Vester transferred to Berlin to study psychology and the Papenberg brothers followed him, and as a trio they became Sand in 1972. By now, they were becoming more influenced by the experimental rock scene of the city as well as the revolutionary politics of Berlin's underground. At the time, Klaus Schulze was developing a special recording process with engineer Manfred Schunke called Artificial Head Stereo Sound, which like Surround Sound created the illusion of the sound coming from everywhere. As Schulze had already met the group in Cologne, he chose them to record one of a series of records that would demonstrate the special recording studio. In 1974 the album Golem was recorded with Schulze as the engineer, and released that same year on the Delta-Acoustic label, as part of a series of Artificial Head recordings from that same year. The group wasn't actually too happy with the loss of dynamics caused by the Artificial Head technique, though it lends the music a far more trippy air, especially with headphones. Sand split up shortly after the record came out, and in 1975 Vester started a solo project with the unwieldy name Johannes Vester & His Vester Bester Tester Electric Folk Orchestra. This group went back into the Artificial Head Stereo Sound studio to record a never-released album, Born at Dawn, while the Papenberg brothers trundled back to Lower Saxony and other careers. Stapleton and Tibet eventually got in touch with Vester, and in 1996 released the double-CD Ultrasonic Seraphim, which contained all of Golem, some other Sand recordings and alternate takes, and three of Vester's Born at Dawn tracks. ~ Rolf Semprebon
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