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A decade before the musically unskilled Half Japanese audaciously released their debut full-length as a three-record box set, the equally musically unskilled German group Zweistein pulled off the same stunt, and even topped Half Japanese by having their three-LP set issued by Philips, a major label. Zweistein and their album are one of the strangest episodes in the history of Krautrock, an era where bands in general weren't exactly known for restraint. Though not much is known about this mysterious group, Zweistein was mostly the work of Jacques Dorian, without help from his wife and kids, as well as studio engineer Peter Kramper. They released the single "I'm a Melody Maker b/w "A Very Simple Song," a pair of acoustic folk songs, for Philips in 1970. The resident producer at Philips had the hots for either Dorian's wife or another woman in the group, and she convinced the producer to let Zweistein go ahead with a full-length record. Late at night with everyone except the children under the influence of LSD, they recorded enough material for what would become a grand concept three-LP set called Trip Flipout Meditation marking the three stages of an acid trip. Amateurish and over-indulgent and not very well recorded, the record reveled in excesses, as the group mostly dropped their folk leanings for studio effects, spacey sounds, and long creepy organ tones, and distorted vocal noises, with a crude song thrown in here and there. To make matters worse, the records were issued in an elaborate metallic gold and silver box with a mirror embedded in the front cover. When the record came out, later in 1970, the producer at Philips was quickly fired for the costly fiasco, and in weeks the company deleted Trip Flipout Meditation from their catalog. Whereas some have reviled Zweistein's effort as an excessive mess, others have hailed it as a flawed masterpiece in strangeness. Zweistein never made another album, though engineer Kramper went on to play keyboards and Moog in Amon Düül II and the Amon Düül off-shoot Utopia while the others vanished completely from the music scene. ~ Rolf Semprebon

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