Saturday, November 25, 2006

Crystalaugur - Terranaut{US}[1973](psychedelic rock)

the obscure Native American band Crystalaugur recorded this album in Singapore between 1972 and 1973, orginally pressing a mere 200 copies for a private label (Warped Rec) and the ridiculously small pressing made the original album an unbelievable rarity. The fuzz guitar and space rock vocals definitely put this LP in the psychedelic realm with an interesing primitive backdrop.

6 comments:

EelaFree said...

Crystalaugur - Terranaut"

Howard said...

I'd be happy to give anyone the real story behind this album. Check the back of the cover for the guitarist name. I am that guitarist. I am flattered that this album has made it so far around the internet from humble beginnings in Singapore. I am also shocked to see comments concerning the value of an original pressing.

I can be reached at howardkukla@yahoo.com.

isabelbc said...

hi all,

I was curious about details this great band, then I sent e-mail to Howard, the guitarrist, and he sent me an very interesting text about past and present of members of band (copy/paste authorized).

isabelbc said...

Why Yes, son, I Am a Rock Icon

By Kim Bengs ‘75, Bryan Hall ‘77, Greg Kemp ’75, Howard Kukla ’75, and Guy Rittger ‘77

The email

Life took an interesting twist on May 22, 2008 when Howard Kukla (SAS Class of ‘75) sent all of us an email listing a website (http://andthenthechimneyspoke.blogspot.com/) where he had been interviewed about events that happened in Singapore over 33 years ago.

The Album
Circa 1975 - It was a cold, long winter in Singapore….oops, hot, humid winter and a group of guys who were members of the band Crystalaugur were trying to figure out what they wanted to do for Interim Semester. To quote Howard in his interview, “So the band went to the administration with a proposal to make an album (you know, those big round vinyl things most of your parents have in the attic collecting dust). We would write our own music, record it, have it pressed to vinyl and distribute. The result was Terranaut. It is our own work. One of our classmates (Greg Kemp ’77) recorded it on a TEAC or AKAI 4 track reel-to-reel with over-dub of vocals and other sound effects. The artwork was done by the bass player's step-mother. We had the recording pressed by BMI Ltd in Singapore. Only about 200 copies were pressed. We gave them away to friends and family. It was never meant to be a money making venture, just meant to get us through the 2 week semester break.”

Like many groups, Crystalaugur started out by learning a variety of the popular music of the time, including songs by Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad. However, Howard and Kim had already been writing original songs prior to joining the band, and Crystalaugur made the decision to move forward into including original material in performance and recording. A number of these original songs later appeared in the group's "Terranaut" recording.

The album was recorded in the teacher's lounge at King’s Road (in the old headmaster's quarters), and in the school auditorium. The acoustics in the auditorium proved to be quite a challenge, so the group constructed an ad-hoc recording booth made up of free-standing room partitions, pillows, and assorted odds and ends found in the auditorium that day.

Imagine our shock when we ‘Googled’ the name Crystalaugur and found over 1700 hits! Turns out that a European bootleg operation had taken our album and re-released it on CD in 2001. We found that original vinyl copies have sold for over $1000, and cuts from the album have shown up on radio playlists. Some websites called the album "a perfect example of ‘70’s psychedelic rock"; rumors circulated that the album was actually cut by a group of “Native American” Vietnam vets on R&R in Singapore. No, just a bunch of creative teenagers making music together, for a very memorable year.

The most fun we have had with this revelation is that we have been able to receive the unbridled awe and respect of our teenagers, friends and coworkers. Why yes, we are Rock Icons.

isabelbc said...

Then and Now
Kim Bengs, vocals, guitar, piano was boarding in Singapore for school. Kim later played in his college jazz band, and in rock bands in college and beyond. He's continued to study guitar, especially rock, jazz, and fingerstyle, and is planning to record music for release on the Internet in the near future. He has also worked in the radio side of music off and on since college, currently in a part-time position at 94.9 KLTY in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Kim lives in North Texas with his two teenaged kids.

Bryan Hall, drums, came to Singapore in 1974. He lives in Nashville with his wife Regina and three teenagers. Bryan is a consultant and writer who still travels extensively. Last summer, while in Thailand, he was able to visit with Kim’s parents who are still in the area. He has two books coming out in the next six months, Mano a Mano, a father/son devotional written with his two sons, and What Child is This?, a novel set in Singapore and Malaysia dealing with child slavery. Watch out for them on Amazon.

Howard Kukla, guitar, went on to get an Engineering degree. Howard and his wife Lisa have three kids. Lisa is a nurse with a hospice company in Dallas, Ben is in Athens getting his degree, Jacob is trying to finish HS and Marcus wants his learner’s permit. No wonder he has a full head of grey!

Guy Rittger, bass, arrived in Singapore in 1971. Thirty-three years later, he finds himself in relative middle class comfort, planted in Northern California wine country with a lovely wife, two faithful pit bulls, and a challenging-enough corporate career in information technology. Music remains an important part of his life, filling in the gap between his primary passion - racing sailboats - and the often soul-numbing monotony of his job.

Greg Kemp, sound-man, and technical guru, whose dad is still in Singapore, has wandered the globe and is now in Australia.

But where would we be without our groupies!!! Not! We were, however, blessed to be influenced by some great young ladies, Cara Smith Palier ‘75 was dating Kim and was a major contributor to the project (heck, we all had a crush on her). Married (Mike) with three kids, she spends most of her time drawing, painting, sculpting and designing wearable artwork. Pam Campbell Gerritsen ’77 was dating Howard (earlier in the year she had dated Guy) and was the inspiration for “Pam’s Song”, one of the hits. Pam and her husband of 19 years, Gary, live near Austin, Texas with 4 cats and a yard full of wildlife and birds.

The long hair is now short, gray or gone. Our musical skills have been left to the next generation. But we can shout, WE ARE CRYSTALAUGER. We might even consider a gig next summer at the SAS reunion in Houston.
Thanks a lot Howard

Isabel

Jörg said...

Cool as ice! Both the album and the story behind it! I've been to both Singapore and Malaysia (Penang, Tioman, Melaka, Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi...) a couple of times.

Cheers!

Jörg,
Sweden

PS. Any chance of you guys playing at my 50th b-day in my garden, Sept 20th next year...?!? ; -)

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