Manuel Göttsching Live at Mt. Fuji (2-CD)
- Released: June 5, 2012
- Label: Made In Germany Music
- 2.Saint & Sinner
- 3.Trunky Groove
- 4.Die Mulde
Personnel: Manuel G”ttsching (guitar, electronics).
Audio Mixer: Manuel G”ttsching.
Recording information: Anoyo Prism Festival, Mt. Fuji, Japan (04/29/2006).
Photographer: Isamu Himuro.
Guitarist, Krautrock and electronic music visionary, Ash Ra Tempel founder, and inadvertent techno and trance music pioneer Manuel G”ttsching (whose "E2E4" is still blowing minds, being sampled, and can be heard some two and a half decades later in clubs and all-night parties in its 54-minute entirety) has been recording steadily and performing rarely since 1970. Though his later recordings aren't well-known or widely distributed, they don't need to be, and he could care less. This document, recorded at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Japan, is G”ttsching doing what he does best: performing solo guitar with his bank of electronics -- keyboards, samplers, digital delays, effects pedals, and guitars. If Neu! developed the "motorik" rhythm, where a single pulsing rhythm would be heard for an entire track and lead to all sorts of unexpected and heavyweight improvising and dynamics, G”ttsching was the one who refined it into an art form. The later early recordings of Ash Ra, like Blackouts, were classics of guitar virtuosity and acid-damaged hypnosis, whereas later offerings concentrated on almost new age sounds. True, he's never done anything as remotely heavy as Neu!'s "Hallogallo," but he's never needed to. His more refined sensibility is articulate and somewhat more subtle, and incorporates everything from disco and funk riffs to jazz licks and rock power (when he decides to let it erupt). The five cuts involved in his performance are all of a piece, though they are very different in arrangement, approach, and texture. In the course of 72 minutes, G”ttsching goes the distance from the pulse-oriented "Sunrain" -- walking a line between sequencer-lite Tangerine Dream and early Kraftwerk, in which minimal keyboards are layered on top of one another, creating a blessed-out kind of analog techno -- to primitive rhythm tracks with big chords played languidly with fretless bass and electric guitar over the top, as on the lithe "Saint & Sinner." Judging by G”ttsching's bluesy guitar chops, David Gilmour has been displaced as the trademark king of minimal tripped-out blues solos -- and with the same tone, too!
The most "maximal" thing here is "Trunky Groove." Repetitive percussion and synth loops are eventually assaulted with a rolling drum machine and then move outside to the edges of what can be borne by the music -- it may be a groove, but it's knotty as well as "Trunky." When he piles on even more keyboard lines in rhythmic counterpoint to the ones already in play, it's time to take it to the next level and bring out the guitar -- where he just cuts loose. The track then eventually strips itself down to nothing but that initial pulse before it ends, one layer at a time. "Die Mulde," at nearly 20 minutes, is easily the longest piece here and, initially at least, the most ambient, sounding like a Klaus Schulze demo. The chord changes suggest a melody and are decorated at the fringes with harmonically resonant sounds. Things begin to change radically at the three-minute mark and the cut becomes something wholly other: devoid of warmth but still bliss-like with swooping sounds weaving their way through the cybernetic morass that repeats endlessly before becoming a Kraftwerkian space jam that completes itself in electric guitar Ash Ra acid freakout accompanied by that thin German layer of tranced-out house. It becomes body music for listening rather than listening music for the body. Think New Age of Earth by Ash Ra crossed with "E2E4," and you get an idea. The set closes with "Shuttlecock," on a map where Kraftwerk meets the guitar soloing of Carlos Santana circa the Lotus/Caravanserai era; it's as if Santana were playing "Showroom Dummies" live in concert at 45 rpm. This isn't for everybody. Those looking for the chilly, nearly icy resolve and precision of "E2E4" will be disappointed, because this is warmer than that. Those looking for the great overdriven guitar excesses of Ash Ra will bum out too, because this music is more about electronics and rhythm than space jams. For everyone else at the vast place in the middle, this is one hypnotic and compelling ride and is well worth the time and effort to procure. ~ Thom Jurek
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