Manuel GOTTSCHING selected discography

Inventions For Electric Guitar
New Age Of Earth
E2 – E4
Gin Rose
Friendship
Die Mulde
Concert For Murnau
E2 – E4 Live
 
 

MANUEL GOTTSCHING E2 – E4 Live
MG.ART 2005
Revisiting old hits with an orchestra is a fashionable thing now – but what’s a hit for Manuel Gottsching who, since his ASH RA days, went down the classical route more than once? Gracing the Berlin stage in March 2005, with his guitar only what was the electronics part of the “E2 – E4” album has been taken up by the Zeitkratzer ensemble and, thus, the old record came to life in totally different dimension. Real strings weave the delicate fibre and vibrancy into the big picture while the brass section bring on the velvet attack. Half the length of the original piece, the concert version is less relaxing where the studio one was light and more buzzing where that was tight. But when Herr Gottsching steps into the light, the six-string beast in his hands feels leashed to the extent of performing the tricks that he likes only. no matter whether the audience will be satisfied. It is satisfied anyway because reisisting such a masterpiece would be both impossible and foolish.

*****
 

MANUEL GOTTSCHING Concert For Murnau
MG.ART 2005
Murnau is a name. Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau was a silent movie director whose “Schloss Vogelod” (“The Haunted Catle”), filmed in 1921 and all but forgotten, Manuel Gottsching had been asked to score and peform during its festival screening – with a little ensemble of two violins, a cello and two horns. Composing while the movie was being restored, he found, after both processes reached completion, that the film in its original speed was 20 minutes longer that it had been thought to be, and the music had to be slowed down – with no time to come up with a new score. But such is Gottsching’s admirable talent that he re-jigged the piece dividing it into electronics and acoustic parts – without losing its mood and without sacrificing his work. The question could arise as to whether this work would stand without the visuals. And the answer is, it does. Fabulously.Experiment as a whole, it’s not experimental an exercise, as it’s classical, starting with orchestral ouverture and flowing into “The Party” synthetic bubbling and deeply emotive keyboard melody which gets adorned with warm brass. Next, in “Auf Zur Jagd”, the horns step forward to go minuetting with jolly strings. Mostly, though, the music’s deceptively mournful – that goes along well with Murnau, ain’t it? – but the pace picks up a bit when it comes to decision of “Double Or Quits” with what sounds like pizzicato covered by fat slab of cello. The album’s peak is, undoubtedly, “High Noon” where all the elements unite and weave the solemn Eastern ornament that’s charged with so much energy it takes a flute dance to channel it out safely. “Saint And Sinner” feels like a real safe harbor: here’s the familiar MG, all anxiously calm. Out from the serenity breaks its continuation, the glorious “Demaskierung”, majestic in its orchestral beauty. There’s no need to watch at the screen to know what’s going on, the music takes on a life of its own. Genuine genius.!

*****
 

MANUEL GOTTSCHING Die Mulde
MG.ART 2005
Random is hardly a suitable word for describing Manuel Gottsching’s work: no matter how improvised his music is, there’s invariably a great dose of mental energy and deep thought lie in the very base of it. Sometimes, still, the maestro performs music that can be considered incidental as it’s either done on some special occasion or compiled occasionally. That’s what this album is all about, with its two long pieces, one recorded live in 1997 to accompany an installation of 34 mirrors by the Mulde river bank near Leipzig, and the other a collection of patterns laid down in 1981 on the Prophet-10 synthesizer and now adorned with guitar. A conceptual thing, that is.When you have water and mirrors it’s hardly surprising that the music of the title composition is reflective. Windy atmospherical, it builds on slowly on soft percussive shadowplay as elusive as only cloudy skies are over the river. Its first part bears a title of “Schopferische Stille” which means “Creative Silence”, but there’s no total still in the real world so going through the looking glass in the search of it feels a nice way of practical escapism. At least, with subtle melodies bobbing up and beats running more and more intensive, it feels good. “HP Little Cry” gets even deeper into the unconscious, the low notes pulling the nerves and moving you before you know it. The guitar leads down the path that has no end until you imagine it between the sound strata and flashes of strumming and delicate picking here and there. It’s not that emotive – or it just seems so… Check yourself once the music stops: are you still the same?

***
 

ASH RA TEMPEL – Friendship
Manikin Records 2000
Klaus Schulze is a name everybody seems to know. Electronics maestro, Krautrock mastermind, TANGERINE DREAM godfather etc. But only a few remember Klaus originally was in a band called ASH RA TEMPEL. Then he went solo but friendship with his former bandmate, guitarist Manuel Gottsching lasted. In April 2000 they re-united to play Julian Cope’s Cornucopea festival, the show documented on “Gin Rose” album. And it was so enjoyable that the duo decided on recording some new material which forms “Friendship”.Three long pieces – and none is boring with this quiet pace, soft rhythm and arresting melody. 30-minute long “Reunion” may resemble “Atom Heart Mother” but in the end of the day smart Krautrock picked up exactly where English psychodelia broke down. The tune’s not catchy but one can’t help following it especially when poignant guitar hooks up. And it’s Manuel’s guitar playing that makes “Pikant” suit its title. The groove here sounds more intricated and even close to the world music while short guitar phrases hail directly from the old blues. And even so, acoustic solo jumps at you unexpectedly to send shivers down your spine. Magnifico! “Friendship” appears to be powerful guitar soundscape based on the solid keyboard foundation – the piece requires comparison with “Crazy Diamond”. Rock smelling of classical composers – that’s what the title track is. So while Kraut is mostly cold this effort certainly posesses a soul.

*****
 

ASH RA TEMPEL – Gin Rose
Manikin Records 2000
Had ASH RA TEMPEL been KING CRIMSON they would come up with some fantastic title for the mighty composition this disc contains. But Manuel Gottsching and Klaus Schulze duo called this exquisite piece as poignant as it is. The music sounds quite sparse being certainly no “Larks’ Tongues”. But little by little it gets intensive. In places it’s hard to tell phased guitar from synthesizers, a real ’70s effort which nevertheless is extremely modern in its ambience. There are just snippets of the melodies ASHRA are capable of, overall music is experimental and jazz-tinged. Considering the fact it’s all recorded live (at the Royal Festival Hall, at Julian Cope’s Cornucopea festival) one can only wonder how good Klaus and Manuel feel each other’s drift to follow and complement it the best.In fact, “Gin Rose” is not whole piece as it has some parts, the most beautiful of them acoustic guitar solo which is to appear in “Pikant” on subsequent “Friendship” album. Some might find the album as boring as it is long but in its field “Gin Rose” is a gem.

****
 

MANUEL GOTTSCHING E2 – E4
Inteam 1984
One needs not to be a chess expert to see the album’s title screams ‘Debut!’. Not so much so, after fifteen years on the scene, yet “E2 – E4” signalled a new beginning for Manuel Gottsching who finally shook off the ASH RA tag to strike on his own – as if his mid-’70s featured additional players! Sometimes the game doesn’t seem to require two to play, especially when it’s the mind game like this. This record lulls a real geometry in its core – every piece here morphs into the next at the minute’s end sharp, with no extra second attached, and with no pause in-between, it’s one whole track – yet it’s as adventurous as any other MG’s work.It’s just take some time to tune an ear to the anxious throb of “Ruhige Nervositat” that sets the framework for the album with a repeating guitar note wrapped in electronic coat which brings no warmth on its quasi-cymbal tails. “…Und Mittelspiel” (all the titles thought up by Klaus Muller who, together with Manuel, did the design are in both Deutsch and English, but this one’s better when reflecting the chess theme) bears light flashes on its skin, organ runs putting tasty flesh on the synth bones: the life’s a game after all, and there’s life amidst the chords that finally let the gentle guitar dance freely in “Promise”. Every element shown before come together in “Glorious Fight”, yet not to battle but to sparkle and shine in miraculous figures. Not squares, of course, even though aligning oneself to this music is as easy as enjoyable.

****
 

MANUEL GOTTSCHING / ASH RA TEMPEL – New Age Of Earth
Isadora 1976
Is that where the term ‘new age’ came from? Picking up where “Electric Guitar” left off, this album, another opus done solely by Manuel Gottsching, ushers in keyboards where the six strings reigned before, and “New Age” is as earthy as its predecessor was spaced-out. “Sunrain” silky ringing is pure, though understated, joy. You’re alone with the nature’s delight and revel in it, overwhelmed by the beauty. Rise and shine, then. Yet when the sun shines it begs for something to reflect of, and there’s nothing better than the endless water. “Ocean Of Tenderness” speaks for itself – and for the emotional whales that sail deep inside of it. Jazzy guitar picking makes a very welcome appearance here to add a certain adventurousness to the proceedings. When the drift reaches “Deep Distance” it finds a vague folk motif stretching across the aural horizon and fading away.Here comes the night. “Nightdust” is windy and winding, with a sonic intrigue in the midst of it all. The calm is deceptive, but the creatures that live in the dark are as harmless as only the beasts of oneself’s mind can be. They lurk yet don’t bite, and there’s a strong spell which guitar strains cast. To be left spellbound in delicious reverie is a fantastic feeling.

****1/3
 

MANUEL GOTTSCHING / ASH RA TEMPEL VI – Inventions For Electric Guitar
Kosmische Musik 1975
If Kraut-rock came to be thought of as complex, highly experimental music, then this album is very anti-Kraut. Not that there’s any simplicity in it, but by the time ASH RA TEMPEL issued their sixth LP, it wasn’t ‘their’ anymore – it was his, Manuel Gottsching’s solo album. So much for the simplicity, yet the original idea was simple too: to record using the guitar and guitar only, with no additional instruments. The effects allowed, what’s most amazing is that it’s actually a live recording, as Gottsching played the guitar throughout, from the off to the final chord, without jointing the piece together later on. That’s the gist of the experment. So no matter how tempting it might be to compare “Inventions” to “Tubular Bells”, they’re almost opposite – there’s no pronounced grandiosity here, Manuel’s directive seemed to be the covering of tranquility base.It’s not all serene, though – too much is going on under the glossy surface that bubbles with inner life in “Echo Waves” – but the space around the sound is vast and largely peaceful. The tension is palpably growing until wild rock solo is unleashed, still wrapped in lightning-stricken cloud which dissolved in “Quasarsphere”, a delicate retreat from the storm. And then “Pluralis”, an epic of sorts, builds up expansively like the Universe itself with a subtle, yet alluring, tune attached to its pulse. This pulse is constantly threatening to turn into a thunder and never does so, therefore an atmosphere is pregnant with urgency and has no release even though there is satisfaction. Is there a better way to get a listener hooked?

*****
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