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Manuel Göttsching - Inventions For Electric Guitar CD (album) cover


Manuel Göttsching



3.85 | 97 ratings

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4 stars Maybe it's the pretentious title, or the unflattering mug-shot filling the album cover. Or maybe it's the confusion over whether the album belongs to Manuel Göttsching or to Ash Ra Tempel (in truth, by 1975 the guitarist was the entire band). Or it might just be the music itself: a textbook model of (take your pick) either numbing repetition or hypnotic simplicity.

Whatever the reason, here's an album that hasn't attracted all the retroactive praise it deserves, especially in light of Göttsching's later elevation to 'The Godfather of Trance'. What he did here was borrow a formula already perfected by erstwhile bandmate KLAUS SCHULZE (and by Schulze's own erstwhile bandmates in TANGERINE DREAM), playing minimal but melodic patterns of overlapping arpeggios, created entirely through studio reverb, echo effects, and good ol' fashioned manual dexterity (amazingly, no tape loops were involved).

The difference was that Göttsching, not unlike ACHIM REICHEL or GÜNTER SCHICKERT, achieved the effect playing guitar instead of programming synthesizers, which not only required more effort but in retrospect helped to keep the music relatively fresh after all these years. It's true that a certain monotony creeps into the set at times, notably during the nearly 22-minute "Pluralis", sounding like an old phonograph needle stuck in a groove of scratched vinyl. But the soloing on top of the (again, all hand-played) sequences ultimately saves even the more uneventful passages, adding a welcome human dimension to what could have been merely a cold, mechanical exercise.

It's ironic that the shortest cut ("Quasarsphere") is also the best: six-plus minutes of pure, yearning emotion, recalling Göttsching's cosmic aspirations in such classic Ash Ra Tempel inprovs like "Traummaschine and "Jenseits". But the two longer tracks reveal an artist looking forward, anticipating a musical vocabulary that in 1975 didn't even have a name yet.

Compared to the shattering, Hendrix-inspired jams of earlier efforts ("Amboss", anyone?), the album might resemble nothing more than a one-man novelty project. But after the underachievement of "Starring Rosi" it must have been reassuring to hear Göttsching return to what he does best: playing his guitar, and at considerable length. And, thankfully, the music itself has aged a lot better than the artwork or album title.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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