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Günter Schickert - Samtvogel CD (album) cover

SAMTVOGEL

Günter Schickert

 

Progressive Electronic

3.60 | 15 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Gunter Schickert was always one of the more mysterious figures in the German musical counterculture: a solo artist operating somewhere on the fringe of a very crowded, very creative landscape. So it made perfect sense that his homemade (and originally home-released) debut album charted a unique course parallel but unconnected to the work of his more celebrated Krautrock contemporaries.

Minimalism was the hot ticket in Germany during the 1970s, and despite his low profile Schickert was an honor student in the Berlin School of electronic music. But his own experiments with tape delay and repetition evoked more of an inner disquiet compared to the now familiar outer space explorations in vogue at the time. The overlapping rhythms and shifting, hypnotic patterns throughout his music recall the sound of early TANGERINE DREAM or KLAUS SCHULZE, but were achieved using only his guitar, voice and two tape recorders instead of the usual synths and sequencers (imagine TD's groundbreaking "Phaedra" LP performed entirely on multi-tracked guitars).

The off-kilter opener "Apricot Brandy" is the closest thing here to an actual melody, but don't start tapping your toes too soon: in just six uneasy minutes it gradually builds into an ideal song for anyone who likes their freakouts especially freaky. The same tune would become a signature of sorts for Schickert, revisited in a more dynamic version on his "Überfällig" album, and also with his band GAM, where it would morph into a full-throttle Krautrock head-trip.

Few artists outside Germany could have written a chugging 17-minute noisefest named "War Machines, Go to Hell", and performed it with such aggressive conviction. And the 21-plus minute "Wald" (Forest) was one of the more unassuming side-long Krautrock epics ever made, following a path similar to Manuel Göttsching's equally spellbinding "Inventions For Electric Guitar" (recorded the same year), but with a more unpolished, uncanny extremity of style.

His subsequent "Überfällig" would enjoy a wider release (on the always trustworthy Sky Records), and mark a notable transition from raw craftsmanship to refined artistry. But Schickert would remain a cult figure, and today his mystique is akin to some arcane mage in one of H.P. Lovecraft's forbidden books of knowledge: the Krautrock equivalent of "Unausprechlichen Kulten", maybe. Dig up a musty copy of "Samtvogel" and hear why.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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