For the best part of fifty years, Berlin has produced many truly innovative musicians.  This includes Can, Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra and Cluster. They consistently produced groundbreaking music which even today, is influencing a new generation of musicians. Since then, Berlin has consistently produced many more talented and inventive musicians. 

Among them, are three talented, versatile and inventive guitarists, Günter Schickert, Jochen Arbeit and Dirk Dresselhaus. The three guitarists represent and celebrate three generations of making experimental music in Berlin.  So it’s fitting that they recently decided to collaborate on a new album.

As Arbeit Schickert Schneider they recorded eight soundscapes which became their recently released album A S S. It was released by Hamburg based Bureau B, and finds the three guitarists incorporating and combining disparate musical genres, influences and instruments. The result is a fascinating and captivating album, where  Günter Schickert, Jochen Arbeit and Dirk Dresselhaus put all their years of experience to good use on A S S.

Günter Schickert.

The elder statesmen of the trio is Günter Schickert. He’s been active participant in Berlin’s thriving and vibrant music scene since 1964. 

Originally, Günter Schickert started off playing the trumpeter in 1962. However, soon, he decided to switch to guitar and by 1967, Günter Schickert was known as a guitarist. By the seventies, he was part of the Krautrock scene.

In 1974, Günter Schickert self-released his debut album Samtvogel. Within a year, it was picked up by Germany’s leading label, Krautrock. However, five years later when Günter Schickert released his sophomore album Überfällig, it was on Brian’s rival Sky Records. By then, the Krautrock era was almost over.

Since then, Günter Schickert has released several solo albums, including 1983s Kinder In Der Wildnis; 1995s Somnambul; 2009s Mauerharfe 1989-2009 and 2012s HaHeHiHo. Günter Schickert has also collaborated with Klaus Schulze on the 2013 album The Schulze-Schickert Session, and then with Pharoah Chromium on OXTLR which was released in 2014. However, that is only part of the Günter Schickert story.

He’s also been a member of several important German bands. This includes Ziguri, GAM, No Zen Orchestra, Arumaruma and Feedbackorchester. Günter Schickert has worked with many artists and bands, and recorded a lot of important music during his long career. So has Jochen Arbeit.

Jochen Arbeit.

That’s despite not being born in Berlin. Instead, Jochen Arbeit, who was born in 1961, moved to Berlin in 1980. That was when he joined joined the Geniale Dilletanten art group, who fused punk rock and Dada.  However, by 1983 it was all change for Jochen Arbeit.

That was when Jochen Arbeit began touring the world with his instrumental rock band Die Haut. They went on to release eight albums and a mini album between 1982 and 1998. By the time Die Haut released their final album Springer, Jochen Arbeit had moved on to pastures new.

Jochen Arbeit had joined Einstürzende Neubauten in 1997. That wasn’t the only band he would join. In 2012, Jochen Arbeit joined  Automat. This was just the latest in a long line of bands Jochen Arbeit had been a member of. 

Still, though, Jochen Arbeit has found time to enjoy a solo career. He released his debut solo album in 2008. Fittingly, it was entitled Solo and showcased Jochen Arbeit’s talents. Since then, he’s been involved with various collaborations, including with Schneider TM. His collaboration with Günter Schickert and Dirk Dresselhaus on A S S is lust the latest.

Dirk Dresselhaus.

Dirk Dresselhaus is the youngest member of the trio. He was born in 1970, and his career began in the late eighties. Between 1989 and 1997, Dirk was a member of various indie rock and noise bands, including the Locust Fudge and Hip Young Things. However, in 1997, Dirk’s music changed direction.

Like a lot musicians, Dirk Dresselhaus had discovered electronic music. So he founded a new musical vehicle, in Schneider TM. It allowed Dirk Dresselhaus to explore of the world of electronic music. Two years later, in 1999, and Dirk Dresselhaus formed the duo Angel with with Ilpo Väisänen. They’ve recorded five albums and collaborated on two other albums between 2002 and 2014. Since then, Dirk Dresselhaus has been busy.

He collaborated with Reinhold Friedl on the triple album Real Time. It was released in June 2014. However, the latest project that Dirk Dresselhaus has been involved with is Arbeit Schickert Schneider’s new album A S S.

A S S.

Having decided to record an album together, Günter Schickert, Jochen Arbeit and Dirk Dresselhaus, began work on what would eventually become A S S in Berlin, in February 2015. They would record eight soundscapes which have been influenced by each musician’s past. 

In the case of Günter Schickert this is Krautrock; while Jochen Arbeit was part of the punk generation. Dirk Dresselhaus has flitted between indie rock, noise and nu-electronica. These musical genres, plus a myriad of different instruments would be deployed by each musician.

Recording of A S S began in Berlin in February 2015, the three musicians had composed eight soundscapes. They were recorded over a four month period, with each musicians bringing something different to the project. Günter Schickert played guitar and trumpet, conch and effects. Jochen Arbeit added guitar, balafon plus various ‘objects’ and effects. Dirk Dresselhaus who is credited as Schneider TM on the album, plays guitar, bass, mbira, drum pads and effects. These instruments are put to good use on what became A S S which was completed in June 2015. The result was a genre-melting album.

Elements of avant-garde, free jazz, industrial,  Krautrock, psychedelic, punk and techno are combined with minimalist music throughout A S S. It’s an ambitious and innovative genre-melting album, where three generations of music combine their 

Opening A S S is 37°C., the first part in a five part movement Fieber. Washes of guitars feedback, shimmer and drone. A buzzing sound cuts through the arrangement, before the drama builds, and a futuristic sound begins to unfold. Still, though, the drama is present as the elements of avant-garde, nu-electronica, experimental and post rock combine. Sometimes nothing is as it seems, as instruments courtesy of a myriad of effects.  The arrangement roars, rumbles, feedback and drones. Sometimes, there’s an industrial sound as the drama builds. Later, the arrangement becomes otherworldly and futuristic, before it dissipates,  leaving but a memory of a captivating and cinematic soundscape.

Seamlessly, 38°C picks up where 37°C left off. Guitars, objects, found sounds and effects are deployed, as the arrangement whirs, grinds and clicks. A droning sound emerges, as machine like sounds are to the fore. They’ve a mesmeric quality. So do the the slow, hypnotic drum. They come courtesy of a drum machine, and sit back in the mix, while a myriad of eerie, droning, whirring, grinding and clicking sounds provide a rhythmic accompaniment. It’s moody, dark and hypnotic, as the arrangement draws inspiration from the avant-garde, Berlin School, experimental, industrial,  Krautrock and nu-electronica. Less is more, as the understated and hypnotic arrangement meanders moodily along, continuing to captivate.

Again, 39°C has an eerie, otherworldly sound. Soon, the machine awakens, and churns out a myriad of whirring, grinding, droning, buzzing and beeping sounds. Sometimes, a few crystalline sounds add a contrast, as the man machine stirs. Meanwhile, there’s moody sound and a sense of foreboding. Especially as the arrangement lumbers along, elongated industrial sounds grinding, whirring and buzzing. Later, there’s a futuristic sound, as sounds spew forth, before taking on a melodic hue as the temperature rises.

By now, it’s 40°C, as a dramatic soundscape unfolds. Sounds swirl; and a vortex of howling, chiming, jangling and crystalline sounds join with whirs, click, ratting and grinding sounds. They create an unlikely symphony, as a trotting, galloping sound appears and soon, disappears. Meanwhile, there’s an Eastern influence to the melodic and joyous arrangement, before the temperature rises one more time.

41°C is the fifth and final part in Fieber. Still, the chiming, jangling sounds are still present. However, the arrangement pulsates, grinds and whirs. There’s a nod to Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express as this musical journey unfolds. Drums occasionally click, crack and roll, while guitars chime, chirp and provide crystalline sounds. Meanwhile, the rest of the soundscape is hypnotic and mesmeric. Subtle bursts of a braying trumpet are added, while effects transform the dry sound of instruments. They’re sculpted into something new and different, that become part of a what’s akin to a moderne symphony.

As Acetyl begins to reveal its secrets, just a balafon is joined by a trumpet on Acetyl. The balafon which is from West Africa, creates a minimalist backdrop, while brief bursts of the trumpet are joined by a dark droning sound combine. It has an ominous sound, as the conch is added to the mix. Mostly, though, it’s the balafon and trumpet that play leading roles. They’re helped along by the nbira, which drones  and resonates. Together, they create a soundscape that veers between dark and dramatic, to atmospheric and exotic, to moody and mysterious. It’s also hypnotic and cinematic. Acetyl is without doubt, one of the highlights of A S S.

Sounds chirp and repeat on Salicyl, before a guitar and drums join the fray. By then, Salicyl is heading in the direction of the dance-floor. The guitars are funky, but reminiscent of Michael Rother’s first couple of albums. The drum machine cracks and pounds, while a bass buzzes. Effects are added, while the guitar steals the show. At 3.33 the arrangement is stripped bare, and just a variety of beeps and squeaks remain. That’s the case right up to 4.00 when the sense of anticipation begins to grow. Soon, the arrangement explodes and man and machine are imperfect harmony, as they create a dance-floor anthem in waiting.

Säure closes A S S. Waves and washes of music flow in and out. It veers between dramatic, understated, broody and ethereal. Just like so many previous tracks, it’s truly captivating. The music shimmers, glistens, drones and pulsates. Sometimes, the music is cinematic, other times dramatic, shrill and futuristic. Always, it’s inventive and innovative, which has been the story of A S S.

That’s not surprising, given three groundbreaking musicians have collaborated on  A S S.  It’s work of Günter Schickert, Jochen Arbeit and Dirk Dresselhaus. They recorded the eight soundscapes and are billed on A S S, which was released by Bureau B, as Arbeit Schickert Schneider. The three guitarists are responsible for an album that’s captivating.

A S S is also an album where the more one listens to it, the more of the album’s secrets, subtleties, surprises and nuances are revealed.  Nobody will hear everything during the first listen. That would be almost impossible. It’s an album that takes several listens to truly appreciate. Having said that, from the first listen to A S S, it’s obviously a very special album from a trio of multitalented musicians. Together, they’ve over 100 years of musical experience, and put it to good use. 

Arbeit Schickert Schneider used an interesting and eclectic selection of instruments. They combined traditional instruments with electronic instruments and much more exotic and unusual instruments like a nbira, conch and balafon. This they combine with various everyday objects and a myriad of effects. These effects are put to good use throughout the recording of A S S. Often, effects have been used, and they transform the original dry sound. It’s then sculpted into something new, which becomes part of these multilayered soundscapes. They’ve been influenced not just by Arbeit Schickert Schneider’s musical past, but a variety of musical genres.

Elements of disparate musical genres shine through on A S S. Everything from  avant-garde, Berlin School, experimental, free jazz, funk, industrial, nu-electronica, psychedelia and rock can be heard. So can Eastern sounds and a nod to Ash Ra, Kraftwerk and even Cluster. The result is music that veers between dark and dramatic, to atmospheric and ethereal, to  exotic, to cinematic, moody  and mysterious. Sometimes, the music can be melodic and occasionally joyous. Often, there’s a  hypnotic quality to some of the soundscapes. Always, Arbeit Schickert Schneider’s soundscapes on A S S are captivating, inventive and innovative, as three generations of master musicians pool their considerable experience, to create a groundbreaking, genre-melting album that celebrates Berlin’s rich musical past.








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