MANUEL GOTTSCHING-INVENTIONS FOR ELECTRIC GUITAR.
MANUEL GOTTSCHING-INVENTIONS FOR ELECTRIC GUITAR.
When Manuel Göttsching released Inventions For Electric Guitar in 1975, it was regarded as a new chapter in his career. Inventions For Electric Guitar was Manuel Göttsching’s debut solo album, and first album post Ash Ra Tempel album. Or was it?
Eagle eyed record buyers having bought Inventions For Electric Guitar saw atop the album cover the words Ash Ra Tempel VI in small print. This muddied the waters somewhat. What was Inventions For Electric Guitar? Was it Ash Ra Tempel’s swan-song, or Manuel Göttsching’s debut album? Record buyers were confused.
They were under the impression that Ash Ra Tempel Starring Rosi, was the band’s fifth and final album. It had been released in 1973, and by then, Ash Ra Tempel comprised just Manuel Göttsching. He was the last man last standing.
Nearly two years had passed before Inventions For Electric Guitar was released. Manuel Göttsching composed, played all the instruments and produced Inventions For Electric Guitar. It seemed undeniable that Inventions For Electric Guitar was a solo album. What good reason could the record company have for adding Ash Ra Tempel VI to the album cover?
Manuel Göttsching was signed to Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser and Gille Lettmann’s Ohr Records. They realised that Inventions For Electric Guitar was the start of a new chapter in Manuel Göttsching’s career. He was keen to embark upon a solo career. What worried Ohr Records, was that many record buyers wouldn’t recognise Manuel Göttsching. That was despite playing a huge part in five albums Ash Ra Tempel’s released between 1971 and 1973. So Ohr Records had two options.
They could release Inventions For Electric Guitar as a solo album. That seems to be the case, given the prominence of Manuel Göttsching’s name. The addition of Ash Ra Tempel VI was part of Ohr Records’ marketing campaign. Ash Ra Tempel was already a relatively well known ‘brand name’ within German music. So if record buyers didn’t recognise Manuel Göttsching’s name, there was every chance they would recognise Ash Ra Tempel, and buy the album. That was one theory.
The other was to bill Inventions For Electric Guitar as an Ash Ra Tempel album. Hence the subtitle, Ash Ra Tempel VI. By adding Manuel Göttsching name to the album cover, Ohr Records were to all intents and purposes, paving the way for Manuel Göttsching’s solo career. That was the other theory put forward when Inventions For Electric Guitar was released in 1975. Nowadays, though, it seems that theory has been disproved.
Recently, Inventions For Electric Guitar has been reissued by MG Art. On Inventions For Electric Guitar’s album cover, there is no sign of the words that caused all that debate “Ash Ra Tempel VI.” They’ve been removed it seems, in accordance with Manuel Göttsching’s wishes. He always saw Inventions For Electric Guitar as his debut solo album. Ash Ra Tempel was in the past. Inventions For Electric Guitar was start of a new and exciting chapter for Manuel Göttsching, the solo years.
The solo years began with Inventions For Electric Guitar. Manuel Göttsching decided to return to the lengthy jams that had been a feature of Ash Ra Tempel’s first four albums. From 1971s Ash Ra Tempel through 1972s Schwingungen, Seven Up and 1973s Join Inn, lengthy jams were the order of the day. This changed on Ash Ra Tempel fifth album, Ash Ra Tempel Starring Rosi. It found Ash Ra Tempel dispense with the lengthy jams and adopt a tighter, more traditional song structure. For his debut solo album, Inventions For Electric Guitar, Manuel Göttsching decided to combine the two approaches.
When Manuel Göttsching began work on his debut solo album, Inventions For Electric Guitar he decided that composition would play a much more important role than on Ash Ra Tempel’s first four albums. Using this new approach, he wrote three pieces, Echo Waves, Quasarsphere and Pluralis. They lengthy soundscapes became Inventions For Electric Guitar. When it came to record Inventions For Electric Guitars, Manuel Göttsching deployed his ‘secret weapons’ to create his new sound.
Having decided on how to approach his debut solo album, Manuel Göttsching headed to Studio Roma, in Berlin in July 1974. That was where Manuel Göttsching would record Inventions For Electric Guitar. He took with him his electric guitar, a Hawaiian steel bar and some of his secret weapons. These were Manuel’s various effects pedals, which included a Revox A77 for echoes, a WahWah pedal, volume pedal and a Schaller Rotosound effects pedal. To record Inventions For Electric Guitar, Manuel used a four track TEAC A3340. Recording of his debut album brought out the perfectionist in Manuel Göttsching.
Throughout July and August of 1974, Manuel Göttsching recorded three lengthy improvised tracks, Echo Waves, Quasarsphere and Pluralis. Gradually, they began to take shape. However, Manuel Göttsching wasn’t willing to accept second best, so constantly honed the three soundscapes. Eventually, after the best part of two months, Inventions For Electric Guitar was complete. Manuel Göttsching had composed, played all the instruments and produced Inventions For Electric Guitar. All that remained was for the album to be mixed.
With Inventions For Electric Guitar recorded, Studio Roma’s recording engineer Heiner Friesz and Manuel Göttsching began mixing the album. Ohr Records didn’t just want the album mixed in stereo. Instead, they also wanted a quadraphonic mix. This invoked a journey to Dierks Studios in Cologne, where the quadro-mixing took place. Ironically, despite the time, effort and expense, quadraphonic sound never took off. That was a great shame, as Inventions For Electric Guitar was an album perfectly suited to quadraphonic sound. Inventions For Electric Guitar is also a truly timeless debut album from Manuel Göttsching.
Echo Waves opens Inventions For Electric Guitar and is a near eighteen minute epic. Straight away, Manuel Göttsching fingers fly up and down the fretboard as he plucks notes and deploys his trusty effects pedals. Waves of choppy, crystalline guitars assail and surround the listener. Meanwhile, a myriad of beeps and squeaks are panned hard left. They come courtesy of the effects laden guitars. There’s no let up. Neither is there space within the music. Its relentless, as the arrangement is powered along. That’s despite the absence of the drums.
When most people will expect the drums to enter, they don’t. That doesn’t matter. Some of the guitars are played with power and precision, and provide a perfect, if unlikely replacement. By then, the lysergic arrangement is being panned and it surrounds the listener. It must have sounded glorious in quadraphonic sound. Still a vortex of guitars continue to assail and surround the listener. Effects transform their sound, thickening the guitars and adding depth. Other times, they cheep and beep, as if auditioning for an Acid House single. Throughout Echo Waves, repetition is key. Patterns appear, only to disappear and reappear. Later, though, it’s all change, with the arrangement taking on a thicker, darker sound. The wah wah and echo pedals are put to good use, as waves of music echo and reverberate as Manuel Göttsching showcases his considerable skills. In musical terms, he’s a master craftsmen as he unleashes a virtuoso performance. This includes latterly, a much more rocky sound, where blistering, searing and screaming guitars drive the arrangement to it’s memorable and majestic crescendo
Quasarsphere has a much more understated, melancholy and ambient sound. Guitars almost weep, as the ethereal soundscape meanders along. This allows the listener to ruminate in the minimalist backdrop. Here, less is more, as a drone accompanies the weeping guitars. By then, there’s a classical influence to a soundscape where elements of ambient and Berlin School combine to create a beautiful, melancholy and ruminative soundscape, that showcases another side to Manuel Göttsching.
Pluralis is a twenty-two minute Magnus Opus that closes Inventions For Electric Guitar. Straight away, chirpy, choppy guitars creates a repetitive pattern. It’s repeated, and takes on a mesmeric, hypnotic sound. Meanwhile, washes and vortexes of ethereal music escape from the arrangement, adding a contrast. These ethereal and celestial washes of music are joined by crystalline, chiming guitars. Still, the hypnotic backdrop provides the heartbeat. Again, repetition is key, but familiarity doesn’t breed contempt. Far from it. The ethereal, celestial sounds dance atop the arrangement, while chiming, crystalline guitars add another layer of music. There’s very little change in tempo increases slightly, apart from when the music becomes slightly choppy. By then, what many people would mistake for lush strings have been added. It’s not. Instead, it’s the guitars, as things start to change.
At 11.03 flamboyant flourishes of guitar take centre-stage. The hypnotic backdrop is reigned in, and plays softly in the distance. Meanwhile, the guitar is caressed as the dreamy arrangement meanders along. Manuel Göttsching plays with speed and a flamboyance, adding flourishes of guitar. In the background, washes of guitar float along as the tempo drops and panning is used effectively. One minute the arrangement is panned hard right, the next it’s sneaked behind the listener and is panned right. Still the hypnotic backdrop plays an crucial part in the soundscape, as space invader sounds are unleashed. Gradually though, a rocky sound emerges from the soundscape. A blistering guitar solo is unleashed, and is played with speed, precision and power. Filters mask the guitar, while panning is used heavily, as Manuel Göttsching delivers another effects laden virtuoso solo. When the guitar solo drops out, the soundscape chugs and skips hypnotically along, as Manuel Göttsching reaches new heights of inventiveness on Inventions For Electric Guitar.
After three soundscapes lasting just forty-seven minutes, Manuel Göttsching’s 1975 debut solo album Inventions For Electric Guitar draws to a close. It was an album that was way ahead of its time, and nowadays, is regarded as a timeless, genre-melting classic.
Manuel Göttsching combined elements of ambient, avant-garde, Berlin School, electronica, Krautrock, psychedelia and rock on Inventions For Electric Guitar. The result was an inventive and innovative album. Inventions For Electric Guitar features music that’s variously beautiful, ethereal, hypnotic, lysergic melancholy, mesmeric and rocky. What’s remarkable about Inventions For Electric Guitar, is that it was recorded by just one man, Manuel Göttsching.
He became a one man band, deploying his guitars and a myriad of effects to record multilayered soundscapes. They sounded as if they had been recorded by a number of musicians and instruments. That wasn’t the case. Instead, it was the work of Manuel Göttsching, one of the most inventive and innovative musicians of his generation. Inventions For Electric Guitar might have been his debut solo album, but Manuel Göttsching had been releasing innovative music since 1971.
That was when Ash Ra Tempel released their eponymous debut album. The five albums they released between 1971 Join Inn feature groundbreaking music. For anyone interested in Krautrock, these five albums deserve a place in any self respecting music collection. So does Inventions For Electric Guitar, which marks the start of a new era for musical pioneer Manuel Göttsching. He was well on his way to becoming one of the most innovative, inventive and influential German musicians of his generation. Continually, Manuel Göttsching reinvented himself and his music.
A year later, Manuel Göttsching released a new album under the Ashra moniker. New Age Of Earth showed that Manuel Göttsching was determined not to stand still. This determination to reinvent himself musically, ensured that Manuel Göttsching’s music continued to be relevant and ahead of the musical curve.
That was the case in 1975, when Manuel Göttsching embarked upon his solo career. After two months in the studio, he released Inventions For Electric Guitar, which is a timeless classic from the virtuoso guitarist and musical magician, Manuel Göttsching.
MANUEL GOTTSCHING-INVENTIONS FOR ELECTRIC GUITAR.