Saturday, 27 June 2009


A strange magic pervades the New Age of Earth album and this is evident right from the first section of Sunrain, a distant futuristic relative of Steve Reich's Six Pianos. Built on a humming keyboard bass rumble and the percolating sounds of the EKO Computerhythm (an early drum machine) this track elicits the absolute maximum of emotion from the minimum of musical fuss. Described by Manuel himself as 'pattern-based music' much of this piece is like a sort of keyboard Morse code, a simple series of notes repeated in cycle. Thankfully all of the music here is glorious and worthy of repetition.

Sunrain is a most apt title for a track that is oddly tinged with melancholy, yet ultimately forges towards total transcendence: ominous clouds and the lightest drops of cold rain are welcome when beams of light cut through the darkness this brightly.

Many of the musical features of Sunrain, notably the hypnotic repetition and the blissed out climax would become common features of dance music over ten years later. This outstanding instrumental offers some early and compelling evidence that Manuel Gottsching is, more than any other musician, the link between the classical minimalist composers and the techno generation.

Part One: The Early Years 1952-1971

Well I'm back with batteries fully recharged and I'm now working on my second and final draft of the book. Full speed ahead! Today I've been fine tuning the first part which deals with both Manuel's early bands and his early influences. I've been writing about post-war Germany, the Summer of Love, the turbulence of 1968 whilst discussing Clapton, Hendrix, Peter Green, Blue Cheer and Thomas Kessler's Beat Studio in Berlin. And I think it's at that point that I leave today's work: just before the recording of the first Ash Ra Tempel album....

Sunday, 7 June 2009

@shra live and time for time out.....

This weekend I've been busy writing reviews of the @shra and @shra vol. 2 albums, which were recorded live in Japan in 1997. During those dates Manuel Gottsching, Lutz Ulbrich and Harald Grosskopf managed to successfully and stylishly update the group sound with a little help from techno/trance musician and producer Steve Baltes.

I don't know if it is the warmer weather but whilst trying to write I've found myself wanting to switch off the computer and go somewhere....anywhere for a change of scene and that certainly has nothing to do with the superb music I've been writing about. It took me until today to realise what it is: I'm working full time and during the week it is mad busy and then I'm trying to write as much as I can every weekend. Come Monday and I'm exhausted.

Put quite simply: I need a break so I shall down pen for a couple of weeks, as I have done once or twice before and when I return the batteries will be fully recharged and I'll be ready to write again. Until then: take care. Speak soon!