Thursday, 24 March 2011

That term

It was always going to come into the book at some point and I wouldn't be doing my job properly if I didn't make some reference, even in passing, to that term. What? I hear you say. I'm referring to "krautrock", the tag so often given to the generation of German musicians whose work came to prominence in the late sixties and early seventies. Last weekend I wrote a section and, with a little help from my friends, have managed to pinpoint what I believe to be the very first use of the phrase. Perhaps understandably many of the musicians whose works are given the label aren't very keen on it and I will be going into a bit more detail about this in the book. Manuel Gottsching's music took a fairly radical new direction in 1974, absorbing the influence of the minimalists and from what I understand he doesn't regard his music from that point onwards as belonging to the so-called "krautrock" genre.

This is a fair point, given the style of the Inventions for Electric Guitar album. With it's hypnotic, cyclical patterns of sound it is in most respects fairly far removed from those early Ash Ra Tempel albums or anything by The Cosmic Jokers for that matter. From 1974 onwards Gottsching never really revisited those very early years musically, preferring instead to pursue fresh areas of exploration with many of his projects. This discussion leads very nicely to the point at which I will be picking up my pen again this weekend. I am well on my way towards completing a section about the Inventions album.

....and this, in turn leads on to my next topic: Did any of you manage to hear the wonderful Sitzkissen-Konzert, broadcast on Byte FM last weekend? This vintage show from 15th November 1975 featured the Ash Ra Tempel line-up of Manuel, along with Lutz Ulbrich. The opening section was reminiscent of the Inventions for Electric Guitar album and showed just how well the duo meshed together, their guitars weaving around each other to great effect. On listening to the show it struck me how brave they were to attempt to play live in this intricate style when even the smallest of mistakes would be exposed. The fact that the audience were prepared to listen so quietly and patiently to this introspective music without cheering, shouting or talking over the top of it also points towards a different time.

With it's dramatic organ sounds the second part of the concert was stylistically comparable with L'Hiver Doux from Le Berceau de Cristal, recorded during the same year. The performance concluded with a third piece, the style of its gently flowing sequencer line later re-explored for Hausaufgabe (1978, featured on The Private Tapes) and Tempus Fungi (also 1978, from The Making of...).

The Sitzkissen-Konzert was excellent and I hope that Manuel will at some point decide to give it the CD release it richly deserves.

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