Sunday, 27 November 2011

M.G. - Top 10

As mentioned in my previous post, Robert, one of the friends I have established contact with since starting this blog has sent me his Manuel Gottsching top 10 for a bit of fun. Having spoken to Robert again he has given me permission to post his choices, along with his comments and here they are. Enjoy!

1. Midnight on Mars (from the Manuel Gottsching album Blackouts)

"Possibly the best MG.ART piece ever. Just sublime." 9.5/10

2. Sunrain (from the Manuel Gottsching album Live at Mt. Fuji and the DVD Postcards from Japan)

"A really difficult choice between this performance and the one recorded in Wroclaw. Sunrain makes it in twice - just wonderful uplifting music, beautifully composed, structured and played. The same pieces, but each so individual, mark Gottsching as a modern composer in the true sense of the word." 9.25/10

3. Gin Rose - Eine Pikant Variante (from the Ash Ra Tempel album Gin Rose at the Royal Festival Hall)

"No matter how many times I listen to this I hear more and more. Little pieces of Schwingungen if you listen carefully. In some respects, it seems, at times, as if Gottsching is allowing Schulze the limelight but if you listen to MG's contribution it is superb. It never fails to divert me, draw me in, lift me, haunt me, inspire me, - what a magnificent performance. Truly a masterpiece. Absolutely timeless. Apart from Gottsching and Schulze who are just brilliant, Tom Dams has done a beautiful job with the production. Oh, that I had been there in London in 2000!" 9/10

4. Sunrain (from the Ashra album @shra Vol. 2)

"Classic performance - beautifully played by the band and mixed by Steve Baltes." 8.5/10

5. Pikante (from the Ash Ra Tempel album Friendship)

"Hard to pick a favourite from the three tracks on this album, but I suppose it would have to be Pikante which features some beautiful guitar by Gottsching, accompanied by the wonderful 'machines' of Klaus Schulze. Again hats off to Tom Dams for the production." 8/10

6. Bois de Soleil (from the Manuel Gottsching/Ash Ra Tempel/Ashra collection The Private Tapes Vol. 1)

"Exquisite, dreamy guitar. Beautiful, almost ethereal playing. In one sense perfect Gottsching." 8/10

7. Ocean of Tenderness (from the Manuel Gottsching album New Age of Earth)

"This has to be one of the most chilled pieces of ambient music ever produced. The gentle, hypnotic, pulsing - the beautiful keyboard playing, almost classical in composition at times, the wonderful atmospherics of its time, the light, distant guitar in the closing minutes - must make this one of Gottsching's finest." 7.75/10

8. Music from the Manuel Gottsching album Concert for Murnau

"I listen to a lot of classical music and MG proves he could be a Philip Glass. Der Abend and Die Beichte are particularly delicate, contemplative pieces with a subtle, dark edge to them. Leitmotiv has a beautiful, maudlin quality about its cello playing, as good as many of the established composers of the 18th and 19th centuries, while Saint and Sinner is a wistful bridge between classical and electronica." 7.5/10

9. Nightdust (from the Manuel Gottsching album New Age of Earth)

"Deep, moody sounds from a synthesiser." 7/10

10. Donna Wetter (from the Ashra album Making of, now available in The Complete Correlations box set)

"As MG states in the sleeve notes 'despite the garage-like sound, these tapes reflect much of the energy and lust of playing that possessed us in May of 1978.' Pulsating beat, overlaid with beautifully played guitar - pure skill, composition and inventiveness. Far ahead of its time. Brilliant playing, superb music. That's it." 7/10

Many thanks to Robert for his efforts. Do you have your own top 10 to share? If so, please feel free to send it my way and I'll post it here on the blog.

In other news yesterday I had a writing session and managed to fly through another draft of both the prologue and the first part of the book. I'm already far prouder of this than my previous effort and with each successive run-through it takes less and less time to come up with a result. So, things are looking very positive. More soon.....

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The next move

After a lengthy break from writing, during which I've been contemplating which sections of the book require improvement I was unable to resist revisiting my section about the E2-E4 album today. Having read the recent article about the recording in The Wire magazine I learnt one or two little fragments of information that I felt may add to my account of the making of the record and in tweaking a few bits and pieces I ended up giving the whole of the chapter a bit of an overhaul. I now think that I'm almost there with this part, which is great. Next weekend, time permitting I intend to return to the start of the draft and begin the next raft of improvements.

In other news off the back of this blog I've struck up correspondence with a few fellow Manuel Gottsching fans and was going to e-mail one friend today when he beat me to it and sent me a list of his top 10 M.G. records for a bit of fun. It's always really nice to receive messages like that and great to be able to discuss the music in this way, which leads me on to what I was going to say next: if you have been moved by the music or feel that you have something to add to the book do get in touch. I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Travelling music

As most readers of this blog will probably know Manuel Gottsching graces the cover of this month's copy of The Wire magazine and the issue includes a fairly lengthy piece about the classic E2-E4 album. One of Manuel's quotes from the article really struck a chord with me. "I once was asked what's your favourite album when you're in bed, when you're on a plane, when you're in your car," he says. "I thought about it and every answer for me was E2-E4. It fits in every situation."

For me E2-E4 is a particularly versatile piece of music because if you decide to tune into it there are dense, multiple layers of sound to examine. If, on the other hand, you elect to zone out and not focus on what unfolds as the recording progresses the effect is extremely meditative. Last weekend I travelled to Manchester and on both the outbound and return journey my first choice of listening was E2-E4. I've listened to the album dozens of times when in transit: on trains, on planes and also travelling to and from work and this is perhaps because there is something about the piece that conveys motion. When one considers that Manuel Gottsching originally recorded E2-E4 to play on his Walkman during a flight to Hamburg the following day I would say mission accomplished.

In other news: there are ongoing developments with the book but I can't say what they are yet. Watch this space.