Sunday, 20 October 2013

A special announcement

I'm both incredibly proud and delighted to be able to announce that Mr. Manuel Göttsching is now involved with my project to write a book about his music. He has a draft of the book and is currently reading this whenever time allows in between his various projects. More news will appear as and when I get it. Thanks, MG!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

MG live at the Oval Space, London 2013

It's that time of the year again when I say Happy Birthday, Mr. Manuel Gottsching. Have a great day!

I now hand over to two friends, both of whom had the great pleasure of attending Manuel's live show at the Oval Space in London last Thursday night (5th September 2013). The review below was written by Robert Forsyth and all of the photographs in this post appear courtesy of Stephen Iliffe. Thank you both, for generously allowing me to post your fine work here...
One of the warmest nights of the year heralded Manuel Gottsching's return to London and what a triumphant return it was!

I have been a devotee of Gottsching's music since being introduced to Blackouts by my old friend, Tony Bell, back in 1978, who, happily, joined me for the Oval show. New Age of Earth followed and I was hooked. But, having missed the Ash Ra Tempel performance in London in 2000 (for which I remain bitterly disappointed), it was not until going to Scotland in the starkly different climate of December 2010 that I finally had the opportunity to see the man play in the intimate, subterranean atmosphere of the Stereo bar in Glasgow. For Tony, London was his first such occasion: 'I've waited 30 years for this...' he remarked, smiling, as we left the bar and headed towards the 'Space'.
London was to be different, but equally impressive. First opening in April 2012, the Oval Space, on the eastern fringes of the capital, offers a much larger venue and defines itself as an 'evolving multi-use arts and events space in the heart of Bethnal Green'.

Following an impressive and inventive deep house set by fellow Germans, Henrik Schwarz and Frank Wiedemann, a little after ten p.m., the lights darkened and the 'Space' filled with around 400 music fans. Up front, very close to the stage and looking around me at the faces in the red glow of the lights, one could detect an air of excitement and anticipation. It was evident that some knew what to expect and some didn't.

Manuel Gottsching stepped up to the stage, unannounced, and the place erupted. Gottsching bowed and took his seat, leaned over his laptop and went to work. His area of the stage was spartan: aside from his 'desk', there was a Novation X-Station 49 keyboard and a Gibson SG. The 'Space' was slowly consumed with the pulsing, almost forbidding opening beats of 'Big Birds' - a piece he first played in Berlin in 1979 and which I had not previously heard. For me, it was wonderful to hear MG-ART music that did I not have in my collection and it made the evening even more stimulating. I sensed the audience too, perhaps many for the first time, found it spell-binding. 
Up next, a smiling, but perhaps slightly overwhelmed Gottsching introduced 'Shuttlecock', and judging by the reaction, it was clearly a favourite with many of the Italian fans who happened to be present. It was a superb rendition - vibrant and fresh, with a rich and contemporary edge to it that really pleased the crowd. Then, for me the highlight of the evening came, with a truly memorable and extended performance of 'Midnight on Mars' in which Gottsching played the guitar exquisitely. By this stage, many of the club scene audience in attendance were dancing and soaking up something that was truly special and sublime.
Gottsching then offered his thanks and added how good it was to be back in London, a place that he did not visit perhaps as much as he should, but which, he commented, had nevertheless played an important part in his career. Tonight was about looking back on that career and playing some 'old pieces and some new pieces'.

Then it was 'Trunky Groove' - a rumbling, mesmerising 'groove' that just seemed 'right' for the majority of the audience. This is Gottsching's key. Invention, adaptability, re-invention, timelessness. Loud applause. Finally his 90-minute set ended with a new synthesiser/guitar piece, whose title escaped me in the noise of the crowd, but which I truly hope may appear on a future recording.
Manuel Gottsching bowed, smiled, waved and left the stage. I caught him above the heads of the crowd being whisked off through a side door. He left with a backward glance, another smile and another wave. Gone, but hopefully he'll be back a'fore long.

'Wow...', breathed Tony. Thirty years and it was worth every minute.'

I'll second that.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Ashra - Correlations in Concert DVD

The new Ashra DVD Correlations in Concert is now available to order. Here is some information from the official Manuel Gottsching website:

Performed in 2012 at ufaFabrik it is the first concert by Manuel Göttsching & his band ASHRA for 12 years in Berlin. It is a high quality video of the first concert performance of the legendary ASHRA LP "CORRRELATIONS" produced 1978 by Manuel Göttsching in collaboration with the awarded UK music producer Mick Glossop for VIRGIN RECORDS and recorded at the Panne-Paulsen-Studio, Frankfurt/M. In addition to the concert there is bonus material with information about what makes this album immortal and an 8-page booklet with numerous photographs. At the end of August the DVD will be available in German shops, but also worldwide. Don't hesitate and order now in our shop.
I am very pleased that one of my photographs from the Ashra 2012 concert in Berlin has made it on to the back of the DVD. You can see this photograph, along with several others from the same sequence below. Enjoy! More news on the book to follow soon...

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Museum Piece VIII

Advertisement for the Ashra album Correlations, as featured in New Musical Express on 24th March 1979.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Manuel Göttsching Book lives!

Firstly, if you follow this blog thank you for your patience. I know it hasn't been updated for quite a while but here is some fresh information for you: 

Before we go any further, I'd like to wish Manuel Göttsching, Harald Grosskopf and Steve Baltes good luck with their forthcoming Ashra show next Saturday (15th June 2013) at UFA Fabrik in Berlin. Have a great time, guys! For the concert flyer with information (in German) see here:  

You can also see some information about the concert (in English) at the UFA Fabrik site here:

I would love to be at the show but as my wife and I are busy saving for a house right now the trek to Berlin isn't going to be possible this time. However, I was at Ashra's show at UFA last summer and all I can say is if you have a chance to see the band live do it. They are superb!
In other news the book is currently being proofread by a friend before I start exploring publication options. Will it be available as a traditional paper book or an e-book of some description? I'm not entirely sure yet. It all depends on what opportunities are out there. We shall see. Before I sent the book to my friend I neatened it up and in doing this decided to trim down the section about the making of the Ashra album Correlations a little, as I felt it was too long. As a way of thanking you for patiently waiting for the blog to be updated I'm including a section that has been cut out of the book below. This is about Phantasus, an early version of what became Correlations. Admittedly this is only going to appeal to the hardcore fan of Manuel Göttsching/Ashra but I know there are plenty of you out there. Hope you enjoy! More news on the book soon, I promise!
Ashra – Phantasus (Recorded: 1978 Released: 2008)

Having produced three solo albums in as many years, with the only diversions coming in the form of projects working as a part of a duo, it is perhaps of little surprise that being part of a band again would require a short period of acclimatisation for Manuel Göttsching. Phantasus, an early, shelved mix of Correlations, finally released from the archive 30 years after it was recorded, is clearly the result of this period of transition. In an interview during the same period as the release of the Correlations Complete boxed set, Göttsching stated: “I got the idea of including the first mix we had made, so it's the same titles, but they sound different, more spacey, more reverb and guitars, like an electronic band that uses rock elements, while the Virgin release sounds like a rock band that uses electronic sounds.”

Essentially this sums up the differences between Phantasus and the subsequent mixes of the tracks that grace the Correlations album. The former tends to suggest a collection of recordings from the period of the Berlin School with musicians brought in to augment solo ideas, whilst the latter generally backgrounds sequencer patterns, allowing for the more expansive sounds of a band playing together. Lutz Ulbrich and Harald Grosskopf are in the picture with the Phantasus mixes, albeit far less prominently than they would be by the time the Correlations project was complete.

In its original mix Ice Train opens with a bleeping sequencer pattern and features a far more conservative drum track than that which would later be re-recorded. The Phantasus version seems to place the emphasis on Grosskopf’s bass drum work rather than the rest of his kit, the rhythms modestly blending with the pulsing electronics. The later Correlations version, on the other hand, veers much closer to a rock sound, emphasising the sounds of a full kit. Bubbling electronic sounds, recalling the cosmic elements of New Age of Earth and Blackouts would be taken out of the mix by the time a second version was completed in favour of chilly Mellotron string sounds and some slashing, staccato rhythm guitar work. With a running time extended by two minutes the Correlations opener is more of a showcase for a band performance whilst the end of the track ratchets up the tension considerably, with favourable results. Phantasus presents a fascinating glimpse of an alternate work that was once considered the finished product and this version of Ice Train now seems like a work in progress - a stepping-stone on the way towards the completed piece.

The title track of the Phantasus album, ultimately selected as the Correlations closer appears as the second offering here. The sound is denser and the instruments are clustered together more closely than they would be after Mick Glossop’s spacious mix and whilst the running time is a minute longer than it would be in the version pressed to vinyl in 1979 this track seems to have undergone less obvious changes than the bulk of the other material. The same can be said of Bamboo Sands, which features one alternate guitar part during the solo section but is otherwise instrumentally similar to the second version, even if the sound levels of the mix differ. Springtime (later retitled as Oasis for Correlations) simply differs because it has an alternate, more prominent electronic rhythm than the finished Virgin version.

In its first incarnation Club Cannibal is introduced by high register synthesiser parts, with the rhythm guitar taking a little longer to kick in than is the case with the Correlations version. The tempo on the Phantasus mix is noticeably slower than that on the Correlations cut and the earlier mix lacks the autumnal Mellotron string voice, the clever trickling torrent of electronic sounds and most notably the heavy synth bass that would feature in the later redux effort. This is one of the more obviously reworked tracks and whilst the ideas here are not as developed as they would subsequently be the slower tempo provides a powerful alternative to the Virgin Records release. The first mix of Morgana da Capo is also devoid of the Mellotron string sounds that would be selected for inclusion by the end of the Mick Glossop sessions. With less reverb applied to the drum track and guitars a little further back in the mix than they would be on the glossy, and at times soft focus Correlations album, this earlier version seems a little closer to the style of Göttsching’s previous solo albums.

Phantasus closes with the penultimate Correlations track Pas de Trois. The tempo here is slightly faster than that with which many Ashra fans will be accustomed. In this early mix the sequencer appears to be foregrounded, once again serving to emphasise the electronic Berlin School elements of the music. In placing an increased focus on rhythm guitars and bongos, some of which appear to have been added to the mix during the Mick Glossop sessions, the Correlations cut would further emphasise the African elements of the music. On the evidence presented by the Phantasus version, the drum track and solo guitar work also appear to have later been re-recorded with the dramatic waves of synthesiser sound during the closing moments replaced by jangly, melodic guitar. Pas de Trois is one of the tracks that would be most radically remixed during Glossop’s time with the band.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Favourite Ash Ra Tempel/Ashra album poll

What's your favourite Ash Ra Tempel or Ashra album? Personally I have about 10 of them...and that's before we had a chance to discuss Inventions for Electric Guitar or E2-E4. There is currently a poll on Facebook. Have your say and vote now! This will only be open for a limited time...

Click on the link and then scroll down to find the relevant post:


Update: this poll is now over and here are the results:

1. Manuel Gottsching (earlier pressings released as Ashra) - Blackouts
2. Ash Ra Tempel - Ash Ra Tempel
3. Ash Ra Tempel - Join Inn

Manuel Gottsching was also featured in the winners of the Facebook group's supergroup poll. The winning line-up is: Jaki Liebzeit (drums), Holger Czukay (bass), Manuel Gottsching (guitar), Michael Rother (guitar), Klaus Schulze (synth), Johannes Pappert (sax), Stephan Kaske (flute), Renate Knaup (vocals), Damo Suzuki (vocals).

Saturday, 9 February 2013

NMLK: A tribute to Pete Namlook and Fax Records

Hi all. Whilst I await the completion and publication of my Manuel Gottsching book I have set up a brand new blog as a tribute to the ambient/electronic musician and Fax Records owner Pete Namlook. You can access it here. I should point out that this is an entirely fresh project and there is no overlap whatsoever between this and my book about MG.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Best for 2013

Greetings from Whitley Bay. Here's wishing you a Happy New Year and all the best for 2013! Thank you for reading the blog and for your support along the way and do keep getting in touch. It's always lovely to hear from you and I'm really pleased that readers from all over the world seem to check out what I'm up to from time to time. I'm hoping that this year my Manuel Gottsching book will find its way on to your shelves! Watch this space...