Manuel Göttsching, the man behind Ash Ra Tempel and mastermind of electronic minimal music, has been quite busy in 2012, the year that saw the 30th anniversary of his seminal classic E2-E4 and the reunion with Ashra to perform their 1979 album Correlations. Now, his plans for 2013 are Le Berceau De Cristal and The Private Tapes live on stage in Berlin.
About a year after their 2012 show at Berlin’s UfA-Fabrik area, the place where their Correlations album started, Manuel Göttsching will meet up there again with his bandmates from Ashra, Harald Grosskopf on drums and Steve Baltes, electronics, to perform parts of The Private Tapes in new arrangements, creative improvisations, and reprise. The Private Tapes is a six-volume collection of rare recordings from 1971-1989, and includes pieces by both Ash Ra Tempel and Ashra, as well as Manuel Göttsching solo work. It should not be missing in any serious collection, although it’s rather difficult to get, as all six volumes are currently out of stock. Besides, most tracks have never been performed live before, so the event will be a true premiere.
Manuel Göttsching & Ashra live @UfA-Fabrik Berlin
Saturday, 15 June 2013, 8 pm
Get tickets here:
Ash Ra Tempel and Le Berceau De Cristal
Although opinions differ on what exactly is “cosmic rock”, to most people it´s the label for Germany´s experimental, leftfield and somewhat spaced-out acts of the early Seventies. Ash Ra Tempel certainly belong to those who deserve this recognition most, a powerful outfit led by guitarist Manuel Göttsching, which at times also included Klaus Schulze on keyboard and drums.
Emerging at the end of the Sixties from the so-called “Berlin School” along with Tangerine Dream, Eruption, or Agitation Free, Ash Ra Tempel are probably the band that came closest to an atmosphere comparable to that of Pink Floyd. Like Pink Floyd (that is to say, their early Seventies’ Zabriskie-Point-Sessions-pre-DSoTM-bootleg version), their sound was both highly experimental and melodious, the kind of extensive “less-pop-more-art” explorations with the occasional warm blues-oriented elements that come from a talented and well-trained guitarist. In doing so, they created something sublime. Something that was more than the sum of its parts, transporting you to a deeper state of mind or a higher level of consciousness, just as you may look at it. Thereby the individual members modestly stayed out of focus. No one of them was a star of his own, although nowadays things may look a bit different.
Ash Ra Tempel´s albums, all of them remarkable and mostly psychedelic-oriented, belong to the most extraordinary records produced in that era, on either side of the Channel (or the Atlantic, depending on the point of view). Notably their self-titled debut from 1971 and their second album, Schwingungen, are key works both by the band and within the genre. After the end of the collaboration with Klaus Schulze in 1973, Manuel Göttsching moved on to new projects, among them his ambient-minimalist solo work Inventions For Electric Guitar, and, in continuity with that, a soundtrack to a more or less unknown underground art movie called Le Berceau De Cristal (1976), by French director and cinematographer Philippe Garrel.
Le Berceau De Cristal is, so to speak, the first album by Ash Ra Tempel “Mk II”, as for this purpose Manuel Göttsching was then joined by Lutz Ulbrich from Agitation Free, and the equipment was extended by Farfisa organ, synth guitar and rhythm computer. And even if it doesn´t match the brilliance of the early albums, it is remarkable all the same. As the oneiric backdrop to a weird, hallucinatory visual dreamscape, it´s one of those examples where sound and picture complement each other perfectly. But you don´t actually have to watch the film in order to get the music, and maybe that´s what makes a good soundtrack. Le Berceau De Cristal evokes its own otherworldly images that spirit you away to some state between dreamlike unreality and observant wakefulness, certainly best-known in the quiet, 14-min intro of the same name and the beautiful organ-driven L’Hiver Doux. A rhythmic texture similar to that of Echo Waves from Inventions For Electric Guitar can be found in most pieces, making the album gain momentum. It´s blended with the droning sounds of Silence Sauvage, forms the basic pattern of Deux Enfants Sous La Lune, and gives Le Sourire Volé a nature of escape, turning it into a shamanic flight of the soul.
And even if those tracks aren´t as innovative as Ash Ra Tempel´s First, the “Pink Floyd feeling” is still there, and, compared to Pink Floyd, Ash Ra Tempel have a major advantage: you can still see them live.
Manuel Göttsching & Lutz Ulbrich, Ash Ra Tempel live @t.b.a.