Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Manuel Göttsching - E2-E4

E2-E4, released in 1984, is the first solo recording album by Ash Ra Tempel / Ashra guitarist Manuel Göttsching. The album consists of a minimalistic hour-long progressive electronic track that is subdivided into single tracks according to the stage of the song. The second half of the record is notable for Göttsching's guitar playing. The album is named after the most popular opening chess move 1. e2-e4 (Which is expressed in long algebraic notation). A noteworthy pun on E2-E4 exists because the guitar is tuned from E2 (the low string) to E4 (the high string).

The album was named as one of the best 1980s albums for its important role in the development of house music and techno of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Sueño Latino sampled E2-E4 on its 1989 song "Sueño Latino." In 1995, the German electronic music duo (and label) Basic Channel (Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald) released a remix of E2-E4 titled "e2e4 Basic Reshape" on the BCD compilation album.

E2-E4, one of the few records Göttsching released under his own name, has earned its place as one of the most important, influential electronic records ever released. It's also the earliest album to set the tone for electronic dance music; simply put, it just sounds like the mainstream house produced during the next two decades. Similar to previous Ashra albums like New Age of Earth and Blackouts, it does so with a short list of instruments -- just the nominal drum machine and a pulsing guitar line in the background plus some light synthesizer work. What sets it apart from music that came before is a steadfast refusal to follow the popular notions of development in melody and harmony. Instead, E2-E4 continues working through similar territory for close to an hour with an application to trance-state electronics missing from most of the music that preceded it. Though the various components repeat themselves incessantly, it's how they interact and build that determines the sound -- and that's the essence of most electronic dance music, that complex interplay between several repetitive elements.
John Bush

In December 1981, Manuel Göttsching was due to fly from his native Berlin to Hamburg. In need of some music for his Walkman, he decided to record an idea that he was working on. Thirty-two years later, the reverberations of his work in Studio Roma that Saturday evening are still being felt. In terms of modern dance music's DNA, the hour-long piece that he produced, E2-E4, is as important as any disco, funk or Kraftwerk record. Recorded in one take, with Göttsching improvising keyboards and noodly guitar over its insistent synthesizer patterns and metallic percussion – a process made possible by the recent advent of the sequencer – E2-E4 distilled the classical minimalism of Terry Riley and Steve Reich into a groove that became a Paradise Garage anthem. In 1989, it was rebooted by Italians Sueño Latino as a rave era chill-out classic.

"When I found out E2-E4 was played in clubs, I couldn't imagine people dancing to it," he says. "There's not a strong bass drum and the rhythm is very subtle. I took ideas from dance music, but my composing goes more into the minimalist style of Steve Reich, Philip Glass. It could be played with an orchestra." He reminds us that when E2-E4 was finally released in 1984, at the height of synth-pop, the critics hated it. "The first German critique called it complete 'muzak' and said that I'd missed every development in electronic music and I didn't know anything."
Tony Naylor

I first heard this at a club in Philadelphia called The Black Banana. My good friend GiGi, then married to legendary photographer Maripol, would play there weekly. One morning around 4am he played this as the last song. He had two copies, so played the entire song, and I was absolutely floored. I was put into a trance and transported to another dimension for sure.

The soft synth drums, the polyrhythmic arpeggios and dreamy guitar provided the most captivating combination of elements ever. I was a fan of Ashra Tempel, so when I found out who it was, I was very excited to find this. I had just started working at Tower Records in Philly and was the 12″ vinyl buyer. The first record I ordered was this one - I sold at least 100 of these and more CDs!

To this day, I play this once a week.
King Britt

When it happens, just happens. And nothing happens at random,this for both normal and special things.But only the special things happen by pure magic, or some strange astral combination, the dance in zero gravity between immanent and transcendent,any disengagement of some here and some drawings up there. The ability to express the totality of himself is a cumbersome venture, not automatic, often unattainable, often isn't enough a life. The ex-leader of Ashra(-Ra Temple), the kraut-deutsch guru Manuel Göttsching did it a quarter century ago,when he was thirty and came from important discs and experiences. An evening like many others, December 12/1981, a saturday, he was in concert mood (just returned from a tour with Klaus Schulze), enters his home studio armed with synth and guitar. And an hour of music was born. Something that scares at beginning and rhymes with perfection. After much reflections, doubts and afterthoughts, and only after the counsel of usual Schulze and especially three years laters, he decides to publish the session. "E2-E4", cover a chessboard on cold beige and brown, sees the light and its light changes the course of history(at least the music one). But what's E2-E4? For a human, the easiest opening move in chess. For a REAL human, the dream of life. A persistent of creamy syntethic geometries who proceeds to Nirvana escorted by a spastic latin beat and in its peak by a guitar that now we can define "balearic". THE loop by definition. And the thing that will change forever the DNA of house(Larry Levan says thank you!), will leave breathless the Motor City and its early visionaries (Derrick May and Carl Craig say thank you!). Nevertheless it's not a dance piece. But it will fall in love all the freaks, from ambient heads to ibicencans, and it will be sampled till'death (Sueno Latino, D2-D2, etc...etc...). But it's impossible to speak of "E2-E4" in terms of human technology, if you've that heart and that head, it will never leaves your lives. My all-time favourite record, my soul, my end. Rated 10/5.  DrexciyenStarChamber


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