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14 May 2012

A very rare concert

I found this by chance a few days ago. It is the most interesting video I've seen in quite some time.



It is an excerpt of a live interpretation of Manuel Göttsching's defining work "Inventions for Electric Guitar", something to review in more detail one of these days. This LP came out at a time when German musicians where giving their first steps with sequencers; "Timewind" by Klaus Schulze or "Phaedra" by Tangerine Dream are contemporary works. Manuel Göttsching dived into the same minimal and repetitive melodies absenting the traditional rhythm instruments used in jazz, blues and rock. The main difference in "Inventions for Electric Guitar" is that all sounds are produced with an electric guitar: rhythm, melodies and ambiance effects. A multi-layered intricacy of sounds that can be quite challenging to fully grasp but at the same time highly rewarding. Following the repetitive, disciplined melody as it slowly mutates and digs out the improvised sections is an experience without parallel.

This work was quite something else at its time and has retained its freshness, in great part do to its originality. Unfortunately it never made school, and Manuel Göttsching himself never pursued this new path he opened. It was only by finding this video and researching on its recording that I realised why. "Inventions for Electric Guitar" was interpreted live only once: on the 4th of September of 2010 at Mt. Fuji in Japan, 35 years after its release. It is a rare moment in the history of Music that you can witness in the video above.

The ensemble is quite remarkable on itself, beyond Manuel are also present: Steve Hillage (the other gentleman in glasses) former member of Gong and detainer of an important space rock discography under his name; Elliot Sharp (the gentleman with a shaved head), an accomplished jazz musician from New York, that greatly contributed to the progressive scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s; and Zhang Shouwang (the gentleman playing the red Gibson) a promising Chinese guitar player.

It turns out that a work like "Inventions for Electric Guitar" can only be interpreted by an orchestra of highly skilled musicians. Most rock guitar players are used to play with a drum set and bass supporting them, interpreting such a tempo disciplined piece without any native rhythmic instruments behind must be quite a challenge. So this sort of "Rest of the World" ensemble was necessary to reproduce the essence of the original composition. No matter how good it is, the fact is that bringing it on the road faces serious practical difficulties.

So far I haven't found any official release of this concert, either on CD or DVD. I hope that Manuel can present his fans with such a gift, even if it has to be paid for the same obscene prices I paid for the LP I own of his authoring, by far the most expensive music I ever bought.