Friday, July 24, 2015

Ashra Bio

Been reading Deep Distance: the Musical Life of Manuel Gottsching. It's written and (given its relatively limited appeal) self-published by a British fan, Christian Wheeldon. 
Gottsching, for those not in the know, is a guitarist & electronic musician from Berlin, who's released numerous albums as Ash Ra Tempel, Ashra or under his own name, was a driving force of the krautrock scene in the 70s, his E2-E4 album ended up being a big inspiration for producers of US and Italian house music, and he continues to release new or reworked music to this day. 
He was a big influence on me too: particularly his Inventions for Electric Guitar, New Age of Earth, Dream & Desire and Blackouts albums, recorded between 1975-77, and the aforementioned E2-E4 from 1981. I met him a few times in the 80s and once in the 90s and it was always a pleasure. I particularly remember times in January 1980 in a snowbound Berlin with girlfriend Rosi Muller and Ashra cohort Lutz Ulbrich; in November 1981 in Cologne with Klaus Schulze; and in January 1982 back in Berlin, three weeks after he'd recorded E2-E4 - though it wouldn't be released until 1984 (at which time I gave it a five star review in Sounds; perhaps the first review of it outside of Germany?). 
The book is good, basically a straightforward chronological approach with detailed reviews of each album (as well as a lot of archived recordings which have slowly been released in the last 20 or so years). It's pretty objective / not fawning, given it's written by a fan, but perhaps over-focusses on analysis of Gottsching's recordings rather than artist insight. Minor quibble aside, hats off to Christian Wheeldon for what is a worthy addition to music bios.

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