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E2-E4 25th Anniversary Edition

Manuel Göttsching: E2-E4 25th Anniversary Edition
Press Reviews

(In German, will be opened in a new window. Please see the interesting photography!)
("Weltexpresso", Germany, 2023)

(In German, will be opened in a new window)
(, 2016, updated 2023)

(In German, will be opened in a new window)
("Saitenkult", Germany, 2023)

(In German, will be opened in a new window)
(From Rainer W. Sauer's blog, 2022)

(In German, will be opened in a new window)
("Weltexpresso", Germany, 2022)

»Okay, I'm a little surprised that FrogPrincess hasn't nominated this one, but perhaps it falls foul of the problem, commonly encountered on RR, of determining what instrumental songs are 'about'; that is, it's easy enough to nominate something like, say, the Esbjorn Svensson Trio's Mingle in the Mincing Machine because it mentions machines in the title and (more importantly) because they were brilliant and are a sad loss to the music world, but I couldn't put my hand on my heart and swear that the song is about mingling, or mincing machines, or anything in particular in any meaningful sense.

Having said all that, this one may also seem a bit tenuous, but I'd like to make a case for Manuel Goettsching's E2-E4 - again, not just because it's brilliant and should be heard by everyone. The title refers not only to a standard chess move but also to computer programming language and to the robots from Star Wars - R2-D2, E2-E4 etc. More importantly, I want to suggest that the song expresses and encapsulates the tensions at the heart of attitudes towards technology in music, discussed by e.g. ElDerino above, and (I think) offers a resolution. On the one hand, it's a track built almost entirely from sequences, samplers and computers; on the other hand, it's a spontaneous free-form improvisation, one man's creative vision, with no over-dubs or drop-ins, precisely the sort of thing that would be acclaimed as the apex of authenticity if only it had been recorded using 'proper' instruments - except that it's only the technology that made it possible for Goettsching to do everything on his own.

It's not the sort of sterile, solipsistic music that you might expect from a solo electronic performance (cue the traditional Abahachi gratuitous swipe at someone else's favourite musician; in this case Jean-Michel Jarre). What strikes me is how far, because of the circumstances in which it was produced - just jamming away in the studio night - the track is based on interaction, on listening and response, as much as any jazz number. You could see this as Goettsching playing with himself (cue sniggers); I would say that he's actually playing with the machines, which he has set into action by giving them some music to play but which then develop their own contribution to which he responds in turn...«
("The Guardian Music Blog", 2008)

(In English, will be opened in a new window)
(Brutus August 15, 2008: the best chill out albums ever)

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(Time Out, USA, 2008)

Manuel's E2-E4 is one of the mentioned composers, along with John Coltraten, Philip Glass and others (in English, will be opened in a new window)
(Contract magazine, USA, 2008)

(In English, will be opened in a new window)
(, USA, 2007)

(In German, will be opened in a new window)
("Randbezirk", Germany, 2007)

»Als Edgard Varéses elektronische pionierswerk als het Oude Testament voor elektronische muziek geldt, dan is Göttschings E2-E4 zonder enige twijfel het Nieuwe Testament. Göttschings ervaring met hypnotiserende patronen ontwikkelde zich parallel aan zijn werk met krautrockers Ash Ra Tempel. Eenmaal solo kwam de progressieve beer in hem pas echt los. ‘E2-E4’ is één uitgestreken patroon vol horizontaal uitgerekte, glinsterende gitaareffecten, pulserende synthlijntjes en een ondergrond van kalmerende beats. Göttsching opent hier de poorten naar een extatisch house-koninkrijk waar ‘repetitie = hypnose’ als het algemene evangelie geldt.«
(Joris Heemskerk, NL, 2007)

»Op 12 december 1981 zette Manuel Göttsching het stuk E2-E4 in elkaar, in nauwelijks meer tijd dan het in beslag neemt: bijna een uur. Dat heuglijke feit werd gevierd met een zeldzame live-uitvoering, exact een kwart eeuw na dato, èn deze jubileumeditie in een luxe digipack met enige herdenkingswoorden van Göttsching, voorman van Krautrockgroep Ash Ra Tempel (later Ashra) en rechtstreeks afstammeling van Tijl Uilenspiegel, zelf. Het bijzondere van E2-E4 is dat het elementen in zich draagt van techno, house, trance, chillout-muziek, maar dus typisch gemaakt is in een tijd dat die genres nog helemaal niet bestonden. Het is niet alleen daarom dat E2-E4 als bijzonder invloedrijk geldt en veelvuldig gesampeld, geremixt, geciteerd en botweg gejat werd. Dik 25 jaar na dato is het nog altijd een sterke, bijna roerende luisterervaring, voor de volle speelduur. Vooral het eerste half uur wijst regelrecht naar de toekomst van de muziek: enkele op zich simpele sequencer- en drumcomputerpartijen, die steeds heel subtiel doch resuluut van balans wisselen, als een wolkenlucht voortgeblazen door een lentebriesje. Als Göttsching zijn elektrische gitaar inplugt, lijkt de voorbije tijd even zijn intrede te doen, maar gezegd moet worden dat zijn heldere, repetitieve en niet te royale notenstroom wel heel goed past bij het bed van elektronica dat hij met hoorbaar veel genoegen heeft uitgespreid. E2-E4 is van tijdloze klasse, basta! Een geweldige en belangrijke openingszet voor wat volgde.«
(Jacob Haagsma, "Oor", NL, 2007)

(In French, will be opened in a new window)
("Guts of Darkness", Canada, 2007)

(In German, will be opened in a new window)
(From the German magazine Sound & Recording, 2007)

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(From the German magazine Raveline, 2007)

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(From the Tokafi magazine, 2007)

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(Discogs, USA, 2006)

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(Die Zeit, Germany, 2006)

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(tip, Germany, 2006)

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(Berliner Morgenpost, Germany, 2006)

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(Remix, USA, 2006)

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(Higher Frequency, 2006)

(In German, will be opened in a new window)
(From the German weekly Die Zeit, 2006)

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(From the German magazine Groove, 2006)

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(From the German WOM magazine, 2006)

(In German, will be opened in a new window)

E2-E4 is ranked #79 at Pitchfork's "Top 100 of the 80s"!
(In English, will be opened in a new window)
(Pitchfork, USA, 2002)

(In German, will be opened in a new window)
(tip, Germany, 2000)

»One of ambient house's aspects was the ability of DJs like Alex Patterson to rehabilitate records. So it was with this electronic album by the guitarist from conference league Krautrockers Ash-Ra Temple. Over one 54-minute track, synthesizers and drum machines build up a single, burbling, trance-like riff, topped with fluid guitar. The effect is hypnotic and dreamy, like a house record relaxing on a beach, a fact not lost on Italian producers DFC, who edited the track, beefed up the beats and added orgasmic female vocals. Re-titled Sueno Latino, it became one of acid house's most enduring tracks.«

The magazine chose E2-E4 as one of the "essential dozen" chill-out records!
("Q", GB, July 1999)

(In Japanese, will be opened in a new window)
("A Young Person's Guide To Progressive Rock", June 1999, Japan)

(In English, will be opened in a new window)

Part 1 Part 2
(From the Magazine Q, July 1999)

»Les disques qui font l'histoire. Souvent copié, le E2-E4 de Manuel Göttsching a influencé les actuels ténors de la techno. Mais personne n'a encore fait mieux que ce morceau sorti en 1984! C'est un disque atypique [...] Le mythique eldorado. [...] une influence incommensurable sur le développement musical de bien des pioniers de la techno et de la house [...] Ce disque est précurseur.«
( "vibrations", France, 1998)

(In German, will be opened in a new window)
(From the German magazine Zitty, 1997)

»Manuel Göttsching, a German guitarist who made the world's largest 12 inch single (31 minutes) in the early Eighties. E2-E4 is sublime. Its hook was later stolen as the basis of the Italian hit Sueño Latino«
("The Face", UK, December 1991)

»This album consists of one solo track, and a very long one track it is too. Many people have cited this album as a Techno/Trance, classic. But before we go any further, a bit of history is needed, so let's rewind back to the early 80s.
It's November 1981, and Klaus Schulze has invited Manuel to play guitar for him during his European concerts. After a successful tour (The Historic and Jubilee Editions bear this out), Manuel was still in a playing mood, so he produced a long Trance-like piece of music. This was apparently recorded in one take, without the aid of any studio trickery. The story then goes that Manuel sent this track to Klaus.
Fast forward three years to 1984, and Klaus has now founded his Inteam label. After some discussion, the track Klaus had been storing became E2-E4 and was released on LP. The album didn't sell well and, to make matters worse, three years later Inteam went bankrupt. But copies of E2-E4 were out there, working their magic and a lot of people had noticed it.
Moving forward again, this time to 1989. It's Summer, and those holiday destinations are jumping to Dance music. A group of Italians created a track called Sueño Latino, this track used the E2-E4 hook as its main theme and launched it into a new environment. This track did very well, making it to Number One in several European countries. Several remixes were made and the original album became quite a cult classic.
OK, that's the history over with. Now what does the album sound like? The CD starts with a small phrase with which you will be intimately acquainted by the end of the single sixty minute track. I remember buying this one on vinyl, back in 1984, and it was a real annoyance having to get up and turn the LP over. We're spared that with the CD, so we can just sit back and wallow in the full glory of this early ambient masterpiece.
So now that you know that I like it, I should tell you why. Quite simply, it draws me in. The slow build and small evolutions on what is a short phrase are very hypnotic. Slowly, small changes creep up on you and extra syncopations are added. The effect is to build a changing rhythmic track right before your ears. It takes a while for this build to result in a guitar solo, about 31 minutes in fact. But it is worth the wait. It isn't a speedy solo, but rather one that takes its time and plays nicely into the groove that has been built up so painstakingly. It does echo some of the Virgin-era solos rather nicely once it gets underway. There are a couple of dodgy notes, but as this was recorded live in one take, I guess that's forgivable.
Fans of Virgin-era ASHRA will recognise the rhythmic aspects of the music, but here Manuel takes it to a new level that was way ahead of its time. There are also definite ties back to Echowaves, from Inventions for Electric Guitar, with the Bluesy guitar licks, although there is a definite Latin feel here too.
If you like your EM to develop gradually, with a heavy emphasis on the rhythm, then this CD is for you. The brooding guitar is great when it does let go, finally fulfilling expectations. Perhaps some minor editing out of the occasional bum note would have been nice. I suppose it shows that Manuel just went for it, playing what he felt. The hook is there from the beginning and it's great to listen to it change as extra parts are added, then subtracted and as sounds are tweaked to add to the building tension.
If you already own the LP, do yourself a favour and buy the CD version. Listening to the whole piece uninterrupted is a must. If you've never heard it, REALLY do yourself a favour and give it a try.
One final piece of history occurred on 20th August 2000 when E2-E4 was performed by the chamber orchestra Zeitkratzer at the Academy of Arts, Berlin.«

»[...] ist ein neues Solo-Album von Manuel Göttsching... das erste nach immerhin vierjähriger Pause. Und was für eins, donnerlittchen! E2-E4 ist die mit Abstand unbeschwerteste der bisherigen Inteam-Produktionen. Das Album prickelt nur so vor Lebensfreude, beeindruckt vor allem durch den fr<öhlichen Grundrhythmus und das optimistische Gitarrenspiel [...] Die Musik ist ständig im Fluß erfährt unentwegt Veränderungen in Klang, Tempo und Rhythmus, aber immer subtil und unterschwellig. E2-E4 ist zu keiner Zeit aufdringlich und es ist kein Problem, sich von diesem Album forttragen zu lassen, wenn man nur will. Göttsching bietet 55 Minuten entspannte Musik, gekonnt und überzeugend«
("Oldie Markt", August 1984, Germany)

»Für die einen vielleicht ein minütiges Endlosband, aufmerksame Hörer aber werden eine Welt voller Liebe zum kleinen Detail, ein Gegenstück zum heutigen, völlig reizüberfluteten Normalfall einer Platte vorfinden. Ein entspannendes, beruhigendes Fließen mit liebevoll treibender, exzellent gespielter Gitarre, die um den drivigen Hintergrunds-Teppich tänzelt«
("mg", "Music Scene", April 1984, Switzerland)

»Manuel Göttsching hat mich mit dieser Platte sehr enttäuscht. [...] beschränkt er sich hier darauf, die ganze Platte hindurch einen Rhythmus (natürlich vom Computer) mit einigen Tastenspielereien zu belegen.«
(J. Raas, "Blitz", June 1984, Germany)

»Was sich Manuel Göttsching auf seiner LP E2-E4 erlaubt, geht allerdings noch über die allgemein übliche Banalität hinaus. Auf zwei Plattenseiten bringt der Mann es fertig, ein einziges Thema - nein, nicht durch zu improvisieren; das ginge ja noch in Ordnung - sondern es mit kaum merklichen und völlig unerheblichen Variationen ständig zu wiederholen. Die dadurch bedingte Langeweile kann er auch mit ein paar gänzlich uninspirierten und müden Gitarren-Improvisationen nicht aufhalten.«
("witt", "Guckloch", June 1984, Germany)

»[...] eine kleine Sensation [...]«
("Music Scene", March 1984, Switzerland)

»Nachdem man sich durch die langatmige erste Seite gequält hat, kann man sich beim Abspielen der Rückseite wieder etwas erholen, da Göttsching neben seinen Elektroniks [sic!] Gitarren einsetzt, die für mehr Abwechslung sorgen.«
(D.R. Graue, "Bremer Blatt", June 1984, Germany)

»Manuel Göttsching versucht auf E2-E4 in mikrotonalen Minimal Art-Verschiebungen Stimmungen beim Dame-(sic!) Gesellschaftsspiel nachzuzeichnen [...] wirkt in seinen Zwischentönen wohltuend aufgefächert, nie langweilig, monoton, leer.«
(V. Kühne, "Musik Express", July 1984, Germany)

»It is marvellous. The ingredients are straightforward enough: one racey, sparkling, subtly changing rhythm over which is added a very fluid, understated guitar line. The result is hypnotic, refreshing and, dare I say it, beautiful.«
(D. Elliott, "Sounds", June 1984, UK)

»[...] selbst langwierige Denkpausen eines Schachspiels wirken abwechslungsreich gegenüber dieser Platte, die sich darum bemüht, knapp 55 Minuten lang auf der Basis zweier rhythmischer Grundmuster (je Plattenseite eins) längst abgedroschene teutonische Kosmik- Musik der frühen 70er Jahre wiederzubeleben. [...] Harmlose Elektronik [...] dürftige Gitarren- Cluster [...]«
(Wolfgang Bauduin, "Audio", July 1984, Germany)

»Das Problem liegt darin, diese Platte wahrzunehmen, denn sie dudelt fast eine Stunde lang unauffällig einen nicht enden wollenden Sequencerlauf dahin; freundlich, altmodisch, mal laut, mal leise und immer völlig belanglos. Da hilft auch die plinkernde Gitarre kein bißchen [...] Diese LP ist durch nichts zu entschuldigen«
(Joachim Deicke, "Zitty", Berlin, Germany, June 1984)

»[...] es prickelt nur so vor Lebensfreude; das optimistische Gitarrenspiel, den fröhlichen Grundrhythmus, man kennt ihn von ASHRA. [...] Alles lebt, bewegt sich, pulsiert. Die Musik ist ständig im Fluß, Veränderungen in Klang, Tempo oder Rhythmus erfolgen subtil und unterschwellig. Diese Musik trägt einen fort [...] Eine runde Sache und ein überzeugendes Album.«
(J. Leitmeier, FFB, Germany)

»[...] hat Göttsching mit E2-E4 ein neues Album von verspielter Leichtigkeit eingespielt. [...] webt er Gitarrenklänge und Elektronik zu einem relaxten Soundgebilde, das gleichzeitig Eleganz und pulsierende Kraft ausstrahlt. [...] Hörerlebnis der Extraklasse [...]«
(HB, Germany)

»[...] Consisting of one long piece, E2-E4 is unique in many ways. One can hear early traces of what would become techno and trance music. It's driving computer rhythms and subtly changing sequencer patterns are both hypnotic and innovative. [...] Some may hear it as an hour's worth of mindless repetition and constant noodling, while others may find it to be a pioneering piece of work that is among Manuel Göttsching's best. No matter what the opinions may be, E2-E4 is genuine, and set the trend for trance/dance music almost a full decade before it became one. A masterwork from an essential master.«
(L. Bourland, "Beyond the Horizon", USA)

[E2-E4 25th Anniversary Edition - Main Page]

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