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The Private Tapes Vol. 1

Manuel Göttsching/Ash Ra Tempel/Ashra: The Private Tapes Vol. 1
Press Reviews

»Germany. 1971. Underground. Those three terms evoke images of the Berlin Wall, intensity, angst, freedom. And no band helped define this milieu more than Ash Ra Tempel. With a long overdue interest in German underground rock reaching a fever pitch, aided along by Julian Cope's "Krautrocksampler", Manikin Records, in timely fashion, has released 6 CDs (each over 70 minutes long) of unreleased material from the vaults of Ash Ra Tempel's guitarist Manuel Göttsching. The time frame represented in these historical recordings are from the bluesy, pre-ART group, Steeple Chase Bluesband (1970) to the modernistic, electronic Ashra of 1979.

The immediate question I had, and I suspect many have, is 'How is the sound quality?' And the answer is 'Better than I expected.' Which is to say that the modern studio recordings (1973-) are outstanding while the early live ones (1971, 1973) are recorded, to quote the liner notes, "...with amateur equipment, by an amateur, and probably with just one (cheap) microphone." In reality, these recordings sound better than that quote may imply.

Instead of assembling the titles in chronological order, the producer decided to place a mixed assortment of studio and live material from 1973-79 and then throw on one live song (at a length of at least 24 minutes) from either a 1971 or 1973 concert. The producer probably wanted to go for the Wow factor here. It would be too much to cover each individual piece, and since I believe the music contained over these 6 discs can be broken into six different periods, I will give an overview of how those styles are represented here.

1978/79 Ashra (Vol. 4, 3 tracks; Vol. 6, 3) - The trio of Göttsching (guitar, synths), Lutz Ulbrich (former Agitation Free - guitar, synths), and Harald Grosskopf (former Wallenstein/Cosmic Courier drummer and synthesist). Represented by the albums Correlations and Belle Alliance. Their upbeat and rhythmic stage, with driving guitar in an almost danceable beat. These recordings show more kick than the comparable studio LPs.

1978/79 Göttsching (Vol. 1, 3 tracks; Vol. 2, 1; Vol. 4, 1; Vol. 5, 1). - Manuel Göttsching on guitar and synths. Style represented by the album Blackouts. A really strong period that features some outstanding expressive guitar like on the 22 minute Ultramarine.

1976 Göttsching (Vol. 2, 2 tracks; Vol. 5, 1) - Manuel Göttsching on synths and guitar. Correlates to the album New Age Of Earth. Probably the least interesting era as this is almost pure electronic music with very little of the trademark and defining guitar that makes Ashra's music so alluring. All 3 tracks are between 18 and 21 minutes each.

1973/74 Göttsching (Vol. 1, 1 track; Vol. 3, 4; Vol. 5; 2) - Manuel Göttsching on guitar, keyboards, percussion, and voice, Lutz Ulbrich on Schwerer Dino with guitar and keys, and Manuel's long time girlfriend Rosi plays harp on Begleitmusik zu einem Hörspiel. Somewhat represented on Join Inn (Jenseits side), Starring Rosi, and Inventions for Electric Guitar. To the reviewer, this was the most revelatory portion of the discs. The 75 plus minutes represented here show us a side Manuel never let loose on vinyl. The haunting yet serene keyboard layers, combined with some incredible echo electric guitar, create a web of emotions unlike anything I’ve heard. Brilliant. There are also a couple of light psychedelic ditties that are similar to Starring Rosi.

1973 Ash Ra Tempel live (one track each on Volumes 4 and 5). Göttsching on guitar and electronics, Hartmut Enke on guitar and bass, Klaus Schulze on drums, guitar, and electronics. Similar to the Freak 'N' Roll song on Join Inn. Ooze Away clocking in at 28 minutes along with the 40 minute Dedié a Hartmut are the representatives for this period. A reunion concert that is loose, almost West Coast jamming. While it lacks the intensity of the original it still packs quite a punch. Hartmut Enke quit both music and, in a manner of speaking, life after these concerts. Of course, Klaus Schulze continued on to a very successful solo career that is well documented.

1971 Ash Ra Tempel live (one track each on Volumes 2, 3, and 6). Göttsching on guitar, Enke on bass and guitar, Schulze on drums. Represented on the eponymously titled first album, in particular the composition Amboss. With this period we have the CD's raison d'ętre. This is Ash Ra Tempel at its finest. Each song begins with Enke and Gottsching echoing their guitars slowly to build a deafening crescendo. Without warning, Schulze begins his definitive piledriver drumming pattern, and Göttsching complements this with some of the most intense psychedelic heavy guitar ever recorded. And since one of the pieces is over 54 minutes long, get ready for jams to end all jams. The whole effect just exudes a frantic and intense atmosphere. Yes, it's Germany, 1971, Underground. Amazing. The aforementioned Steeple Chase Bluesband (represented here by one 10 minute cut) and a couple of short, German language interviews, round out the collection.

These tapes were compiled and produced by one Klaus D. Mueller, who was once an ART and Agitation Free roadie and is most known as Klaus Schulze's business partner and confidant. His first hand account of these groups helps him provide us with some very interesting liner notes including a detailed history, personal insights, interviews, old performing schedules, and many photos. So all said and done, this limited edition of 1000 copies is an absolute essential purchase for Ash Ra Tempel fans as well as Krautrock aficionados all over.«

(Tom Hayes, Exposé, issue 10, USA)

»Vol. 1 - very nice intro of the collection [...] brilliant, cosmic solos. Vol. 2 - a mood of Berlin School [...] Vol. 3 - Halensee is the best [...] there's the beautiful ambient impression Schwerer Dino [...] Vol. 4 - Live rocky playing by ASHRA and some guests for softly drunken [?!] audience. Vol. 5 - This is the best disc in the collection [...] The short pieces Ivresse de lune and Ivresse de soleil are two drops of honey [...] Even Ash Ra Tempel in Ooze Away plays exclusively hypnotic music. Vol. 6 - Ein würdiger Abschluß includes electronics and ambient and a ghost of Hendrix and many other things which deserves our memory [...] like the whole collection does, because professional work, big art, and deep emotions dominate in it.«
(Artur Lason [translation], "Enter", Poland)

»Quantitativement, les heures y sont. La qualité aussi. [...] Pour le fan une indispensable option de sa discothèque«
("Oniric", France)

»I bought The Private Tapes from Archie and the entire set is GREAT!!«
(P. Moser, radio, Canada)

»The mighty Private Tapes set, a work of love which is a classic in krautrock history. A long overview will appear in the next issue of "Deep Listenings"«
(G. Gasparetti, "Deep Listenings", Italy)

»The Private Tapes of Manuel had worked very well, and that's really great because he deserves it! Manuel should certainly be very proud after such a release, such great moments in time of music! Let me tell you both again BRAVO!.«
(O. Bégué, France)

»It's a pretty comprehensive account of ASH RA TEMPEL history [...] The old live recordings vary somewhat as to their recording quality, yet not as to their musical quality [...] The selection is so varied and full of ASHRA types of music we've never heard before, that throughout, it's nothing less than remarkable. All I can say is: If you can afford it - buy it!«
(A. Freeman, "Audion", UK)

»The ASH RA TEMPEL set was great! Almost everyone has been surprised and very pleased. All comments have been ecstatic. It really shows the creative vision of Manu (and Klaus' amazing drumming).«
(A. Patterson, "Eurock", USA)

»Nergens uitschieters, nergens gelijk, overal boeiend. Herlijke muziek [...] Een compliment voor de vormgeving van de set: de boekjes«
("KLEM", The Netherlands)

»Neben der Sichtung des historischen Materials ist besonders das sehr gelungene Cover-Layout und das informative Booklet hervorzuheben. Ausführlich werden wir uns mit dieser Edition beschäftigen, wenn ich Manuel Göttsching hier als Studio-Gast begrüßen kann. Eins der schönsten Stücke von Volume One ist das folgende aus dem Jahre 1979, Bois de soleil
(O. Zimmermann, radio, Germany)

»Vielen Dank für die Privat Tapes-Reihe. Ich habe mir ein bißchen Zeit genommen, um alles in Ruhe anzuhören. Wie Du weißt, war ich schon sehr begeistert von der CD-R (Vorab- Single), und ich bin das immer noch. Es scheint nur bei Manikin Records möglich zu sein, "Historie" zu machen. Nach den Klaus-Schulze-Reihen, und vor den noch kommenden [...] Ohne "Hokus Pokus'"und 'Blah-Blah" [...] Man kann die Atmosphäre von damals fast riechen und fühlen. Sehr nettes "outfit" vom Tray. Und wie erwartet von Dir, ausführliche Informationen, fast wie Unterricht. Prima!«
(T. van Veen, radio, The Netherlands)

»Totally amazing! [...] superb! Great packaging as well.Thanks!«
("Delerium Records", UK)

»I received my supply of The Private Tapes yesterday and have had it playing constantly, it is a triumph! Well done to everyone involved.«
("Neu Harmony", UK)

[The Private Tapes Vol. 1 - Main Page]

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