Home > Ambient, Detroit techno, Techno, Top 5 records > Manuel Göttsching’s E2 E4 : classic german electronic album from 1981

Manuel Göttsching’s E2 E4 : classic german electronic album from 1981

E2-E4 is considered as one of the most sampled and remixed music of the 20th century. More than Can or Kraftwerk are. Most of the people into Detroit techno and electronica know about this famous piece of minimal electronic music and if you don’t know about it because you’re new to the genre or because you are more into other genres of electronic music, than here is your opportunity to know more about the record and hear its magic. In the record, 28 minutes are electronics and 30 minutes, guitar music. and the record has been popular with DJs all over the world and classic music lovers, but also those who like experimental music. First, let’s mention that Manuel Göttsching was part of Ashra Tempel. The debut album Ash ra Tempel was released in 1971, recorded in Hamburg by famed Connie Plank. Klaus Schulze left the band to pursue a solo career. with Klaus Schulze. Then, Göttsching also made an album with the late Timothy Leary the title being Seven up in 1975 but Schulze was never part of that collaboration. Göttsching is one of the most important guitarists of the Kosmische Musik genre. He also participated in the Cosmic Jokers sessions. His style and technique influenced dozens of artists in the post-Eno ambient and new age scenes in the 1980s and 1990s. But, more importantly E2-E4 is not an album for Progrockers or Kraturock fans.

But let’s face it, even though that record is a classic and has influenced everyone in the Detroit techno area from Carl Craig to Derrick May, rarely will you sit still 58 minutes to listen to an entire record which consists of just one track. It takes time, in fact, it is time consuming. It also takes patience. If you don’t like stuff like Brian Eno or Tangerine dream, Steve Reich and minimalist music then this record is not made for you. But then again, you would miss on something which is quite a masterpiece. The first time, I heard it was in 1998 I think, close to 15 years after its release. Now on to 25 years after its original production, it has aged especially well. Sure, back then it was picked by one of the best DJ’s of all time in Larry Levan who used to mix it next to the Clash. But think about it : this record has been covered in1989 by the Italian techno-house outfit Sueno Latino, it was covered by Basic channel, on their Basic reshape, and remixed by Paperclip people aka Carl Craig on his Remake uno EP. Most recently it was picked by LCD Soundsystem‘ on 45:33 a record that was inspired by E2 E4 both conceptually as seen on the artwork and musically with the duration of the song. Just another example of how many times it’s been named-checked, reworked and expanded countless times.

E2-E4, was recorded in 1981 but released in 1984, and was not the first solo recording album by Manuel Göttsching but his 5th after Inventions for electric guitar, followed by New age of earth, Blackouts and then Dream and desire. The album itself 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. e4. Maybe its legendary status is due to the fact that as the story is sometimes told, Göttsching stopped in the studio, while touring with Klaus Schulze, and invented techno. In a concert mood, in december (that would put this record 30 years old ) of 1981, he entered his studio armed with only a korg synth and a guitar, his favorite asset. And then, he started playing. He improvised. But thanks for us, he decided to record the whole thing on the spur of the moment. And an hour of music was born. But he did not even intend to release it. After much reflections, doubts and afterthoughts, and only after the counsel of usual pal Schulze and especially three years later, he decides to publish the session. E2 E4, covered with a chessboard on cold and brown, sees the light and its light changes the course of history. E2 E4 is the most compelling argument that techno came from Germany. And even more so than any Kraftwerk album, anyway. Over a heavenly two-chord synth vamp and simple sequenced drum and bass, Göttsching’s played his guitar like a percussion instrument, creating music that defines the word hypnotic over the sixty minutes of the single track. Nonetheless, even though E2-E4 is very famous within young people (Say Carl Craig and Derrick May) and most notably of the DJ generation and those who like minimalistic music, it is not as much known by those who love Krautrock.

How do we explain musical genius ? We can’t. When it happens, it 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 relevant things and transcendent randomness, that leads to improvisation. The ability to take a theme and stretch it out into an ever increasing artform is often unattainable. The ex-leader of Ashra, the kraut-deutsch guru Manuel Göttsching, did it a quarter century ago, and his ability came from live shows. But what’s E2 E4 ? For a human, the easiest opening move in chess. For a musician, the dream of life. A persistent pulse of dreamy synthethic geometries which proceeds to the nirvana escorted by a spastic beat and a guitar that never ceases to peak. A perfect loop, the loop by definition. Nevertheless it’s not a dance piece. But it’s impossible to speak of E2 E4 in terms of human technology, if you’ve got that melody in your head, it will never leave you. I will never grow tired of that record. Jeff Mills once said : some things are better left unexplained. I do agree with him. That is the case with E2 E4.

Manuel Göttsching: E2 E4 [Released on Spalax]
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  1. shane
    June 29, 2010 at 2:48 am

    terrific writeup. i don’t know how i’ve gone so long without hearing of this record.

    sueno latino has always been a fave, but this is like a million times better.

    this dude was straight in it.

    • funkyjeff77
      June 30, 2010 at 5:00 am

      I agree Shane Sueno Latino is very good nonethless but E2 is just simply magical especially with the context surrounding it…glad u liked it!

  2. August 26, 2011 at 10:23 am

    This was a very interesting post!

  3. December 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Amazing! Thanks for bringing it to my attention 🙂

  4. November 30, 2015 at 1:54 am

    Great blog. Great post. I’m glad I found this.

    • funkyjeff77
      November 30, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      Thanks Jiménez-Smith! I will post more in the future 🙂

    • funkyjeff77
      November 30, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      Thanks Jiménez-Smith! I will post more in the future 🙂

  1. May 19, 2010 at 6:42 pm

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