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DVD Feature/ Manuel Göttsching & Kinga: "Wroclaw Live"

img  Tobias

For a man married to a movie director and an artist whose cover designs reveal a deep interest in the visual aspect of releasing records, Manuel Göttsching has remained remarkably absent from the video market. A short live set taped in 1997 is available from his website, as is a VHS of his installation “Die Mulde” from the same year, but until now, these have been the only alternatives to watching Göttsching in person. Now it is finally available, the “Wroclaw Live” DVD effectively delivers a double blow. Not only are we treated to one and a half hours of images and music, but also to a collaboration with Polish clip-artist Kinga Kielczynska, making this an optical document in more than just the obvious meaning of the term.

Göttsching and Kinga surely make for a rewarding team. Still more of an insider tip, but gaining appreciation with each festival appearance, Kielczynska’s worlds are sweet and colourful fantasies with non-linear narratives seen through the eyes of a child. Her pictures always move two steps forward, one step back and one to the side, without confusing the senses or burdening the spectator with philosophical metaphors. All attention is on the left side of the brain and the associations resulting from replacing the usual train of thought with a totally spontaneous chain of events connected by purely visual cues (as opposed to: intellectual). There is a distinct beat running through her stories, which matches that of the music accompanying it and takes on a meaning of its own, just like it is impossible to seperate Manuel Göttsching’s rhythms from his compositions: Through the pulse of the piece, the music unfolds. This is, of course, why slogans like “The Godfather of Techno” are going nowhere. Rather than submitting to the metrum of the drums, melodies and harmonies actively constitute the groove, their interaction causes the soft undulation which is so characteristic to his entire oeuvre and which runs through “Wroclaw Live” like a warm, sparkling river.

The partnership of Göttsching and Kielczynska is less one of different generations coming together in harmony (even though the press will be likely to claim otherwhise), but of two minds intuitively finding a common language in two different modes of expressions. The convolutions and onomatopoeia of “Trunky Groove” are intensified by the bright lights amidst an ocean of darkness, opened up by a rollercosting funfair mystery, the spinning harmonies of “Die Mulde” are answered by snippets of people jumping up from piles of paper. In the latter track, the combination works especially organically, with both artists finding a spot between the majestic and the naive. This may well have to do with the fact that  none of the two is fond of experiments for its own sake. Kinga’s images expressly use subtle processing, they are a distinct step back from the digital trickery many of her collegues use to camouflage a lack of content. Likewhise, Göttsching’s guitar solos, which form the emotional core of each of his performances here, reveal a closeness to the philosphy of the blues, no matter how many layers of electronics may be heaped upon it. On the stretched-out version of “Sunrain”, his connection to the minimalist-scene is as clear as never before, the patterns not just taking turns, but blending together in constantly new ways, while evolving and progressing over time.

The highlight of the DVD, though, may well be the hypnotic seventeen minutes of closing track “Shuttlecock” (originally on the classic “Blackouts” album from 1977). Just like Kielczynska blends the technical with the innocent in revolving pictures of skirts dancing through corn fields, Göttsching allows his irresistible sequencer pattern to flow as if it were played by hand and to guide his guitar accompaniment, before discharging the energy in waves of distortion half-way. Throughout, the camera is mostly on Göttsching instead of the video split-screen at the middle of the stage, minutely capturing his responses to the images and his subtle way of determining their future course. The message is clear: Despite the impressive pictures, the music is still what matters most.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Manuel Göttsching/Ashra

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