Quality: 5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 5 out of 5
OK, let's get one thing out of the way straight off. Worst. Album. Cover. Ever. I really don't know what Mr. Gottsching and/or his promoters were thinking of with this gag reflex worthy cover image, but I'd be more than happy to throw this in the lot with the likes of Tino and Devastatin' Dave (go here straightaway if you don;t know what I'm talking about: http://salamitsunami.com/archives/91). But, fortunately we can't always judge a book (or album) by it's cover and the contents here are spectacular.
I'm not sure quite whom to credit this to. The original Ash Ra Tempel had pretty much split by this point, and the only artist we hear on this disc is Manuel Gottsching, whose name is bigger on the cover than the band's. After this Gottsching would reduce the band's name to Ashra, but I'm gonna call this one a solo album.
This is in fact a solo album in the strictest sense of the word. Every sound here is created by Gottsching's enviable guitar. In an Eno/Fripp-like fashion, he has layered many delayed and echoed bits of guitar, occasionally punctuated by an acid-style lead. Also like the Eno/Fripp recordings, the compositions here represent a major precusor to ambient music.
Ash Ra Tempel was one of the leading kraut rock bands, fusing the experimental side of the Can along with the electronic glide of early Kraftwerk and Neu!. On this disc the sound has been distilled to it's essence, and it's truly a propelled glide into space. As well it should be with song titles like "Echo Waves," "Quasarsphere," and "Pluralis."
"Echo Waves" and "Pluralis" work on the dame modus operandi, with slowly shifting delayed guitar patterns serving as a foundation for some strange processed guitar sound effects and an occasional lead. The much shorter "Quasarsphere," sandwiched in the middle, is an even more ambient exercise missing the delayed framework of the other tracks.
This is a perfect album to zone out to, and heralds a major stylistic shift from the more rock (if avant garde, freak rock) sound of Ash Ra Tempel. Gottsching continues to mine this vein of more electronic music to this day, but on Inventions For Electric Guitar he managed to hit upon a ripe vein which continues to sound ahead of its time.
Ash Ra Tempel - Inventions For Electric Guitar