Manuel Göttsching, German pioneer of techno music, died on 4 December

by André Schulz
12/13/2022 – Manuel Göttsching is a pioneer of techno music, and in 1984 he released his groundbreaking classic "E2-E4". The title of the album alludes to chess and the cover of the album also shows a chessboard - Göttsching liked to play. On 4 December the German musician died in Berlin at the age of 70. | Photo: Yoho

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As became known today, Manuel Göttsching died on 4 December at the age of 70. The musician from Berlin came to music in the late 1960s and in 1970 he founded the group Ash Ra Tempel with Hartmut Enke and Klaus Schulze. They played meditative and psychedelic pieces and liked to improvise during their performances. From 1971 onwards, Klaus Schulze went his own way while Göttsching and Enke continued the Ash Ra Tempel project with various guest musicians.

On 12 December 1981, Manuel Göttsching recorded an electronically generated improvisation of almost one hour in his Berlin "Studio Roma", which is now considered a milestone of techno music. It consists of only two chords, which are varied throughout the piece.

Göttsching named his composition "E2-E4", and he did not choose the title by chance. His father had taught him to play chess and Göttsching liked to play against fellow musicians.

The tracks on the album also refer to chess and follow the course of a chess game:

1. Ruhige Nervosität (Quiet nervousness)
 2. Gemässigter Aufbruch (Moderate departure)
 3. ...und Mittelspiel (and middlegame)
 4. Ansatz (Attempt)
 5. Damen Eleganza (Queen eleganza)
 6. Ehrenvoller Kampf (Honourable fight)
 7. Hoheit weicht (Highness yields - not without momentum)
 (nicht Ohne Schwung)
 8. ...und Souveränität (and aplomb)
 9. Remis (Draw)

However, it took until 1984 before the piece was produced by Klaus Schulze and published with an edition of 1000 copies. A chessboard was chosen as the cover. In fact, you can play on it if you have pieces available.

But "E2-E4" remained more or less unnoticed until the legendary New York "Studio 54" chose the cool music as opener for its club nights, which turned "E2-E4" into a cult hit of the club scene. At the end of the 1980s, the Italian dance floor producers of "Sueno Latino" released a remix that was soon played on all dance floors in the world. Since then, numerous other remixes have been created.

On the occasion of its 25th anniversary in 2006, the original techno composition was revisited and Göttsching performed it live on a number of occasions, including at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg in 2018.

Göttsching would have liked to perform "E2-E4" on a larger scale as a multimedia performance but the Corona pandemic put a spanner in the works.

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer


Ash Ra homepage...

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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