The '70s were a fertile period for Manuel Göttsching. Having pioneered the kosmische guitar freakout with Ash Ra Tempel, he had embarked on a new phase by mid-decade. Inspired by minimalist composers Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass, Göttsching traded musical visions of outer space for trance-inducing meditations on inner space. Between 1974 and 1977, Göttsching pursued this new aesthetic on Inventions for Electric Guitar, Le Berceau de Cristal, New Age of Earth, and Blackouts, immersing himself in an electronic environment that often fused his signature guitar work with sequencers and synths. Although not released until 1991, Dream & Desire was recorded in 1977. Its ambient and proto-techno explorations hold up reasonably well alongside Göttsching's previously released recordings from the mid-'70s, and also resonate favorably with the work of like-minded contemporaries such as Edgar Froese, Klaus Schulze, and Tangerine Dream. The half-hour "Dream" is appropriately oneiric. Prefaced by elemental atmospherics and soothing synth washes, it builds with sparse, delicate guitar lines. Göttsching crafts mesmerizing layers of intricate notes as the track gradually gathers momentum and settles into tighter, more defined patterns. In contrast with the cool, glacial aura of "Dream," "Desire" has a warmer, more energized feel, rooted in its relentless bass pulse, sheen of electronic percussion, and Frippertronic-style guitar. However, the components fail to coalesce to hypnotic effect; instead, they test the patience and sound somewhat dated. The more economical "Despair" succeeds where "Desire" falters, putting similar sonic elements to more compelling use. While the weaving, sinewy guitars infuse a melancholy air, the rhythmic dimension radiates optimism and dynamism that stand in ironic counterpoint to the track's title. Dream & Desire isn't, perhaps, as consistently strong as Göttsching's other recordings from the period, but this lost album provides further insight into one of his most innovative creative phases.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Wilson Neate