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Günter Schickert – HaHeHiHo

VCO

VCO is a label that specialises in limited cassette-only releases. They have released tapes by Zombi, Majeure, Steve Moore and Jonas Reindhart, with most of these editions running between the 50 to 100 copies mark. This edition of music recorded in 1996 by Schickert has had a hundred copies made.*

The album opens with “Morning,” tablas and percussion building a steady rhythm under an eastern-sounding guitar fugue to make the piece sound like an early morning raga. Günter Schickert’s guitar is crystal clear and gives the feeling of temples at dawn. “Sieben” starts with a vicious synthesizer arpeggio while other electronic noises bleep over the top and the guitar hits odd flanged notes – the sound is not unlike Ash Ra Tempel’s later offerings; however, we are given a similar experimental attitude within the synthesis as you would find on a Monoton album.  The piece builds into a massive electronic climax where the guitar begins to take over from the keyboards as they swirl around in the air over the top of echoed chords. “Indiarabia” is the longest track on the album, its pulsating synth pattern bringing a more industrial flavour to the music. Schickert’s lead guitar plays lightly in the background like it’s somehow lost in space and is fighting to be heard over the cosmic background noise. The backing rhythm gives the unnerving feeling of being on some vast space liner travelling out towards the stars as it begins to sound like the rumble of engines. Every now and then the lead breaks through this maelstrom to play centre stage for a few seconds before being devoured by its backing again.

Side two begins with “Western Union,” a steady drum pattern playing under echoed desert guitars that gives a beautiful late evening feel, or the soundtrack to some road movie. This is not to dissimilar to Ry Cooder’s Paris Texas album or something by Die Haut. As the track builds you can almost imagine yourself strolling past the cacti while avoiding the tumbleweed and staring out amongst the vastness of the landscape. The title track sees Günter’s vocals come to the fore for the first time. The beat is rather languid and the lead guitar meanders over the top of some taut chords. The song has an odd dreamy feel to it and is rather excellent. Electronic swooshes introduce “Ninja Schwert” as a hard rhythm hits in almost immediately. Guitar notes clatter over synth bleeps and what sounds like gliss guitar playing and big bass keyboards. This all becomes a heady brew of noises before the track comes to an abrupt end; I could have easily had a longer version of this to listen to.

“Power Call” starts with echoed drums before the guitar starts to play an almost post-punk couple of chords; when these hit a slightly atonal mode it reminds me of the early awkward guitar parts on XTC albums. The vocals sing a type of psychedelic lyric that fits perfectly with the instrumentation and adds an extra level of surreality to the track. “Morning (Slide)” has an ambient feel as slide guitar notes play over gentle keyboard chords – this brings to mind the feel and atmosphere of some of Brian Eno’s output and especially Plight and Premonition, Holger Czukay’s album with David Sylvian. Again, this is a brief track and finishes the album all too soon.

Even though these tracks were recorded in 1996, it still proves that Schickert has not lost his muse. The album is a marvellous amalgamation of everything he does best. If you’re a fan of the man, this is a must-have, very limited item. I hope that VCO will release some more of his recordings to add to their rather excellent catalogue of artists so far. And remember; only tape is real.

-Gary Parsons-

* The cassette albums are also available for download at VCO’s Bandcamp site.

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