ASH RA TEMPEL: LE BERCEAU DE CRISTAL (1975; 1993)
1) Le Berceau De Cristal; 2) L'Hiver Doux; 3) Silence Sauvage; 4) Le Sourire Volé; 5) Deux Enfants Sous La Lune; 6) Le Songe D'Or; 7) Le Diable Dans La Maison; 8) ...Et Les Fantômes Rêvent Aussi.
As a post-scriptum, it might be useful to mention this hour-long soundtrack, recorded by Göttsching in 1975 with the assistance of Lutz Ulbrich, but still under the moniker of Ash Ra Tempel, even if its purely electronic, ambient nature was far closer to the style of «Ashra», or even Manuel's solo projects. But what's in a name? Nothing but the ability to save your brain from exploding — and why would a respectable Krautrock artist want to do that?
Anyway, Le Berceau De Cristal is some sort of crap avantgarde movie by the French filmmaker Philippe Garrel. Apparently, it stars Nico in the title role, with a special guest appearance by Keith Richards' witchy girlfriend Anita Pallenberg, and if that alone is not enough to confirm the movie's unwatchability, try and find an overall description on the Net — apparently, Zabriskie Point looks like The Godfather in comparison. Fortunately, we are not here to talk movies.
Göttsching's soundtrack is historically important in that it is only his second venture ever into the realm of pure atmospherics, after his solo album Inventions For Electric Guitar, and, in fact, is even less dynamic and more trance-inducing than the former, being a direct precursor to New Age Of Earth. Thus, it will be useless to concentrate on a separate review: everything I wrote about New Age, more or less, applies here as well. The only difference is that New Age strives for a more «global» sound, one that preserves the cosmic rock aspirations of Ash Ra Tempel, but materializes them through pure electronic means. Berceau, being a soundtrack to a movie about one woman and her psychotic activity (or something), is less expansive, somewhat darker, gloomier, colder... in fact, I can very well hear Nico, in my imagination, deliver her stern Teutonic lines across Göttsching's synths — it is sort of reassuring to realize that I have a magnificent opportunity to never, ever do it in reality.
Actually, there is quite a bit of guitar playing on this album, mainly processed through lots of electronic warp, but saving the record from total monotonousness. Once you have sat through the first two epic ambient monsters, you start getting modest rhythms, bass loops, jangly echo-laden chord sequences, and, on the very last track, even a «diabolic» distorted guitar solo (short one). So it is not merely a sequence of snowy landscapes and Gothic panoramas. But fairly close. Recommended for completists, historians, Nico's ex-lovers, and all those who think that mysterious French titles suit electronic compositions much better than pedestrian English ones.
Check "Le Berceau De Cristal" (CD) on Amazon