Gunter Schickert - Nachtfalter LP
Label: Bureau B
Gunter Schickert's debut Samtvogel (1975) was one of the most significant guitar albums of the krautrock era. Points of comparison from today's perspective are Syd Barrett or Pink Floyd's more adventurous early recordings. Schickert's follow-up, Uberfallig (1980) was released on the legendary Sky label. Once again a milestone recording, it showcased Schickert's hypnotic echo guitar which developed into one of the hallmarks of the krautrock sound. Schickert's new album Nachtfalter, translating as "moth" in English, carries on from these beginnings, making it hard to believe that he has in the meantime reached pension age. Recorded during the scorching hot summer of 2018, Nachtfalter shows the pioneer of the echo guitar sounding his very best. Here Schickert was assisted by Andreas Spechtl, who recorded the album and played the drums. Spechtl selected the best moments of Schickert's guitar tracks, and mixed them while also supplying his own loops. Even though the album was conceived as an instrumental, it inadvertently developed into a concept piece, named after the moth, which had entered the room at some point during the recording sessions. As a silent witness, it clung to the ceiling all night. In the morning, Schickert found the insect dead on the floor. He took a photo of the moth for the cover, paying tribute to the dead animal. Nachtfalter opens with the atmospheric track "Nocturnus," Schickert's conch shell horns creating an eerie mood. Next, the krautrock juggernaut "Ceiling" runs to nearly seven minutes of playing time; it's not just the music levitating here. A further highlight is the urgent "Wohin" with its insistent, furious drumming by Spechtl, whose patterns meet the howling echo guitar by Schickert. The impressive "Reflections" concludes the album by uniting all the elements of Nachtfalter's hypnotic soundscapes. The music could serve as soundtrack to a horror movie, with guitar sounds being complemented by noise resembling a train whistle, plus the squealing and humming of a tormented analog synthesizer. "I was born in Berlin and am a true city child," explains Schickert, "When I was young, I often travelled on the bus or the underground train. The awesome rhythm of the engines has indelibly imprinted itself on me. My music has been the expression of this experience." Listening to Nachtfalter, one can only conclude that on Schickert has created a perfect synthesis of the hectic, motorik rhythm of the big city and the gentle beat of the wings of a moth.