Though his name barely registers among most of the Krautrock intelligentsia, Gunter Schickert was both prolific in the background and an important artist. Along with the better-known Achim Reichel, Schickert pioneered the echo guitar, where the repeated guitar tones create unique, multi-layered textures that take the instrument quite beyond the ordinary.
Schickert was active through much of the ’60s in the Berlin free jazz scene, though it wasn’t until 1974 that his first album, Samtvogel, came out, self-released by Schickert in a small batch. The album was unique enough that it was quickly snatched up by the legendary Brain label, and they reissued the record the next year. Samtvogel is quite similar to Manuel Göttsching’s solo-guitar album, Inventions for Electric Guitar, where guitar sounds are layered and layered on top of each other to create new hypnotic textures.
In 1973, Schickert founded the trio GAM, with guitarist Axel Struck and percussionist Michael Aleska, and with Schickert on guitar, vocals, and trumpet, this group created a unique sort of freaked-out space rock. GAM recorded some jam sessions in 1976, which were finally released on cassette in 1986 and titled Gam 1976, and an unreleased album called Eiszeit in 1978.
At this time Schickert was also creating music for a theater company, and even performing live on-stage in some of the productions. He also served as a roadie for electronic music pioneer Klaus Schulze, and sometimes played live with Schulze as well. Schickert’s second solo album, Uberfallig, came out in 1979 on Sky Records, this time with Charles Heuer on drums to augment Schickert’s echoed guitar textures.
In the ’80s, Schickert’s work in theater production continued, and he also took part in a couple of bands, No Zen Orchestra and Ziguri Ego Zoo. A third album under his own name, this one a completely solo effort with him on guitar, tapes, vocals, percussion, and trumpet, 1993’s Kinder der Wildnes only came out on cassette, though it showed that Schickert was expanding into a wider range of musical styles. Another collection, Somnabal, was released in 1995 on CD with music from throughout the decade-and-a-half before that. Though his recordings are few and hard to track down, especially the debut Samtvogel, Schickert is an innovative music creator who deserves more notice. (by Rolf Semprebon)An album considerably closer to the krautrock sound and very early Tangerine Dream albums than Gunter Schickert’s second album.
Samtvogel (Velvet Bird) is a bit more electronic sounding than the follow up album, but also displays much more of a krautrock type of compositional development. “Apricot Brandy” and “Kriegsmaschinen, Fahrt Zur Hölle” both echo the Can album Future Days mainly because of the repetitive traditional krautrock guitar playing and dreamy incomprehensible vocals that sounds more like another instrumental touch than true vocalizing. Almost the entire first half of “Kriegsmaschinen, Fahrt Zur Hölle” is mostly Conrad Schnitzler-inspired experimental industrial gurgling that gradually builds up into an explosive guitar loop that has a somewhat avant tone.
The main attraction of Samtvogel is the 21+ minute long closer track “Wald” which is exceptionally aquatic in nearly the same way that Edgar Froese’s Aqua except with Schickert’s delayed guitar loops. It’s quite a proggy track with plenty of development while remaining hypnotically repetitive, maintaining it’s under-water adventure type of atmosphere that fans of Boris’ Flood should find comforting. An aura of mystery surrounds the rather gloomy intermittent build-ups with dark melodicism in the guitar loops, until the track eventually gives way to lonely delayed staccato guitar plucking.
To pick a favorite between Gunter Schickert’s two albums, I would have to choose Samtvogel for its much more mysterious and slightly avant electronic approach to krautrock styled early electronic music. It contains everything that I’d expect and hope for from a German electronic artist in the ’70s, plus the incredibly soothing aquatic elements and the chord choices made result in an extremely delightful album and one I’ve the best I’ve experienced in a while. While I hesitate to call it a masterpiece, this is definitely an album to be recommended to all fans of this type of music and I’d personally place this album beside Edgar Froese’s best work in terms of quality. (by colorofmoney91)
Günter Schlickert (guitar, vocals, echo device)
The Brain Label Edition:
01. Apricot Brandy 5.56
02. Kriegsmaschinen, fahrt zur Hölle 16.31
02.1. Komm doch in meine Fabrik
02.2.Sagt der Personalchef
02.3. Kriegsmaschinen bau’n
02.4. Dafür gibt’s das meiste Geld
03. Wald 21.18
Music: Günter Schickert
The reissue on Brain Records, 1980: