Elliott Sharp: Metamorphose Festival—Mt. Izu—Japan

Manuel Göttsching's compositions "Inventions for Electric Guitar" and "E2-E4" were widely influential in the late 1970's and early 1980's in a variety of scenes including progressive, ambient, house, and techno.
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September 4
Inventions for Electric Guitar
Metamorphose Festival
Mt. Izu, Japan

Manuel Göttsching's compositions "Inventions for Electric Guitar" and "E2-E4" were widely influential in the late 1970's and early 1980's in a variety of scenes including progressive, ambient, house, and techno. Associated with the "Kraut Rock" and "Kosmiches Musiches" movements, Manuel's music showed affinities with the Minimalist approach of Steve Reich in its use of delay-modified repetitions. 1974's "Inventions..." used 4 tracks of guitars all played by Manuel to create a bubbling modal tapestry. There has been a surge of interest in Manuel's work of late and he enjoys strong support in Japan. For the 10th anniversary of the Metamophose Festival in Izu, Manuel planned a performance of this work with guitarists Steve Hillage (of Egg, Gong and System 7), ShouWang (of White and Car Sick Cars) and myself. We all convened in Tokyo on the 2nd of September and that evening found us in a nearby izakaya for food and drinks with menu items translated as "roast hormone", "tuna and abogado" (lawyer in Spanish), and "three types of horse". We spent most of the next day in a rehearsal studio in nearby Setagaya working from notated scores and flow-charts on the three pieces from Inventions: "Echo Waves", "Quasarphere", and "Pluralis" plus one new one, "Fights." For the performance, we decided to all go direct into the system using individual monitors behind us and a stereo mix in front to give a full and clear sonic panorama without the potential monitoring difficulty of loud amps on stage. The rehearsal studio is run by the festivaI sound company so we had a good representation of our stage sound to work with. For this hit I decided to bring my Hondo Longhorn guitar, an early-70's tribute to the Danelectro Guitarlin: a lyre-shaped solid-mahogany body with a three-octave neck and built-in overdrive plus the Digitech RP250, a surprisingly versatile but simple multi-FX pedal with good amp simulators and delays. The Longhorn's splittable humbucker has a unique voice and the extended upper-range was perfect for one section of Echo Waves—it's a great example of the quality guitars being produced in Japan in that era. Manuel is playing an SG through a POD, Steve, an old Steinberger into a Line 6 Rack, and Shou Wang, an old SG Junior into various pedals. I had just seen Manuel in July in Munich and it was great to re-connect with Shou Wang who I had not seen in a few years and to meet Steve Hillage whose work I had admired since first hearing him with Gong, decades ago. We were all a little groggy from travel but still had a very concentrated rehearsal and at the end, added "E2-E4" to the set. Standard part of my kit for trips to Asia is a jar of Medaglia d'Oro Instant Espresso. If you're a coffee addict like I am, the typically weak and tasteless brown water (appropriately called "American coffee") that is proferred throughout Japan just does not cut it and the Medaglia d'Oro makes life possible. It even produces a touch of crema. Noon departure by car the next day for Izu, 137km as the crow flies but MUCH longer if the crow is sitting in a van stuck in typical Tokyo traffic. After more than five hours of travel (mostly spent not-moving) we arrived at our hotel in Ohiro, 10 minutes from the festival site. The hotel is also an onsen (hot springs) and the lobby was filled with yukata-clad families going to and from the baths. We have a chance to dine at the fantastic buffet and then head to the festival site. The festival has five stages and over 30,000 people in attendance. We're on the main stage, "Solar" at 10pm and follow Omar Sosa Rodrigues' powerful band with Mogwai coming after us. Our set-up is quick and at the appointed moment, we jump into "Echo Waves" which ripples, phases, and drives. The entire set goes by in a flash and we finish to great applause. Backstage hang until too late followed by a sojourn to the hotel and three trains the next morning to NRT and my flight back to NYC.

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