The most remarkable thing about Manuel Göttsching’s E2-E4, 35 years after its creation, is how much it sounds like modern techno. Not like a primitive version of techno, not like the ideas that would become techno coming to life: like straight-up, four-on-the-floor, club-night techno. This means it’s a lot more listenable than a lot of proto-EDM milestones (play Yellow Magic Orchestra’s “Rydeen” in a room full of friends and see how many faces stay straight). It’s got the rare distinction of being a mindblowing historical milestone and a great listen in its own right.

However, E2-E4 is not for everyone. In order to enjoy its 58-minute, single-track, numbingly repetitive expanse, one has to will themselves into a spiritual, insular stupor – the same mindset one imagines Göttsching might have inhabited during the album’s recording. The changes are gradual and sparse, and the only real orgasm moment comes when Göttsching decides to pick up his guitar about halfway through for some smooth-jazz noodling. And there’s not much that hasn’t been done better by Göttsching’s progeny – Donato Dozzy and Neel’s brilliant long-form suite Voices From The Lake, for one, or Hans-Peter Lindstrøm’s deepest excursions into psychedelic disco.

But never mind that. This is gorgeous, slow-burning stuff, all tender synth pads and pinging leads and drum machines pitter-pattering towards infinity. Latin music was a major inspiration here, and the cluster chords that form the song’s framework seem ripped from salsa or something similar. Göttsching’s guitar is tasteful and unshowy, certainly the work of a more mature and restrained musician than the one that appeared on the woolly early-‘70s Ash Ra Tempel records. And those metallic synth plings, which have since appeared everywhere from the ambient dub of Vladislav Delay to the garage-’n’-B of Cooly G, really are something else.

E2-E4 has been reissued alongside Inventions For Electric Guitar, a similarly minimal and repetitive record from 1975 split between three tracks. Inventions is the lesser of the two, showcasing a showier, greener Göttsching with a more obvious debt to American rock ’n’ roll. The acid-fried leads in which Göttsching indulges – particularly towards the end of opener “Echo Waves” – are the fly in the ointment here. Unlike the atmospheric guitar work on E2-E4, the noodling here seems to exist to show off how good a guitarist Göttsching was. There are also a few moments where his finger lands a fret or two away from where it’s supposed to.

It’s the quiet bits that make Inventions interesting, like the delay-choked build of “Echo Waves” – which the Edge perhaps heard and took to heart – or the brief interstitial “Quasarsphere,” the album’s all-too-short, loveliest moment, which leads into the epic “Pluralis.” These thankfully overwhelm the blues-wankier parts, and Inventions is ultimately a pretty good album even if it sounds solidly like the work of the long-haired, stoney-eyed 21-year-old on the cover.

Seven years and a lot of trial and error divide these two records, but they’re ultimately kin in their repetition and conscious pushing of boundaries. Göttsching was a musical omnivore, as entranced by rock ’n’ roll as Reich and Riley and the rhythms of Latin America. It’s remarkable how all these influences come through in music so brutally, beautifully, frustratingly simple.

Both pieces were also improvised. This isn’t surprising with Inventions, which sounds like a lot of today’s open-mic loop-pedal fare, bum notes and all. E2-E4, though, moves seamlessly and features nary a bad decision. Most DJs would sell their soul to slap together anything as seamless as what Göttsching magically produced out of thin air for one fateful hour in 1981.

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