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. ~ Rolf Semprebon