Günther Beckers music has a perfect word for it: Gesamtkunstwerk. Gesamtkunstwerk is an interdisciplinary artistic work combining various disciplines — music, painting, poetry and design. Wagner conjured up this idea when trying to produce a work that could also wrap in artistic ideas derived from theatrical, poetic, and musical influences. Aesthetics would be the English word we’d create to wrap around one whole artistic ethos for a movement. Extremely personal in execution, it was Günther Beckers’ 1982 release Walkman that really put this idea into fruition.
Together as one work, all executed by this Aachen native, you get a sense of the movement derived from one art form shaping the other in Walkman. As personal as you can get to breathing life into a painting, Günther’s music was as much as a score to his painting, as the painting would portray whatever was intended in the music. A work driven mostly by acoustic guitar, rare, spare sampled sound and vocals, plus an assortment of synths or drum machines, Walkman has the feel/sound of something deeply melancholy and lonely. Walkman sounds like something not influenced by another musical work altogether.
Like a bizarro Joan Bibiloni, Walkman somehow plays to the unique locale that Aachen is. Situated between Belgium and the Netherlands, Aachen is the oldest Europe still far from the modern, reconstructed Germany found in the rest of the homeland. You hear Günther’s breath on occasion peer through the recording as if giving credence to the air moving through this recording. It’s a beautiful recording but you can’t help but feel that Günther wants to place you somewhere. Much like Alex de Grassi’s equally impressionistic ambient guitar music, Günther doesn’t tether his style to much of any easily placed genre so much as an environment.
Privately pressed, on his own Milky-Music label, in limited quantities, each edition of Walkman was hand-painted and written on by Günther himself, in effect making each work it’s own special work of art. The music, especially on songs like “Vollmond” or “Farbflügel”, takes on this spectral quality where spacious open-tuned guitar mood pieces transform the music into a score for truly otherworldly flashes of sound. Most of the stuff that strikes you the most on Walkman will be the bits where you hear the only vaguest sense of form creep within the music.