Monday 17 August 2009

Asmus Tietchens Triplet

Abfleischung (Die Stadt) is the twelfth chapter in the 20-CD reissue program that Jochen Schwarz’s label has been carrying on for several years now. It’s a very fascinating release for a number of reasons, the foremost being the ultra-tempore modernity of the content, a cycle of relatively short pieces (five minutes maximum) based on archival tapes that the German manipulator had recorded as a youngster between 1967 and 1970, and which he decided to “recycle”: not remix, recycle as the composer himself insists, because the process of utter transformation applied to those materials in 1989 – year in which the record came out – renders the acoustic substance completely unidentifiable and entirely Tietchens at the same time. The man was interested in the analysis of his own methods more than becoming subjugated by the sonic outcome, but there’s no question that most tracks are examples of advanced metamorphism, hints to a psychological kind of aural outrage rendering some of these tests almost concussive in their striking originality. Metallic deformations, implacable machineries, ominous industrial thrumming, one-legged rhythmic sequences, mechanical termites. And that unmistakable poetry coming from the treatment of voices, looped and/or misshapen, that literally seem to come from another sphere when they materialize. A great selection of ingredients that a devotee usually anticipates from Asmus Tietchens, and the addition of two bonus cuts – one of them, “Kryptophonie 1”, a pseudo-minimal, autistic/robotic seesaw which elicits emotional distress to say the least – just confirms an already evident superiority.

Eine Menge Papier (Auf Abwegen) is a CD EP that comprises a couple of tracks from a 7-inch previously published on the Austrian label Syntactic, two more which were scheduled for a subsequent release that ultimately didn’t happen and a fifth track which is described as a “study of sonic material in the same series”; the matter in question is paper, obviously processed like Tietchens has grown us used to. The results range from sounds that recall the pressure in the tubes of a hydraulic network to audio-graphic representations of walking over hundreds of cockroaches just rained from the sky while bionic frogs chant and android pigs intimidate humans in crusty-mud impassiveness. 20 minutes of classic, stone-hearted, remorseless Tietchens that only the experts will be able to completely agree to. There’s some measure of lyricism in cynicism, and the Hamburger is a master of this game.

Flächen Mit Figuren (Nonvisualobjects) perfectly symbolizes Tietchens’ penchant for the superimposition of different surfaces in a composition, with particular attention for the contrast between ethereal strata echoing in the background and more concretely defined accidents suddenly emerging, if only for brief durations, at the forefront. This use of opposite sonic characters is the basis of practically every track of the album, which is endowed with a fine blend of untried nuances and – anathema! – spirituality. Tietchens, a Cioran-influenced sceptic per antonomasia, is definitely not renowned for an interest in the divine, yet I’m sure that he – like any truly evolved man on the earth – disassembles and distillates his sources in search of the essential soul of an acoustic manifestation, therefore of phenomena that go beyond the restricted understanding of the average person. Asmus knows that sound is everything and keeps seeking incessantly, conscious about the fact that the unadulterated quintessence of life resides somewhere in there. That these manifestations appear as a collapsed chorale, or an even-tempered mixture of material and abstract, or just resemble a clicking fire lighter drenched in twisted reverb, is not important. What matters most is the immediate recognisability of an artistic voice developed for well over 40 years and whose necessity of expression holds its owner perennially on the fringes of the experimental scene, quite distant from a plastic-made meritocracy based on illusory fame and futile accolades but ultimately closer to the fundamental reason of our short (and probably useless, too) existence, which unquestionably lies in a remote spot amidst those strange resonances.