LINE_051 | CD | Edition of 500 | October 2011
LINE is proud to present a new full length solo recording by German electronic music pioneer Asmus Tietchens.
Soirée is the result of extended recycling. Beginning from the investigation of: what will happen if I recycle (not remix) some of my older compositions and then recycle the recyclings and then recycle the recycled recyclings… ad infinitum? Quite quickly the initial pieces vanished totally. New structures and sounds emerged depending on the methods and tools I used.
Each of the pieces on Soirée is based on a distinct composition of my musical past. In each case the listener is presented with the 10th “generation” of this recycling process.
Confronted with the variety of the results I ask myself: Is it really necessary to create further new electronic music if only one piece as a nucleus is sufficient to derive hundreds and hundreds of different distinct individual variants?
Asmus Tietchens (b. 1947, Hamburg, Germany)
1965: First experiments with tape recorders and electronic sound devices (sine wave generator, rhythm machines) and concrete sound material.
1971: Minimoog and 8-track tape recorders
1980: First LP release Nachtstück in France, produced by Peter Baumann of Tangerine Dream
1982: begins Industrial music stage
1984: LP Formen letzter Hausmusik released by the Nurse with Wound’s label United Dairies.
1984-1989: several LPs on international industrial music labels including Esplendor Geometrico, Hamster Records, A-Mission, Multimood and others.
1985: Experiments with computerized keyboard Fairlight CMI
1986: First journey commissioned by the Goethe-Institut with concerts in Brazil
1989 – 2010: Teaching Sound Design and Sound Research at the University for Applied Sciences in Hamburg
1991: Second journey commissioned by the Goethe-Institut with concerts in the Argentine, Chile and Uruguay
Since 1991: numerous CD releases on international labels (LINE, Staalplaat, Soleilmoon, Selektion, Mille Plateaux, and more)
2003: Karl Sczuka Award for Acoustic Art
2006: Karl Sczuka Award for Acoustic Art
Since 2010: Teaching Sound Design at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg
Soirée is a composition of recycled compositions, sounds and movements of sound have been processed to extremes, or to be clearer they have been processed multitudes of times, sometimes to the 10th generation. It is a reclamation and negotiation of the past not a replaying, it takes the art form of sound design in it’s current state and processes the sounds of past experiments into the frame of the contemporary context and possibilities. The first sound that introduces the first track ‘p1B’, a sharp metallic awakening tone, almost metal on metal scraping except processed with an electronic gleam. This gives way to minimal drones and sound events as the redcurrant noise makes it’s way back to the center of the audio perspective. ‘Nox’ is an abstract fragile environ evoking images of whisps of ephemera delicate and poised as if close to shattering. ‘L2RB’ holds clunks of communication over a wire of thin deep spatial transmission. ‘L2RD’ introduces more variations in tone and as close to a ‘narrative’ form as Tietchens is likely to perform, given that structural form and considerations of the the nature of the aspects of the miniature of composition are more heavily considered than the presentation of an available text for the listener. However when this track introduces metallic drum aspects, it almost lends to Asian influences and cultural form of composition. ‘Nox 3′ has some very close environmental recording aspects as well as the more processed drone like aspects, an almost choral effect with modulation aplenty. ‘p1′ does the recurring frontal sound trick again with a shark click like sound of static as the glacial electronics fill the backing.
Soirée holds a soundscape not unlike glacial ambient works, but is perhaps better considered as an exercise in sound design and will appeal to people who have a distinct ear for sound design possibilities, immersive sound environments and developments in the art of electronic sound art.
Soirée documents the findings of action research from Asmus Tietchens, who embarks on this inquiry into exponential recycling problematizing the notion of original musical creation in the current climate. Tietchens first fiddled with tape players, musique concrète, and electronic boxes of tricks, in the mid-60s, continuing through the 70s with futuristic proto-Kosmische (ending in a Peter Baumann of TD)-produced debut album) to diverse projects in the 80s/90s that saw him embraced by those of a more esoteric industrial persuasion. The veteran has thus shadowed the musico-technological Zeitgeist over four decades, poking into all manner of compositional nooks and process crannies along the way. Now well into his mid-60s, an extensive back catalogue on labels from Mille Plateaux and Die Stadt through Staalplaat to United Dairies behind him, he draws on a range of different methods and tools, morphing sources beyond Ur-tone to leave eight uneasy pieces, equal parts alien atmospheres and nervy nullity. Present spectrally, like the ectoplasm of the original, cryptic clatters and jittery jolts incide with sound-splice detritus whose corporeality has perdured the recycle mangle with varying degrees of damage. Attended by a sense of removal, as if a series of slide-bound specimens presented for inspection, it is, in this sense, a genuinely Experimental work, warts and all. Tietchens sternly propounds “absolute music,” implying manipulation of found sound in ways suggested by the material itself, and denying recourse to any outside frames of reference. Fair enough, but how is it to whistle in the shower? Samples: starter “p1B” startling with uncouth pings ceding to greyscale drone, static waves and alien audio events. “L2Rb” filling an unquiet void with clunking transmissions over a long thin wire from deep space; cousin “L2RD” transmuting the former’s queasy peripheralia to more alluring musicality – organic pianoid synth pulses revising the preceding digital alienation (“L2RC” later using some of the same tonal elements, framed differently again). “Nox 1,” a glassine dream of nocturnal hum punctuated by angular shards of metal, while “Nox 3″ looms up with wriggles, blips, and peculiar prefabs sprouted from field fiddlings, processed modulations and choral approximations. Unfamiliarity with Tietchen’s source material precludes before-and-after-science appraisal. These are shaky hand-held documents of listening objects moving from stillness towards motion and structure, propelling peals and evanescent excrescences through the aether, only to end in dusty dissolves, vaporous vanishings. Tietchens is compelled by the variety of results, and the wider recycling implications, querying the notion of the ‘original’ and the sanctity of the individual act of creation—the spawning of ever more ‘new’ musical expressions when one existing piece can yield endless distinct derivations. Ambience-chasing Line-lovers will likely be left cold by the concept and its articulation via these austere and elusive sketches. Soirée’s world is one of twilight zone tintinnabulations that sits sternly at the Absolute (as in Music) end of the Line continuum—in a concrète bunker where friends of Schaeffer and Stockhausen reunite; Line has the textural indulgence angle covered by Stephan Mathieu, so let them have their Soirée.
'Recycling' is a word not many people use these days in relation to music. 'Remix' is the more appropriate word, according to them. 'Recycling' however is the term that appeals to Asmus Tietchens. Take the multi-track tapes of any old piece, and treat the sounds again, with new technology and create a new piece. That's what he does on this new release: eight 'distinct' pieces from the past, recycled into something new. I know his work pretty well, may even have all of his releases, but I had a hard time recognizing any of these 'distinct' pieces, which means that either I don't know his work that well, or perhaps Tietchens succeeds well in his mission. I think its indeed the latter. Methods and tools change, says Tietchens, quite rightly. For this work he continues to the methods and tools of recent years: reduction. Feed the original sounds through some devices and new textures appear, minimal perhaps, emptier for sure. The kind of music he does for quite a while, starting with his Ritornell CDs and later his work for Line. As you can imagine from my remark about having all his work, you can easily guess I'm a big admirer of his work and therefore perhaps not the kind of guy to write a very objective review. Maybe I'm not; I do like almost anything Tietchens produces, and with slow moving gestures, he also slowly moves his music. These eight pieces (I really wish I had a clue as what the originals are!) are highly delicate and sound uniquely as something from Tietchens. Maybe Tietchens' next move should be to an interactive release: have an original piece of music and some kind of software which allows the listener to creates all sorts of variations himself?
(Vital Weekly, The Netherlands)
Disons que je suis en ce moment même, en prenant des notes, en train d’écouter le nouveau disque d’Asmus Tietchens. Richard Chartier l’a publié sur LINE. Avouerais-je que c’est la première fois que je l’écoute ? Ferais-je croire que c’est la énième ? Au fait, est-il déjà sorti ?
Sur la première plage de Soirée (on se souvient du classique de Tietchens, Notturno) nous voilà transporté. Plus avant, on reçoit des claques concrètes : notre transport est sans cesse dérangé par des bruits bizarres, agaçants. Est-ce le résultat de la méthode de recyclage que Tietchens applique ici ? Ces bruits qui claquent marquent peut-être chaque nouvelle mue de la partition musicale. Cette méthode, Tietchens y a recours parce que, dit-il, il se demande s’il est nécessaire de créer aujourd'hui de nouvelles compositions électroniques alors qu’une archive peut tout aussi bien accoucher d’un univers.
Malgré tout, les morceaux qui suivent se rapprochent de l’ambient « habituelle » deTietchens : une ambient expérimentale (même si ses expérimentations se font devant un arrière-plan solide). Au premier plan, l’Allemand manie beaucoup de bruits étouffés et modifie le timbre de voix enregistrées. Il établit des contrastes qui n’obéissent à aucune règle de temps. Parce qu'une fois encore, et malgré la méthode qu'il emploie, Tietchens va voir au-delà du futur et au-delà du souvenir. Le méridien sur lequel son horloge est réglée n’existe pas. Cette Soirée est merveilleuse parce qu'elle n'appartient qu'à lui.
A typically elegant and challenging offering from Line, courtesy of veteran electronic music pioneer Asmus Tietchens. The 68-year-old German first took to the field in the mid-1960s, when he developed his own brand of concréte using tape recorders, sine wave generators and the like. Since the release of his first album in 1980, produced by Tangerine Dream's Peter Baumann, Tietchens has kept pace with technology and sought out new compositional strategies, clocking up releases on such respected labels as Mille Plateaux, Staalplat and Nurse With Wound's United Dairies along the way. Soiree is apparently "the result of endless recycling" - versions of versions of versions of versions (and so on) of old tracks from the Tietchens archive. Applying a range of different methods and tools to the recycling process, he moves further and further away from the source material. What we're left with are eight electronic explorations that we'd happily call ambient, were they not so dynamic and humming with occult power (it's easy to see why Tietchens was adopted by the industrial cognoscenti in the 80s).
Tietchens, one of my favorite sound artists, approaches this new album from a different tact than his others. Rather than composing with new sounds, he instead chose to recycle existing material and recordings through various processing techniques, some receiving up to ten reinventions before completion, resulting in one of his most sparse, yet diverse works.
Many of the pieces appear in various mutated forms, sometimes feeling linked to one another, other times appearing as stand-alone works. For example, "L2RB" and "L2RD" work together almost as a single composition, but while the former opens with sparse and quiet sounds and digital processing, the latter takes the erratic digital noises and converts them to organic, piano like synth pulses. The dichotomy works perfectly, balancing the digital alienation of the first with the inviting, relaxing sounds of the second.
"L2RC," which uses some of the same tonal elements as the other two similarly titled tracks, but frames those elements in an entirely different way. Both "p1" and "p1B" are also linked conceptually, with an emphasis on distant, subtle waves of static. On "p1B," however, Tietchens adds erratic swells of violent feedback that are startling enough to make focusing on the quiet details difficult.
"Nox 3" focuses less on quiet, far-off noises and instead opts for a series of electronic blips and stutters, giving a more collage-sense and also feeling in-line with some of Tietchens work of the early 1980s. "Nox 1" is more deliberate, emphasizing clinking sounds and shrill, glassy, but melodic passages of sound.
Closer "p2A" pans busy, processed elements from left to right, busy and chaotic but never lacking form or structure. There is a rhythmic click quite low in the mix that almost sounds like cymbals from a drum machine that are filtered and processed into near oblivion, but that may be entirely a figment of my imagination.
One of the side-effects of this meticulous processing and sonic recycling is that, with abstractions of abstractions, the result is a series of sounds that is so far removed from convention that they seeming become a different beast entirely. In the hands of such an expert craftsman such as Asmus Tietchens, the formless sounds are given shape and structure. Even though they are relatively sparse, these compositions reveal new details with each listen.
“Is it really necessary to create further new electronic music,” Tietchens queries, “if only one piece as a nucleus is sufficient to derive hundreds and hundreds of different distinct individual variants?” This is “recycling” – not “remixing” – and I imagine Tietchen’s insistence on this distinction stems from connotations of each. Remix implies an adjustment to the original (while retaining the original as the definitive), while recycling involves the resourcing of the original in the creation of something new: a completely separate, non-dependent entity. Presented here are eight pieces in their tenth stage of recycling, having been created, re-used and created afresh, over and over again.
Most of Soirée hovers quietly in the background like the small, ghostly molecules of the original tracks, swirling through the air as a thin layer of ambient dust. In contrast, loud clatters and feedback jolts rise out of the centre – explicit snippets of sounds that seem to have maintain their shape through the recycling process. The low volume results in a more intimate and observational listening experience – the sound feels non-immersive, at a distance, as though intended to be examined like a laboratory specimen, with the minute details of its molecular reconstruction placed under the microscope for the listener’s intense inspection.
But how did these tracks sound upon their initial conception? The originals aren’t included, and it strengthens Soirée’s concept tenfold. These aren’t to be thought of as mere offshoots of a previous work – they stand independently as pieces in their own right. It sneers at the original’s status as a sacred untouchable, while simultaneously glorifying the original as a rich source for plethoric musical possibilities. It’s also a neatly constructed acknowledgement of the fact that no artistic work is the exclusive and untainted translation of a singular idea: if creative perspective evolves and is tweaked instead of born afresh each time an artist moves from one work to the next, why shouldn’t sound itself reflect this by doing the same?
All of the eight utterly splendid tracks comprised by Soirée are old Asmus Tietchens selections that he subjected to ten layers of recycling process, each layer the reworking of the previous “version”. When I read, on the sleeve, the composer’s philosophical question regarding the necessity of producing new music when there is a chance of infinite generations of material from just one piece my amazement grew, since that is exactly the same thought that repeatedly pricks the mind during growingly longer stretches of time spent without actually composing, only playing. And yet, there is no discontinuity in an artist’s life: even when silent, something inside is always ready to be transformed into consequence. Tietchens is a master of sonic camouflage, so – despite the different origin of this particular work – the results are pretty similar to the ones found in many of his past milestones. Silences that countare interspersed between sudden apparitions of strange codes; washes of frequencies halfway through a “moribund choir” (alright, a definition half-stolen from Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells) and a Kafkian fog clutch our stomach and don’t let it go until remote infancy vibrations are perceived. This composite of dejection and bliss symbolizes one of the most distinguishable styles in contemporary audio art. But the incredible modesty of the perpetrator of these crimes against mediocrity makes sure that fundamental opuses remain virtually unnoticed in the places where “good connection” means much more than “creative ability."
(touching extremes, Italy)
Nice idea. Roden, using a text by Donald Judd, selected a sequence therein of the letters A through G, recorded them on an old Paia Oz, played back the result,at dawn, in a gallery of some 50 of Judd's sculptures in Marfa, recording it all on a digital recorder, an iPhone and a micro-cassette recorder. One has the sense of other exterior sounds bleeding through though perhaps they're artifacts of the devices themselves. In any case they're a welcome tonic to the thick, syrupy (in a good sense) mini-organ tones, scraping and scouring them. It's 42 minutes is sometimes in danger of palling, but those background sounds buttress the Paia Oz, supplying the necessary tension, even dominating the affair on occasion. Toward the end, one hears a cascade of marvelous, hollow pings, which Roden identifies as the Judd sculptures themselves, expanding in the growing warmth of the room as the sun rose and beamed through the glass-sided enclosure. A lovely way to end.
(just outside, US)
C’est véritablement ce disque qui a motivé l’initiative de ce dossier un peu particulier. La première écoute de Soirée rappelle une fois de plus que l’auditeur est à la merci des grands disques, que parfois la composition s’impose sans autre formule, qu’à ce moment-là il faut se taire et en prendre plein les mirettes. Asmus Tietchens est l’un des papes allemands du minimalisme concret, et ça se sent, à commencer par le concept : que se passera-t-il si on recycle sans cesse ses anciens morceaux, et que le produit de ce recyclage est lui-même recyclé à son tour ? Les nouveaux sons et structures ne dépendront dès lors plus que des méthodes et des outils utilisés. Asmus Tietchens de conclure : « Est-il donc réellement nécessaire de créer de nouvelles pièces de musiques électroniques quand une seule pièce servant de noyau est suffisante pour en obtenir des centaines de variations différentes ? ». Quel que soit le concept, Soirée est une vraie claque. On tient là une ambient d’une luminosité folle, mais cette fois observée à partir d’un orifice minuscule. Parfois le spectre s’élargit avec l’un ou l’autre drone qui rehausse l’ensemble de manière sensible, mais c’est surtout l’ajout de matériaux concrets qui donne le véritable rythme à l’ensemble. Parfois ça tonne de manière abrupte, souvent les retentissements font place à des plages qui glissent dans un paradis de nappes d’éther. D’un silence à un autre silence. Un très grand disque, qui possède une trame narrative assez rare.
(Off The Radar, FR)
Asmus Tietchens, the Hamburg-based acoustician and experimental electronic composer, follows up his recent collaborations with Richard Chartier (or ‘Fabrications’, as they put it) with a set of solo recordings for Chartier’s Line imprint.
The fifty minute disk bears eight cryptically-named and sounding pieces created through rendering a selection of earlier works unrecognisable via a ten-part recycling process. And one can assume he must have been pleased with the results as he asks on the brief sleeve notes “Is it really necessary to create further new electronic music if only one piece as a nucleus is sufficient to derive hundreds and hundreds of different distinct individual variants?” Given his vast discography this approach perhaps poses more questions as to the composer’s intentions behind his work as much as the specific methodologies involved, where presumably chance now joins mathematics in determining his output.
And while there seems to be some kind of algebraic naming convention here – there’s a ‘P’-series of three, another three ‘L2r’s and a couple of Nox’s – the titles seem wholly interchangeable: P1’s sleight shafts of soft, aerial tones form a light, breathy cascade both solemn and contemplative, only to be interrupted by the briefest of cracks or ticks. The opening track, P1b, displays similar wafty properties, but is much more sibilant and ominous, where its snake-like elegance is intruded upon by a sharp, shrill train whistle, while P2a closes the set with a series of rhythmically regular passages yet is, on the whole, still closer to the eerie sounds of an empty corridor on a sci-fi spacecraft.
Whatever the source or the process, the results consistently combine fragile, at times barely detectable, passages of amorphous synthetic vapours with sudden surges and unexpected glitches that briefly but strongly pierce through the ambience. Like phantoms of their former selves they make a haunting, if unintelligible listening environment.