Friday, January 30, 2009

Asmus Tietchens - Abfleischung (Die Stadt CD)


Since the mid-'60s, synthesizer and musique concrete experimentalist Asmus Tietchens has been an enduring symbol of artistically motivated musical work. This album, the 12th in an ongoing series of his works and the second in a four part series originally released on Hampster Records, sees Tietchens "recycling" previous pieces made between 1967 and 1970. Originally released in 1989, the album is intended more as a demonstration of the variety of techniques utilized than a presentation of new pieces culled from old works.

"Mineral 4" opens the disc with a synthesizer exploration that sounds like a ping pong game in a cavernous hallway. Its gestural punctuations are encapsulated in swathes of silence, giving the work a physicality rarely achieved with so few sonic resources. "Drahtmensch 1" follows it with a similarly percussive piece, albeit a more metallic one, sounding like some strange merger between a Karlheinz Stockhausen percussion piece and the industrial soundscapes of Nocturnal Emissions.

The droning crescendo of "Ultima Terra" is marked by its static lushness—as its volume becomes louder, its details reveal themselves, displaying a world of sound in itself. Later, "Modal 5" takes choral-like repetitions and meshes them with the echoing atmosphere present throughout the album. Odd synthesized lurches bound about behind the rich pulsing fore of the work.

"Ein Flei├čiges Insekt 2" features well-like kerplunking of sounds beneath the kinetic scraping of insect-like movements. "Kryptophonie 2" presents an eerie world of glacial moments. Synthesizer sounds glide about behind mists of delicate reverberations and mechanical chugging rhythms. The less cohesive "Gesichter Von Gestern" incorporates radio broadcasts and space-like synth sounds as it quickly romps through a variety of moods in its brief minute.

In addition to the album's original twenty tracks this reissue provides two bonus tracks. "Kryptophonie 1" features loops which mesh in and out of phase with each other as they ebb and sway about, eventually evolving into some loping mythical creature all its own. "Zweite Sekunde" presents an exploration in rhythm as taps are bounced about the speakers and turned into whispered echoes of the original.

Abfleischung, while hardly the best demonstration of Tietchen's capabilities, does offer a fascinating glimpse into his working method. Each piece serves as its own distinct world, and it is the abundance of details within those that keep the work as rewarding as it is. Tietchens is a sonic sculptor in the truest sense, and here he is able to display the depth of his talents while providing a window into how he utilizes them.

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