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CD Feature/ asher: "landscapes elsewhere"

img  Tobias

One of my professors at university once told us a little annecdote about how he had managed to come up with an incredible discovery, only to find out that he had merely repeated a well-known idea from some time ago. “I was unsure”, he told us, “about whether I should be proud of myself about being on a similar intellectual level with one of the greats, or disappointed about being thirty years too late.” A similar thought occured to me while listening to “landscapes elsewhere”, Asher’s latest full-lenght and a follow-up to his leerraum-release “Directions”, which left me and many others speechless with its intuitive stream of calmly fluctuating and mysteriously moving events.

Simply put, while Asher is carefully treading new and more harmonic ground with this album when compared to his previous work, it will always remain a nostalgic experience for me. After hearing the first few bars, I am back to the early 90s, to Berlin and the scene which gravitated around artists such as Jan Jelinek and Stefan Betke like moons around massless planets inside an infinitely minimal galaxy. Jelinek would be the first whom I’d notice, his “Loopfinding Jazzrecords” my first encounter with these radically different and yet so familiar pieces, which hid beneath endless layers of vinyl crakling. Betke would then take this concept to extremes on a three-part album series, which started inside the womb of a black hole and ended in the most bizarre Levi’s clip ever. Asher certainly comes from a different direction (excuse the pun) and as he has decidely stated, his music ows as much to painting, literature and the movies as Betke’s did to dub. And yet the results he comes up with on “landscapes elsewhere” are strikingly similar at a first listen. On four pieces, the clicks and cuts from an old record are back, spinning away into the night on a neveeending loop, as is that warm hissing, which lends a feeling of vastness, of borderlessness and a profound loneliness to the music. Occasionally, distant dabbles of water will be heard, melting seemlessly with the happily scraping crackles, only to flow off into the grooves again. Underneath these rivers of microscopic black sound splinters, Asher plants melodic fragments into a dark but fertile ground, playing on an instrument somewhere between a marimba and a Fender Rhodes. Each work centers around a single repeated motive of a few seconds, which repeats itself with shifting accents and decreasing in speed. At first, it seems as though the loops’ starting point is merely wandering from the beginning to the end, slowly tilting the balance. But as time goes on, one discovers that there are different mechanisms at work here – be they random or more complex. It is this duality between the consoling certainty of understanding these foreign soundscapes and the unsettling insecurity about what is going on which lends these seemingly simple and repetetive tracks an air of grandness.

Even though there is a clear connection between them when it comes to sound, Asher is not interested in the Pop sensibilities of acts like Pole. The mere fact that the opening composition and the final one carry on for twenty minutes apiece reveal that he is looking for a full immersion into single thought and mood, not the hypnosis attained through the brain or body following a beat. Not that it matters, really. Whether or not this music has appeared in some form or the other before, “landscapes elsewhere” is a mesmerising and addictive effort.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Con-V Records


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