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CD Feature/ Asmus Tietchens & Richard Chartier: "Fabrication"

img  Tobias

Our perception of music is similar to that of history: Short events produce short cycles, long events produce long cycles. This simple mnemonic explains, why the stone age took approximately 5,5 million years (developping tools from scratch was the hardest part) and why the computer age keeps speeding up relentlessly: (there are uncountable parallel lines of development all interacting with each other). Transferred to the world of the arts, we’d expect a long track like “Fabrication” to be composed of sustained tones, naturally stretching the fabric of time to its limits. Quite opposed to this anticipation, however, it is a miraculously  mushrooming microcosm of structures usually inaudible to the human ear. Consider putting your headphones on before listening to it as the equivalent to using a scanning electron micrograph for watching atoms.

In a way, the route Asmus Tietchens and Richard Chartier have taken on this album could be compared as the direct inversion of the approach chosen by artists such as Jason Kahn. While Kahn abruptly ended his potentially infinite dronescapes after a mere four to five minutes on “Sihl”, for example, the duo extends their collaborational miniature events into an endless ocean of microsound ripple movements. Drones are still part of the equation, opening up the piece and virtually laying a foundation for the introduction of the themes. But after the organisms underneath have started growing like fungi on a fertile ground, they are reduced to the status of a fluid, which merely carries the musical events from one place in time to the next.

The real center of the work are gently manipulated digital cuts, samples so short they carry no inborn associations besides, maybe, with the world of insects: Bass-heavy beetle-buzzes, crackling cicada-cries, the fine but distinct rustling of chitin shells. Tietchens and Chartier keep their material sparse and minimal, the arrangements are never stuffed with too many details, but rather filled with just as many elements as the ear can process at a time. Much more than satisfying their sound fetishism, they work out the relationships between the events, allowing them to swing sympathetically in rhythm-like symbioses or create a second stream, which moves independently from the limelight and feeds the system with crackles and static noise. Even though “Fabrication” flows effortlessly and seems to have been painted with the same colours, returning to a fixed set of timbres and effects with each sweep, it manages to create the strong and irrepressable sensation that it is composed of many different scenes, each with a unique flavour and a different set of preconditions.

This is then, the most remarkable fact about the disc: Rather than an experiment with alien results, it sounds perfectly natural and quite warm. It is only after you force yourself to rationally think about what Tietchens and Chartier are doing here, that the radicality of their work becomes apparent. Getting back to the microscope-comparison, they are deeply surveying the micro-landscape in front of their eyes, drifting without necessity but with a firm hand. It doesn’t take long for this approach to substitute the reality around you with the one contained in the petri dish. If there is anything to learn from that, it is not that the mnemonic about long and short cycles has suddenly become obsolete. Instead, we have to see things in context: In a small enough world, even the shortest events can turn into epics.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Richard Chartier
Homepage: Asmus Tietchens
Homepage: Die Stadt Records

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