RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

CD Feature/ Asmus Tietchens: "Zwingburgen des Hedonismus/Mysterien des Hafens"

img  Tobias

On a long journey, a good guide can be extremely helpful in getting you through some difficult moments. The re-release of the entire Asmus Tietchens catalogue between 1980 and 1991 certainly is living testimony to a long and rough ride, with many changes in style and an unfettered thirst for experimentation. The way in which it is showcased, however, makes it seem like a drive into the blue on a sunny Sunday afternoon.. The sober and yet detailed optical presentation by the Bremen-based “Die Stadt” label are never in danger of coming across as pretentious and with Tietchens a humurous and critical observer of his own work, his comments come across as lively reports, not mythical transfiguration. Which certainly helps with “Zwingburgen des Hedonismus”, one of the rare instances that one of his pieces fit the “New Music” drawer.

Tietchens himself calls it one of two cases in his extensive career when he took the trouble of creating “conventional music”. By which he certainly understands something alltogether different than the average listener, if one doubts (with a reasonable amount of justification) that a matrix-organised set of variations on the B-A-C-H theme played exclusively by the now legendary (and long out of production) Fairlight CMI synthesizer qualifies for inclusion on a “conventional” summer mix tape. What the Hamburg-born and –based artists means, of course, is the tonal character of the work and the fact that it allows for easy notation and even performance by “classical” musicians. Already the instrumentation suggests this alternative setting, with the trademark choir-sound as well as basson-,  spinet-, piano and organ-like samples imitating the acoustics of a “natural” ensemble. The notes of the theme are played in inversions and variations, with the instruments appearing in evolving clusters and combinations, resulting in moments of starkly varying density. Because the basic matrix for the composition (which in its original state was actually not called “Zwingburgen des Hedonismus”, but “Faircomp 1C”) allowed for multiple (or rather infinite) arrangements, durations and interpretations, there is no definite or definitive version of it – and the addition of the much more reduced track “Faircomp 1K” indicates that the results can vary both in their effect and their appeal. Tietchens is actually the first one to admit that this version has clear touch of manierism to it, its wind-oriented instrumentation, interplay between solo and group playing as well as the minimal thematic source material still interestingly approximating some of Philip Glass’ early writings. It is the title piece, however, which brings the motive cycles to full fruition, locking the listener into a stuttering groove. To his fans, friends and foes alike, though, this exercise must have been a shock – Tietchens calls the release as a one-sided LP on Swedish Multimood Records an act of courage.

He must have known that it would, at least on its release, be chastised by everyone. Looked at it with a lag of almost twenty years, it actually sounds just as fresh as the purposely occult “Mysterien des Hafens” (“Mysteries of the Harbour”), which go from pumping rubber bass lines, metallic drones and mesmerising bleeps to an organic tribal drum orgy and, unlike many other industrial experiments from the time, does not sound outdated at all. First reactions to this re-release have made it clear that “Zwingburgen des Hedonismus” will never become one of Tietchens’ most loved or popular efforts. But the very fact that it exists and manages to convince on more than just theoretical grounds is stimulating food for thought for anyone wishing to theoreticise about how Tietchens’ career would have developed if he had cared about appearing on the cover of academic publications.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Asmus Tietchens
Homepage: Die Stadt Records

Related articles

CD Feature/ Asmus Tietchens: "h-Menge"
Not the happy end Hollywood ...
Interview with Asmus Tietchens
We usually provide a full ...
Roger Doyle: Prize-winning "The Ninth Set" out
Irish composer Roger Doyle ‘s ...
CD Feature/ Z'EV & David Linton: "Untitled"
Four tracks, four different styles: ...
Vital Weekly 577
Frans de Waard presents the ...
CD Feature/ John Waterman: "Calcutta Gas Chamber"
Relentless monotony and ever-changing uncertainty: ...
CD Feature/ Jonathan Coleclough & Andrew Liles: "Torch Songs"
A natural symbiosis: Coleclough’s objects ...
CD Feature/ Monos: "Generators"
The wait at the shore; ...
CD Feature/ Organum: "Amen"
You wouldn’t even move just ...
CD Feature/ Fovea Hex: "Huge"
A lucid dream in the ...
CD Feature/ Asmus Tietchens: "Geboren, um zu dienen"
The outer shell merely serves ...
CD Feature/ "Der Michel und der DOM"
May well save the reputation ...
The Strength of Silence
Current releases by Autechre/The Hafler ...
CD Feature/ Organum: "Die Hennen Zähne"
Each piece deepens the impression ...

Partner sites