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Net Feature/ Asher: "Study for Autumn"

img  Tobias
The piano has long established itself as one of the recognisable elements in Asher’s oeuvre – the others being emotional use of hiss, musical use of field recordings and the sublimation of the most minimal of motives into majestically resounding mantras. Even though it appears that the philosphical implications and musicological motivations for this move are of minor relevance, the reasons are by no means trivial.

As “Study for Autumn” once again proves, the instrument allows for  plentifold approaches, while offering one of the most immediately affective, recognisable and timeless timbres. And despite its indirect tone creation mechanism, it fully absorbs the performer’s personality – no “c” major chord ever sounds the same with two artists.

It is almost as if “Study for Autumn” is a conscious effort of exemplifying these qualities by reducing the piano to nothing but colour and the most basic harmonic relations. Much less interested in condensing various lines into detailed soundscapes than on 2006’s “Graceful Degradation”, Asher here creates the illusion of a solitary man sitting on a stool in a light-flooded room, repeating the same melodic cycle predicated on an opening fifth and increasingly, but almost unnoticeably embellishing it with stray notes.

Thematic action begins in the left hand and slowly moves up to the right hand and the upper register, but always lapses back again. As with many of his previous releases, upfront hiss creates a sensation of space and wideness, even though it may in this particular case be less of a conscious sound-layer than the result of recording with an old tape recorder.

The effect of “Study for Autumn” is one of complete temporal disorientation and immense tranquility. As the melodic motive enters ever-new loops of repetitions, the observer looses track of where he is with regards to the piece. Attention slowly shifts from the theme in its entirety to the indivisual relations between its tones, observing them from various angles. The mind, as it were, dissects the melody into an infinite ocean of subsets, which pass by like islands in a Pina Colada daydream. Suddenly, what seemed simple appears complex and what appeared to be familial seems alluringly alien.

While listening to “Study for Autumn” from beginning to end without skipping a single second inbetween is an absolute precondition for its appreciation, listening to it with your full and dedicated attention is not. Less elusive and more tangible than some of his more recent work, it shows Asher as a composer with a very physical presence. Which is something few will have expected from this piece of gentle focus-manipulations.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Asher at MySpace
Homepage: Con-V Records

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