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Asmus Tiechens is a German professor who experiments with sound. He has been doing so since the mid-1960s when his first experiments involved tape recorders, electronic wave generators and rhythm machines. His first LP was released in 1980 and produced by Peter Baumann (Tangerine Dream). He currently works Hamburg’s University of Fine Arts teaching Sound design. Ornamente (Zwischen Null und Eins) features five pieces of experimental, ethereal and dynamic electronic music referred to by the tracklisting as Ornaments 1-5.

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Ornamente (zwischen Null und Eins) by Asmus Tietchens
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8/10 Jim 30 August 2015

A new album by Asmus Tietchens can be quite an intimidating prospect. The Hamburg-based acoustics professor has been investigating the inner and outer realms of electronic sound production since the mid-sixties. He makes no concessions to mass marketing: the ‘press release’ for this disc simply features a quote, in German, from everyone’s favourite Romanian misanthropist philosopher, Emile Cioran, taken from a withering critique of French culture and high gastronomy. But you can forget about all that once you put the disc on and immerse yourself in the delicate, ethereal sounds that unfurl like wisps of light-reflecting dust.

The otherworldy tones and subtle dynamics here are rich in detail and complexity, but the drama is on a microscopic scale, giving that sense of being opened up to a new dimension of musical experience. Some of the weird tonal characteristics Tietchens favours remind me of Alvin Lucier’s ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’­– where a narration is gradually blotted out by the resonant feedback of the room through a process of replaying and re-recording. Tietchens manipulates and arranges his strange resonances to open up a haunting sound world of tones that float eerily amidst watery, metallic glints. The disc’s final track builds into the most expansive composition with a melodic arc surging through the deceptive stillness, suggesting more cosmic dimensions that I can imagine gracing an intense, introspective sci-fi film that’s probably impossible to make.


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