There comes a time when most music lovers will claim to have heard it all before. Of course, the battle against jaded apathy is constant, and must be fought on all fronts. However, unctuous press releases try hard to extol the virtues of their offering, pitching it as the Third Coming and a cure for all known ailments, yet familiar tepidity is too often the result.
Yet, dear reader, before you implore me to cease my tiresome screeds and listen solely to Radio 4, let me tell you that this, however, is genuinely interesting. Dieter Moebius and Asmus Tietchens provide a feast of sonic textures and challenging collages, with little even resembling a conventional song. Capacious soundscapes yield to dense, multi-layered tundra, as looped fragments, sometimes composed of just a few notes, provide a foundation for all manner of curiousness.
In its own way, light and shade is offered – ‘Mach auf!’ is almost melodic, before sounding as if the master tape has been partially melted and stuck back together to the sound of champagne corks popping. This album is the product of two men who are actually interested in the textures and timbres of recorded sound.
‘Vincent’ starts eerily, and then lopes into bombinating activity. There are sounds resembling machinery, here and elsewhere – ‘Thorax’ evokes the strident repetition of an old dot matrix printer. These songs sound ‘busy’ at times, as if each noise was choreographed to correspond with actions, be they repetitive, industrial, mundane or macabre. It’s as if, as an experiment, they have been torn from this synthesis into purely aural form for us to piece back together.
Fractured rhythms abound in ‘Raboisen’, followed by the crepuscular threads of ‘Im Windkanal’. The latter is a rather eerie listen, perhaps leaving the more sensitive recipient somewhat hagridden at its independent cinema horror. ‘Yes, Yes’ is the most organic track, with noises resembling diced human breaths and voices – towards the end, there are even hints of strings betwixt the burblings, briefly threatening us with the faintest onset of normality before fading out with the track.
I request your patience once more, as I make further attempts at articulating the indescribable. Here goes: ‘Fontenay’ is perhaps the gentlest and prettiest ditty, with nothing but coruscating electronic chimes gently ebbing between the left and right channels. ‘Grimm’ even develops a constant, almost uptempo beat – one of the more insistent tracks on the album. ‘Herrlichkeit’ evokes the droning of industrial machinery shrouded by dense waves of keyboards. ‘Plan’ appears to be scratches and static stitched together, beneath the sound of a looped guitar string mid-tuning.
It seems indeed that there are not that many different chords or notes used throughout the album. Instead, the intensity and variation of the textures and sounds, and the marked differences between each song, are enough to sustain the listener’s interest. It’s a rather innovative and challenging platter from two men pushing 70, who worked together previously in 1976 and waited until 2011 before commencing this project. With any luck, they’ll live long enough to confound us again 35 years from now.
Release Date 02/07/2012 (Bureau B)