Saturday, 10 August 2019

Asmus Tietchens & Frans de Waard - Ordeel

Album: Ordeel
Artist: Asmus Tietchens & Frans de Waard
Label: Aufabwegen
Catalogue no: A117

     1.      Ordeel I
     2.      Ordeel II
     3.      Ordeel III
     4.      Ordeel IV
     5.      Ordeel V
     6.      Ordeel VI
     7.      Ordeel VII
     8.      Ordeel VIII
     9.      Ordeel IX
    10.  Ordeel X
    11.  Ordeel XI

The names of both Asmus Tietchens and Frans de Waard should be familiar to anyone who follows the streams of electronic, avant-garde, and experimental music – Tietchens as a musician who’s been releasing material since 1975 with his first solo album coming out in 1980, and who is still adventuring into diffuse and abstract realms up to the present. Frans de Waard is the driving force behind the Korm Plastics label, has worked for Staalplaat, and since 2003 has run the Vital Weekly online magazine. Ordeel is the first album they’ve worked on together, born out of a mutual respect for each other’s work. On paper then, this sounds like a match made in avant-garde paradise, so what have they have managed to concoct together?

This is an album that one doesn’t listen to lightly – Tietchens in particular crafts complex explorations in sound that span genres, creating pieces that incorporate the familiar given twists to make them appear alien. This offering is no exception, incorporating as it does everything from soft breathings and whispers to glitchy spasms and groans, from the fragile and insubstantial to the hard and diamond-like. Every one of these compositions feels like a signal from some long-lost civilisation received via some old equipment in the small hours of the morning, or messages from out of the spaces between dimensions or even from the angles between the divisions of time. The music is wrapped in an unsolvable mystery, the individual pieces pointing to some greater inscrutability that will resist any attempt at decoding.

These alien signals sometimes harmonise naturally, others cross paths and cross-pollinate to create hybrids, while others stand strong on their own. It can be seen as a kind of virtual bestiary of exotic phantasmal creatures, entities whose forms and morphologies turn our conceptions upside down – some cocking a snoot at our understanding of logic, some inventing ephemeral chimera that diverge from accepted wisdom, while others produce hybrids that dazzle and enchant. All the while Tietchens and de Waard are mapping out potentialities and possibilities, delineating the phantastique and super-real, in the process of which they’re presenting us with a completely new zoology and geography. It is at once startling, beguiling, amusing, bewildering, confusing, delightful, and alarming. These unknown worlds and beasts (for such they are) are drawn in a spectrum of hues as wide as the universe, depicted in colours for which we have no names yet. Contained within this album is the whole panoply of alternative Creations, propagated from Big Bangs that could have been, may have been, have been, and might still be.

The inventiveness on display here is testament to the enduring vision of the two artists concerned, with that unique vision inhabiting a liminality that we mere mortals aren’t privy to. In other words, Tietchens and de Waard are interpreters and translators, taking alien signals and decoding their genetics, recombining the data into comprehensible formats. Ordeel is not for cursory listening: it demands you get involved and participate, demands you imbibe and savour deeply, and furthermore, asks that you absorb and understand. To put it another way, it enjoins you to comprehend the meaning and immensity of the worlds they’re exploring and mapping for us armchair travellers. Listen, and understand.

Psymon Marshall 2019. 

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