Die Stadt


The steep declining of the frequency rate in the releases by Jochen Schwarz’s Die Stadt has been a reason of anguish for the aficionados in recent years. However, the label has not departed; and indeed, a sentence’s weight is characteristically enhanced by the silence that precedes and follows it. If that sentence comes in the guise of the first studio CD by Asmus Tietchens and Thomas Köner over the course of a documented cooperative kinship, that is all we might need for a while. In extreme synthesis, a classic case of “shut up and let the genuine masters do the talking”.

Makrophonie I, to which this commentator came as usual too late (in spite of repeated “speed-up” promises to the aforementioned Herr Schwarz) is, by all means, a glorious evidence of that skillfulness. The (not so) concealed appeal defining the duo’s output – and, especially, this CD – is rooted in a unique parallelism of clear-cut sonic personalities, both immediately identifiable yet perfectly compatible in the perception of the final result. In theory – and, somehow, misleadingly – Köner provides far-off temperaments, breathtakingly vast surroundings and impressive mega-bumps from below ground. Tietchens punctuates droning quietness and utter hush with typically inexplicable altered sources; the suggestion is that of an erratic fluidity inside evolved jargons based on peculiar vocal formants.

When these artists are involved, one has to plunge straight into the nullity of signification to uncover the inherent implications. In a way, it’s like a friendly conflict of wills: the absolute confidence in the existence of a “beyond” and the equally strong, cynical certitude of a lack of concrete perspectives after the physical period. Or, if you so prefer, a give-and-take between two clever examiners of the conscious and the unconscious, both able to persuade an audience about the nucleus of realness incorporated by each of the explained hypotheses.

The ultimate resultant is a concoction of sensations shaping a “presence in the moment”, still reminiscent of impermanence. The sounds materialize, affirm themselves then vanish, sometimes alternating cyclically, elsewhere in arresting combinations of inflexions. Darkness and faint lights get tarnished by curious noises. Unresolved choirs displace and perplex. An awesome crescendo of uncertain origin puts a sentient being in standby mode. A cadenced pseudo-breathy wave leads towards the end, returning to quasi-infrasonic adynamic harmonies hosting voluble high frequencies. And, let me tell you again of those remote acoustic places: an inscrutable, elusive forlornness generating a full stop of whatever ordinary activity the body was intent in performing.

We can stand facing the waves and get overwhelmed by the sunset, the sea’s echoing voice, the approaching shades amidst the glowing waters. But if seagulls start shrieking, we want to listen to what they’re saying; and as they walk on the sand, we will inevitably observe the patterns traced by their feet. It’s all beautiful. It’s all life: the light of life under the prominence of doubt. Which is always better than a witless assumption of theoretical “truth”.

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