HANS TAMMEN – Deus Ex Machina


We have more or less grown used to the conception of an improvising guitarist divided between the control on a chain of effects and the few deviations from the basic route that those appliances may propose during a performance. Instead, Hans Tammen’s priceless creations are mainly born from computerized mechanisms that chew, guzzle and spit out tiny crumbles of the so-called (by myself) “overconfidence of the axeman”; the adventurous musician is left naked and running inside a thick forest of unpredictable responses. The procedures – clearly explained by the artist in the liners – appear quite comprehensible, at least to a degree; and yet, the results are utterly impossible to imagine if one’s mentally stuck in the classic roles carved in the stone of conjecture by the erstwhile “avantgarde”.

So, think of a composite interaction of parameters transforming a sequence of instrumental gestures into a wide territory of semi-hostile discontinuity; percussive, droning, intricately colorful, or simply blowing your socks off. In this place, the role of the player is at once diminished (in terms of self-assured posing) and enhanced, for someone must take care of directing the startling reactions of the apparatuses towards a somewhat compatible musical outcome. Meaning “compatible” with alien harmonies, of course. Also interesting is the bizarre malleability of the rhythmic component: at times the music’s parallel paces seem dictated by a bunch of sequencers programmed by Conlon Nancarrow. Brain-displacing counter-pulses and accents of obstinate dissolution become useful tools in the fight against the sluggish dementia of most of today’s “art”.

Lastly, a question: is the (admittedly “endangered”) guitar still recognizable in this unwelcoming neighborhood? The answer is yes, sometimes. We hear the occasional jangle of a chord exhaling its last breath within a network of awkward profanities; the picking can be detected amidst the flabbergasting textural breakages; the tendency to resonate is barely contained by the wonderfully unmerciful incongruity – only apparent, mind you – of this revitalizing wholeness. At the end of the day, what’s the point of necessarily identifying a source when the contaminated sounds that it generates are curative? I, for one, love being put into this type of dilemma. I love it madly.

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