The nose memory is overflowing with the scent of wood, and the acoustic memory is impacted by the sound of the various parts of a 10-string classical guitar I just delivered to the luthier for repair. Conversely, picture hearing the components of a Höfner archtop (belonging to Dirk Serries, who often manipulates it in rather severe fashion) modified by the transformational art of Asmus Tietchens, a person who possesses the capability to completely lose any sound’s original identity.
The genius of this album lies in the parallelism, or marriage, between the ectoplasmic non-forms born from Tietchens’ radical alteration of the guitar’s DNA, and the primordial avatar of the instrument, audibly present in every improvisational fragment by Serries. This forces us to constantly adjust to the changing density of the music, which at times feels as dazzling as it does rusty, whereas elsewhere the sonority seems to be wrapped in a bodybag. However, that bag also contains the smell of a polluted sea, nocturnal echoes, shades of industrial blues, and the barren loneliness of a neighborhood abandoned to its fate. But even in the most isolated places, life is always beating.
Because Tietchens and Serries have worked together and known each other for half a lifetime, the familiarity is quite apparent. Die Höfner Akten appears to sum up everything that long-term studies of experimental sounds have taught both composers, and those of us who benefited from their findings. Despite the fact that there’s a lot of resonant substance around, we frequently approach an emptiness which transcends the naivety of foolish myths. I also happen to believe that the late, great Hans Reichel would love this record. But that’s another story.