Monday, 4 September 2017

Asmus Tietchens - Biotop (1981)

By request, here's Asmus Tietchens' first album for Sky records - a perfectly timed request, as I'd been pondering the recent lack of classic German electronica on this blog and trying to figure out what would be a good one to go for.  Between '81 and '83, Tietchens would make a quartet of albums to represent what he called his 'Zeitzeichen' (time-signal) phase, of "rhythmic-harmonic set pieces and gaudy records sleeves".  Previously posted at SGTG are the third one, In Die Nacht, and the fourth, Litia, so that just leaves Spät-Europa to post someday.  

Gaahh, bloody Spät-Europa... it was the first of all of the four that I bought, but every time I try to give its gleefully obnoxious 20 tracks an airing it still just ends up annoying the crap out of me.  Which probably means I do actually like it, in much the way that Tietchens may have intended.  But anyway, for now, here's the somewhat more accessible 16 tracks of Biotop.  Tietchens certainly gave his Zeitzeichen project a memorable curtain-raiser with In Die Zukunft, sounding like the theme to a suitably futuristic sci-fi movie, especially in its wonderful, propulsive second half.  

From there in, the electro-weirdness just gets dialed up to the max, sounding like a hyper-caffeinated version of Cluster's largely energy-deficient release from the same year.  The garish album cover couldn't be more perfect for the music it contains, and fluent German speakers (i.e. not me) will probably get the most out of what seems to be an overriding concept of mocking contemporary consumer society, in the punning track titles and the satirical vocals on Moderne Arroganz, the lyrics of which are apparently a list of different types of insurance. 

Biotop does eventually wind down to offer a bit of respite in the gorgeous, melodic penultimate track Träumchen Am Fenster, before ending on the beatless title track.  Biotop, the track, points both backwards to Tietchens' first (pre-Sky) LP Nachtstucke and forwards to the more avant-garde stuff to come.  As he says (in German) in the final moments, which formed a lock-groove on the original LP, "Let's see how things go".

link

17 comments:

  1. Thanks for all you do for us, your work is appreciated.

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    1. Thanks Andrew, it's a genuine pleasure to do it!

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  2. I think you're maybe projecting a wee bit more thought into all this than he did. He got Sky to fund some stuff. I think that's the real bottom line here.

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    1. Fair point... I guess everyone projects a bit when they're giving their impressions of an album (or any piece of art/culture)? That's all I try to do in the reviews, give my impressions of how music affects me.

      For the avoidance of doubt, any factual stuff in this particular review (Zeitzeichen project, list of types of insurance, punning track titles, spoken words at end of LP) were taken from the liner notes of the Bureau B reissue CD.

      (Genuine) thanks for your feedback - I'm always interested to learn more about the albums I post. Especially with Sky-era Tietchens, these four albums never cease to fascinate me!

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  4. I appreciate you following through with my request. Much appreciation-

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    1. No worries Martin, I've enjoyed giving this album a full proper listen for the first time in a while, so thanks for the request!

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  5. If you're still in a German electronic mood, I'd like to request your choice of Hans-Joachim Roedelius. I was lucky enough to see him earlier this year. Either way, thanks for this and all the others.

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    1. Lovely to hear that he's still getting out there and playing. I was lucky enough to see Moebius (with Rother) about ten years ago.

      Pretty much posted all my favourite Roedelius albums already: Wenn der Südwind Weht (13 Apr 2016), Jardin Au Fou (21 Oct 2016), and Lustwandel (3 May 2017). Been planning a little exploration further into the 80s, which is unfamiliar Roedelius territory for me other than a cassette of Momenti Felici that I used to have, so stay tuned for those, they'll no doubt turn up here in the coming months.

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  6. Have you heard any of the Selbsportrait series? If not, and you're interested, I'll see of I can put something up on Zippy.

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    1. sounds good, cheers rev! those ones have been on my to-do-list for like ever.

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  7. Hi Alan.
    First of all (rev.b) I would like to hear all the Selfportraits!
    Second, Alan: see my comment on 'Stephan Micus live'on Musica!
    Last: I said it before: refreshing/good blog! For me the classical items are the eyeopeners, because I know p.e ECM, Postpunk and Kraut are favourites for me a long time. And your choicrs in classical are for me eye/ear opening.
    Thanks.
    Jan (Netherlands)

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    1. Many thanks Jan!

      Have replied on the Micus thread.

      ALan

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  8. As far as I know, there are seven volumes in the Selbstportrait series. I like everyone I’ve heard. Volume II has been my favorite for a very long time now.

    http://www97.zippyshare.com/v/PSuRMr2Y/file.html

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    1. Many thanks Rev, hopefully get the chance to give this a good listen later today.

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    2. Thanks rev.b!
      Excellent...
      On 'Sweeter than echoes' blogspot Demo's from Roedelius 1976.
      Jan

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    3. Thanks for the heads up Jan. I didn't know STE was active again. I certainly will visit.

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