With one release after another, Asmus Tietchens is shaping one of the most personal universes in sound art. His clarity of vision could mean that any possible collaborator would see his or her input blocked or remodeled to fit it. No such case here: 7 Stücke (Seven Pieces) is as much Tietchens as Jon Mueller. Drummer Mueller is mostly known for his work in the post-rock/experimental group Pele, but he also runs the Crouton label and is involved in free improvisation of an often quiet, understated nature. Sitting at the drum set, he focuses on tiny gestures, rubbing a skin with his palm, tapping it with a finger, producing all sorts of strange sounds but rarely squarely hitting something. Untreated, his improvisations would evoke Burkhard Beins or Günter Müller. But this is not a solo album. Tietchens is here, manipulating Mueller's recordings, sometimes very delicately editing, reassembling, and expanding the sound palette, as in the first and fifth pieces. Elsewhere he makes his presence unmistakable, pitch-shifting, granulating, and structuring into patterns and beats gestures that clearly were not intended that way. It is this playfulness that makes 7 Stücke interesting, despite its high demands on the listener. A couple of tracks seem to lack direction, but in general this CD makes for a fine deep-listening experience.
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