John Duncan

Da Sich die Machtgier...

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It was meant to be a collaborative effort between John Duncan and Asmus Tietchens, and in some ways it is. Duncan asked Tietchens to send him recordings of his voice. He meant to process them, and send them back to their originator, who then would process them further, keeping the sound files moving back and forth a few times before achieving satisfactory results. That is not what happened. Tietchens sent processed recordings of himself reading excerpts from two texts by E. M. Cioran. Duncan worked on them, creating three pieces. Tietchens decided that the pieces were complete as they were, and that consequently he could not claim credit for them. And so Da Sich die Machtgier... came out under Duncan's name. Whether Tietchens was right or wrong is debatable, but one thing is certain: there is little of him remaining in these abstract sound pieces. "Das Ich macht..." presents Tietchens' recordings, "more or less intact," explains Duncan in his liner notes. Speed-altered voice tracks are stacked, swirling electronic sounds in the background providing proof of deeper processing. The piece in itself is an interesting work of text-sound art. Duncan's reworking of this base material is extensive. In his three pieces, nothing remains of the original voice, or the words it was speaking out. The sounds -- sharp and noisy in "Freih zein hoem macht...," drone-like in "Aber..." -- could have been derived from pretty much any source. "Freih zein hoem macht..." ranks among the harshest pieces Duncan has recorded of late. It almost feels confrontational, attacking the listener instead of maneuvering to trap him inside a particular sound world (his modus operandi in works like Palace of Mind, The Keening Towers, and Infrasound -- Tidal). "Aber...," the longest track at 30 minutes flat, is more "typical" of Duncan's art: a drone derived from the sound source but from which the sound source has been obliterated, and yet makes its ghostly presence palpable (it is no accident that Tietchens' original recording is presented just before this track). Recommended.