Asmus Tietchens

Formen Letzter Hausmusik

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Even though Asmus Tietchens released several electro-pop albums early in his career, it was the 1984 release of Formen Letzter Hausmusik which announced his importance and uniqueness to the avant-garde music community, and laid the foundation for his highly successful career as a pioneer of electronic composition. Formen Letzter Hausmusik is a collection of experimental recordings made from 1965 to 1978, that Tietchens compiled and submitted to Steve Stapleton's United Dairies label. Stapleton, best known for his work with Nurse with Wound, knew immediately how significant and important Tietchens' recordings were, writing "...when I listened to the tape you sent I nearly fainted, never before have I heard music which so touched my heart, indeed, I would go as far as to say it's possibly the most exciting sound I've heard for at least 10 years...guard the master tapes with your life..." (from the CD booklet).

Bored with the structures of pop, and fascinated by the concept of creating music beyond rhythm and harmony, Tietchens had developed his own approach to experimental electronic collage, letting his fascination with a particular sound spur the construction of a piece (or set of pieces) toward resolution of a specific idea, following his own personal aesthetics while deliberately avoiding scoring or graphing the composition in a formal sense. Tietchens saw the recordings as an important personal amusement with no potential for release; however, the emergence of the youthful European post-industrial music scene inspired him to send the tapes to Stapleton, thus laying the basis for the rest of his career and establishing Formen Letzter Hausmusik as both his best and most important work. Arbitrarily classifiable as early industrial music, Tietchens collects primitive acoustic noises, found sounds, stringed instrumentations, abrupt tape twisting, resonant bagpipe, violin, accordion, and scraping metal and water sounds, all processed into dense spaces and sculpted, bubbling layers. Each piece stands on its own as a fully realized experiment, while the collection of pieces move seamlessly forward, despite being sonic abstractions in irregular patterns. The assembled pieces are evocative, subtle, melancholic, formless -- it is easy to see why Stapleton was so excited -- it seemed to be the necessary "next step" to the youthful industrial movement, even though it arguably exists outside that genre.

Warmer than some of his later works, even within such an ascetic landscape, Formen Letzter Hausmusik shows Tietchens the beginner exploring music with full-blown curiosity, without the structured approach of his later musique concrète. The original album on United Dairies was printed in only 1000 copies, and has become a coveted collectible for fans of experimental and electro-acoustic music. The CD release on Die Stadt, with three highly improvisational bonus tracks recorded specifically for this reissue, as well as a nice poster booklet, is highly recommended for both the curious and the committed.