Asmus Tietchens

The Shifts Recyclings

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One of the more intriguing collaborations in modern ambient music, The Shifts Recyclings is actually a three-way effort between Tietchens, Obmana, and Frans de Waard, working here under the Shifts guise. Shifts itself has recorded a number of efforts derived from creating ambient works via acoustic and electric guitar; the two other musicians contacted de Waard separately about the possibility of a remix collaboration, resulting in the two-disc effort. Both Tietchens and Obmana were given the same source material to work with, though otherwise they had no direct interaction, making Shifts Recyclings all the more of a balanced work. Tietchens' disc is the more overtly downcast of the two, in terms of emphasizing dark drones and subtle but harrowing instrumentation and production -- the clattering guitar abuse as percussion on "T3B:S1/5" may be de Waard's straight up, but sounds thoroughly unnerving here. The way "T1:S1/1" combines a recurring rumble Thomas Köner might be proud of with a strange, plucked improvisation or the strange breathing/flange loop of "T4:S1/6" provides a watery centerpiece for an even more minimal arrangement also show what Tietchens is capable of creating. Obmana's disc in contrast to Tietchens -- and perfectly in keeping with his own particular style -- places the overall emphasis on vast swathes of echo and at-once soothing and bottomless sonic depths. Tietchens may suggest a crumbling haunted house, but Obmana paints a picture of an endless, vaulting cavern H. P. Lovecraft might be proud about. The lengthy "I" in particular, with its almost flute-like sounds weaving amidst the heavily treated guitar parts, and the almost as long "III," with a generally similar but more immediately active arrangement and what almost sounds like a string part toward the end, rank among his best here.