Ralf Wehowsky & Anla Courtis, Aseleuch Tendrradero (2013)

26/09/2013

Basic CMYK

Released on Noise and Hate & Ultra-Mail Prod, ‎Aseleuch Tendrradero has eleven tracks of electronic music which make use of a generous palette, most notably synthesisers and effects (analogue or digital?), recognisable musical instruments and a smattering of field recordings.

The track names are intriguing – I can’t tell what language they come from so you can consult the list here.

The music on Aseleuch Tendrradero is very loose in the sense that there’s no real perceptible form or structure to most of the individual pieces. Regardless of how the album has been put together, the over-riding plan seems to be a series of improvisations, perhaps with a basic underlying idea or concept at times to guide the players.

The sound sources are quite distinctive – a mélange of predominantly synthesised timbres many of which are quite historical (to avoid using a less respectable term). Because of the amount of material on the go at any one time, especially in tracks 1, 2, 5 and 7, the more hackneyed sounds are occasionally offset by contrasting material such as background reverberating timbres or by techniques such as fast cuts, extreme contrasts, noisy gestural crescendo or tonal ostinati. Some of the techniques bring to mind early musique concrète – whether as a retro nod of approval or resulting from a hard committed decision to work within this aesthetic framework I can’t tell for sure. Another uncertainty in this respect is the predominant glitch aesthetic common to many of the tracks, for example 5, 7, 8 and 9. Overall, taking into account all of the aforementioned, most of the sounds fall into an electroacoustic tradition or mannerism where things ‘come at you’. This could of course be a very clever nod at a specifically modernist yet already historical musical habitus.

Two of the tracks have all the makings of very well shaped science fiction soundtracks. Track 3 gives us the scary version with its big silences and synthy reverbs, characterised at times by some good panning and always offering a hint of tonality. Track 5, with the hums and clicks of its glitch aesthetic (fashionable about five years ago) and its bursts of electronic noise, would go well as a soundtrack to the late Iain M. Banks’ complex and austere science fiction novel Excession. All in all a fairly consistent narrative of sorts. Pleasant little orchestrated additions make their entries, for example bell-like sounds. This is essentially very linear music despite the occasional two and three part contrapuntal efforts to afford depth.

Three tracks offer some contrast to the prevailing sound world. Track 8 has an interesting change of pace which fairly livens up the atmosphere, the envelopes lending additional dynamism. Track 9 offers some semblance of form in its unique punctuation and restraint. Track 10 brings in some bowed string sounds with atonal screeches (again bowed strings) and other instrumental timbres on top. The last of these is markedly different and refreshing in its consistency, even if a fairly orthodox layering of sounds.

In summary this is electronic music of the sort that people who don’t listen to new music would associate with the genre. I’d say that this is probably very well-assembled electronic music, within its own limitations. It’s not a style of music making that I follow with great interest, largely because I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that synthesisers, unless they’re generating vast dense pullulating and complex timbres, would be better put to work doing what they’re best at, which is synthesising timbres and perhaps not making music. This is however heretical and I can already hear the inquisition at the door so I’ll stop.

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Ralf Wehowsky (born in 1959 in Mainz, Germany) is one in a growing group of non-academic sound artists whose work is abstract, but very focused on the possibilities of sound and very rewarding over repeated listenings and different works. Although he started his musical career in the post-industrial scene, his musical output in the ’90s resists categorization as well as casual listening.  His earliest recorded work was with the post-industrial group Permutative Distortion later called P.D. and finally recording as P16.D4, and in 1981, Wehowsky and his colleagues formed the collective/label Selektion. P16.D4 is still considered one of the fundamental groups or German post-industrial period.  In 1992, Wehowsky released his first solo album under the name RLW. Most of his output in the ’90s was collaborative, but he did release four additional solos (see discography below). His work in the ’90s culminated in a five-CD set, Tulpas, where he invited several leading sound artists from all over the world to participate in a transformative process, creating a reflection and commentary on his own work unparalleled in contemporary music. Ralf Wehowsky has released the solo works on labels like Trente Oiseaux, Streamline, Metamkine, Selektion, Table of the Elements, Anomalous, etc and has collaborated with artists like Walter Marchetti, Kevin Drumm, Bruce Russell, Yang-Tul, Andrew Chalk, etc.

Anla Courtis was born in 1972 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was a founder member of Reynols. He has more than 200 solo releases and collaborations on labels like: PSF, Porter, Blossoming Noise, No-Fi, RRR, Tonschacht, MIE, Pogus, Riot Season, Antifrost, Beta-Lactam, Quasipop, Kning Disk,  Sedimental, 8MM, Public Eyesore, Smittekilde, Alt.Vinyl, Mikroton, etc. He has toured extensively in Japan, Europe, USA, Australia, NZ & Latin America and has collaborated with musicians like: Pauline Oliveros, Nihilist Spasm Band, Lee Ranaldo, Yoshimi,  Jim O’Rourke, Eddie Prevost, Otomo Yoshihide, BJ Nilsen, Phill Niblock, Makoto Kawabata, Daniel Menche, KK Null, Rick Bishop, Tabata, Mats Gustafsson, Toshimaru Nakamura, L.A.F.M.S., Damo Suzuki, Thomas Dimuzio, Rudolf Eb.Er,  Seiichi Yamamoto, Tetuzi Akiyama, Lasse Marhaug, Rapoon, Uton, Birchville Cat Motel, The New Blockaders, Jaap Blonk, Jazkamer, C.Spencer Yeh, Okyung Lee, Avarus, & Kemialliset Ystavat. His music always has strong experimental sense and usually based on high-skilled techniques of prepared sound, tape manipulations, processing of field recordings, live electronics, objects, cymbals, synthesizers, computer tools, playing traditional (both acoustic and electric) instruments as well as self-built, strange and unusual instruments (eg. unstringed guitar).

ASELEUCH TENDRRADERO is the second collaboration album by Ralf Wehowsky & Anla Courtis. Based on abstract electronics and tape as main sources, the CD contains 11 tracks and it was co-released by Hong Kong label Ultra-Mail Prod. and Noise and Hate. It comes in a 18,5x14cm plastic wallet with full colour artwork.

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