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John Duncan - Da Sich Die Machtgier...

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Artist: John Duncan

Album: Da Sich Die Machtgier...

Label: Die Stadt

Review date: Jan. 18, 2005

Compiling the results of what was originally intended to be a compositional collaboration between John Duncan and renowned sound artist Asmus Tietchens, Da Sich Die Machtgier… transcends its tumultuous creation to stand as a distinctive addition to the catalogue of both artists. Using the subtly processed voice of Tietchens reading texts by Romanian philosopher E.M.Cioran as source material, Duncan created sound sculptures which he had intended for Tietchens to further manipulate, only to learn that his partner felt they were finished, and should be credited to Duncan alone. Although Duncan preferred equal acknowledgement, the intricate precision and strength of his compositions on Da Sich Die Machtgier… provides an understanding of Tietchens’ decision. Duncan has worked with voices in the past, and these recordings display a well-rounded depth and maturity that has grown in volume with his recent works Infrasound-Tidal and The Keening Towers.

"Das Ich Macht…" is comprised of the original text recordings offered by Tietchens for further processing. Only slightly treated with speed variations and looping techniques, these are quite similar to other recordings Tietchens has produced of Cioran text readings on several obscure German 7” singles. Listening to these spoken word pieces, it is near impossible to follow their lineage to Duncan’s compositions. The jammed frequencies that abruptly begin “Freih Zein Hoern Macht…” eventually morph into waves of pulse patterns that feed off a rhythm boxes incessant chatter, the accumulating sonic debris finally bursting into echoes of static calm that trickles away in solitude. “Tauf Sind Mit Andere Namen” provides the closest link to its sound source, as if the human voice has been slowed down to a near standstill motion, collecting an inherent power that is simultaneously intoxicating, disorienting and soothing. Duncan furthers his pantheon of exceptional drone works with “Aber…,” attempting a grand mixture of what sounds like a grounded swarm of insects and a rabidly feeding flock of birds until the pacing and intensity break through in a piercing haze of white noise.

In constructing these compelling compositions from the most unassuming of source materials, Duncan channels the spirit of Tietchens' eternal search through the outer reaches of audible sound for a truly “new music.” With nearly 60 years of work between them, Da Sich Die Machtgier… celebrates both composers’ identities whilst merely hinting at their collective strength.

By Everett Jang Perdue

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