Released back in January, we finally caught up with this striking collaboration from veteran sound artists Asmus Tietchens + David Lee Myers. Arcs is an album, a baker’s dozen of numbered tracks (Arcs 01-13) under the same title. This is the duo’s third shared recording (Flussdichte, Disco Bruit, 2001; 60:00, Line, 2004), they have worked together since the early 90’s, and also recorded at least two other albums under Myers’ Arcane Device moniker. Arcs is minimal, sparse, spacey. It’s a trail of feedback fed on particles of darkness, a hovering glow traveling into a passing void. The atmosphere is shaped by sensitive tones that seem, at times, like line drawings that fade out on the cast off ends.
Both artists are known for their edgy compositions, but this seems like an atypical shared space that is cerebral and shadowy. The fluttering drone is suspended and vaguely angular in an isolated ambient set of oscillations. Arc 5 offers these starts/stops that almost sounds like the source could be the human voice, though it is ambiguous and completely obliterated from the real thing. Howls, crackling and other echoed effects support the rising/diving tonal shifts, with a space-age patina. A churning pitch on Arc 08, with microstatic and reverberation, starts to sound like a flock of birds headed westward. This comes together like a retro 2001-like outer-space fantasy opera without the singers or any pomp in sight.
As Arc 10 opens there’s a hint of 70’s themes in the air – think Zardoz or Logan’s Run – a surreal other worldliness with a side of gemstone-glinting tones. There’s something irregular about the atmosphere, the colors are moody, droopy and a bit anxious. On Arc 12 the sound becomes emboldened with a glazed-over industrial volume which is a perfect lead-in to the concluding Arc which is still revved, but showing exhaust. The low tumble rumble sounds like a field recording of an avalanche that was recorded off TV, transferred to VHS, dubbed to an early digital source, lost and reprocessed through a thick filter. Above that a gleaming set of harmonious and sparse shrill tones enter and exit without cue. There is a sign of disturbance in the air. The arc here is certainly an exploratory one, bringing together two of the world’s finest in a curious work that defines a newly pollinated soundscape and defies expectation.