Note: This is a modified and expanded version of a review, originally published by SoundOhm.
Since their launch in 2013, the Berlin based imprint Edition Telemark has emerged as one of the most adventurous and ambitious voices in the fields of sound art and experimental music. Every step of the way, I’ve found myself a bigger and bigger fan. Always working off the beaten path – focused equally on the past and the present day, they’ve returned with two brilliant LPs plumbing the depths of the contemporary German avant-garde – the first by Ernstalbrecht Stiebler, followed by the debut full length release by Peter Behrendsen. With decades of work behind them, both composers have clearly lingered in the shadows far too long – a fact which the labels efforts are nobly taking great strides to amend.
Ernstalbrecht Stiebler – Kanon / Torsi (2017)
Born in 1934 – a student of Stockhausen and others at the legendary Darmstadt School, even a cursory encounter with the subtle beauty of Ernstalbrecht Stiebler’s Kanon / Torsi is proof that composer’s wide recognition is long overdue. With a body of work built around three primary compositional concerns – sonority, rhythm, and duration, Stiebler is an artist of both constraint and breadth – a minimalist for a world coming undone.
Kanon and Torsi – the two works which stretch over Edition Telemark’s latest release, are both bleating cries for the organ. Kanon, which expands its instrumentation to a trio for organ, electric organ, and wind instruments, is a writhing intricate work of dissonant drone – the sonic impression of some yet to be seen dystonia, with humanity shimmering from within. Torsi, presenting itself across three movements, is a work of equal dissonance and duration – its sonorities fractured by the pulse and grasping breath of the instrument at its core. In very different ways, each work offers the organ and the vast possibilities found within restraint, entirely anew. An unquestionable music, for our increasingly harsh world.
Ernstalbrecht Stiebler – Kanon (2017)
Ernstalbrecht Stiebler – Torsi (Torso) (2017)
Peter Behrendsen – Nachtflug / Atem des Windes (2017)
Peter Behrendsen is one go Germany’s great neglected figures in experimental sound. Despite beginning his career during the early 1970’s, Nachtflug / Atem des Windes is his first commercial release – an unforgivable sin, steadily apparent as the album unfolds. The bulk of Behrendsen’s efforts have been dedicated live performance and radio works – bridging the worlds of electronic and electro-acoustic music, and text based sound works. The album draws on each. Nachtflug is based on electronic treatment of the sounds of bats made audible, while Atem des Windes is a composition for spoken text and sound, drawing on the subject of the wind – inspired by a Taoist text. Each is imbued with a surprising playfulness – the beauty, elasticity, and joy found somewhere between happenstance encounter and interventions of sound. Brilliant and engaging – the commonplace pushed to realms where it’s rarely been heard.
Peter Behrendsen – Nachtflug (2017)
Peter Behrendsen – Atem des Windes (2017)
In keeping with their incredibly high bar, both of Edition Telemark’s LPs help challenge the way histories are made – elevating Ernstalbrecht Stiebler and Peter Behrendsen to the heights they deserve. Kanon / Torsi and Nachtflug / Atem des Windes – while contemporary works, are unquestionably the products of two remarkable and long careers. Each is limited to 300 copies. You can pick them up from SoundOhm, via label’s distributors, or from your local record store.