I first heard these recordings on a damp tuesday morning, riding on an innercity
train. The ususal package of passengers; most of them introverted, sorrow-stricken,
staring outside while the outside stared fiercely back in. The faces you learn to
ignore. Most of them were on their way to work, it was pretty early. I was one of
them. Until I put on the headphones to listen for the first time to Tristan Magnetique,
the recordings I received through mail one night ago. Suddenly, I was detached, maybe
elevated, and yet, full of empathy, realizing for a split second we’re all in this
together, while I also knew I was the first person in the world listening to Tristan
except for Tristan himself. That level of intimacy I experienced that morning on
public transit – it doesn’t vanish, because intimacy is a natural feature of the
way Tristan builds up sound.
Tristan Magnetique is the latest solo work of german sound artist Günter Schlienz.
Schlienz, as though well-known in the international cassette underground, remains
at times as enigmatic as his new moniker. He is creating his own machines. He’s a
thorough and careful composer, following a straight work ethic involving live sets
in which the machines completely take over while Günter is witnessed to lie on his
back, smoking a cigarette. Synthesizer music sometimes resembles the model-railroad-scene
of the last century: men in their private hobby rooms, creating a small, clearly
ordered parallel universe – a coping mechanism. In spite of that, Günter works more
like a naturalist; his universe exists for itself, he himself being just the hole
through which we can take a brief lurk into this dimension. In fact, Tristan might
be one of the residents of that world, and just like the historical Tristan material,
which takes a key role in European literature, this is a story comprised of illusion,
musical mirroring, adaption, and dedication.
As „Tristan Magnetique“ , Schlienz pays tribute to noise artists like Mike Pollard
or Peter Friel, who started „getting mellow“, as Günter puts it, around 10 years
ago. Putting the usual machines aside, Tristan took just a Casio CZ101, some basic
effect pedals and a 4-track recorder and bounced out this whole new persona. Both
solemnn and charming, Tristan takes you on a ride far out while tucking you in at
the same time. The power supply of the keyboard crackles in the background, while
these tiny melodies unfold like a strange flower in a novel of the dark romanticism.
And just like in literature, this music is not what it seems: while it might remain
pure new age kitsch to some, it has in fact nothing to do with notions of an
„ambience music“ which offers the possibility of not having to listen too closely.
Minimal changes require maximum attention. This is music that requires a good ear,
a time to invest. One might relax
during this process, but that is a side-effect. It’s an approach for a music both
purely intimate and anticapitalist; it’s music requiring an active listener.