BB 142CD BB 142CD

While Asmus Tietchens planned to head off "into the future" ("In die Zukunft") with Biotop (1981), Spät-Europa witnesses his arrival. Released on Sky Records in 1982, the second album in the "Zeitzeichen" phase not only continued in the style of its predecessor, it managed to refine it a little more precisely. Spät-Europa also conveys a banefully distorted pseudo-pop soundscape of disjointed rhythms and oblique melodies, defined by nervous pulses, cool alacrity and croaking toots; tongue-in-cheek it most certainly is, but the musical arrangement again affirms its own identity. Here, shadowy, rumbling industrial elements cut into the neon-colored pieces, indicative of the artist's parallel lines of development. What is new on Spät-Europa is a greater concentration of form, concise and pointed in the sense of musical economy. Tietchens sought to accentuate this aspect even more acutely, but lacked the technical means to ensure that each of the "miniatures" lasted exactly two minutes. Nevertheless, he only missed his ideal target by a few seconds here and there. The concept of Biotop as an album of 20 tracks two minutes long recalls the Residents' Commercial Album (1980) which contains 40 tracks, each a minute in length -- although these were designed to be played in groups of three in order to create a regular "pop song." Tietchens does not go that far, but he shares the musical, metatextual and humorous sensibilities of the American band, having "organized crusades" for their albums at this time. Traces of their influence may be discernible, but Tietchens has placed them in an entirely new context. Like Biotop, Spät-Europa finishes with an emphatically unwieldy piece, the artist passing comment on himself perhaps. "Epitaph" introduces a shrill warning tone, joined by nerve-shattering, serrating sounds and ominous screams; piano tones subsequently soften the impact as quiet approaches. But the headstone etched in readiness to mark his musical career proved unnecessary -- before the year was out, Günter Körber had requested a further album for his Sky label. This would be the opus entitled In die Nacht.