AMN Reviews: Jockel Liess – Fluid Variations (2016; Resterecords)

Jockel Liess focuses on video and sound installations for galleries and festivals, thus his works often have no clearly defined beginning or end. He calls one of his composition techniques “live generative,” in that he is able to improvise within structures of computer-generated sounds. Drawing on the self-similar nature of fractals, these indeterminate pieces are intended to enhance the experience of a viewer who passes through or lingers within such an installation – in a sense, the listener becomes a co-composer as he or she chooses to move or stay put.

In some cases, the audio from a sound installation does not hold up well on its own. Some can be overly-repetitive, focusing on the ambiance of a physical space. This is not the case, however, with Liess’s Fluid Variations.  A single-track, eighteen-minute piece, this “EP” constantly evolves. A stereo recording from a quadraphonic installation, Fluid Variations provides shifting drones in the foreground, and bassy string and brass underpinnings in the background. The overall feel is dark and foreboding, with several layered voices combining to evoke a dark soundscape.

A strong release, and sure to please fans of active ambient music.

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