Taming Power [Askild Haugland];
For Electric Guitar & Tape Recorders

Taming Power [Askild Haugland] – For Electric Guitar & Cassette Recorders
Askild Haugland [composition - electric guitar – Fostex X-14 multitracker – Denon DRM-740 cassette tape deck]
Early Morning Records EMR 10’’ – 010
Duration: 36:04

1. 26-3-02 [17:10]
2. 17-9-01 VII/8-7-02 V [3:16]
3. 25-12-01 III/13-7-02 V [2:46]
4. 25-12-01 VI/14-7-02 V [2:30]
5. 8-8-02/13-8-02 VII [2:04]
6. 9-8-02 II/15-8-02 IV [4:29]
7. 19-9-01 III/21-8-02 IX [3:49]

This is what Askild Haugland says about his work
For Electric Guitar & Cassette Recorders, in a typewritten letter that came with the vinyl:

This is the second part of a triptych with music based on recordings of an electric guitar, manipulated by way of magnetic tape. The piece on side A [26-3-02] consists of a series of groups of flageolet tones recorded in a stop motion technique. The piece goes through a full cycle before the sequence begins to catch up with itself. Side B contains six short pieces based on recording degeneration.

The thing that strikes me at first (apart from the observation that Haugland entitles his works just like La Monte Young!) is that I don’t really hear any correspondence with an electric guitar. What I hear are bells, repeatedly struck with sticks and filtered through a bucket of water. Yes, this sounds like you would imagine underwater bells tolling, the sound reaching you in a wobbling, tangling motion through seaweed and turning shoals of glittering fish.

26-3-02 is the longest work on the record, occupying one of the sides of the vinyl, and it brings about a meditative, hypnotic feeling, which also has a flavor and fragrance of otherworldliness, of beyond, of enchantedness.

The bells – which, I should remind you (and me!) – actually are cassette recorder manipulations of struck electric guitar strings – emit sounding rays of utter beauty and a kind of fondling light of heightened states of mind and life, like were we eavesdropping on a bliss that is almost dangerous in its purity of intent and motion, almost shattering the spirit that is still not entirely pure… and perhaps that is why we hear this resounding blue bell beauty through a gluey, protective transparency, much the way we recall our first summer day memories of childhood, amongst the flowers of the pastures under the giant arms of the oaks when we were three years old…

Askild Haugland evidently does not try to charm the listener in any way. He just shows what he’s found, with no other intent than doing just that, and here he is meditative in a shamanistic way, as I feel correspondences with the thoughtworlds of Tibetan Buddhism in here, in these relentless, beautifully shining clusters and chords from a world of imaginary electric guitar bells in sunshine, bare feet and grass and gentle benevolence.

All the magnificence of the magnitude of overtones makes the listening absorbing and the imagery evoked startling, and as the music reaches its end, I’m still floating inside this bell bath of a summery pasture… snowcapped summits in a shimmering distance…

The tracks on side B of the vinyl come across differently.
17-9-01 VII/8-7-02 IV, for example, brings on a thick layer – or many thick, simultaneous layers - of a kind of repetitious excerpt of bells or electric guitars, glued together in a seamless recurrence, the layers very slowly inserted above and below each other, or like insects slowly creeping across your glasses, or water drops of a rain storm slowly finding their meandering paths down the outside of your kitchen windows – and the massive impression of something rather distant – but not too distant (like in an adjacent hall at the steel factory or something) - comes at you in a beautiful modality of old through all the harshness of extraneous sounds, through the gray mist of static and hiss and noise. This piece, though quite different from the one and only piece on side A of the vinyl, also harbors this enchanted feeling of beyond, or of a dreamy state if mind, very peculiar and very lustful in an age-old kind of way…

25-12-01 III/13-7-02 V has a darker, deeper hue to its bee swarm audio, the actual sounding object (the electric guitar!) hidden even deeper in the magnificent web of sound, a shade of modal ringing seeping out into the open through deep crevasses in the sound layering.
The piece sets your sonically induced imagination in motion, spiraling your imagery on high, where the spherical reality of our outpost in space is revealed like in a space shuttle orbit.

25-12-01 VI/14-7-02 V has a pendulum swing to it, in a tempo that really corresponds to big church bells, like at the Kölner Dome, and as you can see, I cannot get away from the bell analogy. This spontaneous reference brings with it a whole world and a whole life of collected cultural/religious tinting, of christenings, weddings, funerals – or even the desperate ringing of misfortune and war, or plague… or just a reminder to humankind of its temporal guises across the curving sphere...
Haugland’s carpets of wizardly woven patterns bring on numerous images and feelings, setting your subconscious in motion, like in dreams. Askild Haugland is a dreamweaver.

8-8-02 II/13-8-02 VII sounds minimalistic in an early Terry Riley fashion (She Moves, Sh or Mescalin Mix or even Poppy Nogood & the Phantom Band), but the clearcut repetitions soon are smeared out into a slowly pulsating dream of audio from an unknown place in space and time, and the horizons glow with a strange energy.

9-8-02 II/15-8-02 IV moves at a realivley slower pace, and the initial sounds remind me of some of the recordings that Nils-Aslak Valkeapää and Esa Kotilainen did in Helsinki some decades ago, on an electrified Saami note. This means that this sounds more like synthesizer music, though, as we know, it consists of sounds of an electric guitar treated through the possibilities of tape recorder and tape alone! The whole piece affects me like a prelude to something else; I don’t know what.
The volume climbs steadily, until the static around the modality almost gets the upper hand, casting my analogies in a different direction, to Gilius van Bergeijk’s wondrous electroacoustic piece
Over de Dood en de Tijd; an homage to Franz Schubert and his Der Tod und das Mädchen.

19-9-01 III/21-8-02 IX is the concluding work on this vinyl. It opens in a dark, ominous color, and I instantly get a feeling of hanging clouds over the Stuor Reaiddávággi valley of Northern Lapland, between the Sälka huts and the Nallo hut, where I’ve been hiking below the glaciers, and from where I bring with me a sense of shaman experiences achieved through dragging a tired, worn-out and numb body across the rock deserts and their polygon pains…
The darker hue to this multi-faceted elasticity is a bit chilling, amplifying a feeling of desolation and Stuor Reaiddávágginess in the sonic wanderer. There is a hitherto – in Haugland’s works on this vinyl – unheard rumbling discernible deep down in the sound web, calling for a certain awareness, a preparedness for the worst – or it could well be a straight recording from inside a pack of World War II Lancaster bombers crossing the Channel for the merciless annihilation of Dresden.