No one knows what I am doing, but people will notice it anyway. Even colours are a product of time. That is all I will disclose for now. Magic is Knowledge. Art is the Craft. Both require Will. Will is the only Law there is – following all the rules of Art!
The man behind the mask of Art Abscon now has his own music project. It is called Tellbach. And Tellbach is me. About a year ago, Tellbach found out why there are analogue synthesizers. I had just released Art Abscon’s “The Separate Republic“, an album that had taken five long years to make, featuring 36 different acoustic instruments. When the album was out, I urgently needed distraction from Art Abscon. And the Grandmaster granted it. I wanted to discover something that was new to me. The infinite possibilities of analogue synthetic sound design quickly put a spell on me, and I combined it with my fascination for vintage studio gear, such as magnetic tape, mechanical spring reverb and tube amplifiers. I strictly avoided anything digital because I was aiming at the audio characteristics of the 1970s and early 1980s, the golden era of electronic music with acts like Mort Garson, Suicide, Kraftwerk, John Foxx and early OMD.
The music emerged quickly, but finding appropriate lyrics for this new kind of music was difficult in the beginning. Up until now, Art Abscon had been my only source of inspiration. I would only write what was in line with Abscon’s poetics. Without these guidelines, I suddenly felt completely left to my own devices. However, as soon as I had decided to use my family name, Tellbach, for my new electronic music project, I knew that I had found a new source of inspiration: myself. With Art Abscon, it is strictly forbidden to add anything personal to the songs I write. I have always felt that personal aspects do not belong in Art Abscon’s music. The poetry supporting it has to be of a universal quality and not inspired by my own petty personal matters.
Why did I all of a sudden want something different? 2017 marked ART ABSCONs’ tenth anniversary. That was one of the reasons why I started to write a book about my experiences with the Grandmaster, “The Book of Abscon” (I hope I will finish it this year). My work on this book showed me how rich the experiences actually are that I have made in those ten years behind the mask of Abscon. All of a sudden, my personal matters no longer seemed insignificant at all to me, but rather special and noteworthy. How much had I learned from leading this double life behind the mask, the strange situations it brought about, this peculiar perspective of the anonymous observer! How much had I learned from all the remarkable people I had met behind the scenes, in the shadow of this mask! How deep were some of these encounters and how extreme some of those experiences! How much had I learned from loving, and hating, admiring and detesting, from extreme sorrow and extreme joy and from learning to balance it all! How much had I learned from fathoming the depths of honesty and falsehood, loyalty and treason, friendship and enmity, trust and jealousy, magic and madness! And how much had I learned from dreaming and from turning the art of dreaming into a science by analysing the different natures of reality and perception! Art Abscon has taught me so much about myself, the world I live in and what lies beyond. He has shown me so many heavens and so many hells. I thank him for having turned me into a man who can now write about his personal experiences and thoughts without dreading their insignificance. And I thank him for giving me some time to myself, time that I have used to record my own debut album. This is why I decided to include a cover version of my favourite ART ABSCONs song, “Niemandsgebet”.
My new self-titled album is the very first release on my label, Opus Abscondi. It will come out on 3 April 2018, which happens to be my birthday. I have decided against the contemporary custom of making a new album immediately available for streaming and downloading. For the time being, this new release will only be available on CD. I run a music label because I believe in the importance of traditional music formats like vinyl records, music cassettes and CDs. Unfortunately, a vinyl release is not yet possible for Opus Abscondi. I will try to finance future vinyl releases with this current album, though. This is why streams and downloads will not be made available before I have covered the production costs for this release.
As I am writing this, my mind is already busy with ideas for a new ART ABSCONs album and a series of electronic music releases on cassette, the “Time Trip Tapes”. The next release on Opus Abscondi, however, will be Misty Bywater’s “Lullaby Waterfall”, and I look very much forward to this.
I am a hopelessly old-fashioned person, but I have learned that many people enjoy streaming music these days instead of listening to records, CDs and cassettes, so I felt like making Art Abscon’s music more accessible to the people of today.
I still stick to my view that music files have no material value and therefore should be offered for free. Unfortunately, there was no option to offer free downloads in the above-mentioned music stores. So if you wish to obtain any music files without feeling like supporting the one who recorded them, just drop me a message and I will gladly make you any album available for free download.
Old-fashioned music formats are still available at Opus Abscondi.
I have heard rumours that Michael has shared fake news about my death. I have no idea what could have driven this person to spread such nonsense. Did it ever occur to him that it is one of the privileges of the Hidden One to never taste death? At least I can I assure you that I am doing splendidly well out here in Abscondinium and that I will continue to do so till the end of time and beyond.
I can only guess that this person was somehow referring to some of his own weaknesses and that he projected them onto me. I also imagine that he was driven by the illusion of his own free will.
As for the weaknesses, I was told that he was unhappy with the success of my latest album, “The Separate Republic“. My people have heard him whining about bad physical sales, free downloads, consumers who only stream music for free these days and the corresponding total devaluation of music. He said that, considering the way things are nowadays, he would no longer be able to afford to release my future albums. He was also complaining about all the money he had lost due to bad luck with my albums and about all the people who had cheated him in the past. All of this nonsense apparently drove this person to claim that I was dead, probably hoping that he would no longer need to work for me if only enough people would believe that I was dead.
He was wrong. He was very, very wrong. First of all, we never promised him any reward whatsoever for his services. When he agreed to lend us his voice and his musical skills ten years ago, he claimed that he would only do it for the honour of working for the Grandmaster Abscon. We do not see why he would expect anything in return for his past services now, after ten years of humble and modest servitude. He never complained so far. Why should he now? Is it any less honourable now to work for us than it was ten years ago? And is it not incredibly profane and inappropriate to talk about money in connection with the holy duties he owes the Grandmaster? And where would he be likely to find inspiration for the music if it was not through the joys of deprivation and frustration?
As for his alleged free will, we are very sorry to say that it does not exist. We still require his services. He might be an idiot, but he is a useful one. He has a nice voice, and even though he is far from being a virtuoso on his instruments, he plays quite a lot of them with a certain charming ineptness that we appreciate. We must admit that even though he could do a lot better, we find the way he has arranged the Grandmaster’s compositions somewhat endearing. So, no way Michael, we are sorry to say, but you will absolutely have to record Art Abscon’s thirteen future albums. Neither you nor anyone else has a free will.
And as for you, dear Whoever, just forget the nonsense that Michael was babbling about my death. Just forget about this entire person. He does not have a single creative bone in his body. All he ever accomplished was bestowed by me, the Grandmaster Abscon. Michael will gladly record more of my music and pay for the releases. And he will never complain about money again, even if you download and stream my music for free. We will make sure of that.
Because if he did, my music would stay in Abscondinium, forever.
Be thrice blessed in the Name of Beauty.
I have decided to make ART ABSCONs’ entire discography available for free download – including the option to pay whatever you feel my music is worth and thereby increase the chances that there will be more music in the future. In case you belong to the vanishing few who are as old-fashioned as I am and still prefer to listen to your favourite music via physical formats, you can, of course, still obtain all AAs albums in a tangible form through my label Opus Abscondi, and maybe you will enjoy the little gifts and personal notes I usually include in my shipments. Of course I would prefer this, but I also see that the times have changed. Hence, if you only wish to get the digital music files, you are invited to download all AAs albums for free on bandcamp.
In case you are interested in the reasons behind my decision to offer my music for free, please read on. I warn you, it will be long, but hopefully also a little interesting.
I love music. Some people even say I love music more than people. That is not entirely true. I do in fact love a small handful of people just as much as I love music. But that is irrelevant here. I am talking about music, not about people. I can hardly imagine how sad and empty my life would be if some of my favourite records had never been recorded. However, I can easily imagine to live without a lot of people I know. Music is a strange thing. It does not occupy any space, it only exists in time. Time is a composer’s canvas. What are three minutes? Three random minutes in a lifetime? Hardly anything. But what happens to the same three minutes if they are filled with music? Time expands, it is enriched with so much meaning, it triggers so many thoughts, memories, premonitions, and it can cause such an incredibly dense intellectual and emotional resonance, so much joy, reassurance, comfort. It provides linear time with an additional dimension. And yet it hardly exists. It has no physical substance. It is like a ghost – invisible, intangible, immaterial.
As a teenager, I once had a dream in which a scientist had made it possible to touch music. Somehow he had managed to provide it with a physical body. I still remember the bliss I experienced when I entered the room in which the result of his work was exhibited. At first, I heard the most wonderful music and then… I saw it! I stepped closer, touched it, and then got immersed in its ethereal perfumes… It was inexplicably delightful to experience this beautiful music with all my senses. I also remember the horrible pangs of deprivation I felt when I woke up to a world where music was only audible, the sadness and the loss I felt when I realised that it had been just a dream.
You simply cannot touch music… or can you? As a musician I am at least used to touching the objects that produce music. I own a lot of musical instruments, many different ones. I love the way they look, and I also like to feel it when the sound waves cause them to vibrate. Making music, as opposed to just listening to it, is something you mainly do with your hands. Making music is a highly tactile experience, but also listening to music involves my tactile sense: I have a very good stereo system. I bought it when I was fifteen or sixteen. Its solid volume knob moves very smoothly when you turn it – after more than 25 years of permanent use. Things like that just aren’t produced anymore. I feel grateful each time the knob slides without causing any cracking noise in the speakers. I also like my collection of vinyl records – leafing through albums to find the one I am looking for, enjoying the sight of the super large cover artwork, blowing dust particles from the vinyl surface… and then, when you put it on the turntable, the needle will touch the vinyl to feel its way through the grooves in which the music is mechanically encrypted.
Vinyl records sound better than music that is reproduced digitally. It is a fact. You do not need to be an audiophile nerd to tell the difference when you hear it. Many people (including myself) find it hard to tell the difference in sound quality between an mp3 and a CD, even if it exists (it becomes particularly noticeable when you turn up the volume). But the difference between those two formats and a vinyl record is so dramatic that it will take your breath away if you make a direct comparison. The music on the vinyl will have a certain spatial depth – as if both mp3 and CD were lacking one entire dimension. By comparison, the sound from the vinyl seems as if you can TOUCH it. The more I crank up the volume, the more tangible the music gets.
I make music because I want to provide others with at least a humble approximation of what I witnessed in that dream about music that could be experienced with all senses. This is what drives me.
The inspiration for my music comes from a place that lies beyond the material world. However, I need material objects to bring it into this world: instruments and recording gear. These tools cost money. The music itself comes from a place where no money exists, but making the music available through objects like CDs and vinyl records costs money. Exporting and uploading a music file, however, costs nothing. A digital music file is an immaterial entity containing the pure spirit of the music. It has no material worth; and it provides no profound, tangible experience, except for the entertainment that the music itself provides.
This is why I have decided to give my music away for free. If you decide to pay something for it, maybe as a gesture of respect, I will use this money for the tools I need to bring the music into this world. If you buy a physical copy, you pay for the material that carries the music and which provides you with a material, tangible experience.
Thank you for having read all this.
After more than five years of work and endless waiting, my sixth official ART ABSCONs album, “The Separate Republic”, is finally out! It is now available at Opus Abscondi as a regular CD version and a double vinyl version that includes the legendary “The Lost Tape” material. I have just listened to the vinyl and am thoroughly impressed with Nathaniel Ritter’s exquisite audio mastering. This is definitely the best-sounding AAs vinyl ever! Additional thanks go out to Misty Bywater for the thrillingly psychedelic vinyl label and CD art design, for hours and hours of meticulous toil using a magnifying glass. Last but not least, I extend my gratitude to Fronte Nordico for another beautiful release and a limited wooden box set including a t-shirt that is available through email@example.com.
Be thrice blessed in the Name of Beauty
“The Separate Republic” is an album that has been requiring much patience, and it continues to do so. The release date that had initially been communicated by Fronte Nordico has been postponed for another two months. This means that I will not receive my album copies before the end of July or early August.
However, this does not mean that nothing is happening behind the scenes. I am keeping myself busy with many other projects. One of them is my work as the producer of Misty Bywater’s debut album, a collection of psychedelic lullabies.
I made Misty’s acquaintance in 2013 when she presented me with several demo recordings of songs which she had composed. I was so intrigued with the compositions that were drafted in those raw recordings that I immediately suggested to collaborate and offered my help to record these songs properly. At that time, Misty still lived in England, and we met for one brief weekend in 2014 to make a few recordings. After that, however, I was so busy with “The Separate Republic” that we had to shelve our project for quite a while. In the meantime, Misty moved to Germany, which made it much easier to resume our work.
For me, this is the very first time that I put so much effort into producing music that is not my own. It is a very interesting process during which I am learning a lot about the role of a music producer, and it is quite rewarding in many ways.
I must admit that I am so proud and excited about our accomplishments so far that I am really yearning to present them to the world. But I still need to be patient and keep them secret! We have finished about half of the album, and I guess we will need about two or three more months before I will initiate the album’s release through my label, Opus Abscondi. The only thing I can give away for now is that the album will be titled “Lullaby Waterfall”.
I will permit myself to boast, and I will only do so because it is not my own music: The songs on this album are like nothing I have heard before, even if they feel strangely familiar. And I am sure you will have the same experience. Stay tuned, we might soon share one or the other song here and elsewhere.
I am also working on another project. But that is even more secret. All I can say for now is that Michael, the man behind the Grandmaster’s mask, will soon present his own music project, which will be very different from ART ABSCONs. Look out for a guy called Tellbach.