»In Words« is the first solo album by the Danish musician, composer, and visual artist Alexander Tillegreen. The album represents a series of varied electronic music pieces while also carrying examples of ongoing work with psychoacoustic phenomena. Composed partly of material taken from his artistic practice as an installation artist and his ongoing interdisciplinary artistic research into psychoacoustic phenomena, Tillegreen investigates subjective sonic perception and the negotiation of language. Particularly, these investigations are done through the use of the phantom word illusion, originally discovered by music psychologist Diana Deutsch. Parts of the album were conceived when Tillegreen was the first artist ever in resident at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics.
Triggering the brain’s tendency to interpret language-based auditory illusions as meaningful information and as words within the mind of the listener, Tillegreen’s unique sound works unfold like a kaleidoscope of phonetic mirrors which render possibilities to reflect upon the listener's own psychological and culturally situated linguistic embeddedness. Gender-distorted voice perception, speech and language borders are all challenged and thematized throughout Tillegreen’s work. The listener’s head and bodily movement drastically affect the listening and the word interpretation. Their psychological subconsciousness, recent events, memories, and expectations as well as the listener’s motion in space all become co-creative and co-composing factors in a reactive and choreographic process of listening.
The polyrhythmic seriality of spatialized syllabic structures is accompanied by elements of heavy bass drops, high-frequency tensions, undulating synth lines, and hypnotic effects. Some of the many compositional potentials of the phantom word illusions are exercised and unfolded in selected tracks throughout the album. The notion of language borders is approached from an entirely different and even more “anti-logocentric” perspective on the “eponymous” closing track »Assimilate (in Words)«, where the listener experiences the struggle and collapse of interpersonal communication through conversation. Other parts of the album represent more diverse approaches to abstract electronic music.
»In Words« morphs soundscapes into glacial, spherical passages of ambient backdrops, while at other times emphasizes raw tectonic blocks of hyper-panning drones that erupt into high-velocity outlets of energetic, granular fields. Tillegreen is alternating between cyclical, minimalist, hypnotic approaches and complex, glitchy polyrhythmic melodic structures that shift and melt into evocative ambiences. The phantom words and the nature of Tillegreen’s musical visions progressively demand more of the listener's attention and represent the artist's ongoing artistic work and scientific research into psychoacoustics and language. While »In Words« is a highly conceptual album, the musical bandwidth is extensive.
Written and produced by Alexander Tillegreen. Cristal Baschet on »Vexeldrift (Cambiata)« and tape recorder on »Assimilate (in Words)« by Mike Sheridan. Mixed by Alexander Tillegreen and Mike Sheridan at N29, Copenhagen. Mastered by Mark Bihler at Calyx Mastering, Berlin.
»Assimilate (in Words)« contains samples from a recording of Syd Barrett interviewed by Meatball Fulton (aka Thomas Lopez) in London, August 1967.
Artwork based on »Berge und Tunnel« (2019), etching by Alexander Tillegreen, printed and published by Printer’s Proof – Fine Art Printing & Publishing, Copenhagen.
Parts of this album were conceived during an artistic research fellowship at Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt am Main.
This release is kindly supported by artFREQ and The Danish Arts Foundation.