Grischa Lichtenberger has always seemed an intriguing character. In terms of releases, he has done comparatively little since debuting on Raster Noton in 2009, yet he is still an artist who somewhat defines the label for me. Originally from Bielefeld (roughly equidistant between Dortmund and Hanover), Lichtenberger’s approach to composition feels more about process than results, although he is not an artist who seems exclusively concerned with the chin-stroking electronic avante-garde. Listening to his mixes for example show how far his tastes stretch - one moment you are listening to solemn classical piano movements, the next a ballad from JJ Cale, before sounds which make you feel as if you’ve been plugged straight into a phone line. As odd as this mix sounds however - surprisingly it works, and it works incredibly well.
His latest project, La Demeure; il y a péril en la demeure follows three years on from his last solo work, entering a frenetic maze of energies and textures, putting you in a constant state of disorientation. ‘134p78’ crawls drunkenly whilst tracks like ‘sf rect’ dart this way and that at formidable speeds. The effect is like listening to Autechre at their most deluded - even the code-string track titles make the album difficult to make sense of. Despite it’s rather antisocial nature, there is something conversely mesmeric and inviting about the LP - like a disturbing image you find it difficult to look away from.
Take ‘degrid skt’ - the track is a mess of twitching paranoia and amphetamine charged glitches, but despite its rushing nature contains something something almost funk-like in its loose-fitting rhythms. ‘713 2’ verges on similar themes, a malfunctioning whirlpool of fuse-blown loops and haywire rhythms manage to stay just within the confines of legibility, if you are able to dedicate your undivided attention to it.
Caving in on itself, ‘arct 1’ brings the LP back to ground. Ghostly piano tones plume out in the backdrop as Lichtenberger’s wire-mesh drum work shuffles brokenly in the track’s closing third. The track makes a good example of how organic and synthetic timbres are put in contrast here - something which for me typifies Lichtenberger’s work. ‘keys t’ is further case in point; field recordings and found sounds clearly make up a large proportion of the source material, however they are so heavily processed it’s difficult to guess as to their exact origin. The effect is like viewing the world through some sort of matrix code - everything is warped by Lichtenberger’s filter.
‘La Demeure’, the first part of the album’s title translates as: “the joy of being withdrawn from economic, temporal or social restraints in the confinement of a home” whilst the second part ‘il y a péril en la demeure’ is a legal term which enables the police to break into peoples’ homes in the case of an ‘imminent danger’. The suspension between these two concepts is something defining of the LP’s sound, and expressed clearly, albeit in an abstract form. But then perhaps this is to be expected - as idiosyncratic as his work is, when Lichtenberger does release something, he makes sure he has considered every detail.
You can order the LP from the Raster Noton website, here.