Sam Auinger scored quite a hit with this writer in 2001, when he made Box 30/70 with Bruce Odland (appearing as O+A). I seem to recall they created a fascinating twist on the field recording genre with their innovative â€œboxâ€, which sits by a roadside and does unusual things to the sound of cars rushing past. This may not have any bearing on Rheingold (CRÃ“NICA 143-2018), a cassette release credited to TamTam and created by Sam Auinger with Hannes Strobl, playing the upright string bass while Auinger plays his samples and field recordings. Yet I do seem to hear the sound of that roadside traffic as one component in this layered, drifty and air-like drone piece. I must be imagining things though, because Rheingold was mostly made using a hydrophone (a microphone that works underwater), sited on the banks of the Rhine.
This is all Tamtamâ€™s way of paying tribute to the Nibelung saga, and the Ring Cycle composed by Richard Wagner; I never made much of a study of this landmark piece of classical music, but apparently part of the story involves a treasure buried in the river. To tie us back into that classical music aspect, we have a gong player (quite fitting for a group called TamTam), Robyn Schulkowsky, who is credited here with playing his â€œself-made gongâ€. The project represents an effort made by these German musicians to come to grips with one of the â€œbig mythsâ€ of their homeland, and presumably to try and encompass something of the musical history too (you canâ€™t get much of a bigger landmark than Wagner, I suppose). The resulting 27+ minutes of â€˜Rheingoldâ€™ are an utterly compelling abstract drone, one of great natural beauty, and with only a small ratio of conventional â€œmusicalâ€ elements to sweeten the deal. Grand it be.