Tied & Tickled Trio
Tied & Tickled Trio / Photo by Gerlad von Foris
In 1994, Markus Acher and Christoph Brandner founded the Tied & Tickled Trio in Weilheim, Bavaria as a polyrhythmic duo playing drums only. On the occasion of an exhibition of sculptor Andreas Gerth (later becoming a busy musician on the Weilheim scene), he and Markus' brother Micha joined the Tied & Tickled Trio adding bass (Micha) and electronics (Andreas) to the two drum sets. Everything that later would define the band's sound - rhythm, dynamics, improvisation - had been present within this early nucleus already.
Even if those qualities can all be ascribed to jazz in general, the early Tied & Tickled Trio was still far from being jazz influenced. It took some time for all of the band's members to be able to translate their interest in music in a way that wasn't directly linked to The Notwist's indie-verse, to a kind of music with its own qualities and means. It had certainly been helpful to get in touch with Johannes Enders, a studied jazz sax player. Additionally, the brothers Markus and Micha had long been active (and still are today) in their father's dixie band, a kind of common-jazz thing. Micha Acher even studied jazz trumpet but refused to oblige to the dogmatic rules of the school that eventually kicked him out. In other words: The focus on jazz from this snobbish and safely educated academic point of view did not fit with the passion and the lust for bricolage which became soon typical for the Tied & Tickled Trio.
Since that time Ulrich Wangenheim and a few other, often changing band members, have joined the Tied & Tickled Trio. In 1996, the band recorded their self-titled debut "Tied & Tickled Trio" for Payola (re-released on Morr 2006), an album that opened the floodgates of reference pigeon-holing for the band. In attempting to describe the new sound of the Trio, journalists compared their music to anything and everything from Chicago's post rock scene, Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sound to Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock. Those references were certainly flattering and appropriate somehow, but at the same time a tad problematic. Coming from a D.I.Y. punk and hardcore background, the Tied & Tickled Trio always tried to approach their music in a spontaneous and intuitive fashion, free of dogmatic undertones. In retrospect, the Tied & Tickled Trio look at their debut as quite "in your face", an attempt to combine the multitude of their influences. The band improvised a lot, they piled up a lot of tracks from which they built the actual songs and flirted with an attitude that could at times be seen as random .
Their sophomore effort "EA1 EA2" (1999, Payola, re-released on Morr 2006) saw the band exercising more discipline and self-control. This eventually led to the band losing themselves in the details. The roughness and immediacy of their debut made way for a slickness that critics compared to the cool jazz of Miles Davis.
After Morr Music released remixes of the "EA1 EA2" album by Opiate, Thomas Brinkmann, Console and others in 2000, the Tied & Tickled Trio produced "Electric Avenue Tapes" (Clearspot) in 2001, a concert recorded by producer Tobias Levin (Blumfeld, Tocotronic) at Hamburg's Westwerk venue. The album was a logical progression, highlighting the Tied & Tickled Trio as a live entity, a seperate commodity from the studio-based outfit, placing the emphasis on the immediacy and improvisation of the live performance. Every Tied & Tickled Trio concert becoming a unique, one-off event.
The positive experience of "Electric Avenue Tapes" inspired the band to concentrate on their live qualities once again, recreating that atmosphere in the studio. The Tied & Tickled Trio, which now consists of up to twelve members, has recorded large parts of their 2003 album "Observing Systems" (Morr Music) completely live in the studio. Apart from influences like Sun Ra, J. Coltrane ("Africa Brass"), Herbie Hancock ("Sextant"), African Headcharge and Pharoah Sanders (that all of the memebers acknowledge as a foundation for their most important references), "Observing Systems" is partly dominated by a "copy and paste" aesthetic well known from many hip hop productions.
On stage, the Tied & Tickled Trio exists in two different variations. Version one features six members focussing on the band's more electronic qualities. Version 2 consists of all twelve members delivering the entire musical spectrum the Tied & Tickled Trio has to offer.
The intuitive strength of this nearly orchestra-like liveband is well documented on the DVD "Observing Systems", released on Morr Music in early summer of 2006. From many camera positions and on many (retro and brand new) mediums - from super 8 to digital video - this film shows a T&TT-concert in Munich, bavaria. And it shows the Credo of a band whose understanding of (jazz-) music is in the combination and in the collision of tones and traditions. Parallel to the release of the "Observing Systems"-DVD Morr Music is going to re-release remastered versions of "Tied and Tickled Trio" and "EA1 EA2", each added by one unreleased track .