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Heavy Earth

by M.A. Tiesenga

  • Cassette + Digital Album

    *now shipping
    *side A: "Vik / Wyoming" runtime 28:59
    *side B: "Transubstance" runtime 29:02
    *art direction & liner notes by M.A. Tiesenga
    *limited to 150 cassettes

    Includes unlimited streaming of Heavy Earth via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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    edition of 150 
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  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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Hailing from Chicago, M.A. Tiesenga is a musician, composer, and multidisciplinary visual artist presently living and working in Los Angeles. As prolific as they are autodidactic, Tiesenga’s creative practice includes not only composition, but print-making, pen and ink drawing, visual scores, and participation in numerous musical groups, including, notably, the Eastman Saxophone Project (“ESP”)—of which they are a founding member—and the grammy-nominated collective Wild Up. Across mediums, Tiesenga balances a rigorous attention to craft, procedure, and structure while simultaneously inaugurating the requisite space for spontaneity, play, and the stranger fruits of creative mysticism.

To date (excluding a collaborative release with LA luminary Patrick Shiroishi) the majority of Tiesenga’s musical output has existed in a live performance context, largely inaccessible commercially. Heavy Earth, out March15 2024 on Leaving Records, constitutes their first official solo release. Comprised of two long-form instrumental pieces, the record is a diptych of sorts—an evocative and artful pairing that showcase the breadth of Tiesenga’s aesthetic concerns. Deep listening (of the Oliveros variety)—while not essential to accessing the music’s beauty—will no doubt reward the listener.

Side A, “Transubstance,” is a solo piece performed on a century-old pump organ. A meditation on a near drowning experience, “Transubstance” swells and recedes, rolling forward interminably—indeed, like some murky, chthonic wave. Its genesis is immediately legible to anyone who has been existentially humbled by water. The curious elasticity of time. The way that light dances across the surface above. The simultaneous sense of being held and rendered null.

Side B, “Vík / Wyoming,” is an evolution/recomposition of a pre-existing composition “Vík,” a full orchestral piece written during Tiesenga’s MFA studies. Consisting of layered recordings of “Vïk”— including those conducted during rehearsals and the premiere performance — with the addition of ample field recordings, “Vík / Wyoming” is a psychogeographic collage of two vast, seemingly disparate landscapes: Vík í Mýrdal, a remote village on Iceland's southern coast, and the rolling hills of Wyoming (A photograph of which serves as Heavy Earth’s cover art.) Though worlds apart, these locales share an expansive, at times desolate sublimity. As with “Transubstance,” one intuits in “Vík / Wyoming'' the scope, beauty, and indifference of the so-called “natural world.”

Neatly symmetrical in length, the two songs function as a sort of alchemical/fractal inquiry. The first, a private, spontaneous emanation of a deeply embodied experience. The second, an orchestrated communal effort informed by the overwhelm of environmental stimuli. Both navigating (and reveling in) the tension between composition and live performance. Though the results may be harrowing, as they often are on Heavy Earth, Tiesenga’s studied attention to form, detail, and recursion—equally evident in their graphic work—serves as a balm, a fleeting antidote to the white noise in which we are all presently inundated.

bio: Emmett Shoemaker


released March 15, 2024

Vik / Wyoming is created from a composite of recordings taken from two sources: the dress rehearsals of Vik (2017), a piece for full orchestra interpreting and animated graphic score, and environmental field recordings taken after a summer snow New Shosntshoni, WY (2020). The Ensemble featured in this piece is the CalArts New Century Players. I am grateful for the ensemble and to its conductor, Nicholas Deyoe, for their immense talents and trust. Saxaphone by M.A. Tiesenga.

Transubstance was recorded on a 19th century Waterloo Organ Co. pipe organ by M.A. Tiesenga in Three Lakes, WI.


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