In retrospect, we might suspect that Asmus Tietchens was deliberately leading us up the garden path with the discordant pseudo-pop of his early musical productions. Four albums between 1981-1983 and a handful of individual pieces comprise the "Zeitzeichen" (time signal) phase which, in the words of their creator, was characterized by the implementation of "rhythmic-harmonic set pieces and gaudy record sleeves." These albums do indeed feature elements of the noisy-abstract structures which Tietchens would be in a position to release from 1984 onwards in a more industrial setting, figuring prominently in his main body of work. Yet to understand "Zeitzeichen" as a period of transition, a mere curiosity, would be wide of the mark. Günter Körber released the Biotop, Spät-Europa, In die Nacht, and Litia albums on Sky Records. His label specialized in contemporary electronic music, often cosmic or Kraut-like, but also offered a platform to un-agitated cryptic experiments. Tietchens was well-acquainted with the Sky program, both as a listener and through personal friendships -- with Dieter Moebius, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and Michael Rother; hence, establishing contact presented little difficulty. Sixteen tracks had been produced for Biotop but, in 1980, saw no genuine prospect of a release, so signing to Sky was a logical move. The Sky series is markedly different, surprisingly so, from the debut album Nachtstücke, rife with "soft rhythms and harmonic bliss," as Tietchens acknowledges today. Not something which can be said of Biotop. In keeping with the sleeve's garish color scheme, derision, idle pathos and dissonance in abundance are flung sardonically at the expectations of pop. But there was more than ironic intent in the disjointed rhythms and sliding melodies. These blaring, crashing tracks glare with artifice, mirroring the ideas of an artist lacking the inclination and capacity to compose straightforward easy listening music. Biotop is inhabited by insectoid squeaks, banging percussion and echoes of displaced nursery rhymes. The hectic piece "Moderne Arroganz" is notable for a voice listing types of insurance; from behind this "unbeatable idiocy," a critical reflex emerges which can be taken as social commentary -- it is no coincidence that "Sauberland" resounds with squeaky absurdity, taking itself none too seriously. One would not be wrong, therefore, to divine the artist finding himself in the banefully-piercing title-track, which rejects the alleged harmlessness of the album, a contrary "I'm here too," attenuated only by the remark "let's see how things go." But Tietchens' half hoping, half skeptical stance -- underlined as an endless groove on the initial pressing -- proved unfounded.