"In the Rhythm of Life - Beat after beat, a musician goes after New York City. With his drumsticks he elicits a beat from asphalt and walls, telephone booths and blinds, lampposts and garbage cans, which he improvises single-handedly through, Manhattan. Sleeps a song in all things: There's something good-for-nothing romantic about what American video artist John Sanborn staged on camera in 1982's "Ear to the Ground" with percussionist and composer David Van Tieghem. At the end of the short film, co-produced by Kit Fitzgerald, the sound artist skips through a deserted street into the sunset. Cheerful and simplistic in the best sense, this street art performance seems in retrospect, a dancer's epiphany in the confidence of being able to follow one's own rhythm. Digitally restored, the four-and-a-half-minute single-channel video opens a Sanborn retrospective at the Karlsruhe Center for Art and Media (ZKM) that, with works created from 1978 to 2022, pays tribute to a pioneer and a wanderer between the worlds of art and commerce in his largest European solo exhibition to date. So in tune with the zeitgeist was "Ear to the Ground" when it was made, that Sony knocked on Sanborn's door and asked if the video wouldn't make a great template for a commercial promoting the Walkman."
Ursula Scheer, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 8/18/22
". . .she is forever haunted by him; using the voice of the house itself he shouts at her day and night in a symphony of clangs and creaks that would drive anyone crazy. (The sound designer David Van Tieghem should get an award, or a summons.)"
Jesse Green, NY Times, 9/24/19
". . .witty composer-sound designer David Van Tieghem."
Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times, 9/27/17
"Also deserving of special praise was the exquisite sound design of David Van Tieghem and Emily Auciello (for Robert Ashley's 'Dust')
. . .your reviewer knows first-hand how challenging this work can be. Van Tieghem and Auciello provided a perfect blend of voices, electronics and keyboard."
Arlo McKinnon, Opera News, 5/17
"One of the greatest percussionists, conceptualists and audio visionaries the world has ever known. . ."
Anil Prasad, Innerviews: Music Without Borders, 3/17
“. . .The original music and sound design by David Van Tieghem complimented beautifully the dramatic through line (in 'Watch on the Rhine').”
DC Metro Theater Arts, 2/17
"The scene begins with a rocking crash from the brilliant composer David Van Tieghem, whose percussion and cello soundscape enlivens the 2 1/2-hour Shakespearean drama."
Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg, 9/21/13
". . .a video of the musician David Van Tieghem dancing through Lower Manhattan with a set of drumsticks and 'playing' the city as he goes is a treat."
Holland Cotter, New York Times, 9/11/08
". . .an inventive composition in which the composer played unconventional objects. . ."
Gia Kourlas, New York Times, 6/4/05
". . .odd, intriguing. . ."
Sarah Kaufman, Washington Post, 11/1/04
". . .the first-rate sound design is by David Van Tieghem."
Ben Brantley, New York Times, 2/17/04
"David Van Tieghem's music and sound create some stunning effects."
Francine Russo, Village Voice, 3/5/03
"The message (in 'The Crucible'), underscored by David Van Tieghem's ominous, anxious music, is clear: Salem's got the fever, and it's got it bad."
Ben Brantley, New York Times, 3/8/02
". . .('Othello' is) beautifully enhanced by the staging and production design. . .David Van Tieghem's sound design includes sinister bell noises that seem to signal those moments when Iago clicks another piece of his diabolical puzzle into place."
Ben Brantley, New York Times, 12/10/01
"David Van Tieghem has contributed his customarily unsettling subliminal sound effects (to 'Othello)."
Howard Kissel, New York Daily News, 12/10/01
"Better yet is David Van Tieghem's music-cum-sound (for 'The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek'): When will this consummate artist with hundreds of such achievements to his credit receive his great, and greatly overdue, due?"
John Simon, New York Magazine, 7/19/99
". . .breathlessly perfect articulation. . .Van Tieghem solves the problem (in 'The Turn of the Screw') with sheer restraint, with tiny hints of tune, faint whispers, gentle knocks, creaks, or footsteps, so we're never quite sure what we've just heard. . .gorgeous stylization. . ."
Michael Feingold, Village Voice, 4/6/99
". . .spine-tingling music by David Van Tieghem underlines ominous revelations (in 'Night Must Fall')."
Ben Brantley, New York Times, 3/9/99
". . .sparing but bone-chilling sound (for 'Wit') by David Van Tieghem. . ."
John Simon, New York Magazine, 9/28/98
". . .David Van Tieghem’s jangly, thumping score provides an almost cinematic ambiance."
David Mermelstein, Variety, 9/14/98
"The first round of music at the Capulets’ ball--clanging, thumping rhythms from composer David Van Tieghem--conveys the sound of a harsh, primitive culture."
Don Shirley, Los Angeles Times, 9/7/98
"David Van Tieghem’s original music and sound are unfailingly on target."
John Simon, New York Magazine, 6/1/98
"David Van Tieghem's original music and sound keep you on the edge of your seat."
Sam Whitehead, Time Out New York, 1/29/98
"(Mac Wellman's) dense, oddball dialogue, especially as set to David Van Tieghem's cerebral music, may begin to obsess you, too. I've spent two full days trying to expel the incantatory 'Why the Y in Ybor?' from my noggin. . .wonderfully exotic, hypnotizing hymns and song fragments. . ."
Peter Marks, New York Times, 10/17/97
". . .David Van Tieghem's wry music-sound design is enormously right."
John Simon, New York Magazine, 7/7/97
". . .add to these the pleasures of David Van Tieghem's coolly emphatic incidental music. . ."
Peter Marks, New York Times, 6/10/97
". . .('Good as New') is helped immensely by David Van Tieghem's arresting incidental music. . ."
Howard Kissel, New York Daily News, 3/3/97
". . .the music comes from that hippest of theater composers, David Van Tieghem."
Ben Brantley, New York Times, 11/8/96
". . .the music and and sound effects (for 'Henry V'), devised and executed by David Van Tieghem, are a total success."
John Simon, New York Magazine, 7/15/96
". . .a striking production, aided by an eerily effective sound design from David Van Tieghem."
Wilborn Hampton, New York Times, 3/23/96
"David Van Tieghem's eerie, evocative sound design is one of the finest components of Douglas Hughes's nearly flawless production (of 'The Grey Zone')."
The New Yorker, 1/22/96
"David Van Tieghem is the percussion world's David Copperfield. He coaxes audiences into seeing everyday objects as fantastical creations with a life and poetry all their own, but instead of making the objects levitate and disappear, he performs feats of percussion on them. . .he drummed blindfolded on two moving tables set with kitchen utensils. . .drumming on everything in sight. . .tapping on the risers, the walls, the floor, the soles of his sneakers and even a drum set. . .he soon moved on to solo on dozens of bits of scrap metal strung from four coat racks and to use electronic delay effects to turn the noises of toys into quirky rhythmic loops. . .The pacing of the performance and Mr. Van Tieghem's humorous, methodical gestures showed a sensitivity to movement that was almost equal to his skill as a percussionist, which is one reason he has composed scores for many of New York's leading choreographers. . .Credit should be given to Mr. Van Tieghem for his abilities as a juggler, because it's hard for one man to keep music, comedy, dance, theater and magic all in the air without dropping one."
Neil Strauss, New York Times, 12/13/94
"David Van Tieghem is a drummer with a wry, deadpan, very funny wit. . .a unique and inventive performer. . .a sort of ambient funk; kind of like New Age's hipper cousin. . .hypnotically ethereal and beautifully physicalized. . .funny. . .compellingly dramatic. . . .
wonderfully entertaining and artistically visionary. . ."
John Michael Koroly, WRSU-FM, Rutgers University, 12/11/94
"Against your will, you'll probably find yourself singing ('Swoop's') one song, which has the refrain 'The devil has beautiful skin,' for days afterward."
Ben Brantley, New York Times, 11/94
". . .David Van Tieghem's haunting, otherworldly music superbly matches both the dread andthe wistfulness of the script."
Ben Brantley, New York Times, 5/20/94
"The music by David Van Tieghem is enormously vital, giving the dance a drama beyond the movement. Van Tieghem is creating some of the best dance music around. . .its repetitive insistence makes dancing irresistible, grounding the dance even as it pulls it forward."
Sally Sommer, Village Voice, 4/10/90
"This New York artist has built himself a reputation both as an innovative percussionist and sometime performance artist. On his latest album ('Strange Cargo') he further explores the quirky fusion of funk, rock, jazz, Asian, and progressive electronic elements that characterize his music. We are taken on a journey through wildly diverse terrains -- from tight structured melodies to impressionistic pastiches of weird and wonderful sounds, all multi-layered and full of interesting background effects best captured on headphones.
". . .brilliant. . .a curious mix of Harpo Marx and musique concrete. . .free-spirited fun. . ."
Chris Pasles, Los Angeles Times, 11/7/87
". . .radiant. . .chilling. . .(Van Tieghem) is incredible to watch. . .possesses a joyful imagination. . .portrays a mad scientist, surgeon and nightclub singer, ending as an extraterrestrial. . ."
Sasha Anawalt, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, 11/7/87
"Not comfortably labeled New Age, or percussion music, or pop, or electronic music, Van Tieghem's music has that 'downtown' mix of all these and yet is distinctly his own...from the lush 'Crystals' to the droll and rhythm steady 'Night of the Cold Noses.' This is twisted 'easy listening.'"
"Blue" Gene Tyranny, AllMusic, 1987
". . .through the streets of Manhattan, sticks in hand, (Van Tieghem) beats out a variety of rhythmic sounds from the city's commonplace artifacts. . .the city has rarely sounded so good."
John J. O'Connor, New York Times, 7/5/85
"David Van Tieghem, the experimental composer and art-rock musician, wrote the commissioned score for 'Indoors' (which) ranges from watery and buzzing sounds to a steady chug. . ."
Anna Kisselgoff, New York Times, 11/3/84
". . .virtuosic. . .witty. . .lyrical. . .beguiling. . .a suavely wacky stage comedian as well as a talented composer. . .a poet-scientist-magician of everyday sound finding music in everything he touched."
Stephen Holden, New York Times, 7/30/84
". . .lyrical soundscapes. . .unusual percussive coloring. . .balances techno-gloss expertise with a playful sense of wonder."
Craig Lee, Los Angeles Times, 7/29/84
"David Van Tieghem is a percussionist, nominally speaking, but as far as he's concerned, everything on earth is a percussion instrument. On this album ('These Things Happen'), which features a variety of found sounds (including radio transmissions) mixed in with more conventional instruments, Van Tieghem plays a wine bottle, a hair comb, metal ashtrays, and balloons, among other things. But this musically arranged junk heap is often amazingly musical."
Craig Ruhlmann, AllMusic, 1984
". . .a preeminent avant-garde percussionist. . .nutty performance pieces. . .there are serious purpose and rock-solid drumming technique behind his antics. He just could be the Duchamp of new music, scrambling the mundane stuff of everyday life into art that first makes us laugh, then makes us think."
Vanity Fair, 11/83
". . .an hour and a half of pure pleasure. . .virtuoso rhythmic digressions. . .an overtone of mystery. . .a childlike spirit of delighted discovery. . .Van Tieghem can use his feet and his lanky body as effectively as any instrument. . .a sophisticated, high-tech riot. . . impeccable timing. . .a confident, generous presence that shares with the audience an expansive sense of wonder. . ."
Sally Banes, Village Voice, 2/15/83