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    Iannis Xenakis – Electronic Music

    Iannis Xenakis - Electronic Music

    A really important and necessary historical reissue, the Electronic Music CD contains all of the material from the old Nonesuch Electro-Acoustic Music LP, which has been out of print since the early 1970s, plus two bonus tracks—all spanning from the mid ’50s up to the early ’90s. Drenched in flowing yet sometimes jarring late-night atmosphere and murky dark-spirit ambience, I would gladly run into a fire to rescue this object. It’s one of my Top 25 desert isle albums, for sure. In “Diamorphoses” (1957) Xenakis used the sounds of jet planes, crashing railroad cars, Earthquake shocks, a tiny Greek bell, etc. to form very dense, dark clouds and giant, downwardly-circling webs of sound. Composed as an prelude to Edgard Varese’s “Poéme Èlectronique” at the Philips Pavillion, “Concret-P.H.” (1958) is comprised exclusively of the highly magnified sound of burning charcoal. The various tracks were heavily spliced and mixed-up to form quite a delicate and strange tapestry of tinkling, crackling sonics.

    Halved from its original film soundtrack length of 22 minutes, “Orient-Occident” (1959) is considered a classic from the first decade of electronic music. It’s made of such sounds as a cello bow rubbed over a cardboard box, metal rods and gongs, ionosphere signals and a greatly slowed-down excerpt from Xenakis’ instrumental work, “Pithoprakta.” The immersive sound environment of “Bohor” (1962) is one of the world’s finest examples of pure sound-as-music, and simply makes all other music sound corny. Featuring only a Laotian mouth organ, Oriental bracelets, and other jewelry, this 22-minute epic magically maintains a quite spare yet totally massive, spooky atmosphere. On this remixed(?) CD version, some of the swirling murk of the way slowed-down Laotian mouth organ is subdued, with the emphasis directed more toward the clinking and clanking of the metal objects. Even the sped-up tape whirl at the end, which sounds a lot like having your head shoved inside 10,000 tornadoes, thunderstorms and jet engines that are running at full power, has been mastered more quietly than the old LP. It’s rather disappointing, but still acceptable.

    “Hibiki-Hana-Ma” (“Reverberation-Flower-Interval”) (1970) was composed for the World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan. Xenakis recorded and reshaped the sounds of an orchestra, snare drum and biwa into another unbelievably gargantuan, ugly, beautiful, pissed array. Huge chunks of abrasive sound reality come flying at your head. On “S.709” (1992): “The GENDYN program completes the project Xenakis began in his instrumental works of the ’50s: How to create a ‘black box’ which could realize an entire musical work on the basis of a few givens. (Of course, the composer is able to intervene and eliminate any chosen sequence.) Generally speaking, the computer generates both the sound synthesis and the composition process itself, without any breach between the two levels. Xenakis here manages to unify micro and macro-composition. The program consists of an algorhythm which explores stochastic timbre more thoroughly than ever before, resulting in a waveform which then evolves constantly through the introduction of ‘polygonal variations’ with the help of probability procedures. This is what Xenakis refers to as ‘the process of dynamic stochastic synthesis.’”—Makis Solomis. Translation: This piece is crammed full with plenty of squeaky, squawky, chattering sound-corrosion.

    Label: Electronic Music Foundation Catalog Number: EMF CD 003 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 6 Total Time: 66:49 Country: United States Released: 1997 Related Artists: Francois Bayle, Luc Ferrari, Bernard Parmegiani, Pierre Schaeffer More: Discogs, Electronic Music Foundation, Last FM, MySpace, Official, Wikipedia

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