Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Iannis Xenakis - Electronic Music
A small but significant example of the inscrutable genius of IX.
"This is a collection of compositions from electronic music pioneer and 20th century legend Iannis Xenakis, deceased in the early half of 2001 after a lifetime creating one of the most significant bodies of European art. The great Greek-born Frenchman's extraordinary work covered early electronic music and post-serialist composition, architecture, and mathematics, and his mastery of diverse mediums informed his work in music composition, securing his place as one of the most important composers of avant-garde classical music. Those familiar with Xenakis the architect will know him for his pavilion at the Brussels World's Fair (1970), while instrumental classical musicians will know of his complex and abstract percussion and string works. In electronic music he is known not as the inventor but as the composer who shaped the medium into one of the most progressive and complex mediums of the late 20th century. Hence, New York's Electronic Music Foundation released this compilation of his works dating from the late '50s, when at a Paris studio he produced these artifacts that take the primitive electronics of the time into stunningly sophisticated realms. On hearing this CD in the new millennium, it is hard to believe that these abstractions were not made in the late '90s, judging from their futuristic use of electronic effects. Xenakis' work was always considerably more abrasive than that of his contemporaries, and is comparable only to the work of Karlheinz Stockhausen, who was similarly interested in noise and sonic phenomena during the '60s. The works on this CD such as "Polytopes" and "Concrete PH" are concerned with "clouds of sound" where the density is extreme, giving these tape works complex textures that can be examined for hours and at different volumes, presenting effects from curious ambience to engaging and rigorous sound worlds. This archival collection comes highly recommended. It is more than a footnote in the history of electronic music, as many reissues can be; rather, this is a vital document in the shaping of late-20th century music." - Sylvie Harrison