Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Harmonia Mundi, 1969; available
2 tracks, 46:19
The late Karleheinz Stockhausen recorded this series of pieces after a long depression. Two are represented here; I'm not sure if they're different versions than those on the seven-LP (!) box. AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN (ON THE SEVENTH DAY) is a classic of intuitive music. Stockhausen gave his musicians instructions on how to play (based on mood, interpretation, and other non-notational methods) and then let them take flight. Jazz guy Michel Portal sits in on various instruments (bass clarinet, tenor sax, E flat clarinet, bass clarinet, basset horn, and taragod); the other musicians, mostly French avant-gardists (it was recorded in Paris), play everything from electronium to tam-tam to darabuka. Stockhausen himself controlled the filters and potentiometers, used to distort and manipulate the sound of certain instruments. Both pieces, "Fais Voile Vers Le Soleil" ("Look Towards The Sun") and "Liaison" ("Connection"), are wonderful examples of guided intuitive improv. There are long stretches with few instruments being played as well as noisy clusters. I consider this a nice preview of the mega-set, which contains all eleven compositions (some in multiple takes). However, as a standalone album this two-track distillation is a perfectly great addition to any avant-composition collection.