Startling and stunning in equal measure it is exciting, certainly necessary to get shaken up once in while out of the security of familiarity. As the title of this latest collection of terse, far-out and exotically challenging sounds collide creating a template for you to do so, this is a fast-forward journey into the provocative and evocative. The junction and spirit of inspiration interlinking between Pop Culture And The Classical Avant-Garde is well documented, as indeed are the accompanying sleeve notes here, and this selection of composers, artists and sound manipulators is spread across four cd’s of undoubtable thrills. From Stockhausen to Coltrane extending the hotwire of radical improvisation to the twenty munities of Ravi Shankar’s mystically charged Raga Bilaskhani Todi, from the humanity of Debussy to Bill Evans emotive Jazz this literally plays out like a roller-coaster of emotional highs and lows. Private Dreams and Public Nightmares, created before the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was established in 1958, highlighting (again) the importance of Daphne Oram alongside Desmond Briscoe and Norman Bain with a cut-up of sight and sound is to be found here. The full 27 minutes of Pierre Henry’s Orpheus, the first major work of symphonic concrÃ¨te music, is included too. All of which merely scratches the surface of a less conventional appreciation of what collections of noise are capable of, just as the beauty of Classical notation likewise ignites the soul. Things and perspective might not quite feel the same after you listen to thisâ€¦
A beautifully realised collection music that sees worlds collude in the interplay between sound, revolution and flying colours. Sometime in the 1960’s artists such as The Beatles took note of what was happening in the counter-cultural stream of consciousness populated by the Avant Garde. They, of course, had been tinkering at the edges of what music could be for some time but the influence provided helped shape the next generation of popular albums by expanding what the simple structure of song could be evolving from the basic refrain of I love You, plus by taking the accompanying scale of rock n roll chords to new heights.
Quite naturally Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage are ever present, as is Bernard Herrmann whose score for Hitchcock’s Pyscho remains a keynote moment in cinematic history, alongside the unmistakable Ravi Shankar and Jacques Brel. Jazz giants Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and the Bill Evans Trio, who neatly supply Autumn Leaves, also appear as do a wealth of classical composers from the wonderful Claude Debussy through to Bach. But in many ways it’s the sheer thrill of hearing pieces like Luciano Berio’s Thema (Omaggio A Joyce) with its rugged deconstruction of sound and voice that proves to be the most exciting, certainly dangerous, in ways Rhythm and Blues never was. Followed by Cage’s brutal Williams Mix which sees the clash of quarter-inch magnetic tapes create their own universe this is just about as provocative as it gets. Three CD’s span the concept, each delving into different arenas, each worth their weight in gold. From radical fire to the more traditional, there is quite literally something for everyone to treasure here.
Release: February 21
Karlheinz Stockhausen was a prolific composer and creator/ manipulator of sound. He lived between 1928 and 2007 in which time he composed some 376 works. His legacy and the ideas incorporated within last and inspire to this day, perhaps in ways that you may not even be aware of. Beginning to compose pieces at the beginning of the 1950’s what you will hear contained from that time is Kontra Punte (Counter-Points) from 1952-53.Â Which rearranges the classical repertoire into new, almost shapeless forms as he and composers of a similar mind-set challenged how music could be made after the second world war. Remaining otherworldly – with a spiritual dimension – redefining what was possible/ acceptable is an accolade only afforded to a few throughout the history of music.
This three cd boxset from EL charts the territory explored by Stockhausen while also including work by Pierre Boulez, examples of musique concrÃ¨te from Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry alongside others which used recorded sounds as raw material. These collages of stimulation exist in a unique space of their own, even now, reflecting an uneasy world around them, yet there is also something reassuring about the flowing, freeform of expression as they take your imagination and run with it. Stockhausen’s own Gesang der JuÌˆnglinge inspired The Beatles – Revolution 9 and you can hear how too (and he’s there on the cover of Sergeant Pepper’s). The third disc: Electronic Music For The Mind And Body features further studies in those concepts like John Cage’s magnificent Aria with Fontana Mix, as well as from Iannis Xenakis and the wonderful GyÃ¶rgy Ligeti. The collection is accompanied by an invaluable booklet containing photographs and text setting this incredible story in context. And if you want to look beyond the familiar worlds of melody and syncopation then this is a perfect starting point.
Release: October 26