(Pogus)

Firstly conceived in 1967-68, “Maledetto” is a composition for seven virtuoso speakers that sounds as modern as anything in the last five years, a commanding statement by a largely ignored composer. What Kenneth Gaburo declares in the notes is essential to comprehend the aesthetic significance of this work: “One can view each human as a unique and complex linguistic system, capable of generating more than one kind of language at a time (…) Thus each human can be viewed as a contrapuntal, rather than a mono-lingual system”. This explains just about everything. The building block at the core of this piece is the word “screw” in its various connotations, both in terms of meaning and sonic structure; from that, a whole edifice of intersecting expressions is raised, up to a point in which the attentive listener gets gradually pushed away from any theatrical interpretation of the score (which, oddly enough, is indeed part of a six-hour theatre performance) to enter a thoroughly musical realm, the voices perceived as assorted typologies of unusual instruments. Over the course of these 45 minutes, whose complexity can’t possibly be illustrated by a sheer review, we’re literally immersed in technological imagery and, above all, bodily reactions, either described or simply perceptible (sibilance, syllables, breath, chuckling, call-and-response). As Warren Burt rightly states, this is “a deep and profound celebration of the body, the physical, the sexual”. The power of this material just overwhelms the other music contained here, even though the latter deals with the important issue of people reacting to the notion that “nuclear war has made their lives expendable”. A percussionist interacts with tapes of individual views (or non-views) about the main topic along the lines of a dramatic performance that should be seen live for better understanding. Having the gravity of the implication been established, there’s not a single minute of the (still interesting) “Antiphony VIII” that equals the emotional and technical intensity of “Maledetto” which alone is worth of the purchase of this disc, as it’s definitely indispensable listening.

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