REINHOLD FRIEDL – Xenakis [A]live!


Every once in a while, someone decides that your reviewer must be subjected to a showcase of “profound cognizance”. A common method is talking in my proximity about matters that, hypothetically, should stimulate admiration or at least a minor response on my behalf. Enjoy this nip and tuck exchange between two nerds, captured a while back by these very ears. “Oh, come on, you don’t know Xenakis? He was the one who used stochastic principles in his music!” “Uh, that means that everything happens by chance, right?”. Et voila, a too common example of nano-brained ramblers putting names and terms in their mouths without even knowing what they’re talking about (which, let’s make this perfectly clear, is Italy’s second national sport after soccer, but I’m currently verifying that the plague is spreading on illustrious international sources, too). Among the appropriate correctional (…repressive?) methods that I would apply in such an occasion is strapping those flag-bearers of cerebrosclerosis to a seat and forcing them to listen, full blast, to this homage that Reinhold Friedl dedicated to the late Greek composer, music which – to quote Andy Partridge – sounds “louder than tanks on the highway, louder than bombers in flight”. And it is just outstanding, if you ask me. Performed with scary intensity by Zeitkratzer (in this instance comprising the leader plus Burkhard Schlothauer, Anton Lukoszevieze, Uli Philipp, Frank Gratkowski, Franz Hautzinger, Melvyn Poore, Marc Weiser, Maurice de Martin and Ralf Meinz) Xenakis [A]live! lasts 54 minutes that, except for the dust-settling, pre-standing ovation finale, are perceived as a continuous eruption of held notes, contrasting tremolos, membrane-drilling highs, rippling oscillations, majestic drones, awesome rumbles which, taken as a whole, recall the terrifying power of a destructive natural phenomenon, its ever morphing mass a death sentence for the comfort of those who “know” someone’s art by reading a couple of lines on a magazine. Paradoxically, the huge wall of sound created by Zeitkratzer is somehow comparable to Phill Niblock’s domes of clashing frequencies. Both in fact are received as all-embracing massive entities despite being formed by a myriad of components which, in Friedl’s case, are born from different instruments while in Niblock’s the overtones of a single source do all the work. Far from “reassuring” whichever way we look at it, this is a crucial demonstration of force that should be played LOUD for best results. Pacemakers and peacemakers will be put at risk, though. The same composition constitutes the soundtrack to a DVD containing an experimental video by Lillevan (from Rechenzentrum) who fathered unrecognizable shapes and gradations from photos and fragments of films of the Iranian city of Persepolis. This is also beautiful, but the real winner is Friedl’s electroacoustic roar, which might even be a candidate to “my favourite thing” of 2007.


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