iannis xenakis. search & destroy

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this guy always seems to turn up a lot, but i've never heard him. so, what's he like, and what are his best things? and what about schaeffer and those other dudes?



gareth, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

He said 'dudes'

Nick, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I have almost nothing to tell you. I borrowed Kraanberg (the new version on I think Asphodel, with DJ Spooky unobtrusively assisting, to play tapes of an old "Kraanberg" performance) for an extended period of time once. It was certainly an experience but didn't grab me enough to make me want to buy my own copy. That one would take me some time anyway, I think.

Does Otis have something to say about that electroacoustic improv junk? Does he?

Josh, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Good topic! Since he just died a few months ago, it might be time for a Xenakis revival. (I suppose the "remixes" CD is imminent. The Pierre Henry "Metmorphoses" one is great fun, as is the Steve Reich.) I haven't listened to Xenakis much since I was a teenager and long ago sold my albums, but I seem to recall that one piece titled simply "Electro-Acoustic Music" on the old Nonesuch label was my favorite. If you're not familiar with this brand of algebraic aleatoric stochastic teleological deterministic music, the recent collection "Ohm--Early Gurus Of Electronic Music" is a good place to start; Xenakis is featured. I believe his work became more orchestral and less tape-oriented as he grew older.

Avant-diva Diamanda Galas, also of Greek derivation, was one of Xenakis's students and collaborators. He also worked with Messiaen, Milhaud, and probably most inmportantly, fellow electronic innovator Varese.

Pierre Schaeffer, along with Pierre Henry, was one of the pioneers of musique concrete--music which I've always thought is simply more entertaining to listen to than much of the purely electronic or modern post-serial stuff. Check out Schaeffer's famous "Etude aux Chemins de Fer" and especially Henry's "Variations For A Door And A Sigh." (These pieces use as their source material just what the titles indicate--trains, doors, and sighs.) But take what I have to say with more than a few grains of your favorite bath-salts; I'm neither musician nor music critic, so in other words, I probably don't know what the heck I'm talking about. Any experts out there?

X. Y. Zedd, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Fuck having to be a musician, that was good.

Does anything Diamanda has done sound like anything Xenakis has done?

Josh, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

'algebraic aleatoric stochastic teleological deterministism'.. . now *there's* a tag line for someone :)

stevie t, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Josh, although I have very nearly the complete works of La Galas, I've heard far too little of Xenakis far too long ago to make a good comparison. I would imagine that Diamanda's earliest works, such as "Panoptikon," would the most influenced by her teacher (hence more of a "serious music" approach). Her more recent work has evolved toward blues and spirituals-inspired pieces, though she usually keeps getting more extreme at the same time. They don't call it "difficult" music for nothing; it's also difficult to listen to (not that I wouldn't ever find it of immense interest).

I'll have to catch up on my Xenakis some day... By the way, could it possibly be you're from Iowa State? I went to the U of I myself, but greetings to a fellow Hawk Eye stater if you're from Iowa, too! Home of the Tape Beatles and other fine electroacoustic revolutionaries!

X. Y. Zedd, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I didn't think the Malediction and Prayer style Diamanda would sound anything much like Xenakis, but the only other Diamanda I've heard is Masque of the Red Death, which I suppose could sound like Xenakis, only with no-wave junk mixed in. So I guess it's the latter that I had in mind with my question.

Josh, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

One of the sides of Litanies of Satan/Wild Women with Steak-knives, maybe? (X isn't usually this improv-deranged, tho)

Can't check as someone walked with all my Diamanda records...

The EMF Xenakis: Electronic Music gets you to the present on that side of YX, and has a version of Hibiki-Hana-Ma, which requires 800 loudspeakers. The Nonesuch release mentioned is the one Lester Bangs used to play in his boombox, to piss off hiphoppers with theirs.

mark s, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

(insert generic "it's all Greek to me" joke here)

Sean Carruthers, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Insert obligatory "I shit all over Greeks" in-joke here as excuse for having listened to hardly any Xenakis. As for other electroacoustic, I have Pierre Schaeffer's collected works, but a decent amount of it sucks, and I'd have to listen through all four hours again to remember which pieces are good. If you can find the 3-CD Loevre Musicale which omits the spoken word, it's worth buying if you're interested. Even at his worst he's able to sustain interest, which is something most of these composers struggle to do at their best. Pierre Henry is suffering from a severe glut of product at the moment with a new 2-CD set out of France like every three days, some of which are great, many of which have French spoken word about the apocalypse and aren't fit to farm cocks. The French know nothing about the apocalypse except that they'll use it as another excuse to fornicate, for which, as mentioned earlier, Gainsbourg would be a better soundtrack. The aforementioned Variations for a Door and a Sigh is my favorite Henry piece. Chuck Eddy may be right that only people named Pierre made musique concrete, but by far the best piece of straight electroacoustic music ever created is La Creation du Monde by Bernard Parmegiani. It's more essential than OHM as far as I'm concerned, but I don't own OHM so I guess it would follow that I would think that. Tod Dockstader was the most consistently good composer for electroacoustic, very good are Quatermass and especially Apocalypse, though I still wouldn't get it on to him. Vittorio Gelmetti is fairly overlooked, Musiche Elettroniche being worth a listen, the drone quality at times unusually high for the genre. Michel Chion was good when he was noisy, weak as fuck when he talked in French.

I shit all over y'all for inciting me to write so much about geeky music, next thing you know I'll be writing an article about it. How embarrassing. Electroacoustic improv is a completely different genre, AMM and Thomas Lehn/Gerry Hemingway having thus far put out my favorite albums in it. Short of writing on article on it, I'll just tell you to search out anything recent (last 20 years) by AMM and anything on Erstwhile Recordings.

Otis Wheeler, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I love Xenakis. His electro-acoustic music is huge; check out "Bohor I"--it's the most frightening piece I've ever heard. I actually own "Kraanerg," and I find it a very trying but intense experience. But yeah, I think I'd start with his electro-acoustic stuff. There's a CD out there that compiles a lot of it; it's kind of hard to track down, but do a search on google.com and you should be able to come up with something. I think you might be able to buy it directly from the label (although I can't recall which label that is at the moment).

Clarke B., Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

If your budget doesn't stretch to the OHM box set, you could always give the single disc comp 'Early Modulations: Vintage Volts' (Caipirinha Music) a go. It includes pieces by Xenakis ('Concret PH') and Pierre Schaeffer ('Etude Aux Chemins De Fer') as well as Cage, Subotnick, the great Luc Ferrari, and Max Mathews' extraordinary 'Bicycle Built For Two', one of the first attempts at computerised voice simulation. A good intro alb.

Andrew L, Friday, 18 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

xenakis is actually a bit of a blind spot for me. i have heard "bohor" and yes, it was good and dark and heavy. i'm surprised no one's mentioned "metastasis," a really exciting and intense orchestral piece i heard a couple years ago. i've also heard a short harpsichord piece whose name eludes me. it was good. the other piece i've heard was the music for the _oresteia_, which sounded sort of like beijing opera and didn't grab me as much.

otis is right about musique concrete. henry's _fragments pour artaud_ does actually have some really nice parts but also has a lot of goofy spoken-word. don't leave out varese's "deserts" which was #5 on my 40-records list.

sundar subramanian, Saturday, 19 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

The only Xenakis I have is the 2-CD set on Erato, which I think was originally issued in '92, and re-released last year at budget price.

The first disc features a lot of fierce Ensemble InterContemporain pieces - "Phlegra", "Keren" (trombone, mostly) and so on. The second disc feature the harpsichord/clavecin works Sundar mentioned - "Komboi" being the best, leavened as it is with some nice percussion (dig those ceramic pots).

I have yet to hear any Xenakis which could be described as electro-acoustic; I understand "Persepolis" is the business?

Is it worth starting a Giacinto Scelsi thread?

Michael Jones, Wednesday, 23 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link


Josh, Wednesday, 23 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I'll take that as a 'No', then.

Michael Jones, Thursday, 24 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Oh, but I love Scelsi! (Haven't owed too much, however.)

X. Y. Zedd, Friday, 25 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Yeah, don't let my ignorance stop you. I am ignorant of a great many things. ;)

Josh, Friday, 25 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

"I have yet to hear any Xenakis which could be described as electro- acoustic": well, actually I think the term "electro-acoustic" has shifted somewhat in meaning — within avant-classicism — since that Nonesuch record was titled. To be more an adjunct to the post-Henry concrete tradition (Chion/Dhomond/Parmeggiani [sp?], that Canadian bloke, Robert something), which is not where Xenakis really operated.

mark s, Sunday, 27 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Robert Normandeau? Big on the e-a front, the Canadians (or perhaps just one city?) - that section at These Records in Kennington seems to be full of releases from, er, North North America.

Mark S - I'm sure you're right about the changing definition of e-a, it's just that, aside from wellying the harpsichord through some kind of internal amplification, I've not heard Xenakis' efforts in the broad domain of electronic manipulation. Or e m as I'd now like to call it.

All that business dovetails with what might more properly be called musique concrete (m c), of the sort you find on labels like Metamkine thesedays. Little discs. Big sounds. Good.

Michael Jones, Sunday, 27 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

one year passes...
Just picked up Xenakis (electronic music) comp on EMF. Really beautiful. his pieces are so dense and thick and ugly and beautiful all at the same time. But i still haven't basorbed it. must listen more!

but it's a nice time to collect Xenakis because Persepolis and legend d'er have been released too. The latter is basically 8 (channels?) of music with each bit taking centre stage for a while (the whole thing is nearly 50 minutes). Persepolis: heard it once on headphones and it was impossible to make any sense of it. My brain was fried and i couldn't register it.

I went to canada for three months and now am back so I'll give this a listen (on speakers this time) and report later.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 2 September 2002 19:47 (nineteen years ago) link

persepolis i love it sounds like a full orchestra merzbow. as always w/ concrete tape stuff there's a whole loada bullshit justification behind xenakis' stuff in particular. why these guys could never just rock out and let the music do the talking i don't know. sleeve notes for persepolis hilarity ensues

bob snoom, Wednesday, 4 September 2002 11:21 (nineteen years ago) link

three months pass...
they shoulda done the wonderful first 5 mins of fearless with hibiki-hana ma

my girlfriend loves persepolis

bob zemko (bob), Friday, 20 December 2002 23:33 (nineteen years ago) link

seven months pass...
ok just bought my third version of 'persepolis', contained on the new two disc Xenakis set on editions RZ. just wanted to say: this is the definitive mix. I'm very familiar with the Fractal & Asphodel editions, have even heard seperated mixes from the 8 channel multitrack, and this RZ mix is finally the one that nails it. It's like I'd never heard it before.

I'm almost thinking that it now rivals 'Legende d'Eer'. Can't even believe I'm saying that, but this mix finally seems to blend the sounds into a weightless, majestic mass that hangs in the air like doom. It no longer sounds like an undifferentiated multitracked soundscape, it sounds like a single living unity. I can hardly wait until midnight tonight to play it again.

jl (Jon L), Thursday, 7 August 2003 21:46 (eighteen years ago) link

I did not word my enthusiasm strongly enough. Pretend my previous post was written all caps.

jl (Jon L), Thursday, 7 August 2003 21:51 (eighteen years ago) link

seven months pass...
I can't believe I found a message board where people actually
discuss buying things like Xenakis CDS/LPs (8 tracks?)...this kind
of board is very rare indeed. Glad I stumbled onto it.
I've been getting deep into the whole modern classical thing
the past eight years or so, having grown almost totally bored
with rock and pop music except in certain rare instances.
I bought both the Montaigne edition of Xenakis' "La legende d'er" which is fabulous and a must-own CD, as well as the new 2disc set
of "Persepolis", also challenging and great. The dj remixes
included on the set are interesting if not satisfying, the main
piece by Xenakis on disc one is the real reason to buy that.
Xenakis is often inspired by Greek mythology, legends, and
philosophical texts, adding a lot of literary subtext to his music beyond just musical or architectural inspiration.
To describe Xenakis' music for those who've never heard of him: quick version is no, he's not particularly classical, he's not really synth music (hardly), and he's generally unclassifiable. He's cited as being a formalist and theorist in music (having started out as a mathematician and architect FIRST and then later a composer), but he's done a lot more than that. He also contributed to the invention of some kind of compositional "computer" that can aid (it's alleged) even a young child with composing music, I think some institute in France is the center for Xenakis studies and they have this machine on premises, or so I read online recently. Xenakis has
industrial overtones and I now think he's the true "father" of
modern industrial/techno/noise and ambient music, though of
course he had precedecessors galore in his own time, such
as Stockhausen et al. If you like really challenging music
Xenakis is your man. I also recommend anything by Morton Feldman,
Luigi Nono, Penderecki, Kancheli, Kurtag, and Stefan Wolpe,
Earle Brown, and Christian Wolff if you like music of this kind.
They are all filed in Tower Records classical section but believe me,
classical ain't just for breakfast anymore, cause these guys are
all sui generis to my ears. All interesting and all worth your
time. I finally found classical music that excites me but isn't
the same old boring pretentious shit, and Xenakis tops the list
along with Morton Feldman. I would recommend previewing Xenakis
online at amazon etc. first, he may even be too abrasive or
"violent" in some instances for some listeners! Mozart it ain't.
The music of Morton Feldman is mostly a lot more gentle, quiet,
relaxing but still demanding of concentration; it's not really
intended as "background" music. And Xenakis DEFINITELY wasn't
intended as background music!


Scott Briggs, Friday, 12 March 2004 02:04 (seventeen years ago) link

scott, you shouldn't be posting to this board tonight if you're in nyc, you should be uptown at Miller Theater hearing a program of Xenakis's music for percussion.

(I know, this would be a more useful thing to mention if the concert were tomorrow night...)

Paul in Santa Cruz (Paul in Santa Cruz), Friday, 12 March 2004 04:15 (seventeen years ago) link

The word from my friend who went is that the Miller Theater concert was great, but DEAFENINGLY LOUD; a good portion of the audience sat there with their hands locked over their ears. (But very few people left.)

Paul in Santa Cruz (Paul in Santa Cruz), Friday, 12 March 2004 08:48 (seventeen years ago) link

michael- you should post to that scelsi thread.

scott- we have threads on many of these composers, use the search function at the bottom of the page.

since this thread was started I went to a xenakis concert where acoustic pieces from the 70s and 80s were played (they showed a couple of clips from a BBC doc on the fella): throughout I just kept thinking to as to why he didn't combine acoustics with electronic tapes. Also listening to a couple of Luigi Nono pieces really made me think abt this a bit more, maybe an opportunity missed there. The pieces themselves were too dry, nothing connected.

'kraanerg' is terrific.

also, the liner noted on cage's 'empty words (part III)' are the worst. really takes the prize as far as these things go.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Friday, 12 March 2004 13:02 (seventeen years ago) link

I read about the Xenakis concert here in NYC only
a day ahead of the show, and I'm stuck here in oh-so-trendy
TriBeCa working nights mainly now, so I couldn't have attended
last night even if I wanted to. And I just started a new job
so calling in sick ain't happening folks. I'm sure it must
have been great to see Xenakis' percussion pieces performed
live. I attended and reviewed Feldman's 5 hour String Quartet
II back in October for the subsequently slimey www.nyartsmagazine.com, who butchered my piece and published
it without my consent. and also, they don't pay their writers!
a $10 magazine and they don't pay. I read them the riot act
let me tell you...and got my piece pulled and replaced with
my original (read: well-written) version which you can now
find on their web site, it's under Jan.-Feb. articles archives.
I bought a Luigi Nono CD last month of "Fragmente" and I really
love it. Quiet, staccato, abrupt string pieces, also very hard
to classify.
I notice TriBeCa is oh-so-trendy but there's no good concerts
like the Xenakis thing happening down here around Hudson Street...
why do these shows have to be up at bloody 116th Street? why why?


Scott Briggs, Saturday, 13 March 2004 01:31 (seventeen years ago) link

>I notice TriBeCa is oh-so-trendy but there's no good concerts

maybe no 'concerts' but I envy you any job within walking distance of the dream house


(Jon L), Saturday, 13 March 2004 01:41 (seventeen years ago) link

Some people really need to sort out their bizarre ideas about Mozart.

pete s, Saturday, 13 March 2004 01:45 (seventeen years ago) link

hmm i hadn't heard that LaMonte Young was situated down
in TriBeCa...maybe the place is good for something after all.
I'll be checking that place out for sure next week.
If I can find a time to go that coincides with my work hours,
which are annoying. I've heard a lot about LaMonte Young
and his association with John Cage (or was it Cale? or both).
Have to check into this place. Thanks for the heads up.


notice TriBeCa is oh-so-trendy but there's no good concerts
maybe no 'concerts' but I envy you any job within walking distance of the dream house


-- (milto...), March 13th, 2004.

Scott Briggs, Saturday, 13 March 2004 06:54 (seventeen years ago) link

go to the dream house! it's lovely!

geeta (geeta), Saturday, 13 March 2004 09:28 (seventeen years ago) link

Recommend you check out "Conversations with Iannis Xenakis" by Balint Andras Varga - truly a fascinating and unique thinker and artists and a very admirable man to boot.

Dadaismus (Dada), Saturday, 13 March 2004 09:33 (seventeen years ago) link

one month passes...

ok just bought my third version of 'persepolis', contained on the new two disc Xenakis set on editions RZ. just wanted to say: this is the definitive mix. I'm very familiar with the Fractal & Asphodel editions, have even heard seperated mixes from the 8 channel multitrack, and this RZ mix is finally the one that nails it. It's like I'd never heard it before.
I'm almost thinking that it now rivals 'Legende d'Eer'. Can't even believe I'm saying that, but this mix finally seems to blend the sounds into a weightless, majestic mass that hangs in the air like doom. It no longer sounds like an undifferentiated multitracked soundscape, it sounds like a single living unity. I can hardly wait until midnight tonight to play it again.

-- jl (milto...), August 7th, 2003.

See I didn't think I'll be able to tell the diff between this and the fractal version, but I can def hear that weightless-ness you seem to be hearing.

This CD also comes in with another of his electroacoustic compositions 'polytope de cluny', which is not available anywhere else. And its very good.

The edition RZ 2 CD set is THE xenakis to have. CD1 gives recordings of his compositions for orchestra from the 50s and 60s and they are great attempts are reconfiguring orchestral sound. If you like 'gruppen' and 'heterophonie' (kagel) you need to hear this.

The chamber music set on montaigne doesn't quite do it for me, I think 'stochaism' worked incredibly well for orchestras, but not effective enough when the numbers are down.

So basically the best stuff available:

1) ed RZ 2 CD set
2) EMF CD and 3) legend d'er (as great locust music)

There is another fractal CD with 2 more electronic compositions (from late 70s, early 80s) but I think he is repeating himself.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 10 May 2004 07:28 (seventeen years ago) link

oh, 'gruppen' is by stockahusen btw.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 10 May 2004 07:36 (seventeen years ago) link

i must get this. sound 323 have it?

prima fassy (mwah), Monday, 10 May 2004 08:13 (seventeen years ago) link

yes you must get this. I got it from there.

Also: I'm forming this idea that xenakis compositional peak years are from 1955- 1972. Anything outside those years that I have heard seems to have that edge missing.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 10 May 2004 08:55 (seventeen years ago) link

'La Legend D'eer' is 1977 though

the three you've named are certainly my favorites. I'd also add the asphodel recording of Kraanerg & the chant du monde disc with Eonta/Metastaseis/Pithoprakta.

playing 'concret PH' tonight on resonance FM at 7pm, like a goon

(Jon L), Monday, 10 May 2004 09:38 (seventeen years ago) link

Hmmmmm, I just remembered I have "Heterophonie" on vinyl but I don't remember too much about it - is it really comparable to "Gruppen"? Thing is, I was back home last weekend pulling out vinyl to bring down to London and I pulled this out but put it back - I think I probably brought down a couple of bubblegum collections instead!

Dadaismus (Dada), Monday, 10 May 2004 09:40 (seventeen years ago) link

'heterophonie' is very different from 'gruppen' in terms of structure but ultimately what both pieces are getting at is that reconfiguration of orchestral sound.

(I'm getting quite interested in bubblegum, any good collections out there)

Had forgotten 'legend...' is from '77 but I think on the acoustic side, anything I've heard doesn't seem to have grabbed me, but ok I'm sure there are a few out there.

prima- also get that AMM record with formanex (fibrr 06)

also at sound 323.


Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 10 May 2004 10:00 (seventeen years ago) link

one year passes...
there's a new mix of 'La Legend D'eer' available on Mode Records, realized in 2004 by Gerard Pape.

very very different from the first second: the ticklingly quiet high frequency tones have all been savagely compressed and colored up, and made loud. much less subtle, far more brutal.

still the same basic structure, but radically remixed, all the sounds have new relationships to each other, and _everythings_ been noise walled and limited, much much less dynamic range than the original 1978 stereo version. the transitions between sections are much less noticable because the volume's been maxed out almost instantly. While it's interesting to hear some of these familiar sounds loud and closeup, the curve and sweep of the piece has gone missing.

just listened to the new one, wondering what was missing... then put on the old one to make sure... nope, still absolutely lifechanging. the squealing sounds leap out at you shockingly loud and the hovering clouds in the background seem alive... back to the new one... the squealing can't come in loud because the mix already has the life compressed out of it and the hovering clouds have the life crushed out of them...

I would objectively call the new mix an error, though I'll try it out a few more times, this new mix is a gaudy modern mess

milton parker (Jon L), Saturday, 14 May 2005 22:26 (sixteen years ago) link

though the liner notes are extremely interesting and contain a great study of Xenakis' notes on the piece as well as a description of the multi-media installation & program notes that took place during the premiere of the piece

milton parker (Jon L), Saturday, 14 May 2005 22:33 (sixteen years ago) link

three months pass...
Holy Balls!


mzui (mzui), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 11:07 (sixteen years ago) link

I'll be fighting Julio for the best seats

When You Wore a Tulip (and I Had a Big Red Nose) (Dada), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 11:12 (sixteen years ago) link

There's a Xenakis primer in the new Wire too.

NickB (NickB), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 11:22 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh dear, don't tell me i'm going to have to buy a copy

When You Wore a Tulip (and I Had a Big Red Nose) (Dada), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 11:24 (sixteen years ago) link




hold tight the private caller (mwah), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 11:33 (sixteen years ago) link

hums *fewg66fgfha3euf7fgqi8ghqig0h*

I saw this in last months -ish of the *guess which mag*. witnessed nono's 'la fabrica illuminata' (soprano/electronics) being perf earlier this year, the tape sounds great on that space - it can almost provoke a bout of synesthesia, i tells ya. so 'legend d'er' is the one to look forward to, maybe the movie, maybe everything else.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 13:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Got my tickets for this the other day. They're actually doing a series discount, I think it's 10% off for 3 concerts, 15% for 4 and 20% for 5 or more (something like that). "Legend d'Eer" is the one I'm looking forward to most, although I reckon "Shaar" could be pretty amazing too. Now, if only they were restaging "Persepolis" on the South Bank...

Matt #2 (Matt #2), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 15:29 (sixteen years ago) link

xpost: milton OTM up ther about the new D'Er mix. I got the DVD 5.1 version and though it was neat to hear all the parts separated in surround sound, the persentation seemed, well, polite.

Outsider Enter Port City (sexyDancer), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 15:33 (sixteen years ago) link

the new version is flat out tame and I'm really frightened that the original mix is going to go out of print.

very frustrated that none of the reviews seem to be mentioning that it's a completely new mix, either. even the people who should know better.

there's a lot of people who'd prefer their Xenakis polite so this new mix does serve a viable social purpose, but y'know, fuck them

milton parker (Jon L), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 16:58 (sixteen years ago) link

there's a lot of people who'd prefer their Xenakis polite

I'm finding this hard to believe

Diddyismus (Dada), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 16:59 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm talking about the people who are into the idea of Xenakis but put off by the actual levels of brutality they're confronted with.

Not just the season ticket holders -- I'm thinking of several Boulez-head colleagues of mine who like their delirium heavily organized and have always found Xenakis uncouth or something, so the idea of a refined mix that reigns in & flattens Legend probably appeals to them.

milton parker (Jon L), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 17:14 (sixteen years ago) link

the original's looking pretty out of print. 4 used on amazon if you don't have it yet.

get this

not the CD / DVD on Mode with the big X on the cover.

milton parker (Jon L), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 17:27 (sixteen years ago) link

Now, if only they were restaging "Persepolis" on the South Bank...

with a new mix by FURT!

re-read bits of this thread: there is a diamanda-xenakis conne(x)ion but she also worked with vinko globokar, whose 'oblak semen' disc is a must. and globokar was one of the first prominent solo perfs of 'new music', cpl of lps on deustche gramophon you'll find knocking round 2nd hand shops. Listening to her galas' 'vena cava' and 'schrei x' but coupling with her work in song, she's almost like an ideal entry point to all the 'hard' composition stuff. those discs, esp 'schrei x' detail her work with microphones and perf art tactics.

read the wire primer - anyone have any reservations about that chamber music disc? sure its necessary but I really disliked his piano pieces, found that they really undermined the whole package, which had those excellent str quartets. also wasn't into his solo stuff, like the LP he talks abt is named 'intecommunicazione' and that's by zimmermann, which i found it to be the best work for cello ever (its for piano and cello but the piano stalks it around)

I agree with paul (he puts it v nicely on this thread) on scale-down he's a tad disappointing.

but there's quite a bit to look out for: been neglecting 'oresteia'. 'joachimes', 'echange' and 'n'shima' sounded great. I never got 'pleaides' as I found the perc duo I witnessed at the perf i went to last year quite dull but maybe I'll try this, even if philip clark has a reservation.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 20 August 2005 13:06 (sixteen years ago) link

oh and its 'Jonchaies'

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 20 August 2005 13:15 (sixteen years ago) link

somewhat shocked to not see DJ Spooky's po-mo dick up in this Xenakis festival...

b8a, Saturday, 20 August 2005 16:50 (sixteen years ago) link

one month passes...
I know I get annoyed about daft things, but in the bumf the South Bank people send me thru the post (which I wish they'd stop doing), they state:

"As a partisan against the Nazis, he (Xenakis) sustained injuries to his face and lost an eye..."

Which is complete bollocks, he lost his eye fighting for the Communists against the British. To be precise, he lost it during an assault on a British tank. If the South Bank can't get it right... Who's going to any of this? I haven't bought any tickets for any of the concerts yet.

Raymond Douglas Dadaismus (Dada), Thursday, 22 September 2005 09:20 (sixteen years ago) link

picked up the editions rz 2cd thingy last weekend. soooo good.

hstencil (hstencil), Thursday, 22 September 2005 13:51 (sixteen years ago) link

This is what I love ILM for. Thanks for the Legend on Montaigne recommendation. Poking around Amazon I see that Xenakis is included on a compilation called The Most Frightening Music in the Universe which made me laugh as it's true, really!

Brakhage (brakhage), Thursday, 22 September 2005 14:33 (sixteen years ago) link

See Ed Baxter's letter in the last issue of The Wire for more insights into the contempory music programmers at the South Bank!

I'm going to every concert I think, esp. looking forward to Legende d'Eer.

Matt #2 (Matt #2), Thursday, 22 September 2005 14:55 (sixteen years ago) link

Sunday 9th is officially Xenakis Day for me - going to the film; Sinfonietta & Legende d'Eer

Dadaismus (Dada), Tuesday, 27 September 2005 11:10 (sixteen years ago) link

Recently found myself a copy of the Nonesuch vinyl version of Electro-Acoustic Music. The mixes are noticeably different than on the EMF Electronic Music CD, 'Bohor' in particular goes much deeper.

The CD has risen to the top of my 'needs to be remastered' list.

milton parker (Jon L), Tuesday, 27 September 2005 18:14 (sixteen years ago) link

Anyone there tonight at the QEH? I'm still reeling, roll on Sunday!

mzui (mzui), Friday, 7 October 2005 22:04 (sixteen years ago) link

We are opening a small classroom/studio for the study and practice of electronic music at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. It is called "Studio IX" :)

blunt (blunt), Friday, 7 October 2005 22:18 (sixteen years ago) link

(that film is gonna has the potential to be awesome teatime viewing - i might be there for that)

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 8 October 2005 07:59 (sixteen years ago) link

this film wz awesome - archive footage of 'polytope de cluny' omg! - though there was a lot of struggle in trying to explain in words what was so special about the best of his music.

the highlights of the film were te big X himself. esp:

scene of him at his desk typing nos into a calculator, writes something down, then types some more numbers then goes 'ugh' as if to say that the calculation couldn't be made! - hilarity (of course he prob types the wronged key in)

also revisiting his old school (awful chequered trousers, btw), at one point going to the old ruins where theater used to take place - goes up a few steps - starts citing shakespeare in dodgy eng accent, then asks 'that ws good no?'

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 10 October 2005 10:07 (sixteen years ago) link

i couldnt make the film but legend d'errrrm... i drifted off somewhere halfway thru i must admit. i suppose i didnt know what i was expecting.

loads of artskool hotties to gawp at tho hurrah

hold tight the private caller (mwah), Monday, 10 October 2005 10:52 (sixteen years ago) link

also ben watson samizdat pamphleture, dearie me

hold tight the private caller (mwah), Monday, 10 October 2005 10:53 (sixteen years ago) link

ha what did ben say?

'loads of artskool hotties to gawp at tho hurrah'


grr i couldn't make it but the xenakis gig i went to last year had one of the mego ppl (russell haswell i think) re-mixing xenakis - i dunno, I've been to a concert of berio's electronic music and without visuals this kind of thing falls a tad flat but still grr i couldn't stay!

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 10 October 2005 11:13 (sixteen years ago) link

it ws just some shady fellows distributing bw's 9-11 piece that didnt make the wire. it's rubbish!

i dont think i'm in a position to judge to what extent legend had been remixed or rejigged etc wrt to an original, but there were visuals; basically a glowing ember rectangle of red light on the stage, slowly growing and contracting and being all intense like. i will charitably say YAWN it sort of focused the maelstrom of sound (ie. a tardis materialises in the rainforest for 45 mins) insofar as it occured to you that one man composed this alone.

hold tight the private caller (mwah), Monday, 10 October 2005 13:03 (sixteen years ago) link

I think the lighting was there just because everyone would have been staring into blackness otherwise, which admittedly would've been better. Highlight of the weekend for me though was the first half of the Friday night concert - Sea Nymphs, Varese's Integrales, Nuits and (especially) Shaar. Legend was pretty amazing I thought, but really it's designed to be experienced in a different kind of space to the QEH so was never going to be as effective as it could've been.

Matt #2 (Matt #2), Monday, 10 October 2005 17:07 (sixteen years ago) link

haha the haswell thing took place in the same hall and the stage was totally dark, only a spot of light coming from the laptop's monitor (come to think of it it wasn't a re-mix but he used one of the programs xenakis devised to improvise some piece). very yawny.

(I read bw's essay over a year ago on esther leaslie's site wtf! its been around for ages...maybe ppl want to overrate, it might be felt that he ws wronged bcz he dared to tell LIKE IT IS! I can't even quite recall that much about his argt right now)

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 10 October 2005 17:21 (sixteen years ago) link

haha yeah there's a bit at the back where it says "it was deemed 'not to fit' with other contributions... it seemed unlikely that the anti-imperialist sentiments voiced above would find favour" which i guess is supposed to indict Teh Real Villain Of The Piece aka rob young but after reading it made me marvel at his diplomacy... anyway it was published by 'ian land and andy wilson of the dolphin pub in hackney' (hackney in the new stoke newington hotbed of crackpot tossers shocker)

hold tight the private caller (mwah), Monday, 10 October 2005 18:00 (sixteen years ago) link

Was there all day Sunday, loved all of it. The bit in the film where "Metastasis" blasts in like 10,000 orchestras = brilliant. I have to get a copy of "Metastasis"! Everything in the London Sinfonietta part of the evening was superb but "Eonta" esp. "Legende d'Eer" sounds completely different sitting in a darkened concert hall rather than at home coming out of your crappy speakers - well done QEH for remembering to make it LOUD!

loads of artskool hotties to gawp at tho hurrah

Indeed, there seemed to be an amazing number of attractive women there, I must go to more concerts of avant garde classical music!

Dadaismus (Dada), Tuesday, 11 October 2005 08:57 (sixteen years ago) link

julio and udu i enjoyed yr contributions to this thread, ty (the detour into a critque of ix's trousers made me lol)

there's another thread where alext rather elegantly dismantles BW's entire 'reading' of Adorno in the space of a few short paras, superb

Ward Fowler (Ward Fowler), Tuesday, 11 October 2005 18:40 (sixteen years ago) link

one month passes...
This is on tonight - attend if I can't:

Thursday 24 November 2005 - 7.30pm
new noise / John Kenny

Iannis Xenakis - Dmaathan
John Cage - Ryoanji
Pedro Gomez-Egana - New work (World premiere)
Tansy Davies - New work
Burgess / Fairclough / Kenny / Miller - New work (World premiere) John Kenny - Wild Stone
John Kenny - The Voice of the Carnyx
Emily Hall - Join
Dobrinka Tabakova - Frozen Rive Flows
Ian Willcock - For the Republic

Part of the BMIC's Cutting Edge series 2005. For more information please visit the BMIC website. Tickets cost £7 & £10 and are available on 020 7928 1902.
The Warehouse, 13 Theed Street, London SE1 8ST

(near waterloo east - saw a wonderful concert last month w/ works by Finnissy, Barrett, Rzewski, Ian Pace and more)

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 24 November 2005 12:48 (sixteen years ago) link

three months pass...
'gmeeoorh' for organ (1974) is the shit.

Turangalila (Salvador), Saturday, 11 March 2006 04:57 (fifteen years ago) link

two years pass...


Milton Parker, Monday, 28 July 2008 15:45 (thirteen years ago) link

three months pass...

'gmeeoorh' for organ (1974) is the shit.

I'll bet it is, but how to hear it? Has it ever been recorded?!!??!?! Groovin' on lots of solo Xenakis pieces lately. Love "Keren" for trombone, "Nomos Alpha", "Evyrali" et al.

Ich Ber ein Binliner (Tom D.), Tuesday, 18 November 2008 11:41 (thirteen years ago) link

And, apropos of nothing, my 10 favourite titles of Xenakis' pieces:


Ich Ber ein Binliner (Tom D.), Tuesday, 18 November 2008 11:45 (thirteen years ago) link

Nitpick: should be Troorkh I think, for trombone + orkhestra?

anatol_merklich, Tuesday, 18 November 2008 13:27 (thirteen years ago) link

Oh yeah, Troorkh, that's right

Ich Ber ein Binliner (Tom D.), Tuesday, 18 November 2008 13:28 (thirteen years ago) link

two years pass...

More Xenakis in "that" London, but didn't they do "Eonta" and "La légende d'Eer" the last time round?

Tom D (Lenin's his feir and Liebknecht's his mate) (Tom D.), Wednesday, 9 February 2011 13:38 (ten years ago) link

"La légende d'Eer" once every six years is still too seldom. there should be a room where you can go to hear it in 8 channels every week

I saw the performance of "Oresteia" outdoors at CalArts last November and it was one to remember. they handed out hundreds of resonating coil noisemakers to the audience for the ending while the children's chorus ran through the audience shrieking the final 'chords'. maybe it was just the picnic & wine atmosphere but it all seemed to have a fun vibe even though it still sounded terrifying

Milton Parker, Wednesday, 9 February 2011 18:18 (ten years ago) link

two months pass...


eid orb (nakhchivan), Thursday, 5 May 2011 00:19 (ten years ago) link

hoping there isn't some trite ecumeno-mystical paratext trash accompanying this cuz for me it's just the sound of everything altogether

eid orb (nakhchivan), Thursday, 5 May 2011 00:26 (ten years ago) link

I love how it sounds the way the title would suggest it sounds.

corey, Thursday, 5 May 2011 00:31 (ten years ago) link

that would be shaaAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaar to account for the exquistite portamento

eid orb (nakhchivan), Thursday, 5 May 2011 00:34 (ten years ago) link



corey, Thursday, 5 May 2011 00:35 (ten years ago) link


eid orb (nakhchivan), Thursday, 5 May 2011 10:16 (ten years ago) link

four years pass...


xenakis died fifteen years ago today

nakhchivan, Thursday, 4 February 2016 12:21 (five years ago) link

five years pass...

Tempting new 5LP and CD box set of electroacoustic works now available. 14 copies of the vinyl left at the time of writing, don't sleep if you want one of these:


joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Friday, 14 January 2022 08:13 (one week ago) link

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