Composer Herbert Distel has created a montage composition of movement, a line, albeit not a straight one, through time and space via the sounds of a train from its compartment as it moves through different terrains and settings. First there is the rush out of the station, movement along the rail out of the place of origin. Here acceleration, in order to provide distance between that place and the destination, is commenced upon with pure speed. The urban environs provide resonance in the blur and whir of engines and cars click-clacking over tracks and ricocheting off buildings. As we move with Distel and his electro-acoustic tape modulations and wind machines and synthesizers, the density of urbanity gradually gives way to the chirping of crickets, cicadas, and the sounds of birds, a human voice now and then. The train is a violent intruder upon the natural sounds that envelop silence. But just as quickly we emerge from these spaces in time and place into others, leaving only the reverberation and echo in our wake; silence and its adornments return. Finally the train gives way to the oppressive density of night and echoes are merely ambient patters as the track sounds disappear in to the Aether. It is true, Distel has given us an atmospheric music that takes sonic montage, creates a structure, and then leaves it in flux for us to do with it what we will. Like Arthur Honegger before him, the sounds of our century -- and in Europe the sound of a train is far more pervasive that it is here -- have become the backdrop of art, in this case composition. Die Reise is a wonderful work of sonic sculpture; it demands attention while leaving us distended somewhere between place of origin and psychic destination.
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