Iannis Xenakis

Iannis Xenakis: Persepolis + Remixes, Edition 1

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This unusual two-disc set takes as its basis Iannis Xenakis' "Persepolis," the sound portion of a massive multimedia extravaganza staged by Xenakis in 1971 on behalf of the Shah of Iran. The original performance featured a laser light show, spotlights, children carrying torches, and 59 speakers positioned in an enormous natural amphitheater. Capturing even the music on disc is necessarily a difficult job and the mix here, done at the INA-GRM studios by Daniel Teruggi under the composer's supervision, is a bit more muted than the listener, used to Xenakis' brutal, often savage sound (and familiar with the recording of the same piece issued in 2000 on the Fractal label), might have reason to expect. It does well up nicely over the course of its one-plus hour, and the sounds themselves remain visceral, dramatic, and altogether spectacular, but there's an edge that seems to be missing. The second disc is a series of nine remixes of "Persepolis" by composers such as Otomo Yoshihide, Francisco López, and Merzbow. Although the source material is frequently obscure enough that the casual observer might never make the connection, most of the musicians seek to remain in a Xenakis-like sound world, emphasizing his particular brand of brutal sensuousness. Ryoji Ikeda's "Per Se" throws all manner of sharp glitches at the listener, caroming them from speaker to speaker (especially effective over headphones). In "Doing By Not Doing," Zbigniew Karkowski's assault virtually outdoes his inspiration as shards of explosive sound shatter at ever-increasing volume. Ulf Langheinrich provides something of an antidote when his piece closes the disc with a subtle, though not untroubled, rumble. This is a fascinating disc, mostly for giving solid evidence of the wide and beneficial influence Xenakis had over two generations of younger composers. Recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
blue highlight denotes track pick