Hermann Nitsch

Harmoniumwerk, Vols. 5, 6, 7, 8

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Recorded in the mid- to late '80s, these four pieces are part of a 40-volume set originally released in 1990 on cassette in 15 copies and to be released again on ten double-CD sets, of which this is the second. With the CD packaging depicting cosmic photos from the Hubble space telescope, one would expect something quite different from Hermann Nitsch's usual disturbing orchestra with slaughtered-meat noise-fests. In fact, these four pieces of Nitsch performing solo on harmonium are at the opposite end of the spectrum, as Nitsch lays down long, sustained drones that are soothing and relaxing. This meditation music is quite beautiful, as it slowly evolves and transforms over each of the half-hour tracks. It's full of thick, full trills that shimmer with celestial light and glide slowly into one another in a harmony that's at the opposite of Nitsch's jarring and disturbing Aktion pieces, though with a similar droning minimalism aesthetic. With a different sort of intensity that is no less effective, these harmonium works are the yin to the yang of the Aktion material, and will probably even appeal to a wider audience.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
31:23
2
31:23
3
30:20
4
31:10
blue highlight denotes track pick