Herbert Distel

La Stazione 1987/1990

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Herbert Distel is the rarest of composers. Music for him is a secondary concern; sound is his element, his canvas, and his raison d'ĂȘtre. And for Distel, sound is not a laboratory; it is a field of language, ever opening into a distant present where all of history and its weight come to bear upon a future too empty to consider. Therefore, he is in the eternal present, allowing voices and fragments of voices from humans, animals, insects, atmospheres, and even universes to penetrate the barrier of his ear. As he welcomes their intrusion, he sculpts them to speak with one another, in languid, low tones and whispers, with enough repetition so that they can understand one another but with enough interruption and diffusion that they are entwined to the point of individual disappearance. La Stazione is what some would call "ambient music." But that would be an error of genrefication. This is not music to fill a space for the sake of comfort and "atmosphere"; this is sound as music, designed to enter space and be altered by it once the encounter is made. If that space is the listener's body, then that is the field where language is created by emotional, physical, and spiritual response to the original impetus. This work is truly an enigma of spirit and of construction, it seemingly has no beginning and never ends once it has entered its destination space, it forever echoes, changes shapes, textures, and even voices, but murmurs nonetheless, incessantly bringing its past into a present that is an open, blinding question.

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