Demetrio Stratos

Stratosfera

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This set contains all five of Demetrio Stratos' solo recordings after leaving the Italian prog rock group Area, which he founded. The contents of this box are virtually his last will and testament; Stratos died in 1979, age 34, of leukemia, a day before a concert attended by over 60,000 people was held in his honor. Stratos is best known in the United States, if he is known at all, for his signature performance of John Cage's "Mesostics" in 1974, after being involved, briefly, with the "Fluxus" (a conceptual art movement) group, which included Walter Marchetti. The five albums here -- Metrodora, Cantare la Voce, Recitaracantando (with Lucio Fabbri), Le Milleuna, and Concerto all'Elfo -- were all released originally by the legendary Cramps label. For Akarma to place Stratos' solo recordings apart from those of Area's is to, in fact, offer them, perhaps for the first time, the true significance they deserve. As an example, one need only to listen to Metrodora to understand the fount of inspiration and discipline that such disparate vocalists as Meredith Monk and Diamanda Galas (who, like Stratos, is of Greek descent, though neither were born there) drink so deeply from. In each of these albums, Stratos concentrates on a different aspect of freeing the human voice of its monody. His vocalizing techniques -- without the aid of special effects -- offer the listener the illusion that these sounds -- most of which fall beyond speech, but certainly fall within the context of language -- were created by something other than a human voice. There are elements of onomatopoeia, diplophony, and triplophony, and even quadrophony; he demultiplied the acoustic spectrum and what yielded was the notion of a voice freed of its naturalistic restraints, and therefore free to explore with rich depth and dimension a sound world heretofore unexplored in the western musical tradition. The five albums here create a space for the voice; even in the 21st century, that leads a critical listener to the jump-off place of disappearance -- the ghost realm -- where the "lunge" -- as the Tibetans call it -- the "winds of the body" -- are explored as being impulses of the brain, removed from the vibration of air coming up out of the lungs; instead they become a kind of pure expression, not only of the interior of one's body, but in fact united with the complete formlessness of sound as experienced by both the one who interlocutes that aural image and the one who receives it. This is work that is so monumental we are blessed to have it in print once again; one can only hope that it does not get lost again, and that someone, somewhere, will take it as the root from which to study the next chapter in deciphering and decoding the most elemental of all instruments. The package is quite handsome, with each individual title re-created in its own heavy cardboard sleeve with two books of notes: one exclusively in Italian and the other in English, Italian, and French.

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 01:03:09
blue highlight denotes track pick