Sunday, September 30, 2007

Zeitkratzer Orchestra plays "Metal Machine Music" / Iannis Xenakis - released 10/2

Initial reaction to the concept of scoring of Lou Reeds "Metal Machine Music" for string orchestra may lead some to respond in a hesitant and quizzical 'why bother?' or even '*how* for that matter?' stance. Understandably, with all of the current fad of 'string quartet' variations on pop, commercial and indie music forms, such as Radiohead, Aphex Twin and even some laughably atrocious versions of strings played to interpret rap-metal 'as-seen-on-MTV' garbage. Its enough to give anyone a bad taste in their mouth and an embarrassed 'how does this sh*t even exist?' malaise anytime another of these string interpretations of the band/flavor of the month comes along. So it should be stated right off that these recordings are in fact *not* any of the above, or for that matter, some kind of postmod downtown art-scene gimmick or a reduced for suburban-consumption wallpaper muzak - this is very much the real deal.

With that said, a bit of background informing is due on the releases and Zeitkratzer itself. The Zeitkratzer Ochestra (or simply 'Zeitkratzer' depending on the release/participants) a nine to eleven piece, mostly electric ensemble, headed by pianist/composer Reinhold Friedl for the past decade or so have performed their own heady, dissonant and often physical take on the works of many of the most adventurous in 20th/21st century composers. A good part of what has made their work such a distinct variation on this modern form has, in no small part been due to their composers of choice. These include such near-audacious adventures in scoring from soundwork-to-composition as the blasting psychedelic noise of Merzbow, absolute-concrete from Francisco Lopez and the works of noise/performance artist John Duncan. Their significance in the world of modern composition further established by these two most recent examples of their art. Both very much realized in the spirit of mathematician/architect/composer Iannis Xenakis' longform pieces such as "Persepolis" and Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" originals. This is a dissonant, electric, defiant and loud music, yet one that also has the formal learning to realize both scoring and performing these pieces as a highly skilled, classically trained ensemble. Accordingly, strings have rarely sounded so challengingly 'of our century' as they do here.

Links to Asphodel Records releases of Zeitkratzer's "Metal Machine Music" and "Xenakis [A]live!":

Link to Asphodel Records - Zeitkratzer "Metal Machine Music"

Link to Asphodel Records - Zeitkratzer "Xenakis [A]live!"

Official Zeitkratzer site and excerpt of "Xenakis [A]live!" - from The Wire magazine site:

Link to Official Zeitkratzer site

Link to MP3 excerpt from "Xenakis [A]live!"