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- Karel Goeyvaerts by Karel Goeyvaerts
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Finders Keepers’ experimental offshoot Cacophonic have unearthed some rare recordings from Karel Goeyvaerts, whose work I’m not familiar with but who was a contemporary of (and influence on) Karlheinz Stockhausen. In fact the back cover of this clearly states that “In 1953, Goeyvaerts and Stockhausen produced the first electronic music in the studio of the NWDR in Cologne”, so his importance in that respect can’t be overstated.
There are two lengthy pieces from the ‘70s on this record which are both difficult to describe succinctly. On side A ‘Pour Que Les Fruits Murissent Cet Ete’ is a hypnotic piece performed in a steady 4x3/4 time structure, where the instruments improvise around specific predetermined sets of notes, so “the pitches the rhythm, the sound, as well as the vertical and horizontal density have been clearly lined out throughout the work. The general line goes from medium to extreme pitches, returning to the medium”. What this means for you the listener is 27 minutes of beautiful minimal woodwind and string tones freewheeling harmonically around a steady, unchanging rhythm, and as it turns out that’s a very relaxing thing to listen to.
On the other side ‘Op Acht Paarden Wedden’ is completely different and a little more challenging. Here Goeyvaerts has created eight different tapes of source material, all of the same duration - four with electronic sounds, three with vocal material and one with instruments - and then the piece is performed by controlling the volumes of these separate parts relative to one another in real time by free play. What results is a Radiophonic Workshop-esque soundscape of swelling primitive electronic drones and bloops along with distant tinkles and scrapes. In terms of how you’ll feel when you’ll listen to it in your house, this one is a bit more uncomfortable and spooky and best listened to alone at night because it might scare the under-10s and alienate your girlfriend.
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