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- Expanding Space by Per Nørgård
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Tangerine Dream... Wait! No, those are the words I wanted to say (I think I have Teutonic Synth Tourette’s). This one is a whole other kettle of fish; a kettle of fish for which I probably lack the requisite vocabulary... Maybe I’m not quite spiritual enough. This here record -- “Expanding Space” -- is a reinvigorated classic composed and recorded in 1985 by Per Nørgård and originally released in 1987 on double cassette. Probably ridiculously tricky to track down and snag that artefact now, so thank goodness for the Danish Composers’ Society, Edition Wilhelm Hansen and Institut for Dansk Lydarkaeologi who were all instrumental in getting this thing into my ears, and yours too.
Nørgård was born in 1932, so he was 53 when he came up with this electronic masterpiece -- in three parts by the way -- for synthesizer, piano and field recordings. It’s a double LP and just under 2 hours in length, so I thank Clint for suggesting I review it. Anyway, this Per chap (now 86 years old, hold onto that thought) had already composed a heck of a lot of music and then he got into meditation and spiritual growth practices, regularly attending the Centre of Spiritual Growth. He probably knows a lot of stuff that I really don’t. This is a bit of a departure from his usual compositional methodologies, given that he was seriously into Serialism and used the mathematically-structured Infinity Series which he had discovered some 25 years before.
So far as I can tell, the music (designed for ‘functional’ meditative practice) is of a high quality and consistent throughout. Nørgård has said of his work that he always sought to strip his music of any ‘emotional’ leanings for fear that feelings get in the way of spiritual flow. That’s not to say you won’t cry when you hear it; after all, a good old sob and a blub is an effective form of catharsis. I sort of feel better even thinking about that. Hm. These synth sounds are still bubbling and fizzing and the field recordings are very subtle, although there may be ocean sounds trickling away in the background. There’s a real sense of flow, of liquidity, about the composition -- particularly parts I and II of ‘Najads’. Evocative of babbling brooks and the slow drip, drip, drip of thawing ice. It’s really nice, if a bit long. Could do with an edit.
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