Saturday, January 17, 2009

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Hymnen Region 1

Region 1 of Stockhausen's Hymnan starts with a series of bright chirps and squeals, oscillating in pitch and descellerating to paint a sonic backdrop for the introduction organic sounds and splashes of color descending from a pallette of white noise. As familiar, human sounding features enter the mix it becomes strangely unsettling: the familiarity of these tones is too sharp a contrast from the randomized naturalism of the wholely original static. When the peace finally cuts out after some minutes of this it reenters with a short, level vocal rhythm that gives way to enthusiastic, nationalistic anthems that almost orient the listener into a realm of percieving our own world, a mix of prideful congregations of humans. However, as glistening twinkles of distorted tones and playful static reinvade, they pull us suddenly away from this familiar territory and into a spacey, futuristic disorientation in audio space. When the sound work eventually returns to human sounds around minute eleven it is no longer recognizable and the layers of humanity have been reversed and layered so as to render the commonality of human speech foriegn and unnatural, ultimately stacking into a sort of audio babble the finally climbs to a culmination of more nationalistic melodies. These melodies, this time around, have an added audio context due to the material that reintroduced them that grants the listener perspective to percieve them as if from afar, a physical notion reinforced by the reintroduction of spacey sounds that just before minute fifteen begin to scratch and then tear us, seperating us as listeners from the human-like sounds across an audio gulf of gurgling robotic signals. These gain strength while the anthems fade away until the reintroduction of a familiar radio scan from silence, for the fourth time, leaves the listener with the question of why the set of sounds we consider language can be percieved to render so much meaning. After all, if the essential qualities and tambor of it can be maintained while perverting it so far that it meshes more with random intersteller tones, how much more poignently comforting is the meaning encapsulated in the familiar symphonies of human speech?

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