Poland’s Bocian reunite with zeitkratzer ensemble to present a difficult but hugely rewarding piece by influential Polish composer Zbigniew Karkowski, backed with Reinhold Friedl’s personal tribute to Ianis Xenakis. Both sides contain important, demanding, and foundational works in the zeitkratzer canon, which now stretches to 15 years of neo-classical interpretation and original composition with some of extreme and forward-thinking music’s greatest.
Zbigniew Karkowski’s Monochromy - his first piece written for an orchestra - is premium brainfloss. The polish composer’s original piece proved so technically challenging that the players were left bloodied after their first, unsatisfactory recordings. But, after Karkowski reduced and rearranged those elements, the ensemble were forced into a new approach to playing and recording the piece which subsequently influenced their later recordings of other, notoriously difficult pieces. We are left with a recording of their version of Karkowski’s rework; 15 minutes of dense metallic squall and far-flung tone clusters with a buzzing sense of space that can’t be achieved with electronic instruments.
The other side, Xenakis Alive I documents an early attempt by Reinhold Friedl to pay tribute to the seminal 20th century composer by harnessing the complexity and density of his greatest work, such as Persepolis, through his preferred prepared piano technique. The results, it is safe to say, certainly live up to the vaulted, colourful brilliance of Xenakis, and Persepolis in particular, whilst also adding something new through the voluminous projection of new, nuanced studio techniques.