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Best of 2024

Roland Kayn

The Ortho-Project (15CD Boxset)

Label: Frozen Reeds

Format: 15CD Box

Genre: Electronic

Preorder: Due September 6th 2024

Returning to the unreleased oeuvre of the master of cybernetic sound Roland Kayn, frozen reeds hereby unveils a new high watermark for longform electroacoustic composition, unfolding across 15 CDs in a luxurious gold-stamped boxed set.

Big tip! In 1970, Roland Kayn began a decades-long period of research, development and creation at the Instituut voor Sonologie in Utrecht. In the mid to late 90s, he retired, relocated to the Dutch countryside, and began to realise new electronic works at Reiger Recording Studio – his modest home facility. “I finally came to the conclusion,” Kayn would later point out, “that I no longer needed studios to construct my own electronic music.” The working methods Kayn arrived at individually – without the room-filling synthesisers, mixing desks and signal-processing equipment of Sonology at his disposal – saw him turning his own career into a cybernetic process. From the hours of recorded sound amassed in prior decades, he began processing and assembling a mountainous quantity of new music. His works of this period are focused on reabsorbing and recontextualising his life’s work to produce yet another series of utterly alien landscapes.

From his retirement until his death in 2011, Kayn was wildly prolific, leaving an archive of dozens of finished electronic pieces. Earlier source material is often re-sculpted using the technology Kayn had available to hand, while other techniques such as sampling radio broadcasts or the plunderphonic quotation of others’ works occasionally intercede. No notes accompany any of this music – no word of explanation or expression of intent. Only the works and their titles remain, the latter often simply deepening the mystery. Their durations range from around 20 minutes to almost 18 hours. ‘The Ortho-Project’, presented here in its 14-hour entirety, is among the longest. At this scale, Kayn’s music is perhaps at its most immersive; the listener senses they are being invited to envelope themselves in a rich environment of diverse timbral physicality rather than a programmatic work. This is simply electronic music as you have never experienced it before.

With Jim O’Rourke applying his signature restorative touch to the audio, and Robert Beatty taking his cryptic cybernetics-inspired artwork several steps beyond the label’s previous Kayn box, ‘The Ortho-Project’ (2007) – in its 14-hour entirety – finally sees a fitting release.

Cat. number: fr25/29
Year: 2024