Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Iannis Xenakis - Pléiades / Psappha (1990 compi)

Time for some totally metal Xenakis (and wooden/drum skin sounds too), in his 1979 masterpiece for percussion ensemble.  Pléiades' four movements can be performed in any order - this 1990 recording by the Swedish Kroumata Ensemble sticks to the first permutation listed here.

Given some of the sonic extremeties that Xenakis reached, Pléiades is actually quite listenable, even with the bespoke metal bars of the sixxen (six players + Xenakis) going through their paces.  Starting out sounding like Steve Reich's early ensemble practicing in a junkyard, most of the work is highly rhythmic and even has a good melodic sensibility to it.  As a bonus on this benchmark BIS release, there's a 1981 recording of Danish percussionist Gert Mortensen performing Psappha, composed by Xenakis in 1975, and with a truly memorable ending.



  1. Hi Alan.
    Very interesting. Thanks again!

  2. Just started browsing your blog after finding a post on Tomasz Stanko from a google search. Really great stuff you are posting here.

    1. Thanks! Sounds like the same way I've discovered lots of music blogs in the past. Still always think, man I miss Zamboni Soundtracks, whenever I listen to Cyborg by Klaus Schulze... it was largely ZS, plus Opium Hum (thankfully still going strong), that inspired me to run with the 'anything goes' approach here.

  3. This is great, and as you say, much more exhilarating/accessible than much of the more tortured end of Xenakis, it was a real surprise, and even funny in parts, which I never expected!