Monday, 27 February 2017

Zbigniew Karkowski - UEXKULL (rec. 1988/9, first rel. 1991)

First album by Krakow-born Karkowski (1958-2013), an experimental musician and composer who undertook some compostion courses with Xenakis, Messiaen and Boulez  before striking out as a much more raw-edged sound-shifter.  This hour-long drone piece was recorded in the late 80s using the UPIC composing software that Xenakis had invented a decade previous, and it caught my attention whilst pottering around on discogs last week. 

Intrigued enough to add the out-of-print UEXKULL CD to my wantlist, I had the pleasant surprise shortly afterwards that it has in fact been reissued digitally by the AudioTong label, who are now offering it for free/name your price on their Bandcamp page.  So that's where the download link below leads.  Lossless formats available too!

Musically, then, UEXKULL is based around a circulating bass drone that gathers momentum by various electronic mutations for its first half hour before scaling back again.  It doesn't stay there for long though, filling out into a dizzying, brain-frying electronic wall of sound that brings to mind Merzbow or 90s Whitehouse more than Xenakis.  Karkowski did in fact collaborate with Masami Akita several times, and with many other avant-garde noisemeisters in what looks like a fascinating discography that I'll need to delve into further.  Sadly though, Karkowski's life was cut short at 55 by pancreatic cancer.  Apparently his final weeks were spent canoeing into the Peruvian jungle in search of some shamanic healers for a truly unique throw of the dice.


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