Hermann Nitsch: Island. Eine Sinfonie in 10 Saetzen



Since January 1998, the 6-Lp-box Island.Eine Sinfonie in 10 Saetzen (1980) by the Austrian Aktionskuenstler Hermann Nitsch, sold out for almost twenty years, is again available in a beautiful de luxe 4-CD edition by Cortical Foundation. For this symphony, recorded in march 1980, Hermann Nitsch collaborated with musicians from Iceland. Nitsch, being composer for many years and editor of several cassette-editions and vinyl releases, was the director of this magical noise but also contributed organum and piano.
Island is a very specific symphony. The beauty of this dark chamber music is only in some moments elevated. Only in some moments it is containing light. Its sounds are uncanny, horrid, demonic.They appear like a soundtrack for a Dionysian nocturnal journey, for an entry into the underworld of the Orgien Mysterien Theater. In a strange way, the symphony appears like the music of a road movie shot in a waste island: a mesh-work of fire and ice, of changing landscapes and moods - impressions of glaciers, geysers, rubble, meetings with shepherds and their flocks, then again roads, a crossing, voices, calls, a fair. Yet the cover is not showing an impression of Iceland, but Christ. Actually Wotan should be on the cover - as the music is panic, stormy, waste, wotanic, a pagan noise.
The access to the too often brute force of this Bruckner of the Happening, this Symphoniker der Ekstase won't be too easy for lovers of classical music. Too noisy are the trumpets of Jericho, to brute the pagan noise of the wild hunt, too drowing the slowly raising, impressive soundscapes, the fields of forces of Hermann Nitsch's noise orchestra with its deep, dark sounds. But it will be a real revelation for friends of ritual and industrial music, for adherents of Iancu Dumitrescu and Tibetan music with its dragon horns and of the restless, uneasy acoustic images of John Cale on Nico's record Desert Shore and The Marble Index.
* the first publication in Descent magazine, vol.5: Death Issue, USA, 1999
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to be continued...