Boomkat Product Review:
Roland Kayn’s extraordinary cybernetic firmament is brought into sharper focus by Jim O’Rourke’s sensitive remastering on the 2022 edition of ‘Infra’, some 41 years since it was generated at the Institute for Sonology, Utrecht.
Highlighting a true landmark by one of the c.20th’s legendarily unsung pioneers, this first reissue faithfully represents one of the handful of boxsets that brought Kayn’s peerless solo vision to the world between the recently reissued ’Simultan’ (1977) and ‘Tektra’ (1984) sets. Filling in a vast section of Kayn’s known, early cosmos, ‘Infra’ imparts the feeling of a millennia-wide, time-lapsed image of deep space condensed into 3 hours of astronomic roil and intergalactic sturm und drang with uniquely breathtaking results.
On its unfathomably panoramic electronic canvas, shearing masses of modular synth contours calve away to orchestral shock outs and what sounds like Cocteau Twins riffs slowed 1000%, provoking atavistic swells of emotional response as well as pangs of dread-filled futurism from its incredibly lush whorls and monstrous mechanical mastications. In terms of scale and scope, its might is matched by few others in the electronic music field, with forebears in the early electro-acoustic enigmas of Stockhausen and Éliane Radigue, and a lone contemporary in Jaap Vink, all paving the way for descendants such as NWW’s ’Soliloquy for Lilith’ and Jim O’Rourke’s ‘To Magnetize Money And Catch A Roving Eye’, but yet few open the mind’s eye so wide as Kayn.
Marking just over 10 years since Roland Kayn’s passing (1933-2011), it’s great to see the late, great composer receive his overdue flowers in recent years, as fascination with his previous band, Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza (ft. likes of Egisto Macchi and Ennio Morricone) has given way to obsessions with Kayn’s uniquely uncompromising solo pathways. With thanks to the archival endeavours of his daughter Ilse Kayn, and Finland’s frozen reeds label, Roland’s visions of a music unanchored from time, space, and - as much as possible - from human input has finally found its audience with a world edging ever closer to the brink his music describes.
Listening to ‘Infra’ it truly feels like Kayn has peered into the abyss, skirting the event horizon of a black hole in order to relay its terrors and beauty to our fleshy messes back on earth. It’s no quick fix experience, but one that needs requisite time and space to become properly immured in its jaws, but when given, the experience wholly swallows ones mind and transports somewhere completely else; subliminally suspending a sense of disbelief and recalibrating one’s proprioceptions in slow-burning, soul-combing and mindblowing form.