Boomkat Product Review:
A hitherto-unreleased electronic masterpiece from Roland Kayn, singular pioneer of cybernetic music. Over a period spanning the late 70s through the early 80s, Kayn (1933–2011) issued a quintet of extended works that quietly but definitively redrew the map of electronic music. Informed by cybernetics and a desire to actualise analogue circuitry as an agency in the compositional process, this music adopted a form that can only be described as oceanic, as side after side of vinyl allowed a wholly new vocabulary of electronic sound to find its shape. This set features a staggering batch of mesmerising computer music realised in 1982-83, roughly between his totemic ‘Infra’ and ‘Tektra’ boxsets. Essential listening for fans of Xenakis, Æ, Cam Deas, Jim O’Rourke, Laurie Spiegel.
As co-founder of the influential Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza (whose members included Egisto Macchi and Ennio Morricone), and an unparalleled pioneer of algorithmic composition, Roland Kayn made an inestimable and arguably unsung contribution to 20th Century music. Now following the acclaimed recent reissue of his jaw-dropping ’Simultan’ (1977) boxset and the 2017 unearthing of ‘A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound’, Kayn’s daughter Ilse has rebooted his Reiger-records-reeks label to unveil ‘Scanning’; a typically brobdingnagian expanse of perpetually amorphous sound generated by unfathomably complex iterations of maths, physics, philosophy and music that advances upon a genuinely post-human conception of sound arrangement.
Remastered from the original tapes by Jim O’Rourke - a long-time disciple of Kayn’s durational works, whose influence can clearly be heard in O’Rourke’s prized ‘Old News’ series - ‘Scanning’ now emerges from a pivotal phase of Kayn’s research/practice to highlight his pioneering grasp of bio-cybernetic communication at its most illusive and elusive. Where ’Simultan’ for example, felt darkly alien, and ’Tektra’ sounds like a black hole, the vast breadth of ‘Scanning’ is best defined by its spectra of impossible, string-like glissandi, cascading in infinitely smooth gradients and tectonic harmonic shifts that recall contemporary examples ranging from Autechre at their broadest (as on the æo³ & ³hæ DVD), thru to the sloshing shape of Cam Deas, and, at times, Dopplereffekt’s immense ‘Calabi Yau Space’ classic taken to Nth degrees.
For those who really like to know what’s going on in the mechanics of Kayn’s music, the boxset is accompanied by Kayn’s own notes, which, while succinct, may still require a Phd in scientific philosophy to properly digest (and same can be said of Massimo Ricci’s fascinating but baffling notes). However, the technical roots of Kayn’s music are not a barrier to entry for anyone with open ears and a taste for actually otherworldly sound. His frighteningly complex grasp of inimitably fluid dynamics and ear-probing tonalities can simply be enjoyed for their richly sensuous qualities and transportive/transcendent potential for altering one’s mindstate, as your grey matter attempts to perceive and compete Kayn’s revelatory series of ever-changing events and alien sonic scenarios. Trust this can have profound effects whether consumed when under the influence of psychedelic substances, or not.
We encourage anyone with the time, funds, and curiosity to immerse themselves in Roland Kayn’s non pareil computer music for some of the most unforgettable, enigmatic, and strangely life-affirming sonic visions imaginable.