Baguette et Béret – essai n°1 // The History of the Albums – n°284
Prologue: Bonjour my dear friends, I am announcing the launch of 2 new mini-series for 2021, on different formats and usually published weekly. I'm saving the surprise for the second series which should normally start next Sunday. What should we remember about Baguette & Béret ? Being French, I would simply like to make you discover or rediscover a few French-speaking albums/projects/songs (so that also extends to other countries, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland to the African continent, etc...), without any real specific rules. It is also possible that some episodes may intersect with the HOTA series. You can find all the episodes of this mini-series in my lists, enjoy.
For this first episode, we are going to plunge into a wonderful and obscure album Metastasis; Pithoprakta; Eonta, composed by the french greek producer/engineer/composer/music theorist Iannis Xenakis. In the shadow of any form attached to popularity, Metastasis Pithoprakta Eonta is an orchestral collection that specialists recognize as a pioneer of the Stochastic Music genre/style of which Iannis Xenakis is the principal investigator. It is clear that this is subtle and complex music for the discerning ear that only a small core of musicians, artists and seasoned listeners can really understand, although the subjectivity of each individual is taken into account. I am not afraid to tell you honestly that I am still too inexperienced to understand the universe and all the mysteries behind this refined music, but this allows me without complex to place myself rather as a curious observer, wondering about all that a music as rich and exciting as this can give me. I then leaned over like an apprentice surrounded by piles of books that were about to give way, peeling through sources and archives until the abundant information gave me this headache and this bar to my forehead. So why so much fascination and work? I will simply say that I am trying to transcribe an essay of an idea that would manage to pay sufficient homage to the exceptional man and artist that was Iannis Xenakis.
In order to understand him, you have to know his impressive career, both as a man and as an artist, which without a shadow of a doubt could very well be transcribed on the big screen. Born in 1922 in Romania of Greek parents, Iannis Xenakis devoted his childhood and adolescence to learning classical, religious and traditional music, while building up his school studies to become a civil engineer. In his twenties, he survived the Second World War, followed by a civil war in Greece and several very serious political problems that led him to flee his country at the end of the 1940s and settle in France where he was eventually naturalized. Being an intellectual genius and a hard worker, Iannis Xenakis quickly became a fantastic architect working notably for Le Corbusier, thus realizing as most prestigious references the "Philips Pavillion" and the "Sainte Marie De La Tourette". At the same time Iannis Xenakis pursued his love for music, becoming one of the most influential and innovative post-war Modern Classical composers of the last century. Beyond music, his compositions and various works have expanded the possibilities of classical music to electronics.
Through his genius and his unique sense of reflection, Iannis Xenakis managed to create a parallel between architecture, mathematics and music in order to create his works. Whatever the field in which he has worked, there are always three factors that come into play. Released in 1965 and supported by Maurice le Roux, Yuji Takahashi, Konstantin Simonovich, "L'Orchestre National De l'O.R.T.F, l'Ensemble Instrumental De Musique Contemporaine De Paris", the collection Metastasis; Pithoprakta; Eonta is probably one of the most successful and recognized orchestral work to date. The album consists of three of his compositions as indicated in its title, based on the Stochastic process or method of composition, when Iannis Xenakis sought to fill the gaps he felt in Serialism by establishing an atonal and formalized music. The collection begins with Metastaseis, a strident and oppressive 8-minute composition composed in 1953/1954 and first performed in 1955, which shows precisely the whole of Iannis Xenakis' artistic and mathematical thinking. On Metastaseis, the composer abandons almost entirely the tempo, in order to play precisely on the notion of time, sometimes seeking to rewind it, which creates these fractional effects of going backwards. Planned to be played by 61 musicians, Metastaseis was greatly inspired by his memories of war, seeking to transcribe all the animosity, violence and darkness of the horrors experienced. Like its predecessor, Pithoprakta is one of the most important orchestral compositions in his repertoire. Composed in 1955/1956 and performed in 1957 for the first time, Pithoprakta draws its essence from physical and mechanical laws based on randomness and cause-and-effect chains, supporting the correlation between gas molecules, electricity and fluids. Pithoprakta is probably one of the most technical and complex compositions to understand due to its unpredictable fractional structure, approaching the concept of improvisation and provoking a kind of constant amazement. The last track differs from the first 2, because Eonta is a Chamber composition composed later in 1963/1964, articulated on the use of the piano and accompanied by an orchestration. Even if Eonta denotes precisely of the rest of the body of the collection, the Stochastic structure remains always the main atom which comes to animate the soul of its formula, offering coherence and novelties to finalize the album. It is also a composition that seems to release something more accessible in its understanding, yet its dripping technicality and its superimposed dimensions tell us the opposite. Whatever the terrifying and cabalistic impression offered by the complexity of this album, Metastasis; Pithoprakta; Eonta by Iannis Xenakis is part of what can be called a musical revolution whose impact this genius and these works could not be measured.