HERMANN NITSCH – Orgelkonzert Jesuitenkirche 2013


There’s enough talk already on Hermann Nitsch’s controversial use of dead animals for his rituals, and this is not the right place for hypocritical sermons. But even when the Austrian actionist is the subject of discussion in relation to the mere musical aspect of his oeuvre, things are not taken lightly over here. Most of Nitsch’s performances are soundtracked by orchestrations able to elicit an irrational response from aurally asthenic specimens, sometimes to the point of utter refusal given the association between extremely dissonant structures and the semi-logical unpleasantness of the aforesaid performances.

However, when a church organ is involved – as in this case – the perspective changes entirely, the analysis shifting towards a different field. It’s about a deeper perception of sound color and vibrational impact on a genuinely somatic level. Accordingly, the four movements of this concert provide abundant nourishment for those who get fulfilled when surrounded by massive droning cascades. The power of these gigantic clusters is amazing, replete as they are with all sorts of undulating undertones. This includes several sub-bass creatures that may result in an unsought woofer-shattering effect for bolder listeners; as a matter of fact, using this substance to fill a room with the sheer force of adjacent partials pumped up at Phill Niblock-like volume could be an irresistible temptation for someone. Another term of comparison comes to mind quite obviously, namely Charlemagne Palestine circa Schlingen-Blängen, although Nitsch’s overall sonorousness is felt as more solemn and/or dramatic. Just a fleeting sensation, perhaps.

Reviewing this sort of release is never a straightforward task. The risk of commonplace is always present, hand in hand with the fear of having overlooked crucial details. In essence, Orgelkonzert Jesuitenkirche 2013 is a psychophysical journey through various states of alteration rather than a “score” to be studied with a magnifying lens. At any rate it’s awesome music – occasionally bordering on out-and-out scary – charging the air via radiant particles and ominous throbs coexisting with the exclusive aim of decisively affecting our innermost cavities.

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