ROLAND KAYN – The Man And The Biosphere


For decades, a restricted sphere of connoisseurs had struggled to find copies of Roland Kayn’s rare recordings, in the meantime nourishing wet dreams about the mysterious contents of his archives. For someone who spent a whole existence immersed in unusual self-generative sonorities, opening the doors of a carefully managed archive to the public was not considered a priority. But, the laws of nature say, the number of fans of an erstwhile overlooked artist grows exponentially to an “a posteriori” renown. This is what happened after the publication of two huge box sets, A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound and Scanning. Following all of the above we now rejoice for the latest move by Ilse Kayn who, fulfilling her late father’s desire of having his sonic heritage properly handled, set herself in charge of a Bandcamp page entirely dedicated to previously unheard works. In the very words of Mrs. Kayn, “my father’s and my personal wish is to give the world access to all that unrevealed beauty“. And who are we to disagree?

The first cry from the new creature is a 48-minute piece that, in a sense, synthesizes a sizable chunk of Kayn’s universe. The Man And The Biosphere makes no secret of the origins of several of its constituents, represented rather graphically and repeatedly as in a recurrent dream. Bells, voices, clocks, references to diverse environments (natural or less), instrumental snippets. On an instinctive reaction, one might think of an attempt by Kayn to test himself within the territory of genuine musique concrete. But, as the minutes elapse, the realization occurs that we’re traveling far beyond the mere juxtaposition of different realities. In a systematic change of acoustic scenery – most often without warning, and quite abruptly – Kayn subjects each source to a process of enhancement and/or deformation of their implicit musical qualities. At the same time he stretches resonances and durations, extending some of the harmonic refractions to create reverberant overlaps and convoluted shapes from a completely pliable matter.

The mind does try to take notes while listening. However, any mnemonic attribute is shaken by something more powerful, the initial image rapidly subverted. We are driven to consider the various objects and their relational dimensions as a complex unicum, somehow originating from an abstract mass of incalculable vastness. This method of processing sound, giving it a soul and an autonomous temperament inside a limited temporal microcosm, transforms what we hear in inimitable fashion. It spontaneously combines fragmented rhythmic elements, capricious dynamic interrelations and – as per Kayn’s tradition – awe-inspiring flights through absolute emptiness, as we’re supported exclusively by transcendental particles not describable via conventional analytical practices. In this suspension between variable ecosystems, the physical being practically removed from the equation, lies the authentic significance of this umpteenth example of Kayn’s compositional uniqueness.

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