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Persepolis Plus Remixes Edition 1

1 rating: 5.0
An album by Iannis Xenakis

In 1971, former Iranian dictator Muhammad Reza Shah hosted a lavish and highly choreographed event amidst the ruins of the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis in order to celebrate the 2500th anniversary of Iran's founding by Cyrus The Great. This … see full wiki

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1 review about Persepolis Plus Remixes Edition 1

history in progress.

  • May 14, 2006
I have not heard this particular recording, but I like _Persepolis_ a lot. I will comment on that work only. This is one of the best electronic works I have heard by far, along with anything by Birchville Cat Motel. First let me say that Xenakis' mathematical composition processes and colossal orchestral works have had quite an impact on me, but my favorite piece of his so far is _Persepolis_, for eight-channel tape. As with any music that evokes such uncommon thoughts and emotions, it is difficult to describe. Somehow, it is a rare electronic masterpiece with dignity and elegance guiding its experimentalism. This radical piece was, amazingly enough, commissioned by the Shah of Iran in 1971 and scored as part of a light show, to commemorate the nation's founding.

This work, writes Xenakis, is a "symbol of history's noises; unassailable rocks facing the assault of the waves of civilization. Childhood's awakening must be maintained because it represents active knowledge, perpetual questioning which forges the becoming of man. To invent light trajectories, to create signs, destinies on stone: on mountain and ruins, through sound, through fire, through light. . . . _Persepolis_ is neither a theatrical spectacle, nor a ballet, nor a happening. It is visual symbolism, paralleled and dominated by sound. The sound, the music must prevail absolutely. This music corresponds to a rock tablet on which hieroglyph or cuneiform messages are engraved in a compact, hermetic way, delivering their secrets only to those who want and know how to read them. The history of Iran, fragment of the world's history, is thus elliptically and abstractly represented by underground currents of sound. The listener must pay for his penetration into the knowledge of the signs with great effort pain and the suffering of his own birth."

Who knows what he was thinking, exactly. Xenakis had a rather obtuse way of thinking about music. Yet this is an unexpectedly accessible and immediate work, constructed out of a small set of sound forms, such as heavily manipulated acoustic instruments and something like a ghostly machines. Even so, for all acoustical purposes you will never hear the same things twice. The piece is certainly noisy, but not in a derogatory, annoying way like a dog barking at you on the street or a garbage truck waking you up at some obscene hour, but in a very immaculate, deliberate way. At high volumes, _Persepolis_ can crush you with its power, but at low volumes, where one must pay more attention, one is really made aware of the hidden beauty here. This is a multilayered world of exquisite sonic evolutions that is both tragic and inspiring - just like human history. _Persepolis_ makes a human connection you wouldn't expect.

Unfortunately, this is a difficult piece to find the right sound setup for. Since it is supposed to be mixed for eight channels surrounding an audience, really high quality headphones would probably enable one to hear the music most clearly. Since there are never going to be any recordings mixed for eight channels, it's all about the layers. At the very least try and surround yourself with the music as much as possible.

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Persepolis Plus Remixes Edition 1
Label: Asphodel Records
Artist: Iannis Xenakis
Release Date: August 13, 2002

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