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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of My Favorite Stockhausen March 17, 2009
Avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen (d. 2007) had his fifteen minutes of quasi-fame in the late-'60s/early-'70s during the height of Cold War tensions and the Vietnam War. It's difficult to fathom how his musique concrète struck a chord with listeners of serious music at the time since much of it comes off today sounding kitschy and contrived. One could probably look to the prevailing Zeitgeist which also spawned Dark Side of the Moon and its various offshoots. I have to say, however, that I was always held spellbound by two of his lengthy works first heard on late-night public radio, Hymnen being one. It combines samplings of several familiar national anthems with the random sounds from shortwave radios and intermittent studio voices to make for a fascinating two-hour journey into the Zen of worldwide electronic communication (or near instantaneous travel) via various electronic filters, mixers, and potentiometers -- it's quite a trip! I like to think it's metaphorical to a sort of "world anthem". I hadn't heard this for many years until recently, but even today it fascinates - there's a surprise around every corner!

The work is divided into four "regions" centered around a specific national anthem or conglomeration of anthems. Around these "centers" are juxtaposed electronically generated sounds and voiced multi-lingual phrases; i.e., a commingling of the "known" with the abstract and unknown. From the composer's notes: "When one integrates in a composition known music with unknown new music, one can hear especially well how it was integrated: untransformed, more or less transformed, transposed, modulated, etc. The more self-evident the WHAT, the more attentive the listener becomes to the HOW.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Head of His Time January 29, 2014
I second everything Moldyoldie says in his review, except that I like other works by Stockhausen and have several on vinyl. But, honestly, he is correct in his statement that this work and "Stimmung" are the best of the lot. I suspect that the reason the Beatles put Karlheinz on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's" was their nascent appreciation of electronic music: after all, both John and George did electronic albums of their own, and George in particular seems to have been fascinated by its possibilities. This was the era of the Moog Synthesizer, and not only the Beatles but several other rockers were experimenting with it, including, if I remember correctly, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds. The reason "Hymnen" was infinitely listenable (I use the past tense since I note there is no CD of the work and a vinyl and this site is going for almost $200!) is that it was, to use Moldy's word, "a trip." Some of us were dropping LSD, donning headphones, and getting spaced out for the experience. Stockhausen was thus regarded as a head of his times. Grace Slick might have had him in mind when she did "White Rabbit" with its refrain, "Feed your head...feed your head..." I still have my Lp and plan on passing it on to a son who has a recording studio in his apartment in NYC. I want him to listen since I suspect it may give him a lot of ideas for things he records for documentary film scores.
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