I think it’s safe to say that Craig Burrell is not a fan of Iannis Xenakis:
The Wikipedia page for Iannis Xenakis calls him “an important and influential composer of the twentieth century”. To the extent that this claim is true, it serves as an indictment of twentieth-century music. If you thought the Moog machine was sufficient reason to hold electronic music in contempt, Xenakis is going to introduce you to a whole new world of pain.
It gets better, or worse:
Parts of it sound like garbage trucks being dropped through plate-glass ceilings. Certain episodes made me want to phone a fax machine in order to hear something more beautiful. The “compositions” bear pretentious titles like Diamorphoses, Concrete Ph, and S.709. This nonsense is sufficient proof that being “important and influential” is a very equivocal honour.
J. S. Bach had a perfectly nice S. 709 Chorale-Prelude “Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend” but we won’t go there.
Certainly Xenakis’ electronic compositions can be something other than pleasantly sonorous, but perhaps the weirdest of the lot are the pieces he worked up with the UPIC device, which basically takes a paper drawing and derives sounds from it. Mr Burrell includes a video of Mycenae alpha (1978), which I concede is a bit unsettling. However, Xenakis has written orchestral, vocal and piano works, in addition to the electronic stuff for which he’s best known; I can’t claim a great deal of familiarity with his catalogue, but I will admit to a certain fondness for Mists for solo piano (1981), which is aptly described by the chap who uploaded the video as “chaos splattered across a fairly rigid framework, interspersed with little flurries of aggravation.” It’s easier for me to handle than, say, the twelve-tone ditties of Schönberg and friends.
And yes, I know: the last post I did on things musical (yesterday) included references, albeit indirect, to Waylon Jennings and Megadeth. I am nothing if not inconsistent in my tastes.