Friday, January 7, 2011
Roland Kayn, 1933-2011
Another of the great pioneer electroacousticians passed away this week. Roland Kayn was a part of the early electronic improv groups, Nuova Consonanza, with Ennio Morricone, Franco Evangelisti and Aldo Clementi, but his mark came with huge electronic epics that he started composing in the mid-1960s. One part of his Cybernetics project was released on the legendary DGG Avant-Garde series of LPs, and in 1970 Kayn released a 3-LP set of a 148-minute work, Simultan. By the late 1970s most of his work was electroacoustic, all of it big: Makro (released on 3 LPs) in 1977, Infra (released on 4 LPs) in 1979-80, Tektra (released on 6 LPs and later reissued on 4 CDs) in 1980. He created his own label, where he has released 15 albums of his music, 13 of them electroacoustic, all but one as 2-CD sets, none of them reissues of the LPs. He adapted marvelously to the digital age [see update below], increasing his output dramatically, with 220 of his 287 works composed in his last decade, all of them electronic. In 2009 alone, he composed 30 electronic works for a total of over 36 hours of music.
Even as I am staggered by the quantity, everything that I've heard by him transports me to a different place, and I always look forward to his works when they appear in the iPod rotation. I suspect that his work in cybernetics led him to some kind of generative system, but most of the documents on his web site are in languages I don't read (Dutch, German, Italian, etc.). Hopefully more detailed information will become available in English about his music.
[Update, May 7, 2011] To clarify, based on an email from Ilse Kayn, the digital age may have coincided with Roland Kayn's last decade, but his music was always analog. The productivity burst was due in large part to his retirement, which gave him time, space and peace to compose.