Roland Kayn – A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound

Roland Kayn, Rome, 1964.

In October 2017, frozen reeds will present the première release of Roland Kayn’s fourteen-hour masterpiece, ‘A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound’, as a sixteen-CD boxed set.

Roland Kayn’s truly epic ‘A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound’ is both a major late opus and a summation of his vast contribution to the fields of electronic music and composition. Hearing the briefest passage of this piece, assembled in 2009 and totalling almost fourteen hours in length, is enough to date the material it is comprised of back to the era of his noteworthy LP boxed sets, released on the Colosseum label in the late 70s and early 80s.

Kayn’s so-called “cybernetic music”, to use the term he preferred, resolutely refuses to showcase the methods employed in its creation. The mass of logical interactions and correspondences underpinning the sounds we hear are submerged so deeply below the surface as to defy analysis. We are left only with the results, which grant the listener a profound and unique experience.

With ‘A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound’, Kayn provides both a vast sonic territory and the invitation to explore it. From glacial, drone-like vistas to violent staccato sequences, the piece’s twenty-two movements chart the length and breadth of electronic music in as comprehensive a manner as has ever been attempted.

The resurgence of the modular synthesizer as a popular musical tool in recent years belies the possibility that its boldest virtuosi may already lie in the instrument’s past. In his work in Europe’s electronic music studios alongside colleagues such as Leo Küpper and Jaap Vink, Kayn created sonic textures in such abundant variety as to make genre categorisation redundant. Photographs of the one-off, hand-built systems upon which they were realised have inspired the awe of electronic-music connoisseurs for years, but their output has been all too little heard and appreciated.

In 2017, Roland Kayn represents perhaps one of the last titanic figures of 20th-century music to receive their due recognition, and to have their vital music restored to availability. Fresh from its release of Julius Eastman’s ‘Femenine’, which spurred on its composer’s wider rediscovery and gave rise to performances, broadcasts and festivals devoted to his work around the world, frozen reeds is proud to initiate the first stage of a similar process for Roland Kayn, which his incredible music so richly deserves.

A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound (2009)

Sixteen-CD boxed set. Edition of 550.
Audio restoration by Jim O’Rourke.
All photographs copyright LRKA (Lydia and Roland Kayn Archive) Bussum.
Catalogue number: fr7/22
Barcode: 6419369992989
Release date: October 2017



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