Tuesday, July 11, 2017

An abstract music of galactic desolation

Electronic music had just begun to appear at that time — Pierre Schaeffer, Klaus Schulze — an abstract music of galactic desolation that enraptured me. I wanted Karin to hear it too, but I should never have played that record. I explained that this was a new thing they were experimenting with. "Now just listen to this," I said. "It's like the pulsing of the spheres in space. Don't you think?"

"Quiet," said Karin. "I'm listening."

We listened together. The room seemed to throb electronically. Karin had gone pale and sat utterly motionless.

I jumped up to turn off the music but Karin yelled, "Don't! This is important to me!"

I should have remembered this was the moment when Dante descended into the Underworld and was met by the cries of the lost souls.

"I know," Karin said. "This is it. Now comes the voice of God."

And it came. How could she have known!? A deep, sorrowful bass that cut through the music with incomprehensible words and vanished into the galaxy amidst vibrations that finally lost themselves in silence.

"Forgive me..." I said. "You understand, this is a new kind of music they've just invented."

"No," said Karin calmly, "it has always existed. The lost souls are with us always, I know them. It's like a grey wave — any time, any place, on the street, on the train — obliterating everything. They cry for help and we sink in sin, theirs and our own. Can you play it again?"

But I didn't want to.
— from "My Friend Karin" in Letters from Klara, by Tove Jansson.

Sometime in the 80s, my brother discovered Klaus Schulze, and it was much like the times he discovered Kraftwerk and Beethoven. He rushed into the house, headed straight for the stereo, repositioned the speakers so the sound would roll over the dining table. Late for supper, again.

This was before trance music, before rave culture. This is how he would share with us his newest, his latest, religion. "Listen to this. Can you hear that? You can hear... Don't you get it?!"

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