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Published on Jan 3, 2011
Concret PH, for 2-track tape & at least 4 loudspeakers (1958)
A casual listener may not be aware of Iannis Xenakis' early involvement in the field of architecture. He worked for Le Corbusier for close to thirteen years, and helped design a handful of projects for the famed architect throughout the 1950s. His most important contribution was the design of the Philips Pavilion for the 1958 World Fair in Brussels. Le Corbusier was occupied with a major project in India, so much of the work on the pavilion fell to Xenakis, who created a striking tent-like form based on hyperbolic paraboloid curves. Le Corbusier aimed to create a multimedia presentation for Philips, a "poème électronique," that would incorporate film, slides, lighting effects, sculpture, and music. Edgard Varèse created his only entirely electronic score for this installation, and Xenakis, too, contributed a brief electronic piece.
Concret PH, the title being a reference to the architectural design and construction material, is a crackling two minutes of pointillistic sounds. Xenakis recorded the sound of burning charcoal, then layered and transposed the recordings to create evolving densities and ranges of snaps, crackles, and pops. This piece, along with Varèse's Poème électronique, remains a classic of the electroacoustic genre. [allmusic.com]