Sunday, 22 June 2014

Henk Badings - The Woman Of Andros (Kontinental)

Another first class release from Kontinental, about whom I can find no information online. They've also put out some more superb electronic music from the Netherlands where, along with Tom Dissevelt and Dick Raaijmakers, Henk Badings forged electrosonik sounds in the 50s.

Here's the Philips NatLab studio where Badings worked from '56 to '60...

...don't you love photos of such places, crammed with technology awaiting the magic touch of futuristic music-makers?

Badings was a classical composer before he plugged himself in to the brave new world of wired-up sonics. Having been a mining engineer before dedicating himself fully to music in 1937 probably helped him explore the complex mechanics of this new music. In the late-50s he composed for three ballets choreographed by Yvonne Georgi and The Woman Of Andros, based on Thornton Wilder's novel, is one of them.

Right from the Introduction you enter an incredible realm of dynamic sound, punctuated by unsettling noises. Interrupted Dinner Party is jauntier, displaying characteristic melodies fans of the other Dutch electronic pioneers will recognise. Yet Badings underpins the lighter elements with dark rumblings and alterations to the tone of his 'storytelling'. Themes recur but Badings maintains a high degree of depth and variation to the compositions, shifting from aggressive discord to a melancholy refrain on Meeting of Pamphilus and Glycerium. Solo Chrysis could easily fit into any, yes, you guessed it, ghostly box of the last few years.

Badings' Orestes, a radiophonic opera, is considered to be the first 'electronic' music made in the Netherlands, but if you're considering buying it don't expect electronic music as we know it. As Badings said, the voices and orchestration are 'transformed by electronic means' and is more concrete than pure electronics. To many, therefore, it will not sound so radically different from a normal opera.

Here's a piece from 1957 which I recently uploaded. It was written for an animated film and is described by Badings as 'a light and frolic experiment in sound and movement'.

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