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Iannis Xenakis - Persepolis

In 1971 the Shah of Iran commissioned Xenakis to compose a piece for the 2500 anniversary celebration of Irans founding by Cyrus. The piece was to be performed at the ancient city of Persepolis and so Xenakis titled his piece after that great old capital of the Persian empire. The music he composed was of similarly epic proportions. The shear monolithic scale of this 60+ minute single index piece cannot be understated. Similar in sound perhaps to la legende deeír and in force to Bohor but Persepolis has an all consuming power all itís own. Essentially a musique concrete work for 8 track tape the music was designed to play during a light show using multiple lasers and mirrors. I would imagine the experience of being present at the performance to be quite overwhelming.

Persepolis squeals into life amid a multitude of curious mechanical moans and groans that sound as if a scrap yard is slowly awakening out of hibernation. There is no information as to the methods which were used to produce the sounds but I feel this only adds to the mystery. Tinkling glissandi slide behind the omnipresent grind and drones of the concrete sounds, as layer upon layer of sound flow across the senses. Any preconception of musique concrete or contempory electronics are thrown out the window as structures collapse around your ears.

Most people would just call it noise, and without knowing anything about the dense complex mathematical planning that went into this you might be right in thinking that. Persepolis sways and dips under itís mammoth weight during the course of itís journey, at times deafening with unrelenting bass and metallic drones ,and at other times smoother allowing the pitched electronics to seep through the mass and delight the senses. It is very difficult to describe the exact sound of Persepolis itís composition is so radical and itís range of timbres and textures so rich that I am left to clutch at metaphorís. This music really does take no prisoners.