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[CP 084 CD] Nicolas Schöffer; Hommage À Bartok

Creel Pone

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Replication of the Hungarian-French Kinetic Sculptor Nicolas Schöffer’s lone foray into musical composition; the entirely baffling 1979 “Hommage à Bartók” LP on Hungaroton. Prior to this, most references to Schöffer from the music world have to do with the Pierre Henry“Spatiodynamisme” 7” that comes glued into the inside cover of his 1963 Editions du Griffon monograph, and having one of his pieces used on the cover the Stockhausen "Prozession" LP on VOX-Candide.

Certain sections come across like a non-Time-Lag-accumulated take on Terry Riley’s solo organ concerts, performed with the agility of a frustrated teenager; other spots sound eerily similar to Sun Ra’s solo-Moog takes - utilizing a bit of Cecil Taylor’s “88 Tuned Drums” ethos, no doubt. Hard to tell if there’s a more “Kunst” sensibility at work here, or if Schöffer is making some sort of statement against Virtuosity ala Dubuffet & Jorn (the liners make no such claims, but still). It’s not until the second-half of “Percussonor” that anything remotely “Composed” -sounding filters through, and even then it’s a pastiche of all of the elements & motifs that have transpired up until that point.

Cloudy intent or not; this is a fine slice of extremely over-modulated (it sounds as if some of the parts were run through low / high-pass filters, then Overdriven at the console, resulting in more than a few crispy passages) late-70s organ / Drum-machine weirdness that begs to be investigated further. Plus the eye-popping silk-screened cover is beautifully rendered here, along with the liner-notes in Hungarian, English, French, and German.