Album Review

Appel, Karel – “Musique Barbare Van” – [Sub Rosa]

Louie Caliente   9/5/2016   A Library, CD


Karel Appel was a Dutch painter, sculptor, and poet. He was one of the founders of the avant-garde movement Cobra in 1948. This album was recorded in 1963 as the soundtrack to a documentary about Appel that was never released.

There’s lots of different different sounds going on here, and the three pieces on this album are very distinct. They reflect the different approaches to artwork that Appel took throughout his life: assemblages of used materials, forceful impressionistic art brut, and overall a rejection of rationalism and geometry.

“Paysage Electronique” (tr 1) is a collage of sounds recorded onto tape, arranged and manipulated by hand. A room full of percussion: metal sheets rumble, timpanis boom, and bells tinkle. Roaring organs and smashing pianos. Very frenzied, playful, and humorous, the piece sounds almost cartoonish at times.

“Poeme Barbare” (tr 2) is drums and spoken word, looped into a furious crescendo.

Finally, “Le Cavalier Blanc” (tr 3) is a pensive and unsettling piece with thunderous drums and discordant organ, punctuated by grunts and screams.

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