Herbert Distel ‘Soundtrack’, 2004

01 Soundtrack (52:30)
Herbert Distel remixes Die Reise & La Stazione

Total time 52:30
Unreleased mix, 2004

Originally commissioned in 2004 by a japanese choreographer, this remix version of Herbert Distel‘s own‘Die Reise’ and ‘La Stazione’ was broadcasted on ORF, WDR and Deutschlandradio in 2007-8, but remains unreleased on disc format at time of writing. The music is kindly offered by Herbert to the readers of this blog – for more info on Herbert Distel see my Wikipedia article. Composed for dancers and video, this ‘Soundtrack’ (pun intended I assume) is a subtle and nuanced mix enhancing details from the originals and adding dramaturgy in the process. The result is a kind of psychological landscape and less of a train trip or portrait of a train station, since the train sounds are used as a rhythm element here and no more as a psychological, hypnotysing sound. Actually the train sounds only appear 15 minutes into the mix, evidence of a new direction given to the whole project. The work is divided in 2 parts, the first one (till 39:00) being a remixing of ‘Die Reise’ whilst the 2nd part (starting 39:00) is sourced from ‘La Stazione’.

The 15mns opening sequence is a kind of surreal vocals+insect chorale. A female singer returns at 23:00-24:00, a heavenly voice amid the concrète music sounds. Generally speaking, this mix stays true to the original ‘La Stazione’ project, that is to say an opera (ie a composition for voices), enhancing and stressing the role of vocals in these 2 sound pieces. Another prominent element are the numerous electronic sounds brought into focus compared to the originals. Distel deliberately re-install his sound work in the electronic and musique concrète canon. And maybe the cheerfull motorcycle engine at 47:30 signals another, noisier trip altogether. Obviously ‘Soundtrack’ is a fine addition to the 2 previous works on train sounds and the ensemble makes for a perfect trilogy.

On a side note: Possibly inspired by the legendary Distel soundworks, in 2004 Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia commissioned Jan Schacher and Marcus Maeder to create a sound intallation in a train compartment joining different swiss cities where art events took place. A temporary travel agency was launched called ‘Transient Travels’ [+], booking tickets for the ‘Sound Train’ and in 2005 Maeder released the soundtrack for it on his own Domizil label [+]. The works of COH, AGF and Ilios are relevant to the train travelling theme, while others are mere electronic journeys. But you would think there is definitely something special between the swiss people and their trains.


2 Responses to “Herbert Distel ‘Soundtrack’, 2004”

  1. 1 Adam September 12, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Many thanks to Herbert Distel and you for sharing this amazing recording. It’s quite exciting to see that the composer himself “donated” this unpublished rarity to you and to us. Applause!

  2. 2 continuo September 12, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    I agree with thanking Herbert Distel once again for this gem. He’s one of my heroes alongside Willem De Ridder, Laurie Spiegel or Joseph Nechvatal. Thanks for commenting, Adam.

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