The later day spotlighting of the music of Roland Kayn is, in our opinion, the single most significant event to happened so far, in OBLADADA’s world. In the 3 years this site has attempted to highlight music that’s moved us enough to write about it, and the German composers work, who sadly died a decade ago, has never failed to rise head and shoulders over anything else we have heard.
Whilst we were aware of his work previously, 2018’s vast A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound still feels like a key 14-hour long moment of huge significance in our decades of music listening. The 10 hours of Scanning somehow did it all over again, shedding new light on his bizarrely focussed way of working. The steady stream of new releases from his huge vault almost unfathomable in quality.
Kayn’s estate now, overseen by his daughter Ilse, currently has 26 albums listed on their Bandcamp page. We have deliberately drip fed ourselves, working at a pace far slower than they appear, just to retain some sort of functionality in the real world.
Tektra is a newly remastered 5CD version of 1984s 6 LP boxset, it’s always seemed, by those in the know, as one of Kayn’s important releases. In fact an early pre-order option, was the new version and the original vinyl box. Whilst all his work has a distinctly weird surface texture, rather than his work being a challenging listen, these longer works, and extended listening sessions often end up in some abstracted form of ecstasy. This music eventually literally elates the listener…
Quite what is happening never really feels completely apparent. Sound is layered, looped, scoured, and sanded in blurring banks of musical silt. Imagine ascending through panorama after panorama of microscopically different layers, millions of sheets of barely visible tracing paper culminated into huge drones that seem to be bending time and space.
Built around 6 parts, 3 of which are multi part, Tektra delights in vast drones. Tanar (Parts 1 & 2) tumbles around in a sea of clicking and whirring before aligning into a jet engine morphing into temple bells and dreamlike mist. Etoral is a flythrough of a gong reverberating at an atomic level. The first two tracks forming the opening 70 minutes of yet another mind warping world.
Khyra (Parts 1 & 2) feels like memories filters though time, twinkling sparkles, events in the middle distance that may or may not be real. Meanwhile Khyra (Part 3) reveals smeared orchestral elements, strings loaded with disorientation, slowing down in woozy sequences.
The thought occurs whilst listening as this monumental work unfolds, easy to drift into “what the hell is actually going on?” The creation of these sounds is the result of a modular synthesiser, plugged into itself in clever ways, creating a dialogue, a sequence, all the options with a set of parameters presumably around fragments of actual instrumentation is difficult to fully understand. But the results, under Kayn’s exacting working processes seem to yield results that are unlike almost anything else out there.
The whole practise here centres in on the elephant in the room – cybernetics which Wikipedia coolly explains as “The core concept of the discipline is circular causality or feedback – that is, where the outcomes of actions are taken as inputs for further action”. So, it’s easy to imagine the process running through these pieces is a form of technology making decisions itself. This no alien life form in some sci-fi sense, but in a very real sense. Those weird twists through this 5-hour odyssey are actually all decision arrived at within the circuitry of Kayn’s electronics. Tektra feels like a microscopic musical fragment’s reflected into some endless Mandelbrot hall of mirrors, new sense being made of our world and constructed before our brains.
So ultimately this music points to some strange gateway into machine consciousness or simply what happens when humans removes themselves from the process. What you end up with in these situations is obviously massively varied. But Kayn seems to have discovered a very particular approach that produces outcomes that retain some sense of musicality whilst still represented in a vocabulary that is stunningly bizarre and unique.
Tektra is just another collection from his diamond fissure of creativity, and as ever, is beyond recommendation. In fact, the invitation to tune into Roland Kayn’s entire output at this stage, can’t be enthused about enough.
He is, as far as we are concerned, the absolute best.