Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage (CC Hennix) – Blues Alif Mam Lim
Catalogue No.: BF-012
Release Date: 2nd July 2021
*Comes in heavy gatefold sleeve* Having already unearthed three collections of archival 1970s recordings by Catherine Christer Hennix, Blank Forms continues our annual illumination of the visionary Swedish composer’s music by turning to more recent work with this first-time vinyl edition of Hennix’s Blues Alif Lam Mim in the Mode of Rag Infinity/Rag Cosmosis, a 2014 piece first released as a CD in 2016. The double album captures the April 22, 2014 premiere of the composition by the Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage, Hennix’s expanded just intonation ensemble, featuring a brass section of Amir ElSaffar, Paul Schwingenschlögl, Hilary Jeffery, Elena Kakaliagou, and Robin Hayward; live electronics by Stefan Tiedje and Marcus Pal; and voice by Amirtha Kidambi, Imam Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer, and Hennix herself. Intended to reveal the origins of the blues in the Eastern musical traditions of raga and makam, Blues Alif Lam Mim in the Mode of Rag Infinity/Rag Cosmosis has its roots in Hennix’s 2013 realization of an “Illuminatory Sound Environment,” a concept developed in 1978 by anti-artist Henry Flynt on the basis of Hennix’s own “The Electric Harpsichord.” As Hennix explains in Other Matters, Blank Forms’ 2019 collection of her writings: Rag Infinity/Rag Cosmosis presents fragments of 'raga-like’ frequency constellations following distinct cycles and permuting their order, creating a simultaneity of ‘multi-universes.’ When two such ‘universes’ come in proximity of each other and begin unfolding simultaneously along distinct cycles, there is a kaleidoscopic exfoliation of frequencies as one universe is becoming two, but not separated—the effect of cosmosis is entrained, binding two or more frequency universes into proximity where their modal properties interact and blend, creating in the process entirely new microtonal constellations in an omnidirectional simultaneous cosmic order with phenomenologically ‘transfinite’ Poincaré cycles (cyclic returns to initial conditions). As with Hennix’s best work, the organic unfolding of this quivering drone belies a precision that opens onto the infinitesimal. Over this mesmerizing ebb and flow, vocalists incant an Arabic-language devotional poem written by Hennix that features quotations in praise of Allah from the Quran. Also reproduced on the album’s gatefold jacket is Hennix’s elegant reduction of the sacred text, represented as the first letter of its first line gradually paired down to a single dot, which invites the contemplator to bring their inner knowledge to the composition for use as a meditation prompt. Listeners without spiritual inclinations, but who are willing to immerse themselves in the music, will find the work’s serene intensity to be its own reward. Catherine Christer Hennix (b. 1948) started her creative life by playing drums with her older brother Peter in Sweden, where they grew up, seeing jazz luminaries such as John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Dexter Gordon, Archie Shepp, and Cecil Taylor perform from 1960 to 1967. Directly after high school, Hennix went to work at Stockholm’s pioneering Elektronmusikstudion (EMS), where she developed early tape music, incorporating computer-generated speech done at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, where she was an undergraduate student. After traveling to New York in 1968, she met artists Dick Higgins and Alison Knowles who invited her to stay at the Something Else Press Town House where she had the opportunity to meet, among others, composers John Cage, James Tenney, and Phil Corner. During the following years she developed fruitful collaborative relationships with many composers in the burgeoning American avant-garde, including, most significantly, Henry Flynt and La Monte Young. Young introduced Hennix to Hindustani raga master Pandit Pran Nath and she would later study under him intensively as his first European disciple. While Hennix continued to make music performing alongside Arthur Russell, Marc Johnson, Henry Flynt, and Arthur Rhames, she also served as a professor of mathematics and computer science at SUNY New Paltz and as a visiting professor of logic (at Marvin Minsky’s invitation) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. In recent years, Hennix has led the just intonation ensemble the Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage, which has featured musicians Amelia Cuni, Amirtha Kidambi, Chiyoko Szlavnics, Hilary Jeffrey, Amir ElSaffar, Benjamin Duboc, and Rozemarie Heggen. She currently resides in Istanbul, Turkey, where she is pursuing studies in Turkish makam and classical Arabic.
Track list: A1 Blues Alif Lam Mim Side A B1 Blues Alif Lam Mim Side B C1 Blues Alif Lam Mim Side C D1 Blues Alif Lam Mim Side D