Roland Dahinden-Flying White
August 27, 2008
Flying White (Mode 2005)
I get positively tongue-tied when discussing classical music since I lack the context, background knowledge and musical vocabulary to do it any justice. I’ve always been a dilettante and a casual observer of classical music and have usually gravitated towards the repetitive minimalism of Steve Reich and the apocalyptic sounds of Gorecki, Penderecki and Ligeti. That’s kind of where my knowledge ends, so I cannot tell you who or what has influenced Roland Dahinden to compose such crushing compositions, but I can tell you that I am kind of obsessed with Flying White.
Roland Dahinden is a Swiss composer and trombonist who studied under Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton. In addition, John Cage and Pauline Oliveros have composed works for him to premiere. I guess Flying White does owe a bit to the drones and minimalism of Oliveros and Lucier, but it is also its own peculiar beast. Many of you will find Flying White to be a never ending parade of gently scraped strings and rumbling, but this isn’t for everyone. It is kind of a difficult listen in that each composition seems to bleed into the next resulting in a woozy and eerie atmosphere reminiscent of Artemiev’s soundtrack for Solaris. However, it definitely sets a mood, albeit a very uneasy and paranoid one. Flying White kind of reminds me of rough waters. Short swells of sounds that are immediately interrupted by something more unsettling that point to trouble ahead. There is no climax, only a constant build that is repeatedly interrupted before it can ever approach a climax. It is an exercise in frustration, but a gorgeous one at that.