It is a music of dead movements, practically the last convulsions, and its pseudoactivity (a rubble made up of empty, dotted triplet, motored rhythms) which already marks that inner paralysis that precedes the outer one. (A fantasy which, in the face of deep-felt threats, gives up all expressive utopia and, as a beetle does, lies struggling on its back, continuing to work with empty learned mechanisms, recognising their anatomy and uselessness at the same time and by doing so, also seeking and trying out new beginnings.)
The staged phases of the work, from “arco machine” to the “fluttered organ point,” “trembling fields” and “stop-and-go throbbing frenzy,” all the way to O Du lieber Augustin played back from tape and other situational variations resulting therefrom: they orient themselves thoroughly to the outer mechanical procedures assigned to them, and deliberately use the empty material quality of the means applied as a counterpoint to its familiar expression, which has now become meaningless.
This music embodies a life of setting up and breaking down. Such breaking down is not staged or, even worse, celebrated as a natural event in process, but it is rather very often suggested through structural fracturing of sound (for instance, by “melodic” modification of the distortion factor in the case of percussive figures, controlling the muting technique etc.) As a result, by way of alienation, it has become possible to remain in the area of a similar language and to compose with “untouched” sounds, and, by rejecting the temptation, not to escape into the exotic. Only through including non-alienated sound once again can it be proven that the point is not so much in fracturing the external sound as in an attempt to break down and discover anew our internal practice of perception.
Helmut Lachenmann, 1984