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Baker's Dozen

The Pleasure Of Discomfort: Siavash Amini's Favourite Music
Jennifer Lucy Allan , August 26th, 2020 09:07

Siavash Amini discusses his 13 favourite albums with Jennifer Lucy Allan, including the power of romanticism, weeping over the death of Leonard Cohen, and why Nils Frahm has a lot to answer for. Photo by Selma Pour-Amin

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Georg Friedrich Haas – In Vain (conducted by Sylvain Cambreling)


Haas is the master of uncomfortable situations and this piece in particular gave me something concrete to believe in. At the time I was hearing this, I needed something that moves the orchestra in a way that wasn't very mathematical like the thing you hear out of IRCAM and the spectralists, but at the same time the focus of the composition is on texture. I think Haas is one of the few people who's doing it right, and it's sounding how he does it. If you want to be a mixing engineer good mixing engineer go study a Haas, because it's there, he mixes the frequencies for you. It has that dramatic effect, it has a narrative even when it's so abstract, and it's uncomfortable. The point about the discomfort is that it has a concept that closely relates to it. I don't know if you read how he talked about how it was. It's called In Vain and it's about how his country after taking a very right-wing turn has gone off the rails again. This composition conveys that. It starts with this sequence of upward and downward instruments – you think it's going somewhere. At some point, it just gets lost. After that, it becomes these dark, beating frequencies, from which comes bangs, then these Sherman tones. It doesn't mean anything – it is In Vain, literally.