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Jerry Hunt - Haramand Plane

Jerry Hunt - Haramand Plane

Haramand Plane is a reissue of the last works of the Texas-based electronic composer Jerry Hunt (1943-1993). A one-time Rosicrucian adept who founded his own correspondence course church at the age of 13, Hunt created music with occult overtones. As he explains in the highly idiosyncratic liner notes accompanying the CD, these final pieces, all dating from 1993, were composed using a “translation” system drawing on tables supposedly encoding angelic name and numbers obtained in seances by the 16th century English occultist John Dee.

Its allegedly supernatural provenance aside, the music sounds like the soundtrack to a film the narrative logic of which hovers just on the other side of comprehension. It’s highly atmospheric, and seems to allude to interior states that like beneath and beyond the capacity to describe them. The pieces move through multiple waves of moods and colors, as for example in the nearly half hour-long Chimanzzi Link (2), where samples of low-pitched strings lend a certain gravitas that is then offset by the exaggerated vibrato of upper register samples. - Dan Barbiero, Avant Music News

Much more often, when I hear that new composers compose music for a classical orchestra, I have the feeling that this is remains a conservative idea, because nearly everything has already been said with it, and also, without a sensitivity to other sounds that these milked out combinations, the tendency to fall back on paper music alone will be almost inevitable. There's much more in music possible than with that sort of limited formula of a classical orchestra. This traditional orchestra to me has become an unrealistic tool for new creative expressions.
I have still noticed however, on the first track of these compositions, a new idea that resonates to the classical orchestra that hasn't been done yet. This element to arrange in essence does not yet provide entirely different compositions compared to classical music when I simply compare this to the melodic changes being used and I heard here, because this aspect here is limited to tensions and to intonations with some tones dominating during each emphasis. What is however entirely different is the way how or better with what the orchestral composition is made here : it "vibrates" very much and expresses itself very much with just that vibrato aspect dominating. Besides this element, we still have percussive bells and noise
accents being added too, while the vibratos of tones come and go in layers and in different tones, like some directed wind with pressures of/on certain tones. These tones pass by in layers like a reverb orchestra being slowed down, ot like some kind of weird life-form or an expression of physical movement that haunts and that hunts you down. It is like orchestrated beast that acts in a way as if every element is dedicated to the hive of the composer.

(This approach slightly reminds me of a variation of ideas that could interest people who also like the composer Giacinto Celsi).

This approach continues further into the second track with the addition of extra layers so that here it gets even more an orchestral effect, with the present sections of orchestral violin strings (in the high pitched tones), the layer of the flutes and various wind instruments, and the tonal layer of the low strings, with still its distinctive and perfectly placed percussive accents to it. More and more, the music forms a sound world with some inhibited organic repetition, higher tones whirling and slower wings-like waves, while it's nervous intonation of timbre remains, as if hyperactivity is mingled with meditative strength and its further restriction of it. I have no idea how it is composed and if tape or computer was used to actualise it's desired effects, it surely has something of electro-acoustic music while keeping an orchestral music mind and effect to it. The intonation or stressed factors slowly show it's changes.

On the third track, some extra and also interruptive mechanical rhythms are added with different colours of keyboard-like layers, under the form of percussive breathy-noise accents and even several more keyboard-tonal-like irregular rhythms played in different mono-colours. After a while these vibrations remain hanging in the air,  like a dark cloud, dense and dramatic, but still with an ending as if the storm and rain went over.

The fourth track takes a more percussive emphasis, like a shaky rain, and from here with additional string effects being added this time. This part demands already more from the listener for it remains rather long in the same area like a darker cloud of rain. The nearly annoying percussive sounds return too, giving side-effects to the cloud, making nervous tensions in the cloud. I wonder how much this represents also the mind of the composer, as someone who is over-sensitive and nervous, feeling a tension and pressure of directions by too many things that are noticed at the same time. You can imagine here the pool of thoughts and experiences, that are like reflecting circles on the supposed to be quietness of the brain. In this case, the mind doesn't come to it's ease or rest. At some stage, a real storm breaks loose with deep bass and shaky percussion. The percussive powers are taking over the scene, while being accompanied by brass with irregular timbres and strings. Then the brass-like drones starts to lead with triangle-alike fast percussion. This returns to the keyboards-alike endless over-layers. I am not sure what to think off this part yet, because I can sense also a certain imbalance or loss of control over the situation, not succeeding any more to open it up, to have it breathing well from inside consciously. One needs to know that the composer had severe lung cancer around this time, something in all it's genius ideas also in this composition it is like something is taking over.

The nervousness which in the first track started as simple vibrations into an original characteristic, now is taking over everything completely. This next part starts with percussive and horn-like vibrations, combined with shaky electro-acoustics (plastic? and paper objects). We feel orchestral strings vibrations, like an inward nervous vibration. It is not too difficult to listen to, but it does not feel it can (still) go anywhere to,
is more like a busy and nervous vibration, with electro-acoustic vibrations of movement in combination with the deep brass kind of sounds. This is a dense and dark area. There's also something chaotic about this density, something dramatic.

On the last part, the nervousness comes to the phase of becoming chaotic in its (cell) origin, while pickings and harp-like programmed contemporary notes are added, all these layers remain slightly nervous layers too, a combination of the effect of brass, keyboards with added electro-acoustic paper waving percussion...

The label says “The three sections of this electronic work constitute the composer's last pieces. He regarded the recorded version of this work as a "document for rehearing." The overall sound is the densest and most intricate in this one of a kind artist's body of work. The three sections consist of "interlocking audio and video optical discs which provide the fundamental image, sound and program control strings ... action code pattern structures ... for a group of transactional mimetic gesture exercises ... inflection calls evoking ... melody streams" with simultaneous tracks of acoustic percussion. The sonic result is an entrancing, overwhelming, evocative shamanistic performance of brilliantly designed electronic timbres.”

Jerry hunt since 1978 had always been interested in solo performances using theatrical mimics and semi-mythical gestures which were also inspired from his interest in esoteric ideas based upon, for instance, the magic of the Enochian tablets and its ceremonial practice. He had developed interactive systems with a computer while sound and sight are deliberately confused and intermingled to provoke an act of theatrical bewilderedness. Some of these works were used especially for video recordings. He was artist-in-residence
at the Video Research Center in Dallas from 1974-77, and in his later years he had devoted himself full-time in fulfilling commissions and working on collaborative projects with such people as visual artist Maria Blondeel
(Gent), performance artist Karen Finley (New York), and composer and software designer Joel Ryan (Amsterdam). The website Classical Composers also mentions that “Hunt was also an innovative computer systems designer and created mysterious alliances of computers and primal energy in his installation pieces (like a voodoo hut with computerized proximity detectors triggering electronic sounds for the New Music America festival in Houston).”

After having suffered for too long from his lung cancer, he ended his life by using gas for it, something which he prepared with all details, leaving nobody behind that would suffer any consequences of that action... - Gerald Van Waes, Psyche van het folk

The Pogus label has a fine nose for forgotten and underestimated recordings from the past in the field of electronic music. This results in well-documented releases, like this one: ‘Haramand Plane’ by Jerry Hunt, originally released by ?What Next?(1994). Electronic music attracted pioneers of all kinds, often loners who built their own universes with more or less success. Jerry Hunt was one of them, an eccentric composer from Texas who ended his life in 1993, aged 50. He studied piano and composition at the University of North Texas and became an accomplished pianist, playing compositions of American and European composers. He gained some fame with his live electronic events combined with ritualistic performances. In order to make his work available he founded his own Irida label. The titles on this Pogus release were the last works he realized before he died.  Titles of the three works on this release are: ‘Chimanzzi: Link (1)’, ‘Chimanzzi: Link (2)’ and ‘Chimanzzi: Drape: Link’. It is electronic music of a very own kind. Fine textures with lots of details and layered sounds. It makes the impression of very organic sound constructions, that are far from dry, academic experiments. I admit, I associate abstract electronic music more with the intellect than with other human capacities. But listening to these works I became more and more impressed by the lively and organic feel that is in this music. This music flows like water in a river or blood through our veins. Very evocative and sensitive music, sounding quasi-nonchalant. Resulting in something that is more than just music. Must have been a visionary artist! -  DM, Vital Weekly

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