Dystopian Pleasure V

Fr, Oct 20th 20.00 artist's, Graz

Nach mehreren Aufführungen seit 2016 geht „dystopian pleasure“ nun in die fünfte Runde.


This article  serves as a gateway to unfolding the layers of significance encapsulated within “Dystopian Pleasure.” It navigates the intricate interplay of conducted improvisation, democratic principles, and the infusion of electroacoustic techniques, it contextualizes the composition, offering a nuanced overview of its thematic depth and conceptual framework.

In the intricate world of musical modern ensembles, the emergence of democratic principles has sparked a transformative journey. This exploration navigates the delicate balance between individual expression and collective harmony, drawing parallels between the democratic ethos of musical collaboration and broader societal structures. At the heart of this narrative lies the avant-garde spirit, dismantling layers of hierarchy within ensembles to reveal the profound richness that arises when diverse voices converge in a collective narrative. Through the lens of musical democracy, we delve into the transformative power of inclusivity within the creative process, exploring how dismantling traditional hierarchies fosters an environment where each ensemble member becomes a vital contributor to the evolving musical tapestry. The discussion extends beyond the realm of traditional instruments, incorporating avant-garde techniques, electronic synthesis, and even the democratization of noise. As we traverse this sonic landscape, we also contemplate the parallels between the evolution of musical democracy and the shifts in political systems, from monarchies to democracies and the potential pitfalls of hyper-democracy. This exploration culminates in the hope that the enduring principles of democracy will continue to inspire and evolve, fostering a harmonious coexistence of diverse voices both in musical ensembles and the broader societal context.

Democracy in Musical Modern Ensembles

Shifting focus to the democratic principles inherent in musical modern ensembles, sonic art navigates the delicate balance between individual voices and collective harmony. Drawing parallels between the democratic ethos of musical collaboration and societal structures, it peels back the layers of hierarchy within ensembles, exposing the richness that arises when diverse voices converge in a collective narrative.

Through a lens tinted with musical democracy, “Dystopian Pleasure” explores the transformative power of inclusivity within the creative process. It examines how dismantling traditional hierarchies fosters an environment where each ensemble member becomes a vital contributor to the evolving musical tapestry.

Already in Gustav Mahler’s late-Romantic music, his symphonies stand as monumental expressions of democratic ideals within the context of classical music. In compositions such as Symphony No. 3, Mahler expanded the orchestra to unprecedented proportions, incorporating diverse elements, from birdcalls to folk melodies. This inclusive approach mirrored his democratic vision, where each instrument and motif played a vital role, breaking away from the traditional emphasis on a dominant melody. Mahler’s symphonies serve as democratic symphonies, allowing the myriad voices of the orchestra to contribute to a rich, collective narrative.

Later, in Claude Debussy’s compositions, including “Clair de Lune” and “La Mer,” music transcended the traditional confines of tonality. By emphasizing atmosphere and suggestion over formal structure, Debussy democratized beauty, and much more, his countryman Olivier Messiaen: his use of unconventional scales and harmonic innovations shattered pre-existing norms, inviting listeners to actively engage with the music.

György Ligeti’s contribution to musical democracy is exemplified in his mass contrapoints. In “Lux Aeterna” and “Requiem,” Ligeti embraced complexity without alienating the listener. The use of micropolyphony and dense clusters distributed across the ensemble granted equality to each voice, dissolving traditional hierarchies. Ligeti’s innovative approach resonated with the avant-garde spirit, reflecting a commitment to democratizing the sonic landscape by providing accessibility to intricate textures.

Iannis Xenakis, an architect turned composer, introduced stochastic music, an objective approach to composition based on mathematical models. In “Metastasis” and “Pithoprakta,” Xenakis’ democratic vision manifested in the liberation of the compositional process from subjective decisions. Stochastic music democratized the creation of sound, introducing an algorithmic foundation that allowed for a more egalitarian distribution of sonic elements.

Perhaps one of John Cage’s most revolutionary contributions to the democratization of music was his embrace of chance operations. In works like “Music of Changes,” he relinquished control over compositional elements, allowing chance to shape the outcome. By introducing randomness into the creative process, Cage challenged the notion of the composer as an authoritarian figure.

This departure from rigid composition techniques allowed for a democratization of creativity. Musicians were no longer bound by the confines of preordained scores, and each performance became a unique exploration. Cage’s use of chance operations highlighted the richness that could emerge when the creative process is decentralized and shared among performers.

John Cage’s legacy is one of liberation and democratization. By challenging the status quo, he dismantled the traditional hierarchies within music, offering a vision where all sounds, all instruments, and all contributors have the potential to be equal. Cage’s radical ideas continue to echo in the work of countless artists who, inspired by his ethos, explore the vast and inclusive landscape of musical expression.

More than him, maybe Stockhausen and Pierre Schaeffer influenced future popular music. The emergence of turntablism, particularly in genres like techno and noise, symbolized a democratization of noise within 20th century music. Noise, once considered disruptive, became an equal partner in the sonic palette. Techno’s (alongside all its sub-genres’) repetitive loops and chaotic dissonance found a harmonious convergence in the dancehalls, challenging established notions of musical hierarchy… but introducing new ones. The loop, a staple in pop music and DJing, became a symbol of musical democratization, providing a platform for diverse sounds and ideas.


The trajectory of musical democratization mirrors the evolution of political systems in Europe. Just as monarchies gave way to democracies, the traditional structures of classical music evolved into avant-garde expressions and electronic genres. The advent of hyper-democracy through social media reflects a parallel in the political landscape. However, the potential pitfalls of hyper-democracy or hyper-individualism, as explored in “Dystopian Pleasure,” suggest a cyclical pattern—a movement from monarchy to democracy to hyper-democracy towards a technocracy. The fall of technocracy, as depicted in the conceptual framework, hints at a return to rural stone-age individualism and later tribalism, highlighting the potential fragility of democratic systems and their cyclical nature of raise and fall.

While musical democratization has flourished, social media’s impact on political landscapes raises questions about the sustainability of hyper-democracy. The parallels between the musical and political realms underscore the nuanced challenges and opportunities associated with democratization. As we navigate these complexities, the future remains uncertain, with hopes that the principles of democracy, both in music and politics, will continue to inspire and evolve, fostering a harmonious coexistence of diverse voices.

The “Dystopian Pleasure” Series: Concept and Framework

“Dystopian Pleasure” has undergone a metamorphic journey, reaching its fifth state in 2023. The genesis traces back to June 12th 2016, when the inaugural performance unfolded at Forum Stadtpark Graz. The performance showcased a blend of ensemble improvisations alongside solo pieces such as “Dimacherus” for violin solo and “Medusa mi Amor” for bass flute solo. The ensemble pieces “Glittering Belt” and the eponymous “Dystopian Pleasure,” at 20 minutes in duration, emerged as central components of this performance. ALready then, Dystopian Pleasure was more a concept than a concatenation of various pieces.

Following a subsequent performance at Minoritensaal in Graz in 2018 and a studio recording session geared towards adaptive game music, the composition embarked on a transformative journey. The evolution led to a concert in December 2021 in Belgrade (ringring festival), characterized by a more intimate setting exploring the improvisational interplay of drum set, synthesizer, modular synthesizer, and vocals. Whereas in the first two installments, the dystopian claustrophobic situation in a confined space, a bunker, the conceptual framework introduced a fictional device—the “dreamer,” offering the protagonist a vessel to delve into a science fiction narrative, enriched by diverse ethnic musical styles, and intermittend interacting with the ship’s A.I.

The narrative of “Dystopian Pleasure V” (DPV) unfolds within the remnants of a post-war society striving to find its footing amidst the debris of a once-flourishing civilization. Unlike its predecessors, DPV shifts the setting back to Earth, abandoning the extraterrestrial themes explored in DPIV.

In this iteration, the techniques employed are as unconventional as the narrative. An ensemble of improvising musicians, unfamiliar with each other, is orchestrated through conduction. Departing from traditional ensemble hierarchies, a conductor guides the musicians not through a pre-written score but through improvised collaboration. The conductor, akin to an impromptu composer, communicates not only through traditional signs but also engages the entire body to convey emotions and creativity.

The interplay is dynamic—the conductor depends on the musicians’ output while catalyzing their creativity. The musicians serve as both interpreters and creators, akin to turntables or sample players, sparking the musical flame. The conductor’s responsibility lies in organizing and prioritizing these spontaneous ideas, navigating the uncharted territory of collective musical creation. The result is an experience that defies traditional hierarchies, providing both performers and audience members with a novel, immersive encounter where the boundaries between creator and interpreter blur, and the orchestra becomes a vessel for collective, spontaneous creation. As “Dystopian Pleasure” evolves, so too does the narrative, offering an ever-expanding exploration of musical democracy and innovation.

Synthesis of Soundscapes: Integrating Classical, Household, and Electronic Instruments

In the sonic tapestry of “Dystopian Pleasure,” classical instruments, household artifacts, and electronic synthesizers converge to craft a unique, democratic, and culturally diverse soundscape. In this synthesis, the presence of distinct sound emitters on the stage is not contradictory; instead, it serves as a testament to the coexistence of various sonic realms, thereby democratically equalizing their contributions.

  • Dystopian Pleasure V’s Sonic Palette: The composition’s evolution introduces a fusion of classical instruments, household items, and electronic synthesizers. Each sound emitter represents a distinct sonic entity, contributing to a multi-dimensional palette that transcends traditional boundaries. The juxtaposition of classical instruments, often associated with tradition, and household artifacts, typically overlooked, adds layers of complexity to the sonic narrative.
  • Granular Sound Synthesis and Meticulous Interweaving: The sonic exploration extends to the granular level, where soundbits intricately interweave to form a texture that is both modern and unheard. Granular sound synthesis, with its microscopic manipulation of audio fragments, becomes a pivotal tool. This meticulous interweaving of soundbits creates a sonic landscape that defies conventional expectations, pushing the boundaries of auditory perception.
  • Integration of Classical Instruments: Classical instruments bring a rich historical context to the composition. Strings, woodwinds, and brass coalesce with the avant-garde, forging a sonic narrative that bridges the past and the present. The inclusion of classical instruments not only adds timbral diversity but also serves as a nod to musical traditions while pushing the boundaries of their conventional use.
  • Household Junk as Sonic Artifacts: Household items, typically relegated to the mundane, become sonic artifacts in this composition. These unconventional instruments, carefully chosen for their unique sonic qualities, transcend their utilitarian origins. The clinks, clangs, and whispers of household junk intertwine with classical and electronic elements, contributing to a democratic symphony where every sound emitter is granted equal sonic importance.
  • Electronic Synthesizers and Cultural Equality: Synthesizers, as electronic emissaries, introduce futuristic elements to the sonic landscape. Their ability to generate and manipulate sounds in real-time adds a dynamic layer to the composition. The juxtaposition of classical, household, and electronic elements on the stage symbolizes a democratic equalization of sonic cultures. It challenges the notion of cultural superelevation, presenting a platform where diverse sonic contributors coexist harmoniously.
  • Democratic Soundscape and Equalized Behaviors: The democratic ethos of “Dystopian Pleasure” extends beyond the sonic realm to the behaviors of the sound emitters on stage. Classical instruments, household artifacts, and synthesizers interact on equal footing, blurring the lines between cultural hierarchies. The sonic democracy becomes a metaphor for societal equality, where each emitter contributes to a collective narrative without diminishing the importance of the others.

In conclusion, the synthesis of classical, household, and electronic instruments within “Dystopian Pleasure” not only creates a modern and unheard soundscape but also serves as a sonic embodiment of democratic ideals. The presence of these diverse sound emitters on stage signifies a harmonious coexistence, challenging preconceived notions and providing a platform where cultural equality and sonic innovation thrive.