Karlheinz Stockhausen - Oktophonie

When listening to the stereophonic version of a work originally designed to be played through eight groups of speakers, in the shape of a cube surrounding the listener, I got the distinct feeling that my two speaker set-up really wasn't doing the work justice.

Having experienced a giant quad set-up at a Pink Floyd concert at Wembley arena in the 80's I know the kind of spatial miracles that multi speaker systems can conjure, so the thought of hearing Oktophonie in its original eight track version made my spine tingle.

With a truly awe inspiring selection of otherworldly tones and sound effects at his disposal Stockhausen has put together a work which the listener can really become deeply immersed in. A sonic universe designed specifically to affect you in ways you can only imagine.

First impressions were of a seemingly aimless and unresolved barrage of sound effects which, although fascinating in their own right, made little sense as a whole. This soon changed when recognizable elements began throwing themselves across the stereo field and introducing new scenes or movements. After a while the many and varied elements of the work assumed a sinister logic with definite and well ordered segments making sense somehow with increasing frequency.

By the time you reach track 52 (there are 99 tracks in all) you'll have a lot better understanding as to how the music works. It's not half as complicated as you might at first think, in fact the less you think about what's going on and just let it take you where it will the better.

After listening to the entire work several times I still find myself being amazed at the richness of the images the music conjures up in my mind. I also know I want to find out more about Karlheinz Stockhausen and his music.

Rating: 950,487 (out of a possible 1,000,000)