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Fragments begins by focusing on the music of eccentric French genius Erik Satie, forefather of modern minimalism and an enduring influence almost a century after his death. Following the first singles from TWO LANES, French 79, Sascha Braemer, Monolink and Moritz Fasbender, is Snorri Hallgrímsson.
Erik Satie’s art was serious, but his methods were playful and experimental. Bar lines and metre? Boring. Symphonies and sonatas? Give the audience Gymnopedies and Gnossienes. Sit in concert-hall silence to listen? How about writing ‘furniture music’ to soften the edges of everyday life instead. The French composer loved enigmatic titles and cryptic performance instructions, he was the self-styled ‘phonometrician’ who wrote music ‘in the shape of a pear’ and directed pianists to play ‘like a nightingale with toothache’. Humour and wit were never far away, whether ironic, absurd, satirical, strange, rebellious, mischievous or joyful.
If the French musical establishment often derided Satie’s approach in his lifetime, the composer’s visionary qualities have long since been applauded. ‘It’s not a question of his relevance,’ declared the American composer John Cage, ‘He’s indispensable.’ Yet Satie’s influence and, yes, relevance is more obvious today than ever before. From ambient music to conceptual art, minimalism to rock, Satie’s music made its mark. Who better, then, to be the first figure explored in Fragments, a new annual invitation from Deutsche Grammophon for twelve leading electronic artists to respond to a single composer. With one single released each month, Fragments gradually builds over the course of a year, creating a portrait of Satie for the 21st century.