"Art cannot be just a social novel, a manifestation of post-industrial culture nor avant-garde experimental composition, without it being more than itself. Equally, it cannot be defined by itself without a metaphysical overlap.
If so, it exists with absence of basic functions such as a human having cardiac arrest. That state seems to be compatible with relatively little life."
VLADIMÍR HIRSCH is a Czech contemporary avantgarde composer, instrumentalist and sound alchemist, integrating
contemporary classical, industrial and dark ambient music. His compositional style is characterized by polymodality and using digital technique to enhance sonic means of expression.
Besides creating solo works, he is the founding member and leader of AGHIATRIAS, SKROL, ZYGOTE and various other projects. He was also a member (keyboard player and vocalist) of the 80's
experimental post-punk group DER MARABU.
Vladimír Hirsch has been composing since he was a teenager, when, as a pianist and organ player, he started to write romantic and classicist pieces with elements of experimental rock .
However, he abandoned these compositions for some time and delved into experimental jazz and rock music up to 1986, when he joined post-punk band MARABU.
Simultaneously he also started to apply modern classical forms to electronic and analog music resulting in a more transgressive industrial style . The trial in this direction is represented
by the experimental space-ambient album SYNTHETICS-THEMES (1987), SYMPHONY NO.1 for two synthesizers (1989) and
ORGAN PIECES (1991).
MARABU was initially influenced by post-punk. The band originally consisted of drummer Josef Škoda ,bass-guitarist Tomáš Hadrava ,Vladimír Hirsch on keyboards, guitarist Janis Georgiu and singer Samír Hauser .
Marabu performed for the first time in 1987 in Prague and the same year the band created the first demo recording, MARABU I. In 1990, the band changed their name to DER MARABU as well as the line up with
guitarist Michael Kureš joining Vladimír Hirsch and Josef Škoda while other members left the group.The band also changed their direction to a darker and more aggressive style with some inspiration from 20th century Slavic classical music.
The band's lyrics are a mix of existential disbelief and political criticism of the civilized world. The final result of this period was the album CRUCI-FICTION recorded in 1993. After many personal changes the band finished its activity
1996 by the recording ALL OF US WILL FALL AWAY with Martina Sanollová doing vocals. Immediately after the break, Vladimír Hirsch established the martial industrial band SKROL.
SKROL's activity started to evolve in 1996 on the wrecked remains of DER MARABU, consisting of Vladimír Hirsch (composition, electronic instruments, vocal), singer MARTINA SANOLLOVÁ and TOM SAIVON,
sound alchemist, lyricist and band manager. The creative principle of SKROL is based on neo-classical concepts with a congregation of industrial. The typical attributes of this music consist in heavy martial rhythms, symphonic arrangement of main riffs, with volatile melodies of electronics, classical organ, strings and brasses in amorphic noise space. The intense atmosphere is crowned by the ecstatic, passionate and extremely igneous expression of the singer. Skrol is a project where underlying rock song structures are overpowered by angry industrial soundscapes. These principles led Vladimír Hirsch in the direction, called by him "integrated music."
He composed 5 instrumental albums for the band: SIMPLICITY OF HERESY (1996), INSOMNIA DEI (1997), THE FALL VERIFIED (1997), DANCES & MARCHES (1997- 1998) and NEW LAWS / NEW ORDERS (1999-2000).
SIMPLICITY OF HERESY is a religious epic composed of digitially manipulated string instruments, brass, classical organ, densely enhanced piano and drums combined with additional dark ambient soundscapes created by Saivon.
The conceptual affinity of Hirsch to his classical models is evident, but does not surpass the scope of severe militant rhythms along with obstinate instrumental loops as a counterpoint to the melodic calmness which further enhances
the relentless tension created in the music. The final version of SIMPLICITY OF HERESY was reworked using vocals into HERETICAL ANTIPHONY which came out as a CD in August 1999 on the
German label M.D.Propaganda Records.
Likewise the strictly conceptual album INSOMNIA DEI is the most aggressive and heaviest martial industrial album from Skrol with raw, dense and destructive sound, in which everything is submerged.
The aggressive substratum of the music is supported by the emotional overlapping female and male vocals. The songs Soaking, Movie Martyr, Insomnia and Dei irae came out as a 10´LP called MARTYRIA
on the LOKI Foundation label in August 1998, followed by the release of the full length in 2001 on the U.S.label Chromozome-RRRecords and again in May 2003 on the M.D.Propaganda Records label.
The album DANCES & MARCHES FOR THE ORPHAN AGE, created over a period of 7 years, can “boast” the longest deferment of studio adaptation due to the differing visions
of SKROL’s individual members. The preference of uneven or incomplete rhythms in this album is obvious. The dominant female melodic vocals assumes a distinctly sorrowful voice, sometimes non-verbal with a transcendental character,
and the most important instrument here, not by its predominance, but by its content, is the organ, which has the role of disquieting and dramatizing the figurative, fierily symbolism of Saivon's lyrics.
The album was released after extensive remixes by Vladimír Hirsch in March 2005 by the Portugal label Dagaz Music.
The last SKROL album NEW LAWS / NEW ORDERS was originally planned as a culmination of the conceptual possibilities of the band. It was finally restructured and released in August 2009 by the Argentinian label Twilight Records.
With this album, the band eclectically closed the whole work of Skrol. Some of the tracks are revisited from earlier instrumental versions combined with previously unreleased material influenced by the contemporary solo works of Vladimir Hirsch.
Skrol's action potential was reached in this album which oscilates between modern classical music, ritual and martial industrial.
Some of SKROL´s tracks also appeared on a few compilations. The track "Eternity Ltd.“, was included on the compilation album THORAK, which came out on the label WAVS 2003 in September 1998
under the name "Ewigkeit“ and "Fall A Prey“, which was released in 2000 as part of a voluminous compilation on the Russian label AchtungBaby! with the name BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN / TEN YEARS OF MADNESS.
The ritualistic trances of the singer who often sang in ecstatic frenzy combined with kinetic physical theatresque performance, while the two noise makers stood behind in terrorist masks,
was a signature mark of Skrol's live perfomances . SKROL regularly appeared in many European countries, including tours in Britain in 1998, Germany in 1999, and their most successful "Fire Martyrs Tour“ in June 2001
in the US, which was a combination of SKROL sets and the new project AGHIATRIAS. The band fully stopped its public appearence in 2002, but rejoined for live shows again in 2011. Current Skrol performances are accompanied by the epic, mystical and intense synchronized video montage, provided by Marianna Auster.
In winter 1998, Hirsch composed a large collection of tracks, entitled SENSE GEOMETRY, as an attempt to apply some geometric principles in music, inspired by mathematical theory of fractals. To this purpose he uses simple signals
of interval, rhythm, structure and instrumental logic. Industrialised instrumentation plays here the role of the chaotic, irritating element and forms an emotionally tense atmosphere, the hypnotic rhythm has the role of keeping order,
meanwhile the ambient sounds pivot the listener's attention to another level of perception. Originally Hirsch's solo work, after the successful stage presentation with vocalist Martina Sanollová, changed into the project ZYGOTE.
In 2000, ZYGOTE recorded an alternative version of the album under the name GEOMETRIE NEVĚDOMÍ. The original sound was distorted by apocalyptic vocals and multilayered instrumental and
disturbing noise together with the existential and impassioned Czech lyrics of Tom Saivon. ZYGOTE - sometimes using the alternative names Zygote CZ or Zygote (CZ) - performed that album very succesfully between 2000 and 2003. In 2006,
ARS BENEVOLA MATER, released Vladimír Hirsch's remix (2004) of the original work, which was the first in line of many solo albums put out by this Italian independent label.
In autumn 1999, Vladimír Hirsch (composition, electronic keyboards, computer) and Tom Saivon (samples, computer) joined their creative efforts in the project AGHIATRIAS, which is a kind of extrapolation of the combination
of neo-classicist (Hirsch) and noise (Saivon) tendencies within SKROL. The first live performance in December 1999, introduced a few new tracks from their first album FIELD MASS, an adjusted industrial and power electronics
version of Vladimir Hirsch's original track MISSA ARMATA." The album was released non-officially in 2000 by Hirsch's label CatchArrow Recordings. Also for this reason, Field Mass was later modified after many years by
Vladimír Hirsch into the more cohesive solo work CRYPTOSYNAXIS for audiovisual presentation (2009). Cryptosynaxis translates as "hidden worship" in ancient Greek and as such the structural composition is based on standard
liturgical elements. The music clearly demonstrates a highly structured industrial sound combined with classical instrumentation. It expresses a battle that is eventually disrupted by a violent scream convincing enough to end the
turmoil and for both sides to take part in holy Mass together. The Mass becomes the moment of realization, gradually eventuating in humility and a sign of peace.
The synchronized video montage to the album by American photographer and videoartist Marianna Auster (2010) narrates between light and darkness, the holy and the profane.
The second AGHIATRIAS album, EPIDAEMIA VANITATIS, came out as the 1st release on the group's own label, INTEGRATED MUSIC RECORDS, in 2002. Contrary to the preceding album, the general
character aims more towards dark ambient - the structure of the material is richer, compositions have a deeper and wider ambience and the emotional perceptions are more immersive, without sparing the original intensity and urgency.
Their third album, REGIONS OF LIMEN, completed in August 2003, is an adjusted version of Hirsch’s solo project DE REGIONIBUS LIMINIS. This extensive dark ambient album is devoted to subliminal mechanisms of perception
and its conception consists in the confrontation between the surreal (artificial ambient) and real (industrialized sound). The seemingly sombre character of the composition is brightened by an irradiation representing the fleeing moments
of dawning. The album was released in March 2004 by the Czech label Epidemie Records. The reworked version of the original composition "De Regionibus liminis" with the name UNDERLYING SCAPES became a bonus CD for
Vladimír Hirsch's boxset (Ars Benevola Mater) of solo works THE ASSENT TO PARADOXON in March 2009. The fully synchronised video montage by MARIANNA AUSTER, a continuing video cooperator since 2010, uses manipulated cut-ups of films, documentaries and stills,
sequenced into a narrative that manifests the surreal subconscious ambience of the music.
In 2005, AGHIATRIAS created their final official album ETHOS, which was released early in September 2006 by Epidemie Records. Structurally, it is probably the best representation of
their confrontation with contemporary classical, dark ambient, noise and industrial structures. AGHIATRIAS discontinued their activities in 2007 after the non-officially released album RELIQUARY, whose content includes earlier
excluded material together with tracks that were released for various compilations (e.g. RAINY NOVEMBER DAY IN WROCLAW).
Vladimír Hirsch´s solo work was never interrupted during his conjoint projects. He has been composing an extensive collection of music, foremost a number of conceptual albums, including symphonies, soundtracks, suites and concert opuses,
and many experimental compositions for his favourite instruments, organ and piano. A part of the most important albums were stepwise released from September 2006 on 7 discs, partially separately, partially as a box-set with the name
THE ASSENT TO PARADOXON. The collection includes the albums: SENSE GEOMETRY (2006), CONCERT INDUSTRIEL POUR ORGUE (2007), SYMPHONY No.4 (2008), EXORCISMS (2008), LES SCÈNES ARDENTES (2009),
CONTEMPLATIO PER NEXUS (2009) and NONTERRA (2010) which came out only as a compound of the set. The unified cover art was designed by Hirsch using the photography of the exceptional Czech conceptual photographer
Jan Vávra. The box-set was released by the Italian label Ars Benevola Mater on 17th May, 2010.
The symphonic works probably offer the best review of the development of Hirsch's compositional and sound techniques. SYMPHONY no. 2 (1997) with the epithet "Defensa“ is formally a classical composition, but incorporates
synthesized percussion and brasses, contrary to the first symphonic work enriched by industrial sounds. The following SYMPHONY no. 3 (1999), subtitled descriptively "Sinfonia per orchestra, organo e percussione" is once again relatively
a classical unit where tonality integrates into atonality and classical into industrial, using digitally processed instrumentation and synthetic sounds. This album was performed live in December 1999 at the Prague Industrial Festival (Galerie Exodus) under the patronage of the
Open Society Fund, which provided the grant. Both the second and third symphonies were released after light revision on CDr in 2003.
The last symphonic work, SYMPHONY NO. 4 "DESCENT FROM THE CROSS" (2001) is a thematic opus, originally inspired by Dostoevski’s interpretation of Albrecht Dürer’s painting of the same name. Epically, the symphony may
be understood as a sort of filling of the gap between Christ’s death and laying into the grave, the process which is not given much space in the bible. The atmosphere created here is a deeply immersive and sharply painful experience,
with a tragic and apocalyptical impact at the beginning, yet intimate inclination to hope in the end of the work. The album combines expressive means ranging from symphonic to noise, but attains unity and a fully homogenous structure.
The album incorporates haunting choir singing and female solo vocals of contradictive (violent vs.ethereal) characteristics. The original composition was officially released in August 2008, its' completely revisited and remastered version,
GRAUE PASSION, in September 2009. This album closely represents the composer's concept of “integrated” musical form the best.
The voluminous CONCERT INDUSTRIEL POUR ORGUE, created in 1998, is a project which can only generally be described as using classical music form.
It is characterized by themes surfacing in irregular pulses, which after an incandescent outburst, disappear again as if exhausted or suddenly on
the contrary, rise up in a mass of industrial revolt. However, the main theme is never fully brought out on the surface. The reworked second version
of the composition is markedly shorter, placing more emphasis on a systematic approach to its theme, without disturbing the above said basic qualities
of the opus. This version was officially released in 2007.
Between 2004 and 2008, Vladimír Hirsch created four solo albums which represent new creative attitudes, both in sound organization, tonality
and instrumentation. Their main characteristic traits are polymodality, systematic organisation of chaotic sound structures, incorporation of
new instrumental combinations, as well as heavier usage of vocals in the form of distorted dialogues and choirs. All of them constitute various ways
in reaching inner cohesion of dark ambient, post-industrial and modern classical means of expression.
The albums EXORCISMS and LES SCÈNES ARDENTES are similarly conceived. The core is one of an achingly nervous harmonic structure with rich inner
life and articulation, corresponding with mighty, monolithic sounds of orchestration in integrated arrangement. The second album is a collection
of scenic music, adapted as a fully conceptual, originally composed or arranged for theatre performances in the period between 1994 and 2003.
It also implements emphatic components of solo and choral vocals arranged systematically amongst primarily unordered particulars, threading around
powerful industrial rhythms.
THE ASSENT TO PARADOXON collection of solo works was completed in 2009 by a philosophical-theological themed album, CONTEMPLATIO PER NEXUS, inspired
by the writing "Teologia spiritualis mystica." This is the process of the mind's transformation during mystical contemplation. The composition
describes all the phases of this process, divided into thematically antagonistic parts (complementary - affirmatory), which are indiscerptible
compounds of the contemplative process. Particular sections are represented by subsections, which are continuously merged into each other.
The album is a musical dialogue between space and detail, a kind of transcription of the relationship between man and the cosmos. The compositional architecture and sound characteristics of the work oscillate from intimate and almost subconscious
layers over naturally radiating sounds to excruciating strength, tension or ecstatic heights. The album exists also in original sequenced version,
CONTEMPLATIO PER NEXUS IN SEQUENTIIS (2008).
The studio application of the concert program TORMENT OF NAISSANCE (2007), consitutes an evidently rising shift to microtonality and intense insight
into amorphic harmonic structures. It is based on the theme of creationist parallels between the nascency of the cosmos and Man. The musical energy
is very concentrated and has an impression of the inward expansion of sound masses into a collection of sharp, penetrating rays of sound. The album
EPIDEMIC MIND (2008), comprises of Japanese cyber-punk writer Kenji Siratori's texts and declamations. The parallel vertically and horizontally organized
chaotic atonal melodic elements contrast with the slow, heavy rhythmical patterns and monotonic and emotionally plain expression of the spoken word. The
Japanese text is highly experimental, uncompromising, progressive and intense, written in a style that not only breaks with tradition, but severs all
cords with it, embracing the mayhem of the digital age. Siratori's prose is made relentless by its many scientific terms from molecular genetics,
which at first glance seems nonsensical, but in the end shows very convincingly the absurd reality of contemporary society. Both albums were released
as CDRs by Integrated Music Records.
Integrated Music Records also releases compilations of tracks from Vladimír Hirsch's solo works and his projects, e.g. INTEGRATED MUSIC ARCHIVES VOL.1 (2004),
FRAGMENTS, THÈMES ET IMAGES SCENIQUES (2005) and INTEGRATED MUSIC ARCHIVES VOL.2 (2009).
An important part of Vladimír Hirsch's works constitute his soundtracks. These are TOBRUK (2008), originally composed for the film with the same name
(but not incorporated into it) and music for the stage play MARKÉTA, THE DAUGHTER OF LAZAR (2009-10). Both of them are epics created within a classical m
musical framework, but keep all typical attributes of integrated compositional techniques. The stage play soundtrack is more classical than any previous albums
without leaving digital manipulation with sound. It was an inspiration for new arrangement of ENDOANATHYMIA (revised version of HERMENEUTICAL
CYCLE), released in the summer of 2011 and also for the current development of albums in process – Horae (composition for organ and field recordings),
AXONAL TRANSIT (4 compositions for electroacoustically manipulated strings) and the compilation album
ORGAN & PIANO WORKS, a survey of revisited versions of Hirsch´s tracks (1976 - 2009) with the main role of piano
or organ, combined with an ambient matrix and odd instruments, like gas organ, telharmonium, water harp, etc. Hirsch is contemporary working also on
two extensive thematic albums, based on non-instrumental sound processing, SEVEN MORTAL SINS and PHENOMENA OF THE SILENT END.
Vladimir Hirsch has also delved into other genres bordering on rock - jazz as with the album CASUAL CRIME (1998), a melancholic piano fuelled album
where alt-saxophone, contrabass and drums create a raw early jazz energy. The album is a reminiscence of the composer´s earlier interest in jazz
music in the seventees. It was created from his older romantic and ethnic themes which were arranged for a classic jazz quartet. The album,
THERE'S NO HUMAN TRIUMPH (1996-1999), an industrial rock album with manipulated samples echoing on top of clashing drums, guitar riffs and metallic
percussions. DREAMS OF AWAKENING is another rock based album with melodramatic expressions of states of anxiety and full of wailing lyrics.
In 2007, the project LUMINAR AX, was established together with American singer and poet Dove Hermosa. It is an experimental rock formation, unifying
integrated compositional style on top of expressive ethereal vocals. In 2008, the album OPTEM SPECTRIS was completed but unfortunately never
officially released. Dove Hermosa also participated as vocalist and lyricist on Hirsch´s albums CONTEMPLATIO PER NEXUS and TORMENT OF NAISSANCE.
VLADIMÍR HIRSCH's musical aim is an alchemical transmutation of modern classical forms and dark ambient, industrial and noise components into a homogenous
indivisible structure. This act represents metaphysically the central idea of his concept of INTEGRATED MUSIC, which consists in the collision and
reconciliation of two seemingly spiritually opposite worlds inside an individual.
JAN BLANICKÝ (1996-2010)
& MARIANNA AUSTER (2010)
Updated on October 18, 2011