Ilmar Laaban (b. 1921)

1. Tre brev från den dove, 1969 (4'01)

2. Ciel Inamputable, 1969 (4'01)

3. I revolutiones snö, 1969 (3'46)

4. Rot seul élu est or, 1977 (3'49)

5. Chien d'absolu, 1982 (4'17)

6. Eaux, 1975/1992 (4'37)

From The Pioneers: Five Text-Sound Artists
(Phono Suecia, PSCD 63)

Sound-poetry: a momentary, fragmentary attempt to recapture the unity between poetry and song that disappeared with the advent of the written word. And, at the same time. a fontanelle susceptible to the slightest murmur, the pulsating flow of breath more immediate than any code. Quite simply, a raw medium for the development of poetic expression.

For development and for expansion - but not at the expense of semantic, syntactic or aesthetic values. Imagery, which has taken such a giant stride forward in 20th century poetry, is particularly important to me. On the other hand electronic modification is reduced to a minimum. My aim is to expand the domain of poetry, not to abandon it. The musical development of the non-sung word - another of contemporary music's conquests - I leave to others.

But I am not as concerned with the complete, the perfect visual image as with its birth: the image as it is created, like the word that grows out of inarticulate sound and then redissolves. In sound-poetry the listener is brought closer to the actual moment of conception. For me it is also a new means of reducing conscious control of the poetic process, allowing spontaneous creativity more freedom, capturing material that floats up from the preconscious and subconscious - surrealism's richly fruitful ambition that is beset by so many obstacles when poetry is confined to the written word.

I have found it easiest to realize this ambition in one-part sound-poems that vary, sometimes greatly, from one performance to another, but even in complex sound-poems in several parts I have still tried to remain true to the idea by including a live part which changes guise at each performance and which is relayed through the microphone together with the other prerecorded parts. Varying concert conditions and different audience reactions have been of importance to both these categories.

Chien d'absolu is a fixed performance of the second category, Eaux is an elaboration of an original one-part sound-poem. The others are studio compositions in which I have tried to incorporate impulses and improvisations in the weave of parts. Rot seul élu est or has been performed with an additional live part but it is not essential.


Ilmar Laaban (1921-) is of Estonian descent but has been working in Sweden for many years as a poet, translator, writer on cultural subjects and author of several extremely personal textsound compositions. In these works pre-recorded sound channels are often mixed with a live channel which is created during the actual performance. This gives the material a dual character, partly planned and partly improvised. Imar Laaban always performs his works himself.

Almost from the start Ilmar Laaban was an experimental poet and collaborated in the production of the cultural magazine Odyssé in which Öyvind Fahlström published his manifesto on concrete poetry,

Ilmar Laaban's international outlook and his contacts with the French avant-gardists were of importance to Fylkingen and the Fylkingen language group.