The Electroacoustic Music Store

Yawar FiestaNew Annette Vande Gorne

  • Total duration: 87:28
  • UCC 771028214297
  • Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (, Service général de la Création artistique)

Blu-ray: Surround 7.1 (DTS HD Master Audio 9624) + Surround 5.1 (DTS HD Master Audio 9624) + Stereo (DTS HD Master Audio 9624) + Stereo binaural (9624) •• Subtitles in French (original), English, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese

Everything in it is transparent and real and honest and true.

— Simon Cummings, 5:4, September 10, 2017


— Roland Torres, SilenceAndSound, August 5, 2017

Yawar Fiesta

Annette Vande Gorne

Werner Lambersy

IMED 17142 / 2017

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A Spatialized Electroacoustic Opera

Born in the Baroque period, the opera is making a strong comeback in this late-20th / early-21st century with the emergence of a new form of Baroque, the result of the globalization of information, racial and cultural melting pots, our historical knowledge of the arts, and the cohabitation of styles.

This world-as-a-whole, as the synthesis of all other art forms, is a reflection of a society and an era, and it has to resemble our world through the use of modern technology and an audio-visual language that, in this age of interplanetary travel and computers, owes nothing anymore to the days of horse-drawn carriages.

However, I thought it would be interesting to put this technology face to face with a timeless, quasi-mythological narrative where the author portrays two different ideas — social, political, philosophical — of Man. Thus are maintained the same issues of clear yet symbolic expression and high enough density of information to support all levels of audio-vision for all audiences.

Here, technology (numerous loudspeakers, shifting points of view in computer-generated images, audiovisual rendering of various spaces…) serves humanity’s expression.

Through this confrontation, technology rises above modern-day gadgetry to provide added value, or so we hope, as we believe it is more flexible and fitting to our current understanding of men and gods.

Annette Vande Gorne, Ohain (Belgium) [English translation: François Couture, xi-16]

In the Press


Simon Cummings, 5:4, September 10, 2017

Also out on empreintes DIGITALes is Annette Vande Gorne ‘s Yawar Fiesta, a work she describes as a ‘spatialised electroacoustic opera’. Released as a Blu-Ray audio disc, containing both surround and stereo mixes (including binaural), this 87-minute work — dedicated to one of the masters of acousmatic music, Francis Dhomont — is to all intents and purposes created entirely from vocal sounds. These have their origin in the libretto, written by Werner Lambersy, which “takes the incantatory and ritualistic form of an ancient Greek tragedy”. The text is used more as the basis for textural and/or spacial invention rather than for the strict and clear transmission of its content. Tangible words and vocalisations regularly emerge though, and perhaps the key defining feature of Yawar Fiesta is its dramatic, fantastical interplay of both material nature and perspective, alternating between granular, cloud-like, noisy formations (often positioned in the background or periphery) and solemn declarations and intoned chanting, seemingly by a vast, intimately close chorus of voices.

Considering the relatively small palette of sounds and sound treatments that occupy the piece, it’s remarkable that Gorne holds one’s attention so entirely for such a long period of time. Its structural unpredictability is an important factor, as is the enormous range of vocal types and arrangements, encompassing singing, chanting, speaking, shouting, crying (even keening), crooning, throat- and overtone-singing, whispering and whistling, ranging from just a single voice to many, moving like quicksilver between pitch and noise, speech and song, consonance and dissonance as well as shifting proximities and registers as though subject to the detailed rubrics of some vast, inscrutable liturgy. Another vital factor, though, is the extent of its emotional immediacy. Anything ‘operatic’ needs to keep its emotions at or very near to the surface, and while its intent and direction often feel bafflingly alien, the vitality and passion at its core is unambiguous to the point of being almost painfully overt. Unlike most large-scale works, it’s difficult if not impossible to talk about ‘highlights’ and single out particular sections or passages. The entire piece is a highlight, each and every one of its convoluted contours a spell-binding gem that becomes lost (but not forgotten) in an increasing collection of such jewel-like moments and episodes that follow each other in a way that’s almost implausibly organic. In lesser hands one would be marvelling simply at the breadth of imagination and astonishing compositional technique being demonstrated. Yet for all its unknowns and unpredictability, its wild paroxysms of austerity and elation, Yawar Fiesta cuts to the quick, and one is left gasping at the integrity and above all the intense humanity of its musical language. Everything in it is transparent and real and honest and true.

Everything in it is transparent and real and honest and true.


Roland Torres, SilenceAndSound, August 5, 2017

Comment créer une pièce d’opéra aujourd’hui pour la faire résonner frontalement avec le XXIe siècle? C’est à cette question que tente de répondre la compositrice Annette Vande Gorne, appuyée par les textes du poète Werner Lambersy.

Faisant référence à la fête du sang qui se déroule chaque année dans certains villages péruviens, Yawar Fiesta est une œuvre étrange et envoutante qui travaille avant tout sur la spatialisation du son comme élément moteur, où chaque personnage trouve sa place à travers l’acoustique offerte par les possibilités des nouvelles technologies.

Annette Vande Gorne donne naissance à une œuvre forte et perturbante, empreinte de culture et d’histoire, qui n’est pas sans évoquer certaines formes baroques tout en les détournant de leurs origines pour les plonger du coté d’une électroacousmatique voltigeuse, où éléments musicaux et voix enregistrées se complètent en un tout résolument contemporain, employant les technologies actuelles pour en repousser leurs limites dans un contexte de performance.

Il est intéressant d’entendre comment chaque élément s’imbrique, Yawar Fiesta fonctionnant comme un tout, où vocaux et instrumentaux se multiplient et fusionnent pour former une matière abstraite à la force dérangeante et au pouvoir hypnotique, nous happant dans une zone cosmique habitée par des hommes et des dieux à la cohabitation suspendue à un fil. Étonnant.



Stuart Bruce, Chain DLK, July 12, 2017

Though I’m reviewing it in old-fashioned stereo, Yawar Fiesta is a 7.1 surround sound extravaganza. ChainDLK doesn’t currently have an entry for “Blu-ray Audio” as a known format, so I’ve had to pick “Laser Disc” as a cludge, but please be assured this is Blu-ray.

Unconfined by the duration limitations of vinyl or CD, this is a work just shy of 90 minutes dominated by operatic vocal snippets, long drones and hums, and waves of both distant and close percussive vocal noises that attack and decay in a way that’s leisurely at times, but never comfortable. Sourcing the majority of the sonic ingredients from the voice — with a particular favouring of masculine bass operatic tones and throat singing, but not without feminine and spoken word moments too — but without actually using a singer, brings us frequently into bizarre arrangements akin to choral arrangements gone wrong- at times quite Ligeti -like. Much of the time the elements are multi-layered, keeping everything hectic and relentless throughout. Electronic glitches, tape-style effects, pitch shifts and flangey panning (isn’t that a type of cake?) are thoroughly modern and digital and give the work an extra twist.

The work is ostensibly an opera — the press release describes a piece in multiple acts that’s a hybrid of actual storytelling and the name-dropping of broad themes into something that’s frankly very difficult to follow. But the result definitely has distinct scenes, and when holding your attention, is like listening to the most off-the-wall opera re-work you’ve ever heard.

After the bewildering 44-minute journey of Condor (La veillée), second track Taureau (Le défi) doesn’t perhaps represent enough of a shift. The addition of traffic noises and horns gives the sonics a different hint, as does the heavier use of discernible French language sources, but the core arrangement is essentially half an hour more of the same experimental opera.

Monologue final is also consistent rather than contrasting, but with fewer operatic elements and more emphasis on digital processing such as layering offset copies of the same sample at different speeds, and with sound effects akin to alien rocket launches and monstrous whispers tilting it more in the direction of sci-fi. The sound of rolling stock evokes the spirit of the KLF towards the very end.

It’s an unusual buffet, sometimes reminiscent of 60’s avantgarde choral works, sometimes the spacier sound of 90’s ambient house, sometimes very contemporary and sharp-sounding digital electronic frippery. It’s got a unique quality to it that demands attention, even though at 87 minutes long it perhaps can’t hold that attention throughout.

… the most off-the-wall opera re-work you’ve ever heard.