French musician eRikm has certainly moved far beyond being simply labelled as a “turntabler”. We heard one of his serious compositions Doubse hysterie in 2016, released on Monotype Records; now here are three recent-ish works, published on the Canadian electro-acoustic label empreintes DIGITALes. Of these, Draugalimur scores high for ambition, criss-crossing themes of fantasy story-telling, epic science fiction cinema, and landscape audio-painting of the wilds of Iceland, all the above underpinned with whispered texts drawn from traditional Nordic sagas. Erik’s aiming for a huge sense of scale, a panorama that can include old whale-slaughtering quays in its sweep, yet he never loses sight of the tiny details that give it all substance. Despite the rather grim tone, this piece does indeed convey the intended “journey” sensations that are the goal of so many composers in this area.
Poudre contains field recordings of fireworks, a topic which has been used by so many phonographers in the past I often wonder what mileage is left in it. 17 minutes of explosions, treated with studio processing, are combined with the happy whoops of Berliners who set off fireworks on New Year’s Eve; eRikm takes a pessimistic quasi-philosophical view of the entire episode, and sees it all as an indicator of alienation in society. Not much listening pleasure in the piece either.
More successful, and another with grand ambitions, is L’aire de la Moure 2, another semi-fantastic piece that combines a survey of an area of natural beauty with dreams of flying. The area in question may be in Australia, since he refers in his notes to the sacred rock of Uluru (more popularly known as Ayers Rock). The site may be under threat in some way; there are vague allusions to risk management and natural disasters, but clearly the monumental scale of the place has stirred the composer’s imagination. He drew further textual ideas from Bruce Chatwin, Paul Virilio, and the writings of Paul Eluard, and his own childhood dreams of flight. A heady mix, then, of fantasy, dreams, sacred sites, and even magic — all bubbling away in the forge of his imagination. The extremely dynamic and textural electro-acoustic sheets of sound are mixed with planes flying overhead, and texts in French read by insistent male and female voices. L’aire de la Moure 2 thus succeeds in connecting with the “greats” of musique concrète composition, with its strong resemblance to works by Parmegiani, Luc Ferrari, and Pierre Henry.
A fairly ponderous release, with its weighty ideas embedded in the music and the printed text, but a solid and rewarding listen.