Obsession is a work of research / variation on the theme of Eros and Thanatos. The sonic materials of the piece were derived mainly from two types of sources whose multiple transformations occur successively or blend together through montage and mixing in such a way as to create poetic contrasts and coincidences.
The first type of source is made of stereophonic recordings of flowing water and waves, used in two different manners. Processed as a whole through filtering and spatialization techniques, they create variable sonic masses that draw the listener into their ever faster-spinning whirlpool. These same sounds, when analyzed in terms of their energy distribution across multiple frequency bands, reveal the microscopic and chaotic nature of water which hides beneath the apparent overall serenity of movement. This analysis gives birth to a polyphonic structure, distributed over four acoustic signal paths (the four channels of the quadraphonic set-up). An additional feedback mechanism allows the development of the system to be influenced by its own history. By synthesizing the notes extracted from the analyzed frequencies and reinjecting these synthesized sounds into the input of the system, the notes self-sustain until a sufficiently loud disturbance, stemming from notes generated from the analysis of water sounds, causes them to change. It is symbolic of life, where a multitude of external stimuli — often contradictory — will sometimes decisively change the course of one’s existence.
The second type of source is comprised of excerpts of poems by Baudelaire and other texts which have been read aloud and sampled. These samples have then been fragmented, transformed, joined together and spatialized. There is an evolution throughout the piece, starting with micro-editing small fragments of voices at the beginning of the piece and progressing towards complete sentences, passing through sequences of words which, combined not altogether innocently, create mental images which are more or less troubling as they associate pleasure with pain and love with death.
Composed for a quadraphonic set-up, Obsession makes extensive use of multiple localization points (front / back, left / right, close / distant) and rotational movements.
[English translation: Stephanie Moore, i-19]
Obsession was realized in 1991 at the ARTeM (Art, recherche, technologie et musique [Art, Research, Technology, and Music]) studio in Brussels (Belgium) and premiered on August 2, 1991 during the Bunker 91 festival in Antwerp (Belgium). Thank you to Sophie Beernaerts and Coralie Gary, whose voices I recorded. This piece tied for the Public prize at the 2e Prix international Noroit-Léonce Petitot (Arras, France, 1991) and was included on the CD Prix international Noroit-Léonce Petitot 1991 (NOR 2). In 1993, it was also included on the CD Presence One (DIV 02).
- August 2, 1991, Bunker 91, Antwerp (Belgium)
- Public prize ex æquo, 2nd Noroit-Leonce Petitot International Prize 1991, Arras (Pas-de-Calais, France)