electrocd

Review

Steve Benner, SAN Diffusion, February 1, 2001

This double CD compilation of electroacoustic and computer music compositions is the first of a projected series of such collections produced by PeP, a self-funding offshoot of the Communauté électroacoustique canadienne / Canadian Electroacoustic Community (CEC).

Between them, the two CDs present works by a total of 25 composers, most (but not all) of whom live and work in Canada or North America. By and large, the works are presented complete, (unlike on the Canadian Electroacoustic Community’s DISContact! snippet-and-electroclip collections) although they range tremendously in length from less than a minute to almost 15. The compositions also vary greatly in style, from Kevin Austin’s raw algorithmic study of pulse and texture Static Gestures II (Formant Pulses) (1987), through abstract instrumental, tape and acousmatic works, to soundscape compositions, like Claude Schryer’s Vancouver Soundscape Revisited: Fire (2nd movement) (1996).

Not all of this music was new when the discs were released in 1997 — the oldest work is Jan Jarvlepp’s Buoyancy, which dates from 1977 — but it is all, without exception, fresh and stimulating. Even Chris Koenigsberg’s Squeaky Chair (1993) with its declared indebtedness to Pierre Henry’s 1963 work Variations pour une porte et un soupir manages to breathe new life into an older idea.

The pieces appear on the two discs in strictly alphabetical order of the composers’ surnames and, while this scheme may be argued as being the fairest way to present the music, it does make listening to the discs from end to end a less than satisfying experience. As a source of stimulating music, nearly all of which is unavailable commercially elsewhere, the collection is, however, virtually unparalleled — unless it be by the later Présence II release! Bravo PeP!

… it is all, without exception, fresh and stimulating.