electrocd

Review

Richard di Santo, Incursion Music Review, no. 026, April 29, 2001

In what is referred to collectively as the British Connection, empreintes DIGITALes recently released these three discs featuring the works of three prominent electroacoustic composers from the UK. […] Lastly, electroacoustic pioneer Denis Smalley’s Sources/scènes documents five acousmatic compositions realised between 1974 and 2000, thus covering over 25 years of electroacoustic research and composition. The first three pieces (Base Metals, Empty Vessels and Tides) are exercises in utilising single sound sources (metal, garden pots and water respectively). The final piece, Pentes (meaning slopes, inclines, ascents), is an early composition from 1974. It begins as a bustling synthetic landscape of bizarre sounds, cut-ups and explosive clusters; and yet it suddenly shifts into a quiet movement, where a drone gives way to a haunting melody on the Northumbrian pipes, and leaves everything quiet and still. Smalley’s disc probably represents the most dynamic of the three reviewed here; the sounds open up before your senses, become tangible, and carry with them not only an incredible momentum but very strong moods as well. Missing from many acousmatic compositions is the presence of mood, making suggestions and appealing to the listener-spectator’s emotions as well as his senses or his academic interests in sonic structures. Smalley writes in his liner notes that “quite noticeable in all these works is the almost complete absence of a human presence in the sonic fabric: the listener-spectator is left to observe and experience the scenes and spaces, alone.” However, this statement by no means excludes the importance of the listener’s response, rather it emphasises and elevates its importance. He further writes: “between and beyond the loudspeakers, virtual, metaphorical worlds approach and encroach in sonic flow, and are revealed for imaginative contemplation.” Sources/scènes comes recommended for the adventurous.

… recommended for the adventurous.