Review

Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, June 1, 2008

Elsa Justel (Mar del Plata 1944) is an Argentine electroacoustic composer whose work I had never met before. On the press release, Horacio Vaggione correctly describes her music as “canvases made of minuscule yet consistently varied sounds”. While it’s true that the same could be told about the majority of the names active in the acousmatic field, this is a case in which the expert listener will likely detect new intriguing factors in apparently common structures. One of these elements is Justel’s prowess in choosing an efficient spatial collocation for every sonic event: each sound seems to possess a life of its own, even independent from the context of the composition, albeit that span is usually very short. The amorphous resonances found in the more percussively fragmented pieces — such as Puntos, comas y refritos — are sufficient in themselves to establish an aura of mystery in pieces whose architecture had already been planned amidst manifold shades and shapes. My favourite ones are Midi de sable, a study on the modification of the timbre of recorders (played by Joan Izquierdo in their alto, tenor, basset and contrabass versions) and Au loin… bleu, entirely based on processed and juxtaposed vocal snippets. Episodes that size up the real possibilities of a talented, if pretty much obscure artist who deserves to gain some notoriety in a rather overcrowded sector that often features people who destroy the beauty of a regular emission by transforming it into an insignificant crumble of noise. On the contrary, Justel appears as still interested in forms of elemental purity, and that’s a major plus.

Justel appears as still interested in forms of elemental purity, and that’s a major plus.

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