… an exciting prospect, and one which I’m happy to report broadly lived up to expectations. — Tempo, RU
… Yegl is a selective audio autobiography that renders the image of an individual’s lifelong curiosity in the expanded palette of electroacoustics, fixed medium and radiophonic composition. And it commands a similar curiosity from the listener. — The Sound Projector, RU
- Étiquette: empreintes DIGITALes
- IMED 19161 / 2019
- UCC 771028216123
- Durée totale: 71:20
- 125 mm × 125 mm × 10 mm
- 50 g
- Étiquette: empreintes DIGITALes
- IMED 19161_NUM / 2019
- UCC 771028216185
- Durée totale: 71:20
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It’s been a while since my ears were graced by the colourful sounds of the Empreintes Digitales label, home to an international bevy of electroacoustic composers with compositional awards and academic qualifications lined up like military medals. While I’ve always been happy to get to know new releases, there’s a uniformity of approach that can make it difficult to say new things about them. This uniformity is stamped into the standard card packaging of each release, each of identical layout, heady, intertextual liner notes, and non-chronological sequencing of pieces. Naturally, this portrait collection, Yegl by Argentinian composer Elsa Justel, follows this formula.
Yet despite these hallmarks of artistic conformity the collection is as expressive of an individual identity, predilections and working methods as anything from the GRM studios, and it beckons the curious listener to probe within. Quite literally: remove the inner sleeve and peer into the wraparound card and you can see a picture of the composer, captured during what looks like a moment of erudition, opposite what may be her fingerprint. Talk about hidden qualities.
Dating back as far as 2001, the pieces span a broad set of themes from geometrical hypothesis (Cercles et surfaces) to electroacoustic Tango (Purzelbäume). Ingenious and polymathic, but one obvious risk of such rabbit-hole pursuits is insularity and the listener must be prepared to accommodate a few peccadillos. L, for instance, consists of jumbled electronic treatments of short passages read in French. Bewilderment achieved, granted, but for the non-Francophone probably less compelling than, say, the visceral smash and spray of the geometrical opener or the chilling psychoacoustic swish and tear of Marelle ou Les instants de la vie. This giddy interaction between disorienting sound collage and the tapestry of deeper listening sketches out the extreme boundaries of the collection.
On closer inspection, woven through these disparate themes is a sustained enquiry into primordial origins: meditations on Pythagorean concepts of geometry (Cercles et surfaces) and acousmatics (Tapage nocturne), a poetic synthesis of utterances on ‘the origin of the concept of “element”‘ (L), and the psycho-dialectics of identity (Marelle ou Les instants de la vie). As per so many releases on this label, Yegl is a selective audio autobiography that renders the image of an individual’s lifelong curiosity in the expanded palette of electroacoustics, fixed medium and radiophonic composition. And it commands a similar curiosity from the listener.
For every new release by Empreintes Digitales one can find biographical notes and information on the pieces on the cover. They have been using the same carton sleeve for many years now. I learned from the cover here that Justel is from Argentina and she lives in France, where she teaches ‘new composition techniques’ and electroacoustic music. Over the years several of her pieces have won prestigious prizes. It seems, perhaps, the sort of career that many composers featured on this label. There are seven pieces on this CD, the oldest from 2001 and the most recent from 2017. These pieces are a fine showcase of her interests in working with electroacoustic sounds. In such a piece as Marelle ou Les instants de la vie, these sounds a very much obscured and unknown to the listener, whereas in La radio, ça détend, there is short and vivid cut-up of radio sounds. In L she uses quotes from Serres, Eco, von Franz and in Purzelbäume, she works with a tango rhythm and sound, which has a beautiful estranging effect. It is a brief piece, but it works well for me. I didn’t understand why she used the computer warning sounds in two different pieces, as the first time it is quite refreshing to hear it on such an otherwise serious release, but the second time, you think, ‘oh, again?’ even when it is only once in a twelve-minute piece of music. I really enjoyed a few pieces, such as the aforementioned Purzelbäume, the quiet intensity of of the opening piece, Cercles et surfaces, the radio piece, the classic electroacoustic approach of Tapage nocturne, but was less fond of the title piece (the last one of this release, or L; perhaps because of all the French in this piece, which didn’t made it very easy for me. As an introduction to Elsa Justel, this is certainly a great CD.
Yegl est un recueil de travaux réalisés par l’artiste Elsa Justel, entre 2002 et 2017 via le label empreintes DIGITALes, dont le travail de fond dans le milieu de l’électroacoustique est une véritable mine aux diamants.
Multiprimée, Elsa Justel manie les bribes sonores avec volupté, alternant phases expérimentales hachées, field recordings habiles et enregistrements divers, parfois teintés avec une certaine dose d’humour.
Les titres se promènent sur des zones caillouteuses, où les débris assemblés évoquent des paysages escarpés traversés de personnages cartoonesques ou d’abstraction intellectuelle.
Yegl démontre la capacité de l’Argentine, installée en France, à construire des aventures musicales riches en textures et en suggestions spatiales, bâtissant des narrations surprenantes teintées de sensations bousculées prêtes à basculer. Très fortement recommandé.
Based in France, Argentinian composer Elsa Justel has been developing new sound work since the 1980’s. Her latest on the reputable empreintes DIGITALes imprint is Yegl, which focuses on her projects between 2002-2017. Her work included are electroacoustic journeys, radiophonic work and fixed medium. And her medium offers little to no tedium, instead these wonderous pieces feel to be tactile storytelling of sorts. Pockets of silences, vocal cut-ups, funky breaks, dripping waters, cling-clang, symphonic interruptions, radio narration and remote instrumentation – all make for dizzying works of grandeur. Yes make sure you are sitting down, may I recommend undulating on a settee or chaise, sprawl out and stretch – as does what you are hearing. Sounds for sore ears.