Paul Dolden

Soundcheck Review

Phil England, The Wire, no 135, 1 mai 1995

Most people use the recording medium for purely documentary purposes; Paul Dolden’s project is to highlight the way the recording studio can create ‘impossible’ effects and musical events. This CD finds him multitracking up to 400 tracks of expanded orchestral instrumentation to create a kaleidoscopic music of dazzling complexity.

Dolden’s stunning debut CD worked with the transmuting effect of speed — not speed as an end in itself, but as a gateway into another sonic and textural reality. L’ivresse de la vitesse, by contrast, sounds more conventionally orchestral. Wagnerian vocal passages give way to humour, fragmenration and objection. Aaron Copland and morning-in-America passages move into hyperspeed and cascade into huge, finely detailed washes of sound. Like Conlon Nancarrow or the New Complexity school, Dolden sets different tempos and time signatures against each other. Such a vast amount of musical information demands a new way of listening, the imposition of patterns on apparent chaos.

Spiritually, Dolden seems to have plumped for being a postmodern rootless soul fascinated with surface. “Seduction threatens all orthodoxies with their collapse as it is a blacK magic for the deviation of all truths” he writes in the sleeve notes. He seems able to incite controversy witn ease. Since his appearance at last year’s LMC festival, idle talk has centered on his “objectionable” personality; one composer has even called for Dolden’s music to be banned for its alleged misogyny.

This double CD (selling for the price of a single) also contains a number of works for instrumentalist and tape. Dolden magnifies tne tiny sounds made by the instruments and then uses them to surround the soloist along with his usual orchestral apocalypse. Francois Houle (soprano saxophone, clarinet) and Peggy Lee (cello) both worked on developing the parts and put in excellent performances here. Veils, the final 30 minute track, takes a different tack completely with dense, lush, sustained chords — possibly the final word on drone music, with a closing passage which will make your windows death-rattle.

Dolden’s music is like viewing a landscape from a helicopter, or at Koyaanisqatsi hyper-motion: a postmodern lens through which to view complexity. Do not miss the work of this important “fin de siècle” artist.

Do not miss the work of this important “fin de siècle” artist.


Brian Duguid, Electric Shock Treatment (EST), no 6, 1 mars 1995

The title of Paul Dolden’s first CD, The Threshold of Deafening Silence says a lot about the method and aims of this Canadian electroacoustic composer. As does the title of this new release (it translates as “Intoxication by Speed.” All Dolden’s pieces use mainly acoustic instruments, with in several cases several hundred separate instrumental parts painstakingly multitracked and mixed. The result is music of overpowering density, great contrast and frequently startling and fascinating texture. Several of the cornpositions are for thesed taped instruments only. Others use the impenetrable tapes as backing for solo instrumentalists. For example, Peggy Lee’s cello on Physics of Seduction. Invocation #3 highlights extremes of romanticism and potency, throwing the tape scrum into sharp relief. Dolden’s aim is to bring the listener to a point where the complexity and intensity of the music prevents any orthodox listening response, resulting in a transcendent sensual experience. The admirable CD booklet includes plerity of provocative and thoughtful notes from the composer, but even without the points of entry that it provides, I could hardly fail to be seduced by this astounding album. For anyone who wans to hear new music that doesn’t lack in passion, that addresses the information age in an apt way, that enlists noise, complexity and beauty in its qufft for excess, this is it. There are few other composers whose music even seeks out such awe-inspiring power (Glenn Branca, possibly, although Xenakis also comes to mind), and few other modern composers who can be so effortlessly assured of a place in history.

… few other modern composers who can be so effortlessly assured of a place in history.

Nos compositeurs triomphent en France

On compte trois compositeurs canadiens parmi les gagnants du 3e Concours international Noroit de composition acousmatique, qui a eu lieu en mars dernier à Arras, France. Le montréalais Stéphane Roy s’est vu décerner le premier Prix du jury, d’une valeur de 3000$, pour Crystal Music, commandée par l’ACREQ (Association pour la création et la recherche électroacoustiques du Québec) avec le concours du Conseil des arts du Canada. Cette œuvre a été composée au Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustic de l’Université Stanford, Californie, et complétée à la Faculté de musique de l’Universilé de Montréal. Paul Dolden de Vancouver, a reçu le deuxième prix pour L’ivresse de la vitesse, alors que le Prix du public est allé à Robert Normandeau, de Montréal, pour sa pièce Spleen (il avait reçu le premier Prix du jury et du Prix du public en 1991). Des 73 œuvres soumises provenant de 17 pays, le jury en a sélectionné six de l’Angleterre, du Brésil, des États-Unis et du Canada. Celles-ci seront publiées sur CD au cours de l’année 1994.