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Kritik

Wolfgang Kabsch, Musik an sich, 21 décembre 2020
lundi 21 décembre 2020 Presse

Annette Vande Gorne ist eine 1946 geborene aus Belgien stammende Künstlerin im Bereich der Elektroakustischen Kunst und des Fieldrecordings sowie der modernen Klassik. Sie hat bereits einige Werke komponiert, aber erst sehr wenige Ihrer Werke auch auf Tonträger gebracht. Nun erscheint mit Haikus Ihr fünftes Album. Unterstützt hat sie dabei der ebenfalls aus Belgien stammende Poet Werner Lambersy (inzwischen zum zweiten Mal).

Haiku ist eine japanische Art der Poesie und das Album besteht laut der Künstlerin aus fünf Teilen und insgesamt 17 Haiku’s. Nun, da das Album überwiegend ohne Worte auskommt (ein paar gesampelte Wortfetzen bilden die Ausnahme), hat sie wohl einen musikalischen Weg gefunden, diese umzusetzen. Fak ist, das die 17 Stücke des Albums mit sehr vielen elektronischen Geräuschen und eingespielten Fieldrecordings daherkommt, es aber trotzdem schafft, diese wie klassische Kompositionen klingen zu lassen. Dabei haben einige Stücke die Leichtigkeit eines Debussy. Allerdings werden auch Contemporary Klänge, aus der Elektronik ebenso wie von echten Instrumenten erzeugt, eingesetzt, aber selbst diese wirken in dem Gesamtkontext nicht wie Fremdkörper. Dies liegt an einem scheinbar permanent präsenten Grundsound, der das Rückgrat für die Komposition ist.

Man merkt dem Album die Erfahrung der Künstlerin an, denn hier klingt nichts nach sinnlosem Geräusch, nein alles fügt sich zu einem Ganzem. Und in diese abstruse Welt kann sich der Hörer wunderbar hineinziehen lassen und seinen eigenen Film dazu ablaufen lassen. Vermutlich wird es ein Film Noir oder ein früher Murnau oder Fritz Lang Film sein. Eventuell aber auch ein Horrorfilm neuerer Prägung.

Wie auch immer, die unglaublich vielfältige Klangwelt auf diesem Werk macht eine Mischung aus Fieldrecording, Klassik und Contemporary zu einem wirklichen Hörerlebnis, das man tatsächlich auch als Ganzes durchhören kann. Ein Referenzwerk. 19 / 20.

Un ouvrage de référence.

Review

Stuart Bruce, Chain DLK, 18 décembre 2020
vendredi 18 décembre 2020 Presse

Espaces éphémères is a collection of six standalone pieces from electroacoustic artist Ambrose Seddon, each with their own rationale and, according to the sleeve notes at least, without any overt linking theme or approach. Despite this, and despite the pieces dating from between 2005 and 2017, there is a sonic consistency here that makes it hang together nicely as a 73-minute listening experience.

With the sparse, gritty washes of Traces Of Play, pulling apart the percussive sounds and electronic bleeping of toys and wallowing in extremely deep and extensive reprocessing and sonic twisting, and the similar approach to reworking everyday ambience in The Nowness Of Everything, there’s a persistent sense of space and flow that makes you question your usual level of background sonic radiation. Very mild noises, gently glitched and stretched in time, stuttering like echoes from more energetic electronica, roll like textures in mostly very sparse atmospheric frames — none more so than 2005’s Fouram.

Despite its sombre accompanying notes, time seems to be treated somewhat more playfully in 10_35_70 with its gradual ramping and abrupt drops. While many of the pieces involve the expression of long, sea-like waves, Fleeting Strands is reportedly the only piece that’s overtly coastal, based on recordings of Norfolk and Devon. Of course it’s unlike any other audio postcard you’re likely to hear of the area, yet somehow the sense of holiday still persists, despite it also feeling like the tensest piece on this release thanks to some long metallic strung-out notes with subtle horror connotations.

It’s a sombre and at times glacially slow set of pieces, but with a nuanced texture that really draws the ear in and helps you to appreciate the small sounds and details. Though essentially a collection of old works, for many it may strike a chord with 2020 lockdown and the newfound senses of slow and distant that have been forced onto many of us. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s gently powerful.

… it’s gently powerful.

Bassin ouvert

Stephan Wolf, Amusio, 25 novembre 2020
mercredi 25 novembre 2020 Presse

In gewohnt makellos attraktiver Aufmachung präsentiert das frankokanadische Speziallabel empreintes DIGITALes mit zwei neuen CDs das Schaffen der maßgeblich von Pierre Schaeffer und Pierre Henry inspirierten Elektroakustikerin/Akusmatikerin Annette Vande Gorne. Dabei hat sie — sowohl auf Haïkus als auch auf Illusion — wie schon des Öfteren in mittelbarer Kooperation mit dem belgischen Lyriker Werner Lambersy höchst plastisch anmutende Interpretationen und Erwiderungen zu dessen Poesie (Wortgewalt) formuliert.

1946 zu Charleroi geboren, gehört Annette Vande Gorne zu den wichtigsten Protagonisten der (belgischen) Klang-Avantgarde. Ihre Werkkatalog erweist sich als entsprechend umfangreich und multi-operational. Es sei an dieser Stelle nur an die Oper Yawar Fiesta (2006/07) erinnert.

Die Haïkus vermitteln in 17 Sätzen ein Erscheinungswelten umspannendes Panakustikon im Kreis der vier Jahreszeiten: 15 jeux, eingefasst von Ausklang — Feux d’artifice (d’après Debussy) — und Neujahr. Tatsächlich erwirken die Ereignisdichte sowie die expressive Vielfalt den Eindruck als habe die Komponistin 365 Tage in einer knappen Stunde hinreichend zusammengefasst. Ohne willentlich mit jener Lakonie zu reüssieren, die das Haiku vorschreibt. Auch wenn sich Annette Vande Gorne numerisch an den 17 Lauteinheiten der japanischen Gedichtform orientiert, vermag ihre Klangsprache ein „Mehr“ aufzufächern, das selbst noch im Nachhall Bedeutungsebenen einzieht und geradezu ungebunden frei etabliert.

Die vier Tracks von Illusion (die dortigen Faisceaux gibt es in zwei Versionen: pur sowie von Ana Cláudia de Assis um Klavier erweitert) hinterlassen hingegen einen eher hermetisch gewichtigen Eindruck. Weniger zugänglich (und verspielt) wie Haïkus, und nicht zuletzt durch den omnipräsent durchdringendem Klang von Röhrenglocken etc. sakrale Anmutungen streuend, vollzieht sich hier ein gedachtes Libretto aus Devotion und Aufruhr: Kontemplation aus hoch aufgelöster Anmut sowie entkategorisierter Strenge: Au-delà du réel, jedoch wie in einem „Bassin Ouvert“ gefasst, wo die brillante Transparenz der Produktion (Ur-) Grund und Oberfläche nicht nur vertikal ineinandergreifen lässt. Selbst die samt Schrei und Spoken Word ins Horrende driftenden Déluges et autre péripéties rütteln kaum an der Kohärenz. Und — auch im Rahmen dieser Illusion erweist sich Annette Vande Gorne als Verfechterin einer Musikalität, die sich eben nicht damit brüstet, ihr traditionell zugestandenes Gut gewaltsam zu unterlaufen. Wer will, der kann auch: entdecken.

… elle a — tant sur Haïkus que sur Illusion — […] formulé des interprétations et des réponses très plastiques à sa poésie (pouvoir des mots).

Review

Aurelio Cianciotta, Neural, 21 octobre 2020
lundi 26 octobre 2020 Presse

Oscillations planétaires is the first solo album by Chantal Dumas, referencing geological phenomena and processes. Dumas seems to suggest that field recording and electroacoustic sound might have a strong correspondence with cosmic activities. The release is from Empreintes Digitales, a Montréal based label, which the German radio show Deutschlandfunk Kultur designated for this production. Dumas’ focus is mostly addressed towards geological and tectonic movements and vibrations happening on different time scales, physical events that are irregular, ethereal and subterranean. The album offers a meticulous analysis of these sounds, and highlights some of the hidden phenomena of such events. Only a limited number of these emissions are actually known, such as earthquakes and geysers. Other audio recordings are more immaterial, not exactly recognizable, and follow a series of associations that are aesthetically meaningful and outside the typical approach of the documentary form. Crackles, liquid modular recordings, heavy movements of physical masses, memories of vintage space-age are all elements of the album. Hisses, beats, minimalist and synthetic melodies: this is the sonic background Dumas plays, and she is very good at integrating the sounds with suggestion, the audio recordings with some bizarre treatments. The sonic landscape here is definitely unconventional, even if not so unusual in this musical scene, but the peculiar element is a highly controlled aesthetic result, a vibrant musicality full of low frequency oscillations, ripples and echoes, beating breaks and airy resonances. The whole ecosystem of the planet in movement is evoked here, the way the tectonic plates get in touch, or move away, the seething of magma and the underlying bubbles, the movement of the sea and the electricity the mountains hold at certain heights. Time, space, earth, listening: these themes are definitely not new for Dumas, but here she greatly broadens her range to something fascinating but difficult to capture.

… here she greatly broadens her range to something fascinating…

Crítica

RNE3: Atmósfera, 11 octobre 2020
jeudi 8 octobre 2020 Presse

Oscillations planétaires es el primer álbum en solitario de la artista sonora afincada en Montréal Chantal Dumas con Empreintes DIGITALes, un sello creado en 1990, considerado uno de los sellos líder mundial en electroacústica y acústica.

Oscillations planétaires evoca a la geología. En todas las capas que lo componen, desde su núcleo hasta su superficie, el Planeta Tierra está habitado por movimientos ondulantes de escalas temporales extremadamente variadas. Algunos están inscritos en un marco de tiempo geológico, mientras que otros siguen un ciclo diario. Este conjunto oscilatorio contribuye a los mecanismos que gobiernan la dinámica de la Tierra.

En este trabajo se referencian diferentes fenómenos como lo terremotos que se cuentan entre 800.00 y 1.000.00 cada año en todo el mundo. La mayoría de estos temblores son demasiado débiles para sentirse u ocurrir en áreas deshabitadas.

O las placas tectónicas de la placa antártica que se mueven entre sí, fenómeno al que hace referencia el tema que escuchamos ahora. La placa antártica se mueve lentamente a una velocidad de unos pocos milímetros a dos centímetros por año, dependiendo de sus zonas de contacto con la docena de placas y microplacas enganchadas a su perímetro.

Les Oscillations planétaires évoquent la géologie. Dans toutes les couches qui la composent, du noyau à la surface, la planète Terre est habitée par des mouvements ondulatoires d’échelles de temps extrêmement variées.

Review

Simon Cummings, 5:4, 21 juillet 2020
lundi 3 août 2020 Presse

Another composer who has been polishing off, smartening up and reissuing old works recently is Canadian Paul Dolden. It always surprises me how underappreciated and even unknown Dolden’s music continues to be, particularly as it’s among the most extreme stuff I’ve ever encountered (and, for good or ill, people love to get worked up by extremes), and in many respects is both sonically unique and way ahead of its time. One of the key characteristics of a lot of Dolden’s work is the creation of what we might call a ‘supra-pseudo-orchestra’ through the assembling and layering of a vast number of individually recorded instruments. At full force, the effect would surely have caused Hector Berlioz (whose never-realised ideal orchestra included well over 400 players, including 30 pianos (!)) to squirm with delight, making the climactic tuttis of Mahler seem puny by comparison. Yet one’s always aware that what we’re hearing is not, in fact, real, partly because of the sheer impossible enormity of it, but also because of the curious effect of amassing that many sounds at once, leading to a weird kind of hypercontrapuntal trammelling in which the music’s internal machinery, so to speak, seems to grind against itself and threaten to explode apart. As a consequence Dolden’s music sounds uncanny in its not-quite-but-almost-verisimilitude, dangerous in its precarious volatility, and breathtaking in the audacity of its proportions.

Dolden’s work is primarily represented by a series of releases on the empreintes DIGITALes label, the first of which was the double album L’ivresse de la vitesse (1994). One of the standout works on that album is the fixed media piece Beyond the Walls of Jericho. From the perspective of being reissued, this piece has had an interesting history, one that’s far from unique in Dolden’s output, and which raises important questions about the nature of ‘remastering’. Completed in 1992, the work was originally released two years later on L’ivresse de la vitesse. This album was reissued in 1999 with no changes, and then reissued again in 2003 but with the two discs now split into separate albums L’ivresse de la vitesse 1 & L’ivresse de la vitesse 2, and featuring newly-remastered versions of the music. The liner notes included a text by Dolden directly addressing this, titled Why Remaster Old Works? , citing the challenges of working with early technology and “compositional concerns” as the basis for the remastering. Most recently, in the last few weeks Dolden has reissued Beyond the Walls of Jericho again in another new remaster (apparently created in 2012) as part of an ongoing series of digital releases that presumably capture Dolden’s definitive take on these pieces (some of which have never before been released).

The first thing to say about this is that the word “remaster” isn’t remotely adequate to describe what’s going on here. Usually that term indicates a digitising and cleaning-up of old materials to make them as pristine as possible and then reassembling them into a new master that, in essence (and ideally), is the same as the original but showing greatly improved clarity and balance. In Dolden’s case, the process has involved compositional changes — in some cases quite considerable ones — to the actual musical material, such that to describe it as being “the same piece” is harder to justify. The 2003 and 2020 versions are therefore not really “remasters” but revised and reworked versions that fit the same general shape, narrative and demeanour as the original — we could say that that its dramaturgy is the same — but with many of its inner details and intricacies changed, altered or replaced. In essence it’s Beyond the Walls of Jericho Redux.

The second thing to say is that there shouldn’t be any perceived issue with an artist wanting to do this. The gripe about technological issues is something many composers (including myself) have made about their earliest electronic works, and the desire to get closer to the original musical intent is surely an admirable one. Of course, it’s an attitude that can run amok, and one only has to look to Pierre Boulez or, in cinema, George Lucas, to see the problems that can arise from an artist’s irresistible urge to never let go of their works and keep tinkering away under the illusion of ‘improvement’. Even that, though, is forgivable as long as — and this is utmost important — the earlier versions are still regarded as valid, and as a consequence remain available. The process of revising in this way is not at all a case of simply tweaking something like tuning up an engine so that it continues to run well. It’s a process of re-creation, recomposing a piece such that it bears considerable similarities to — and of course many of the same materials as — an earlier piece. But that act of re-creation doesn’t undo, cannot undo, the earlier act of creation. So just as, despite Lucas’ worst intentions, there is not one definitive work that we can call Star Wars but in fact a plethora of different works that all bear that name and look and sound broadly the same but are in fact quite different, so there is not one work that we can call Beyond the Walls of Jericho but three of them, all the same and all different. And I love them all.

I don’t blame Dolden for returning to this piece several times. I said before about the audacity and enormity of Dolden’s supra-pseudo-orchestra and in Beyond the Walls of Jericho he pushes this to almost ludicrous extremes. That being said, it makes sense that the work should be as extreme as it is, being (originally, at least) the final part in Dolden’s ‘Walls’ trilogy, preceded by Below the Walls of Jericho (1989) and Dancing on the Walls of Jericho (1990). The title alludes to the mythical tale of Joshua and the Israelites, who were able to cause the city walls of Jericho to collapse by marching around them for six days and then blasting their trumpets. Dolden’s interest is primarily in the idea of sound as a catalytic and revolutionary act; hence why the ‘Walls’ trilogy (and above all Beyond the Walls of Jericho) is one of the most unrestrained paeans to the glory of sound that i’ve ever encountered. No — scratch that: not one the most, the most. One of the key aspects of what makes this piece everything that it is, is its willingness to disregard such conventions as clarity, balance, nuance and order. It’s music at the cusp of chaos, as if Dolden has assembled 500 players, given them a bare bones outline of what he wanted them to do and then just set them loose, recording the result. It does have a structure, it does display a sense of narrative and dramatic shape — but continually pushed to the very limits of what can be described as control, and certainly beyond the limits of clarity.

Yet — and this is one of the main reasons why I absolutely love Beyond the Walls of Jericho, in all three of its extant versions — it’s as exhilarating as it is not because we’re being swamped with mere sound but precisely because of its perilous teetering on and over the edge of clarity. Sometimes, not always, we’re able to perceive all manner of detail shifting and moving within its hugely stratified and superimposed textures, details which in turn become overwhelmed, subsumed, squashed or eroded away by the force, friction and weight of the whole. So I really don’t blame Dolden for returning to the piece and doing his best to present, as best he can, both the small-scale detail and large-scale mass contained (barely) within this piece. However, its effect is pretty consistent across all three versions of Beyond the Walls of Jericho, so at a risk of annoying the composer, I don’t actually believe Dolden has particularly ‘improved’ the piece with each iteration, though i’ve welcomed the opportunity to re-experience it, and to hear it anew again most recently has been marvellous.

I have to admit I miss the original 1992 opening of the piece, where vague and elusive hints of instruments slowly grow into an increasingly dense texture. That’s gone in both the 2003 and 2020 versions, which hit the ground running with frantically busy tuttis. There are some structural hiccups too in the 2020 version that, to me, somewhat diffuse the flow — most notably around four minutes in when everything briefly stops before the funky bass and drums start up, dissipating the energy amassed by that point; in 1992 and 2003 this progressed smoothly and maintained that energy. I have to concede, though, that Dolden has managed to increase the intensity significantly from its original form. There’s a sequence around nine minutes in, that in the earlier versions sounds darker and more mysterious; the 2003 version makes it seem as it we were entering a cave-like expanse. In the 2020 version (where it now occurs a minute later) Dolden has kept this perception while making it feel much less distant, upping the power of this strange sequence. The massive climaxes have also, somehow, been made more massive. Overload will always sound like overload, of course, yet the 2020 version lends these overdriven passages a distinct death metal quality, rather wonderfully coating the vast walls of noise in additional pulsating layers of sonic razor wire. Nonetheless, it would be wrong to suggest that the earlier versions of the work are in any way lacking in this respect; perhaps it’s more accurate to speak of different kinds of massive, in terms of quality rather than quantity.

Anyone discussing Paul Dolden’s music, particularly a work like this one, runs the risk of reaching too readily and too often for superlatives. Suffice it to say that Beyond the Walls of Jericho, in 1992, 2003 and 2020, is among the most monumental works of electronic music you’ll ever experience. It’s therefore very likely indeed to polarise listeners — but personally, I always find it utterly energising and exhilarating. My fantasy concert would definitely finish with a live version of this piece.

My recommendation is to seek out all three versions, as they each have something that the others lack. For the 1992 original you’ll need to turn to Discogs to track down a copy of the earliest releases of L’ivresse de la vitesse. The 2003 version is still readily available from empreintes DIGITALes on L’ivresse de la vitesse 2. Sadly, neither of these earlier versions is available digitally, a situation that one can only hope will change. And the new 2020 version can be had — for just a single Canadian dollar — from Paul Dolden’s Bandcamp site.

Beyond the Walls of Jericho […] is among the most monumental works of electronic music you’ll ever experience.