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Paul Dolden? Tear Down That Wall!

Mark Mushet, Vancouver Review, 26 juillet 2020
dimanche 26 juillet 2020 Presse

Paul Dolden is a unique and unmistakable voice in Canadian contemporary music that deserves a re-introduction to a new generation of music fans.

But first, some history. Waaaaay back in a time known as the 1980s, this Ottawa-born composer, after doing hard time as a rock guitarist, decamped to the Sonic Research Lab at Simon Fraser University [(SFU)] in Vancouver where he forged some of the most unique music ever carved out of the Western formal tradition by using the recording studio to sculpt masses of meticulously recorded instrumental tracks into fantastic walls of sound.

By the end of the decade he had released a 2-CD set titled L’ivresse de la vitesse (The Intoxication of Speed) which was named by The Wire as one of the “100 Records That Set The World On Fire”. Except nobody was listening. Now we are in a different place and perhaps the ears of the world are more receptive.

At first, Dolden’s music comes on like forboding, jagged mountain range of sound, in the shadow of which stands a listener. It’s daunting music, even deemed “oppressive” by some. And if music is a language all its own, then this work is telling you to abandon sentimentality and acknowledge that the earth beneath us might split asunder at any moment. For a listener ready to do a bit of work, and with a serious hi-fi system for playback (remember those days?) it will leave you breathless, alone and exhilarated. It’s actually genuinely exciting music, which is a rare commodity.

Dolden’s oeuvre took shape at a time when the machinations for the political and social darkness we are now enveloped in were fully underway, turbocharged after the dawn of Reagan and Thatcher era. For those who believe that life is full of violent ruptures and artists are obliged to harness and channel that energy to reflect the reality of our times… and, ultimately, all time, this music is exemplary of that goal being attained.

Dolden’s music demands concentrated listening and an ear that is capable of acting like super fast CPU to take in rapidly evolving, multiple strands of sound and keeping it all distinct from noise. That’s a skillset one also needs for processing modern life, ever more so these days. At its most useful it helps a person feel less anxious in the face of the random chaos of existence.

From Veils to Walls

Things really began in 1985 with “Veils: Studies in Textural Transformations”, Paul’s SFU MA thesis piece which, oddly enough, was a relatively listener-friendly tour de force. And by “listener friendly” I mean for those who enjoyed the music of György Ligeti that accompanied the monolith scenes in Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi classic “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Veils was a seductive half-hour of massed instruments that enveloped the listener in slowly shifting dense and overwhelming textures. The piece marked the beginning of his use of extraordinary numbers of multi-tracked instruments, to a degree never attempted before. Miraculously, Veils was even played at The Xerox Theatre as part of the Expo 86 “entertainment” line up, continuing in the tradition of world fairs paying minor tribute to music as an art form on a par with, at least, architecture. It should be noted that the temporary, quickly knocked-up, Xerox-branded venue is long gone while Veils persists. Ars longa indeed… at least until the sun explodes.

In pop music, by contrast, we might remember English pop group 10cc’s 1975 hit I’m Not In Love for its gorgeous and distinctive multi-tracked vocal chorus, a first for a commercial radio hit. Previously, the best known popular music created using the studio as an instrument would have been The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” or The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” albums (and, of course the Good Vibrations single) but it was 10cc that really introduced a lengthy and sustained textural component to popular song craft. One could also mention Phil Spector’s “Walls of Sound” production style but let’s not.

Fast forward ten years and Dolden is developing a “maximalist” aesthetic in which hundreds of digitally recorded instrumental and vocal performances are combined in multiple layers. It is truly “next level”. And as the number of tracks increased so did the intensity and power of the music. It all came to a head by the early 1990s with the “Walls Cycle”, beginning with Below the Walls of Jericho and ending with Beyond the Walls of Jericho. The allusion is to the Biblical story of the actual walls of the fortifications of Jericho tumbling under the force of loudly blown rams’ horns in an ancient acknowledgement of the power of sound.

The titles also represent the 3 stages of revolutionary history as discussed by historians:

1) Below the Walls signifying revolution, usually violent.

2) Dancing on the Walls is the celebratory dance on the rubble of the revolution.

3) Beyond the Walls is the post-revolutionary period, usually turning counter revolutionary and more violent than the first period.

There were those who found it all too much, especially in Vancouver where, at the time, contemporary music was (and largely still is) seen as a less confrontational and more communal endeavor.

The late Doug Hughes, a classical music critic for The Georgia Straight (remember when such things existed?) demonstrated the level of resistance, even among the so-called intelligentsia. And that was in one of the few media channels then available for providing public exposure and critical context. In response to Below the Walls of Jericho he talked of his cats yowling in response and how he didn’t want the current events of the day amplified. Vancouver was clearly hostile territory. Paul moved to Québec and immediately enjoyed far greater recognition and a growing international audience base.

You could say the music was ahead of its time but Paul, being interviewed in 1992 said that the idea was absurd, that you simply cannot be ahead of your time. Our best hope is that audiences will find the music of the true present at the time of its creation.

During a 2017 visit to Québec’s Laurentian region where Paul now lives and records, I conducted an informal interview at a roadside diner near Val-David. It coincided with the release of his CD [“Music for Another Present Era” or] Histoires d’histoire.

I had only sporadically kept up with Paul’s music in the years since he left for Québec and was fascinated to hear its evolution into something much different but with the familiar stamp of rigourous conceptual formulation and production excellence. Since creating the Walls cycle, Paul’s music has evolved, been pulled apart, given more space and fully embraces the music of the world. It is friendlier… and funnier.

Paul Dolden: I’ve been developing in my work over the last ten years the idea of a “historical imagination”. So what interests me now is imagining other times using the language of contemporary music combined with the compositional techniques I like to use. For example on Music for Another Present Era the first movement is the story of Marsyas, a Greek myth. I actually use some Greek tuning systems, though I don’t actually use Greek instruments. I’m not trying to recreate ancient Greek music. It’s more of an imaginary reflection on that time. The second section is inspired by an African myth that uses alot of percussion instruments but actually has more to do with jazz and latin rhythms in many ways.

I suppose, overall, it’s a post-modern play on how we can have different historical periods of music existing at the same time. To me that very imagining is a contemporary thing. I can imagine ancient Greece because I’ve seen films like Fellini’s Satyricon where the soundtrack is a fanciful mash-up of styles, or images of Syrian ruins that you’d see in a history book.

We’re so conditioned by the number of images and sounds that we’re constantly consuming that I think it’s important to be playful with it all. I think I’m being “of my time” by doing so even though I’m often talking about historical themes in my music with pieces like Bebop Bagdad or Sumerian Starlight. I think it’s very “of our time” to be thinking of other cultures and times simply because we can.

Mark Mushet: We’re use to the instruments and superficial motifs of other cultures’ musics for mere colour in pop music. In the classical new music realm there are often a lot of earnest attempts to collaborate by having different cultures meet in the concert hall. Although this is starting to yield some interesting work, a lot of it seems too tentative and polite, as though too many accomodations are made to account for differences in approach that the end product is unsatisfying, if pretty. You integrate things in a much more thorough and cohesive way to the point where it sounds like all the history of the music of the world is being compressed into one intense piece. That’s more interesting to me.

Paul Dolden: It’s been decribed that way and I like that idea but it’s really more of a personal thing. I just really want to hear it all. I’m an avid listener of other peoples’ music. I’ll do a three hour hike in the afternoon and listen to all kinds of music in the evening. I’m constantly listening to music. I float in it.

Mushet: It didn’t always used to be that way. I recall you being more into Xenakis, Ligeti et al., the more established new music canonical heavyweights.

Dolden: Oh yeah. But I always had a really large record collection, like you! In the 1980s I was probably talking too much about myself but that’s because of “young composer disease”! I finally got some medication for that!

Mushet: We consume endless streams of visual art works that revel in the the messy dark aspects of modern human existence. People binge watch things like “Breaking Bad” for example. It’s a brilliant sprawling indictment of modern America that like “Deadwood” or “The Wire” are celebrated for expanding the idea of what’s possible in TV serial form. But as a society we can’t be assed to sit down and listen to a 15-minute piece of music that threatens to upend the idea of what’s similarly possible in music.

Now there’s been a massive expansion of the technical capacity for music creation and it’s become affordable and ubiquitous. But in the public at large there’s been a serious loss of attention to contemporary music outside of popular forms. It seems that there’s been no “trickle down effect” of discovery despite the fact that we have more and instant access to every kind of music 24/7.

Dolden: Communications theory is really interesting right now. For example, when radio was the standard consumer device for first hearing music, people in the classical and art worlds thought this device was finally going to “educate” the public, that we would all be listening to Bach and Beethoven within a few years! But with each stage of development of the various music distribution technologies, there’s been an idea that we’re bringing all the music of the world and making it availabe to everybody and this is regarded as a plus.

But it’s the employment of algorithms that’s the problem. They suggest that “if you listen to such and such then you will also like such and such”. So if I listen to one heavy metal album (because every so often I need to hear some metal!) then I’m bombarded with more metal recommendations. Then, if I listen to a piece by Morton Feldman I’m instantly guided to a whole stream of music by post-Feldman composers. So a lot of people get stuck on that. The technology is supposedly “neutral” but it’s clearly not. Everybody wants things customized to themselves so in reality there’s a narrowing of listening habits.

Mushet: But that’s the effect of turbocharged tech-capiltailsm. They are guiding us to similar products because they need to sell in predictable and increasingly reliable quantities and without producing a physical product at the end.

Dolden: But its also the service they’re selling. We both started by going to record stores and shuffling through records, except that I grew up in a home full of classical music playing constantly. But I didn’t end up knowing anything past early Stravinsky. So one day, when I was about 15, I was in one of those record stores shuffling through the delete bins. I should have taken note; notice how all this stuff is in the delete bin! It’s not out front with the Led Zeppelin and Coltrane! I should have turned around and gone back to the sections which were selling! Anyway, there were some Iannis Xenakis albums and I remember they were only 69 cents so I picked them up.

I started reading the back covers to learn how he made this music. I thought it sounded so insane that I had to buy it just to hear it. It was his stochastic 60s work with all the math involved in the composition and I thought “What? He’s definitely not using blues scales!” I didn’t understand a thing but wow, what a sound! So I looked up who Iannis Xenakis was and what he, in turn, talked about. And that’s how the journey began. A flukey accident with a 69-cent deleted record. Now with Spotify etc. you maybe wouldn’t come across something like that.

Mushet: The musical language and working techniques you are using, are largely the same as before but the density in your work has given way to something that feels pulled apart, more spacious and accessable for lack of a better word

Dolden: I think most composers look for increasing clarity as we get older. That’s part of it. And I now appreciate more music that has more room to breathe. So it’s aging, a maturing artistic process and overall refinement.

You have to remember that when I made Veils I was dealing with 250 tracks and by the end of the Walls cycle I was using up to 800 tracks! At the time I was still a young composer thinking it was all original and great and new and really cool. Now when I hear it I hear how scary it is. I don’t listen to it too often myself and I know many people don’t. But I knew I was hitting a wall. There was nowhere further to go so I had to start spreading things out.

Mushet: I think the Walls cycle holds up beautifully, still simultaneously frightening and exhilarating. It’s like setting off on a journey through a very dark mountain landscape where you are forced to realize how insignificant we are. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic but that may be why it put some people off, though it realy ultimately is life affirming. And the gentle or soft moments really stand out in relief with such a dynamic range.

Dolden: You know me as a friend and that I have a sense of humour. There’s no sense of humour in those 1980s works. I sound like a cranky, cranky dude but you know I wasn’t. So I think my personality is coming out more in my music now.

Mushet: All the music of the world seems to find its expression in Music of Another Present Era.

Dolden: That’s just where my interest is now. For the past five or ten years now, half of my listening time is dedicated to music of the world so it’s really starting to come out in the new work. Whenever I’m writing, composing and producing I’m primarily in a dialoge with the music of the world and the history of composers and compositional techniques.

Mushet: But you don’t want to be seen as some kind of great musical imperialist / colonizer, especially now!

Dolden: Yes this is a problem. I’ve made it very opqaue in terms of how its actually operating within my music.

Mushet: It’s really clear that you’ve looked at each intrument’s character, sound and use in its original context. It’s never just a sound source but its history seems considered as well.

Dolden: I’ve really had to seriously contemplate non-Western musical language in relation to ours. It’s a “problem” for a Western composer because a lot of it involves traditions that incorporate a lot of improvisation and a lot of music is meant for ritual and ceremony. I’m working in a highly written tradition, so the question becomes how do I integrate Arab or Indian or Asian musics into my compositions. That’s where the deepest musical thinking needs to happen on my part. I don’t want to do that thing that so many do where somebody simply arranges Balinese music for alto flute and vibraphone or whatever. That kind of approach sends me over the top!

Mushet: I think our eggs Benedicts have arrived! (Tape ends.)

So we should assume then that the power of sound and complex music may well have reached its peak with the Walls Cycle and may never be absorbed or appreciated by any but a small band of fanatical devotees. Fair enough. The sun will explode one day and none of this will matter anyway. In the meantime it seems as if Paul Dolden has finally embraced the community model in his own unique way.

But history, as we now plainly see, sometimes bears repeating if only to recall how we may have missed its lessons. Accordingly, Paul has put the Walls Cycle up for listening at Bandcamp. It is sad that many will only listen on a computer speaker system. I’d urge you to go full retro and order the CD for hi-fi home playback. Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream…

Then bring yourself up to date with Music of Another Present Era and this time, let’s hope Paul is presenting a future ahead of our time.

… a unique and unmistakable voice in Canadian contemporary music…

Review

Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, 14 juin 2020
lundi 15 juin 2020 Presse

Debut solo release by the Montréal composer and sound artist Chantal Dumas is Oscillations planétaires, and it turns out to be electro-acoustic music themed on various geological phenomena of planet earth. On her annotations, Dumas discourses with a certain amount of authority as she sets out brief encyclopedia entries regarding earthquakes, the shifting of tectonic plates, the formation of mountain ranges, and geysers, as well less tangible things like seismic waves and the magnetic field of the earth. The music, structured in nine episodes across a 49:21 symphony, is intended to “evoke geology”. I’ve long thought this to be a popular trope in the field of electro-acoustic composition, for instance parts of Parmegiani’s La création du monde from 1986, or Tremblement de terre trés doux which François Bayle composed in 1978 (although the latter might be more of a simple landscape narrative than a journey to the centre of the earth). Dumas certainly succeeds in conveying the sense of the earth groaning to itself as it stretches its body in preparation for another day, and although the music is largely very abstract, it also feels generally rather prosaic and descriptive, with none of the imaginative leaps that Parmegiani brought to the task. However, it’s much more eventful and packed with more volume than some of the understated pieces we normally get from this Canadian label.

Dumas certainly succeeds in conveying the sense of the earth groaning to itself…

Review

Martin P, Musique Machine, 11 mai 2020
lundi 11 mai 2020 Presse

This is the first solo album from Chantal Dumas, released on empreintes DIGITALes, a Montréal label ‘widely considered as the world leader in electroacoustics / acousmatics’ — though I’ll admit that it’s not a name known to me. Oscillations planétaires consists of nine electroacoustic pieces built around the interesting premise that the Earth contains ‘undulatory motions of extremely varied temporal scales,’ contrasting, for example, imperceivable geological shifts with the daily movements of tides. This is an interesting, provocative idea but ultimately these things stand or fall, for me, on the quality of the sounds attached; Dumas does not disappoint.

In the spirit of the ‘temporal scales’ I mentioned, the first track, Tremblements de terre; Plaque antarctique; Subduction; Fosse océanique, begins with wind-like sounds and low end judders, before seismic reverberations erupt cavernously. Amidst the more ‘traditional’ electroacoustic sounds, it’s notable that a ambient-esque patch flickers in and out of the piece, before ending with cascading downward shimmers. The following track is somewhat of a reversal of the first, with long ascending drones; as Convection mantellique progresses it almost sounds like a processed recording of a warehouse, with circling vehicles, alarm sounds, and general hubbub, all laid on an eerie droning underbelly. Geysers begins with sea sounds, complete with something that sounds like seagulls, though all processed and spatially disrupted; this environment is then punctured by attacking percussive sounds, and what might be whale breath, indeed the track draws attention to the comparable cadences of breath and tide. From whales we turn to the insect chirruping of the fourth piece, which builds into a dense, expansive drone that is reminiscent of early Tangerine Dream and their ilk — complete with a suitable synth solo from Dumas. Whilst Marée crustale returns to the sea, with the sound of waves (also interrupted by electro thuds, as with Geysers) building into an almost orchestral lushness from more ambient pads; Magnétisme terrestre presents more recognisably electroacoustic fare, with a constantly shifting array of electronic sounds showing Dumas’ careful attention to detail — in particular some exquisite moments that sound like tape saturation, spilling and decaying. The next two pieces, Dorsale médio-atlantique and Ondes sismiques,’ jolt the listener. Although examination of the press release reveals that Oscillations planétaires was conceived with help from a small group of acoustic musicians, utilising baritone saxophone, flute, piano, and drums, it is with the opening of Dorsale médio-atlantique that we first hear any recognisable contributions from them — even though the saxophone and flute had been previously deployed. Thus the piece begins with an encroaching piano line, before being joined by cymbals and drones in an ecstatic, if at times tempestuous, crescendo, breaking down into more disjointed interactions that contrast tidal sounds with cymbal washes. Ondes sismiques brings the drums to the fore, with processed, dulled rhythms and kinetic snares, interspersed with what sounds like animal noises being stretched and prised apart.

The final track, Plaque antarctique de loin en loin acts as a short summarising coda to the album, again harking at ambient tones and atmospheres, and perhaps provides a neat sketch of the strength of Oscillations planétaires. This quality, in my eyes, is that the album successfully fuses electroacoustic approaches with a popular notion of ‘ambient music,’ to the extent of even using sounds that are recognisably akin to synth pads or patches. This is perhaps unusual in the ‘hard-boiled’ environment of academic electroacoustic, but it has the wonderful effect of making Oscillations planétaires feel incredibly accessible. Listeners who enjoy ambient music or 1970s synth works, but might run a mile from austere electroacoustic pieces, will find here a welcoming gateway that might encourage them to explore that austerity. This is not to suggest in any way that Dumas’ work is not rigorous or engaging; the temporal themes behind the release are engaged with, present sonically, and rooted with the use of field recordings; there is constant attention to detail, and repeated sounds and ideas give a true sense of coherency to the album. Oscillations planétaires offers a lot to the listener, on many different levels.

Oscillations planétaires offers a lot to the listener, on many different levels.

Review

Stuart Marshall, The Sound Projector, 3 mai 2020
lundi 4 mai 2020 Presse

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.

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.

Recensione

Ettore Garzia, Percorsi Musicali, 3 avril 2020
vendredi 3 avril 2020 Presse

Il cercare l’inaudibile dalla musica è la conseguenza di uno sforzo sperimentale, che si costruisce su prove continue di determinazione dei suoni, della loro manipolazione profonda come processo per arrivare ad una sorta di trascendentalità dell’ascolto, che vada oltre l’astrazione evidente; in tal senso, Stéphane Roy richiama le corrispondenze filosofiche di Lyotard, che poneva il riconoscimento non effimero di un prodotto musicale proprio dalle sensazioni inaudite che riusciva a provocare. Come si manifesta l’inaudito nei cinque brani presentati? Dal punto di vista del suono, Roy cerca di sondarlo oltremisura attraverso una ricerca di strutture astratte e complesse con creazioni che richiedono anche una dose di spazialità ed avventura, elementi che guardano in faccia (e non so con quanta causalità) persino ceppi umorali dell’elettronica degli anni settanta: in un vespaio di sonorità minuziosamente ricercate e di sensazioni da decifrare, l’insinuazione di suoni sintetizzati nelle trame manda nel circolo aurale dell’ascoltatore anche estensioni di esperienze sonore che si agganciano al Mike Oldfield strumentale, alle apprensioni delle polveri cosmiche nei viaggi Tangerine Dream o Steve Roach. Sono naturalmente rimandi forse involontari in mezzo ad un’intelaiatura sistemica, poiché c’è di fatto una ricerca sul suono notevolmente più ampia rispetto a quelle fonti, tipica degli scultori: in Maelström, si assiste ad una pioggia di suoni-situazioni, sventolate di suoni sintetizzati bardati con granulazioni, rumori interstiziali, possenti trafile del suono che rendono l’idea di vortici aggressivi, ma talvolta anche solo apprensivi; Train d’enfer è in 3 sezioni, un’idea di mescolamento nella prima, una tensione espressa in molti modi nella seconda (forme dronistiche irreversibili, quasi litanie, costruzioni astratte incatalogabili, con più livelli di percezioni e tanti dettagli), un’emersione apparente di “motivi”, ripetizioni che si arricchiscono di pathos, nella terza. L’introduzione di Les aurores pourpres potrebbe essere confusa con le fasi sonore iniziali di Blade Runner, mentre una tavolozza di bit si estende nella spazialità, anticipando ambienti inusuali come segnali di avvertimento, polveri che sembrano radioattive, venti forti e sabbiosi e tanta saturazione funzionale; questo pezzo si avvale di un lavoro speciale di formazione dei materiali, dovuto al fatto che Roy ha utilizzato un sensore di movimento ad infrarossi per controllare cinque parametri audio contemporaneamente, attraverso il gesto della mano. In Les territoires secrets, una raggiera sonora ripetuta compatta un terreno sonoro morfologicamente vicino alle produzioni ambient, lambendo forse anche il terreno della IDM: lo scopo è chiaro, un minimale ed impressivo set di rappresentazione che è un’altra forma di esprimere creatività; nella finale Voies crépusculaires si formano opposizioni, un vento ovattato contro pulsazioni, sempre sostenute, con filtri, analisi additiva, plasticità dei suoni; la parte centrale presenta un ventaglio di tagli ed incollature che reindirizzano costantemente l’orientamento musicale, che resta potente come un tam-tam subdolo e sotterraneo che vuole scuotere l’immaginazione.

Avvicinarsi senza dubbi a L’inaudible. Questa è grande musica, davvero!

C’est de la grande musique, vraiment!

Recensione

Ettore Garzia, Percorsi Musicali, 4 mars 2020
jeudi 5 mars 2020 Presse

Nell’esperienza elettroacustica strettamente legata alle commissioni trattate all’INA-GRM o di quelle ricevute da festivals specializzati del settore, eRikm mette in risalto in maniera spettacolare quel sottile filo subliminale che lega l’argomento alla musica, come veicolo perfetto della trasmissione sensoria. In Mistpouffers, cd pubblicato dall’empreintes DIGITALes, si raggruppano tre composizioni dichiaratamente schierate a favore della riflessione umana e civile: è un condensato di storie, natura e problematica sociali infuse che hanno un collegamento nell’esperienza di suoni articolati e variamente intesi, recuperati nel cervello dell’autore; in Draugalimur è la storia di La géante dans la barque de pierre, un racconto tradizionale islandese dedicato alla leggenda di un troll marino, che prende banco sotto forma di suoni estratti dalla natura; gli effetti sonori dei rompighiaccio, dell’acustica potente dei serbatoi di stoccaggio del pesce che sembrano riprodurre temporali, i sottili e perturbati campionamenti di suoni o voci ansiose, sono tutti elementi utilizzati per sostenere un tessuto mitico e drammatico allo stesso tempo, che riflette il carattere della storia raccontata, dove il troll insidia una regina in viaggio di ritorno a casa con la sua famiglia, in una barca che presto diventerà sede del suo incantesimo (vedi qui la storia); questa psicologica qualità dei suoni si ripresenta in Poudre, che effettua una riflessione implicita scandita dai botti di fine anno registrati nella Alexanderplatz: l’architettura sonora è perfettamente calibrata in un ristagno della memoria aurale che da una parte ci invita all’insofferenza verso suoni eccessivi nel loro timbro e nella loro successione (specie se alziamo il volume a decibel sostenuti), dall’altra può essere indicatori di sintesi di un fenomeno biologico presente nella natura umana, stanca di frustrazioni e vessazioni dirette o indirette, un modo di immaginare l’animo sotto una pioggia di spari e di polvere coordinata; in L’aire de la Moure 2 ci si sposta invece sulle rappresentazioni di quell’immagine di roccia rossastra che appare in copertina: la Moure è sostanzialmente una zona montagnosa inaccessibile che è stata presa in considerazione dallo stato francese per le esercitazioni dei vigili del fuoco durante gli incendi e prende quel colore dal fatto che regolarmente vengono lanciati dall’alto sostanze chimiche che favoriscono lo spegnimento dei fuochi; musicalmente è una sequela premonitrice, ancora con duplice narrazione su testo di Paul Eluard, rivelato da eRikm in À la flamme des fouets: la mancanza di amore che attanagliava il poeta francese è la similitudine trovata nel pezzo per esprimere la stessa mancanza nei confronti della Moure e del bisogno, certamente eludibile, di dover istruire campi di esercitazione per eventi che purtroppo vengono spesso originati proprio dalla mano umana; l’artificio sonoro qui consiste in un campo sonoro che tiene dentro plurimi richiami, dall’ambiente che si confronta nei dintorni della montagna (uccelli, amplificazione dell’emissione sonora della natura così come si presenta alla registrazione, organizzate, pesanti granulazioni e suoni campali).

In Mistpouffers c’è una straordinaria sensazione che si avverte allo scadere dell’ultimo suono udito, dell’ultima esortazione vocale, qualcosa che sa di liberazione da un assedio ma che è allo stesso tempo un potente filtro di giudizio dell’attualità. Posso garantire che le orecchie fini saranno molto attratte, poiché senza capir perché, si ritorna spesso sui percorsi di Mistpouffers.

Je peux vous garantir que les fines oreilles seront très attirées…