A compilation of independent works from sound artist Alistair MacDonald, ranging from 1997 to 2013, this collection of processed found sounds is a gentle exploration of everyday noises from which richer and less familiar aspects have been teased out and highlighted — sometimes with the mildest of touches, sometimes with a far more heavy-handed post-production-centric approach.
Opening piece The Tincture Of Physical Things initially seems like purely layered found sound atmospherics, but the grumbles of earth and fire build progressively and it takes time to appreciate the subtlety with which you’re being presented with something composed rather than just found. Final Times is also on the subtle side, while Bound For Glory (Postcard From Poland) is a rather straight-laced piece of train noise with very subtle layering and processing that reminded me of the recent CNSNNT release T. Final piece Wunderkammer is built from jungle sounds, treated with resonance most prominent on its bell-like notes to give a more dream-like layout.
Less subtle pieces include the Delia Derbyshire -inspired Psychedlian Streams, which adopts a Radiophonic Workshop-esque approach to sonic twisting but with a pace more frantic, skittish and spontaneous than anything I heard Derbyshire create. Pieces like the ‘glass instrument’-derived Scintilla are a touch more conventional, playing with tuned resonances and reverberation to create an inner alien world, and are counterpointed by the gravely growliness of Equivalence.
It’s a generally quite neat approach to found sound as a dominant source without any obligation to purity of its treatment, resulting in seven fairly disparate but certainly intriguing sonic environments.
L’artiste multi-primé Åke Parmerud fait partie de ces personnes pour qui la musique est un outil de pensée, un vecteur de conscience et de réactivité. Depuis plus de 30 ans, il s’efforce de créer un univers qui allie tensions et beauté futuriste.
C’est une mini-anthologie que nous propose l’excellent label empreintes DIGITALes, véritable défricheur de pépites électro-acoustiques surgies du passé. Grains tente, en quelques titres, d’offrir un aperçu du travail phénoménal d’Åke Parmerud, avec le regroupement les œuvres suivantes: Grains Of Voices, Jeux imaginaires, Les objets obscurs et Alias.
Ces titres survolent avec justesse la diversité de son travail, mais aussi de sa personnalité, très portée par les nouvelles technologies et l’emploi de vocaux samplés, créant des ambiances cinématographiques aux balancements étranges et déviants.
L’œuvre d’Åke Parmerud bien qu’abstraite et cérébrale, n’oublie pas de titiller les sens, bousculant sans cesse l’espace sonore dans lequel il se déploie, défiant constamment l’auditeur à prendre de la distance pour mieux se précipiter à l’intérieur de sa musique, aller-retour dans l’espace et le temps, les oreilles vissées du coté des artistes du GRM. Très fortement recommandé.
David Berezan is a notorious and well acclaimed Canadian electroacoustic composer. Teaching at the University of Manchester, where he also founded Mantis: a loudspeakers orchestra designed to perform electroacoustic music, he boasts an exceptional background. Everything in his career, from his studies with legendary personalities such as Jonty Harrison up to the many residences in famous studios and institutions around the globe, becomes solid grounding which places his well rounded, and clear aesthetic statements in the form of beautiful compositions that display all the skills and craft behind the sculpting of each sound.
Cycle nautique is by all means no different from his other records. Released like the previous ones on Empreintes DIGITALes, a label that seriously needs no presentation being home for the most iconic electroacoustic composers in history (Denis Smalley, Francis Dhomont, Åke Parmerud, Michel Chion to name a few), this work is straight walking the path to become a modern classic.
The album is mostly a collection of compositions produced 2011 and 2017, bound together by the reference to the sea world. Boats, ships, docks and the unexplored underwater depths blend together to give us an all-inclusive overview of the different aspects of the marine sound, and the many diverse and well defined moments we go through while listening provide us with abstract perceptions that feel somehow dystopian but, holding strong bonds to the sound sources, do not result in a proper Utopia.
The use of high quality, crispy and fresh sound materials together with David’s undoubted skill in the use of granular synthesis, keep his work unsullied, untouched by popular culture, hip musical tricks or references to a particular music wave or scene. What we listen to is a true and pure sound art piece, perfect in his balance. A fashionable and timeless evergreen, like a tailor-made suit. But Cycle nautique is not only an exceptionally well-composed work, with an interesting distribution of spectral components, a good balance of nice and full sound washes, overwhelming ambiences and sparse constellations — it is also an impressive demonstration of good spatial distribution.
Throughout this work, David plays with different planes of proximity and rapidly shifts between them integrating both heavily processed sound materials and plain field recordings. Even listening over only a pair of stereo loudspeakers we can appreciate the very complex sound environment he creates and the way we feel completely immersed, and I can’t dare imagining how empowered these compositions would sound by being performed over more complex speaker systems for spatialization.
A special mention would go to my favourite piece of the batch, Offshore. A great example of processing acoustic instruments’ sounds, being in fact constructed entirely with bass clarinet recordings of Marij van Gorkom and turned into streams, winds and far vessels buffs, then into stones clattering and clinking together. And again with pointy bio-luminescent creatures inhabiting the bottom of the sea, while sonars and morse signals deploy communication among the humans exploring that darkness.
Musicien et plasticien originaire de Marseille, eRikm propose trois titres qui nous entrainent dans des espaces où la plasticité de l’espace, puise ses ressources dans le field recording et l’imaginaire, dans l’enfance et la géographie, la pensée et la sensibilité, l’urbanisme et la science-fiction.
Mistpouffers circule entre nos oreilles avec une fluidité qui nous fait presque oublié que nous sommes les auditeurs de cette œuvre, captivé que l’on est par ces enchainements de sons enregistrés et assemblés, qui prennent le temps de nous transporter sur des sillons bousculés par le vent et secoués par les feux d’artifices, réchauffés par les voix et oubliés dans l’immensité du monde.
eRikm alterne les ambiances tout en respectant une certaine ligne directrice, qui voit les objets prendre des allures poétiques, enfantant d’instants de suspension troublés par les mots et les bruissements d’existences multiples, aux formes mutantes. Voyageur.
Montréal-based composer Monique Jean’s take on electroacoustic music has been described as “engaging a present that happens now.” Credit François Couture with that sharply written phrase. Indeed, there is an abrasiveness to her work that feels urgent and forceful. Her new release Troubles features two vivid examples.
The first is T.A.G. The title is an acronym for trottoir, asphalte, goudron, which translate as sidewalk, asphalt, tar. The 2013 composition is a study of demonstrators and the dynamics of crowds.
Unlike Amethyst Seer’s excellent 2017 work Protest, this doesn’t feature an actual recording of a demo. Instead, Jean interprets the subject matter. In doing so, she delivers a more accessible piece of music.
All the tension and fluidity of motion you’d expect from a protest-themed work is there. But its relatively vague reference points encourage appreciation of the work on a more emotional level. This is a consequential, timely effort — one that resonates even more deeply four years after its composition.
The second half of the album features Jean’s 2009/2011 piece Out of Joint. In the album’s notes, she describes it as “an essay in sound hybridization on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the various silver screen adaptations, stagings and rewrites it inspired through time.”
Again, her decision to avoid a literal interpretation serves to broaden the work’s appeal. Yes it is about Macbeth. But it also works as a piece about iterations or interpretations.
Big themes. But they’re all within Jean’s reach. Her work has an outsized quality that — with a bit of promotion — could have influence beyond the confines of electroacoustic fandom.
Since more than twenty-five years Empreintes Digitales is probably the leading label when it comes to computer based electro-acoustic music, mostly composed and performed by conservatorium skilled composers. Oddly enough I don’t see a reference to those in the short biography that is printed on the cover of the album by Monique Jean. She was selected by several competitions (which I think is THE thing in this musical area) and played international concerts and festivals. She has here two pieces of which the first, T.A.G., which stands for ’trottoir, asphalte, goudron’ (sidewalk, asphalt and tar) is inspired by “crowds of demonstration” and she says that sounds are “mainly synthesized”, which I found hard to believe. I was more thinking about heavily processed field recordings, certainly in the opening section of the piece that sounded like car tyres screeching. I might be wrong of course. As the piece evolved it became more obvious that there are indeed synthesized sounds used and even some more orchestral ones towards the end. It’s a massive piece, crowded with many sounds, as crowded as the pavement of the inner city perhaps. This is quite a powerful piece of music. The other piece here is Out Of Joint, and it is a “sound hybridization on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the various silver screen adaptations, stagings and rewrites it inspired through time” — whatever that means but “what I am trying to do instead is to develop a form that operates through grafts of time, interpretations, meanings and references”. Which I guess wasn’t helpful either. Here the piece is also computer based I would think as well as dense, slightly distorted from time to time, a massive narrative perhaps; again I could have been fooled it included field recordings as I distinctly heard some birds. Both pieces are quite good and seemed removed from the more usual glissandi approach that was common with releases on this label some years ago. Either the composers have moved on, or the label did. […]