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.