Review

François Couture, AllMusic, 1 août 2001

Culling material that covers a decade of work, L’ivresse de la vitesse (“Intoxicated by Speed”) had the effect of a bomb in musique concrète circles. Paul Dolden’s previous album The Threshold of Deafening Silence (1990) already indicated that the composer eschewed traditional tape music esthetics, but this ambitious 2-CD set consecrated him as a new voice. Dolden works with instruments. His compositions are amalgams of partitions, hundreds of them, recorded individually on a wide array of instruments. They are later assembled through pitch, polyrhythmic and textural relations to create high-density pieces that seem to be performed by massive lunatic orchestras. At the heart of the album are three such pieces: Dancing on the Walls of Jericho, Beyond the Walls of Jericho (these two completing a tryptich started on the previous CD with Below the Walls of Jericho) and the title piece. The three works in the Invocation series feature tape parts from the Jericho cycle over which a solo part has been added. Performers include Dolden himself on guitar, Vivienne Spiteri on harpsichord, and cellist Peggy Lee, simply beautiful in Physics of Seduction. Invocation #2. The same method is applied to the title track, transformed into the two parts of the Resonance series, both performed by François Houle (on soprano saxophone and clarinet). An older piece, Veils, concludes the set with a look at the emergence of Dolden’s technique as it is made of acoustic parts and more conventional musique concrète treatments. The energy, richness, and density of the music bring to mind the Vancouver new music big bands NOW Orchestra and Hard Rubber Orchestra — that is to say that it conveys a much more organic experience than more standard tape music. Decadent and subversive, L’ivresse de la vitesse is a classic, a unique form of fin de siècle tape music.

Decadent and subversive, L’ivresse de la vitesse is a classic, a unique form of fin de siècle tape music.