TD, Funprox, 17 décembre 2002

The empreintes DIGITALes label has over the years released lots of material by composers of so called “musique concrète” and “electroacoustic” music. For those unfamiliar with these genres, this sort of music originated almost half a century ago, when various “classical” composers started experimenting with the use and possibilities of studio-recording equipment for their compositions. Amongs these electronica pioneers were people like Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis and Pierre Schaeffer. The result of this experimenting was that electronic equipment that was meant only for producing “classical” music became instruments themselves, and the artists could now produce music on the basis of samples and electronic equipment instead of using an entire orchestra. Thus a new genre was born. Later electronic music (like Kraftwerk) was made possible through these [r]evolutions.

Now, half a century later there are a lot of composers with “schooled” backgrounds that make their compositions with electronic equipment only. Over the years some famous composers, like Francis Dhomont and Denis Smalley, have had their works released on empreintes DIGITALes which has become a sort of archive for these compositions. Now a new generation of composers is releasing their work. Among these are Natasha Barrett (a former student of Denis Smalley) and Stephan Dunkelman.

The works of these composers are both very soundtrack-like in nature, highly processed sounds form almost natural flows, like an orchestra made out of samples slowly evolving towards its climax. Just like standard classical compositions these are very dense and highly emotional, ranging from very soft sounds, to huge walls of sound. These releases are quite similar in many respects, although Barrett’s work seems to be a bit more threatening and continuous, while Dunkelman’s seems to be more abstract and changing. For those more used to listening to ambient and electronica they can be very well compared to artists like Brume or Daniel Menche or perhaps even to a less abstract version of Illusion of Safety.

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