Review

Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, 1 juin 2008

Belgian acousmatic composer Vande Gorne (Charleroi, 1946), who studied musicology and electroacoustic composition with Guy Reibel and Pierre Schaeffer, was attracted many years ago by the music of François Bayle and Pierre Henry, and also by “the revolutionary nature of this art form”. Question: is this really valid in 2008? Are we still able to get enthused by a kind of expression that keeps wandering around the same coordinates, although in different contexts? Exils replies both yes and no. The audio DVD lasts over 80 minutes, which in itself could be a problematic factor, if one that can be eliminated when the addressees are well prepared. Yet there is a fair chance of cutting out the majority of a potential audience by introducing extremely long pieces — mainly built upon spoken segments — and placing them smack dab in the middle of the program, which happens here with Fragments de lettre… and Exil, chant II, the latter based on texts by Saint-John Perse. As intellectually challenging as they might be, listening becomes a pretty heavy task after a while: 35 minutes of theatrically recited voices (although with background treatments) are almost a record in the record, a bit strident when compared with the brisk pace and colourful variety of the other tracks. In truth, Vande Gorne is very good in assembling snippets and mutating them into scarcely recognizable entities (another voice-related track, Vox Alia, is one of the disc’s most absorbing sections) but, above all, she has an evident penchant for indefinite abstraction, a field where her studio mastery shines brightly, just check the gorgeous spectra of Figures d’espace. I’d like sound artists to concentrate on the essence of the audio materials, not so much on the academic aspects, provided that sonic exploration is really their core interest. This would have been a great edition if only a little more concise and, in a way, less “literate”. As it stands, it remains an interesting testimony of this author’s vision.

Vande Gorne has an evident penchant for indefinite abstraction, a field where her studio mastery shines brightly, just check the gorgeous spectra of Figures d’espace.

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