Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Twice Zonked on FB

Not sure whether I did this to make me feel obligated to post more or to make you feel less obligated to check this page, but I made a Twice Zonked page on the facebooks. So far it seems that my posts magically will appear there. Do with it what you will.

V/A - IMEB Opus 30, vol 2, 1984-1999 3xCD (Le Chant du Monde, 2003)

Picking up where the first volume left off, IMEB Opus 30, vol. 2 covers the next sixteen years of IMEB history. Important to note that this volume comes on the opposite end of that paradigm shift from tape and analog over to computers and digital. Make no mistake, the framework of computer music is being built in the decade prior, but here those mechanisms are in full force. The processes heard here are dizzyingly complex, produced for once in real time rather than over an arduous wait, and yet there remains distinct ties to the aesthetics of the Group's early years.
Disc 4: 1984-88
1 Lothar Voigtländer - Hommage à un poète (1984)
2 Dieter Kaufmann - Le ciel et la terre (1985)
3 Yves Daoust - Il était une fois… (conte sans paroles) (1986)
4 Françoise Barrière - L’or (1987)
5 Takayuki Rai - Sparkle (1988)
Very difficult to pick a highlight from the first batch, with each piece setting out for far different aims than the next. Dieter Kaufmann's piece is perhaps the oddest, an ode to childhood constructed from recordings he and his 10 year old son Ulrich made during their travels, a far cry from the Ferrari travelogue. Takayuki Rai delivers a gripping piece as well, this one for computer processed bass clarinet and tape. The pieces by Yves Daoust and IMEB co-founder Françoise Barrière both carry a strong narrative arc, Daoust's residing in a world of fantasy, while Barrière draws on a clear sense of human hardship.
Disc 5: 1989-93
1 Robert Normandeau - Jeu (1989)
2 Rainer Boesch - Pierres (1990)
3 José Manuel Berenguer - Ob-lectum (1991)
4 Gerald Bennett - Rainstick (1992)
5 Eduard Artemiev - I would like to return (1993)
Curiously, there is much to compare among the works in this second disc. The three middle pieces by Boesch, Berenguer, and Bennett are each meditations on a central object--stones, a voice (and in its words, Claude Shannon), and a South American rainstick. Each of the works draws on human action and transforms in a way that keeps the tactile or vocal elements intact, never allowing computer processes to obscure that physical presence. The bookending pieces by Normandeau and Artemiev are both free-associations. Normandeau's "Jeu" almost serves as a thesaurus entry on the notion of "play", recited off the top of his head.
Disc 6: 1994-99
1 Patrick Kosk - Plastique sans titre (1994)
2 Charles Dodge - Fades, Dissolves, Fizzles (1995)
3 Francisco Kröpfl - Winds (1996)
4 Nicola Sani - Non tutte le isole hanno intorno il mare (1997)
5 Horacio Vaggione - Agon (1998)
6 Åke Parmerud - Les flûtes en feu (1999)
Most interesting to me about these final six works is how each shows a distinct slowing of pace from the previous selections and a focused attention on how one organizes sound. It's almost as if the excitement over how much can be done with computers has worn off, moving on to the challenge of how it can be done well. Kosk and Dodge aim in their works here to bring a personal order to their disparate materials. Individual instrumental elements are bound in a mesh of manipulation as Kröpfl (voice), Sani (clarinets), Vaggione (percussion), and Parmerud (flute) offer varying stances on how deeply one's building blocks should be concealed.

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

V/A - IMEB Opus 30, vol 1, 1970-1983 3xCD (Le Chant du Monde, 2003)

Founded in 1970 by Françoise Barrière and Christian Clozier, the Institut international de musique électroacoustique de Bourges (née Groupe de musique électroacoustique de Bourges) has played host to a diverse array of electronic composers, publishing their works largely via the Le Chant du Monde label's Chrysopée Electronique series, organizing concert events, and promoting the ongoing sound research that makes electronic music possible. For the most part, the many electronic music studio camps are difficult to truly characterize, with IMEB no exception. Given the many nations represented among its roster and their varied activities, the closest I can come to an IMEB worldview would be to welcome with open arms all practices electronic. The two volumes of IMEB Opus 30, celebrating the Institut's first thirty years, certainly serves as proof to that claim. The series offers one representative track for each year of activity, showcasing the diversity of the group and the depth of its creativity.
Disc 1: 1970-73
1 Christian Clozier - La discordatura (1970)
2 Luís María Serra - Abismos (1971)
3 Alain Savouret - Tango (1972)
4 Wlodzimierz Kotonski - Les ailes (1973)
These entries covering the first four years of IMEB are of a largely electro-acoustic nature, with each composer all but obliterating the instrumental sources. Founder Clozier's "La discordatura" dismantles an already frenzied flock of violins. Entries by Argentinian Luís María Serra and Polish composer Wlodzimierz Kotonski tackle piano work with starkly contrasting form, Serra determined to leave the instrument's integrity largely intact and Kotonski rendering it a mere trigger. Alain Savouret's "Tango" nestles somewhere between their two approaches, waiting only briefly before whisking the Farfisa stabs into far dreamier realms.
Disc 2: 1974-78
1 Pierre Boeswillwald - Toccatanne no 2: qui est là? (1974)
2 Sten Hanson - Le nom des 7 nuits (1975)
3 José Vicente Asuar - Affaires des oiseaux (1976)
4 Zoltán Pongrácz - Variations boucles (1977)
5 Jack Body - Musik anak anak (1978)
The approach quickly broadens over the next five years. Pierre Boeswillwald's "Toccatanne no 2" delves into the intersection of natural and artificial, making short work from a percussive array. The piece is notable for its use of a profound GMEB creation, the massive console and speaker configuration known after several renamings as the Cybernéphone. "Le Nom des 7 Nuits" is Sten Hanson in top form, offering a murky but engaging text-sound romp. The three works that follow each exhibit a striking level of imagination. Chilean José Vicente Asuar works primarily with bird sounds, variespeeding some 50 different bird songs into a entirely new entity. The always impressive Zoltán Pongrácz offers a study in loops, first operating in the synthesized realm, gradually introducing repetitive segments of folk instruments and various industrial sounds. Biggest treat here might be New Zealander Jack Body, who turns to childhood as a starting point, first crafting a monkey chant from singing children, then using the sounds of delicate toys to build an evershifting dreamlike soundscape.
Disc 3: 1978-83
1 Barry Truax - Ascendance (1979)
2 Lars-Gunnar Bodin - Épilogue, rhapsodie de la seconde récolte (1980)
3 Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux - Constellation I (1981)
4 Georg Katzer - La flûte fait le jeu (1982)
5 Fernand Vandenbogaerde - Cyclanes (1983)
With the exception of the Georg Kratzer piece, the remaining selections reside primarily in the electronic realm. Kratzer's piece is an impressive one, with the flute creating all the textures being used and its envelope dictating levels in the modulating equipment. Barry Truax's opening work is a glacial, slow motion multi-oscillator pile up. The next piece is unmistakably the work of Bodin, frequently building with a frenzied pace. Another crowd pleaser, Canadian Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux carefully ascends into the filter spirals of her piece though some more twisted sweeps emerge toward its close. The collection closes with Vendenbogaerde's "Cyclanes", piecing together simple signal fragments via complex arrays of processing.

While the pieces presented over this fourteen year span may not form a Unified Theory of IMEB-ness, they do present an overview of the studio's fascinating history, highlighting in particular the approaches of a diverse gathering of composers spanning the globe.

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3

Note: Original upload had horribly jumbled tags, carrying over into some confusion within the post. New links have been provided and the post adjusted accordingly.