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: 1970-73These 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.
1 Christian Clozier - La discordatura (1970)
2 Luís María Serra - Abismos (1971)
3 Alain Savouret - Tango (1972)
4 Wlodzimierz Kotonski - Les ailes (1973)
Disc 2: 1974-78The 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.
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)
Disc 3: 1978-83With 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.
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)
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.
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