Tuesday, September 29, 2020
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Artist: Pauline Oliveros + Musiques Nouvelles (@)
Title: Four Meditations / Sound Geometries
Format: CD
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
2016 was not only the year that is going to be filed as the one when a series of pop rock iconic characters passed away, but this perpetual funeral oration was devoted to many legends of the avant-garde and erudite contemporary music scene (I could mention Jean-Claude Risset - one of the pioneers of computer music - or Tony Conrad), equally (and sometimes much more) important than particular mass phenomenon. One of the greatest and less famous (for the less erudite listeners, I mean) character of the contemporary music scene that recently died was Pauline Oliveros. She passed away on 25th November, but she kept on doing experiments till her last days, in particular on her favorite instrument, the accordion. Besides some interesting compositions, her most significant contribution to listeners are a couple of theories, which are also lessons on how to listen to music and sound: according to some reviewers, both the theory of "deep listening" - an expression that she used to name her project and her "band", by which she focused on the research of really bizarre performative spaces, such as cathedrals, caves, and underground cisterns - and the one on "sonic awareness" got partially influenced by the meeting with theoretical physicist and karate master Lester Ingber. The latter was soon turned into a sort of new system of music notation: according to Heidi Von Gunden, a musicologist who wrote an essay on Pauline Oliveros' sonic and musical research, sonic awareness was "a synthesis of the psychology of consciousness, the physiology of the martial arts, and the sociology of the feminist movement", whose way of processing aural information was based on attention and awareness, that got respectively represented by a dot and a circle by Oliveros in some compositions. Some of the above-sketched theories could help you better understanding this important release on Sub Rosa, including two long-lasting pieces. The first one, "Four Meditations for Orchestra", was composed between 1991 and 1997 and features vocalist Ione, who wonderfully interprets those reflections by using different languages and a dramatic vocal transpositions ranging between mournful moments, litany, raving ecstasy and onomatopoeia, while Belgian orchestra Musiques Nouvelles sets the sound by a seemingly disassembled technique, where the cohesion between elements got reached after each instrument seems to say something while the other ones prepares the ground, before amalgamating with Ione's voice. The second piece, "Sound Geometries (for Chamber Orchestra)", got recorded by means of Expanded Instrument System, a sort of platform to process sounds grabbed by microphones and channelling them into ten geometrical patterns, which were a kind of guided paths to move player's sounds in the sonic space through a 5.1 surround sound system. It's ideally divided into three movements: the first ones get somehow matched as you can listen how the patterns seem to lead the instrument from a vaguely organized layout to something similar to chaotic improvisation, both of them preceding the ascending choral effect reaching its acme and its higher voltage in the very last five minutes.


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