I’ll confess to being unfamiliar with Beatriz Ferreyra’s work, but the pedigree is very strong, having been active in music concrète consistently since the 60’s, and continuing to actively compose for everything from film to ballet to music therapy still. This Room40 release gathers together three disparate pieces from her back catalogue and serves as a form of introductory sampler.
The stuttering, glitchy cut-up vocal treatment on primary piece “Echos”, built seemingly entirely from layers and loops of vocal noise and shattered, disassembled yoik-like melodies, feels quite familiar to a modern listener, thanks to the ease and availability of software for digital manipulation. So what’s remarkable about this piece is that it’s from 1978, and as such, was well, well ahead of its time- a ground-breaking piece of complex cut-up tape work, when given context. It’s also notably playful too, and finishes with a laugh- an unusual twist in a normally super-sombre genre.
By 1987, the time of second piece “L'autre ... ou le chant des Marecages”, the technique has stepped on somewhat and the process no longer prescribes the form. Again this is a work that toys with vocal sounds, twisting them and transforming them into various instruments. In its quieter and more sinister moments, there is a clear connection with Ferreyra’s studies with György Ligeti- but it also has more spontaneous moments, a few more sudden waves and changes, and again, just a shade of playfulness that gives variety to the tone rather than undermining it.
We jump forward to 2007 for final piece “L'autre rive”, which is accordingly much more ambitious in scope. The vocal sounds and theatricality is still there, providing a consistent thread that makes this album work as a beginning-to-end listening experience, but we are met with a new array of richer atmospherics and a rather grandiose hollow atmosphere that feels far less intimate and more sci-fi than the previous two pieces. The creaking and groaning puts you inside some form of giant, broken machinery in the first part, before a moderately abrupt shift in tone brings us into a sparkly, glittery, wet cavern of some kind- in my imagination, at least. It’s one of those intriguing audio adventures that will invoke all kinds of subjective imagery.
It’s a welcome and very well-balanced sampler introducing me to a composer whom, it’s clear based on the quality of evidence presented, I and more people ought to have heard of.