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Eliane Radigue - Chry-ptus

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Artist: Eliane Radigue

Album: Chry-ptus

Label: Schoolmap

Review date: Jun. 5, 2008

French composer Eliane Radigue has been perfecting her unique take on drones and glacially slow metamorphoses since the late 1960s. A student of Pierre Schaeffer in the late 1950s, she eventually rejected many of the tenets of musique concrète in favor of a language built on long-form explorations of mutating resonances and harmonics that traverse the frequency spectrum.

This two-disc set, the second release on Giuseppe Ielasi’s Schoolmap label, documents one of the earliest pieces in what would come to be Radigue’s definitive style. Composed on the Buchla synthesizer at New York University in 1971, it consists of two components that are to be played simultaneously but not necessarily synchronized. Each part is presented separately in this package, one per disc, so the listener can experiment with mixing the two parts on separate CD players. Each disc also contains a more recent complete realization, the first by Radigue herself in 2001 and the second by Ielasi in 2006.

Each of the two original components, called “Part 1” and “Part 2,” consists of the morphing drones so familiar to followers of Radigue's but, unlike most of her work, both parts feature pulses throughout. The pulse is higher and faster in “Part 1,” where the pitch content generally is higher and shimmers more, while “Part 2” growls in a lower register.

Only simultaneous playback demonstrates the multifarious and complex relationships of this 24-minute piece. While my apartment is by no means an ideal venue for a performance requiring four loudspeakers, I found a strategic place between my two stereos; the two sonic components balance beautifully, the lower elements interacting with each other and creating a pulse of their own, a little like the beating of out-of-tune piano strings. The multiple speakers propel the sounds throughout the room, the whole taking on astonishing spatial palpability. “Part 2” starts crackling a bit in its second half, growing out of the bottom-heavy vibrating motor like some sort of prickly weed. Eventually, the lower-register elements fade, leaving only raw, silvery tones and remnants of the double pulse.

Radigue’s structures don’t end so much as they fade into the silence from which they came, and vastly varied results can be obtained by setting the two sound sources at different volumes. As fine as each disc is separately, neither can compete with the all-encompassing vibrancy of the three-dimentional experience. This excellent package affords the opportunity to experience Radigue’s vision in a way that is sure to be a revelation even for long-time fans.

By Marc Medwin

Other Reviews of Eliane Radigue

Transamorem – Transmortem

Adnos I-III

Jetsun Mila

Vice Versa / Triptych


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