Monday, 22 August 2016

Eliane Radigue – Triptych (rec. 1978, rel. 2009)

Another archival release on the always interesting Important Records for French composer Eliane Radigue, the second (I was going to say first, but that's really Pauline Oliveros by a few years) lady of extreme minimalist electronics.  The other one I have is Transamorem-Transmortem (1973); following that behemoth of glacial eternal ARP sound, Radigue took a few years out to explore Tibetan Buddhism, which would inform her music and entire life from then on. 

Returning in 1978 to create some music for a choreographed performance (at Robert Ashley's suggestion), Radigue produced the three pieces that were eventually released on this CD.  Triptych is possibly a more accesible entry point to Radigue's unqiue soundworld than Transamorem; each of these pieces has its own distinct character, and each one only lasts between 18 and 24 minutes (practically Ramones-level brevity for this composer). 

The first is an enjoyable sensory cleanse for the ears that whooshes around like a sandstorm or seashore on a distant planet, settling into an almost melodic rise and fall around the halfway point.  The second and longest is an eerie but not unpleasant quivering drone, that in its last five minutes introduces an insistent, rhythmic two-note pattern in the right channel that fades just before the end.  The triptych is completed with 20 minutes of a more rhythmic drone, almost something Tangerine Dream might have built from circa Phaedra, but much rawer and unbothered by effects and production; just pure sound.  I think that nails what I love about Eliane Radigue's music - it's like the clear mountain spring water of electronic sound, I've scarcely if ever heard anything more pure and elemental.

Triptych

7 comments:

  1. I think you nailed it with "elemental". I came to Radigue via Kevin Drumm's "Imperial" albums, but her work is so weirdly pure, if that's the right word, that it's completely distinctive. She manages to convey a great range of emotion with these sounds. I'd also recommend Trilogie de la Mort, my personal favorite, although you really can't go wrong with anything in her catalogue (at least what I've heard of it).

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    1. cheers Bill - Kevin Drumm is a new name to me, must investigate!

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    2. Drums is most known for some pretty severe noise collage, but he's also one of the great innovators (forgive my using that increasingly overworn term, but here it fits!) in the current drone-world. He had a pair of albums (Imperial Distortion and Imperial Horizon) that are very much in the Radigue vein, although of late he's been working in near-silent mode with many of his Bandcamp releases, which are all worth a look. Also check out Cory Strand's Altar of Waste blogspot. He creates drone and noise-wall releases using soundtrack and other works as his raw materials. Many of his releases are physically impressive with original artwork and some sublime sounds. Thanks again for your work with this site, you've turned me onto some great stuff, hopefully this will go a tiny way toward returning the favor.

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    3. excellent, many thanks Bill!

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  2. Eliane Radigue has a very unique sound in the world of electronic music. At least from the very few of her pieces I have heard. Many thanks.

    -Brian

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  3. I'm just gonna tease you guys a bit. I believe that on a compositional level, my refrigerator is far more advanced (and generous) than Miss Ragigue in most of her recordings - six of which I have had the immense displeasure to sit through. Not only does he produce a finely modulated drone throughout the deep hours of night but he also is the gracious purveyor of fine cold beer.. Sorry Eliane, you're no match for Old Kenmore!

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    1. No worries Siphonophoros, all viewpoints are welcome here!

      My response would be - why not listen to a refrigerator drone? Or car engines, or elevators, or any kind of machinery that produces droning frequencies? Anything like that interests me if it sounds good (hopefully I'm not sounding too much like a pretentious disciple of John Cage's more esoteric writings!) There used to be side-by-side escalators in my local department store that played these absolutely bewitching drones, just out of phase with each other. Sadly they've now been silenced by Sir Philip Green (UK readers will know what I mean).

      The difference with Eliane Radigue (or any human operator) for me is the tiny variations in the drone that you can hear, reading about what effect she was intending, and if I can hear in the sound what she was trying to achieve. I'm going to be posting an album by Else Marie Pade soon - shorter drone pieces, and a bit more varied - see what you think.

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