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Three works for computer from Iancu Dumitrescu and one from Ana-Maria Avram, each a radical works of spectral music in tribute to ILan Volkov, Andy Wilson, Ben Watson and Stephen O'Malley.

Dumitrescu, Iancu / Ana-Maria Avram
Electronic Music

Dumitrescu, Iancu / Ana-Maria Avram: Electronic Music (Edition Modern)
Label: Edition Modern    
Released in: Romania    

"But what is new in this militant music is neither the dissonance nor the feeling of the unknown, nor even the incredible research into the timbres of 'conventional' instruments. (Forty years of Brötzmann-style free jazz had, we thought, completely expunged these possibilities, even if you can still feel an uncanny strangeness listening to a Ligeti or a Stockhausen.)

What is new here, and something to be, if not understood by the brain, at least felt by the body, is that musicians coming from a classical heritage are overturning the organizational principle that has always defined it. This 'society of the spectral' relegates the idea of organization to the background, requiring it to adapt to a pre-existing sonic reality and to the immanence of sound as both first and final cause. And this is not idle theoretics, this is concrete method: using a laptop, the composers play a pre-recorded track - a molecular soundscape that unfolds in real time - and direct the musicians to react to its varied contingencies, and inhabit as best they can the accumulating and multiple flows of sound material. The waveshape itself becomes the shaping force in this modular kind of writing (though I doubt the validity here of the word "writing", to which they seem nevertheless very attached). From the swarm-like oscillation of free-floating sound, they manage to extract a sense of both temporal progression and a residual tonality, contriving to read in its erratic motion something like the narrative of a possible story.

This kind of "antistructural" praxis, although present in popular music ever since rock music broke with the idea of mass appeal, has never before been adequately thought through by schooled musicians - more often than not unable to exorcise the demons of analysis and rationality.

There is, in Avram and Dumitrescu, the ambition of addressing the condition of European music as such, and perhaps redeeming it. To cleanse it of the contaminations of the productivist society, technicized and mathematicized, in which it is hopelessly embroiled. To rescue the great cadaver, and reverse the classical music tradition. Set fire to the house to save the furniture!

This is why they mix everything up. Free improvisation, noise rock, electronics and musique concrète all in amongst the orchestral instruments. This is why they electrify their classical instruments, because technological contemporaneity is as much part of life experience as ancient heritage. They neither love nor hate technology, they simply grasp it as a medium in which we live, one which we can, and perhaps must, confront.

The presence, as a spectral (excuse me, special) guest, of Stephen O'Malley ( as both musician and composer / director) is a nice surprise, but not an incongruity. For ten years he has also made live music where structure counts for little and the sound comes first, conceived as a force against which the player fights, in which the listener swims, a force that seems pagan because it is as inarticulate and unpredictable as an avalanche. Sunn o)))'s 20-minute plateaux of menacing drones reference neither melodic or rhythmic know-how, nor a stance of ironic Satanism, but the act of invention from myriad sonic interstices, the nurture of unfathomable forces tracked down in their own environment (which is here the fact of technology).

Avram and Dumitrescu talk a lot about phenomenology, stream of consciousness, Gestalt, and the relationship between a perceptual inside and outside. For my part, I see in them the return to a nature re-imagined as dangerous, a site of hand-to-hand combat. To be at home in a sound, to inhabit sound the way sea-life swims in the sea or clings to a rock. Structure, since it still exists, has to find its place in the interstices of actual things, in the lengths and continuities of organic waves. We try to inhabit the world anew rather than dominating it. This is absolutely not sustainable development! There is here a whole dimension of defiance, violence and brutality. Running with the quanta is no picnic. But, if the cost of this music is high in terms of comfort, the rewards in terms of pleasure are doubled.

Sink your teeth into the pulsating heart of the world and devour it on the floor, wrestle the cosmic serpent bare-handed. This is what it is about. And there's no way that walking out on the old classical drama - the search for a pristine and absolute spirit - means giving yourself up to chaos or suicidal surrender of the will. Far from it. You lose yourself in the world of matter only to rediscover yourself. There is some Herzog in here, a wide-thrown romanticism of a new type in which we are going back not to nature, but to the taste of the struggle with it, rediscovering our old adversary, our Other - intangible strengths, violent objects, understood by no-one and impossible to name.

You might even find here the possibility of new 'grand narratives'. I had never heard the Fate that knocked at Beethoven's door as intensely as in the music of Avram and Dumitrescu."-The Society of the Spectrum by Guillaume Ollendorff (translated into English by Tim Hodgkinson)

Related Categories of Interest:

Compositional Forms
Electronic Forms
Electroacoustic Composition

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Product Information:

Label: Edition Modern
Catalog ID: ED MN 1029
Squidco Product Code: 17787

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2013
Country: Romania
Packaging: Jewel tray, not sealed.
Recorded at Hyperion Studio, Bucharest.


Iancu Dumitrascu

Ana-Maria Avram

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Track Listing:

1. Hazard And Tectonics 16:06

2. Crepuscule 16:33

3. Early, Before All Times 20:45

4. Metalstorm 16:09

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