nedjelja, 5. svibnja 2013.

IPEM [Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music] - 50 Years Of Electronic And Electroacoustic Music At The Ghent University (2013)

IPEM (Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music) - 50 Years Of Electronic and Electroacoustic Music At The Ghent University image

Belgija je u bunkerima čuvala svoju baštinu elektroničke muzike, bojeći se da bi joj atomski rat loše činio. Sad su odlučili riskirati.

excerpts streaming

Subtitled "50 years of electronic and electroacoustic music at the Ghent University" this beautiful box commemorate IPEM’s 50th anniversary, with a lavishly illustrated 88 page book (all text in Dutch and English) with two CDs featuring Lucien Goethals, Didier Gazelle, Louis De Meester, David Van de Woestijne, Stefan Beyst, Helmut Lachenmann, Boudewijn Buckinx, Karel Goeyvaerts, Emmanuel Van Weerst, Peter Beyls, Raoul De Smet, Frank Nuyts, Ricardo Mandolini, Peter Schuback, Stephen Montague and Yves Knockaert. All tracks were recorded at the IPEM studio and mastered from the original tapes. Most tracks are previously unreleased.
IPEM was founded in 1963, as a joint venture between the Belgian Radio and Television broadcasting company (BRT) and Ghent University. The idea was to combine audio engineering with music production, thus building a bridge between scientific research and artistic research. Music production at IPEM was lead by the composers L. De Meester, K. Goeyvaerts and L. Goethals, all employed by the BRT. They realized many compositions and radio transmissions related to contemporary music. Since 1968, research results at IPEM were published in yearbooks. In collaboration with Sonology (then at Utrecht), this resulted in 1972 in an international journal, called Interface - Journal of New Music Research.

"Belgium's Metaphon label - responsible for that amazing Ranta / Lewis / Plank album few years back - present a fascinating and in-depth book commemorating 50 years of the Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music based at Ghent University, accompanied by two CDs of haunting experimental recordings. 
The book affords an engrossing insight to the development and contributions of Belgium's national electronic music institute - a lesser known counterpart to the esteemed GRM in France, Cologne's Studio für elektronische Musik, or Italy's Studio di Fonologia Musicale - through in-depth history and essays by alumnus and professors. The two CDs give clear, and often shocking evidence of what they were up to: 18 tracks from the likes of Louis De Meester, Raoul De Smet and Boudewijn Buckinx, among others, spanning unearthly electro-acoustic, drone and concrète compositions recorded between 1963-1999 and distinguished by a certain gothic or dark mittel European sensibility that's really pushing our buttons." - Boomkat

1-Louis de Meester : Incantations  (6:36)   
2-Lucien Goethals : Studie 1 (5:26)   

3-DIdier Gazelle : Studie 1 (3:12)          
4-Louis de Meester : Cadenza (from Dialogos) (4:59)  
5-David Van De Woestijne : Les Céphalopode (5:41)      
6-Stefan Beyst : Ekreksis (4:44)  
7-Helmut Lachenmann : Scenario (12:33)  
8-Boudewijn Buckinx : Simparolo (3:41)
9-Karel Goeyvaerts : Nachklänge aus dem Theater (part 1) (5:09)
10-Emmanuel Van Weerst : Monochroom (6:25)   
11-Peter Beyls : Prints (9:27)
12-Raoul de Smet : Torso (tape part) (7:09)

13-Ricardo Mandolini : El Cuaderno del Alquimista (9:29)   
14-Frank Nuyts : Chile (Part1) (7:52)   
15-Peter Schuback : L'ombre négatif de Monsieur Sandomir (9:13)
16-Stephen Montague : Slow dance on a burial ground  (24:34)
17-Yves Knockaert : Foto II (from Portraits) (12:01)
18-Lucien Goethals : Dendrofonies  (11:20)
New Interfaces #2: “Fifty Years of Electronic and Electroacoustic Music at the Ghent University”

Posted by on September 2, 2013

When we last met, we were focused on the releases of the Recollection GRM label, an Editions Mego imprint devoted to unearthing gems from the vaults of the Groupe de Recherche Musicales (GRM), an exploratory music collective based in Paris. The GRM tasked themselves with crafting acousmatic music, or music composed of sounds removed from their original source, the prime example being musique concrète. In musique concrète, strips of magnetic tape (replaced by samplers and computers today) are employed to store primarily instrumental or natural acoustic sound. This recorded acoustic auditory information is manipulated through layering, filtering, looping, time stretching, and other means to produce a result free from many traditional musical rules: melody, harmony, rhythm, and so on. Acousmatic music is one branch of the ‘genre’ known as electroacoustic music.
Another form of electroacoustic music – one which uses techniques contrasting those of acousmatic music – is elektronische musik (electronic music), or music produced solely by electronic means (via the use of oscillators and other, more complicated, electronic devices). What is quite possibly the most well-known studio of the post-war era producing this style of music was the Studio for Electronic Music, based at the Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk (NWDR) in the city of Cologne, Germany. There, composers – such as Herbert Heimert (the first studio director), Karleinz Stockhausen (Heimert’s successor as director), and many others – synthesized their works entirely from electronically-generated signals. Understandably, there was a considerable amount of friction between the NWDR and the GRM, with both sides denigrating each other at various times in their respective histories.
The Belgian city of Ghent – now the country’s second-largest city – lies between Paris and Cologne.  In 1963, some time after the formation of both the Cologne’s Studio for Electronic Music and the GRM, the Institute for Psychoacoustic and Electronic Music (IPEM) was formed at the Rijksuniversiteit Gent (RUG), with the help of Belgian Radio and Television (BRT). The studio was so named to represent its two purposes: scientific research and artistic discovery. Created to compete with the other public electroacoustic studios across Europe, the IPEM was devoted to the design and creation of electronic devices as well as the production of electronic and acousmatic compositions. In what can only be attributed to sheer coincidence, the IPEM was geographically located between the NWDR and the GRM, and it also freely employed the styles of both famous studios. In fact, an early composition produced by the first IPEM artistic director – Louis De Meester’s “Incantations” – freely combines concrète sound with electronically generated tones. The IPEM borrowed the best of both sound-worlds.
To commemorate IPEM’s 50th anniversary, the Metaphon imprint (another Belgian institution, founded in 2007) released a gorgeous 88-page book, coupled with audio documentation of some of the activities of the IPEM composer-engineers. The book is subtitled “Fifty Years of Electronic and Electroacoustic Music at the Ghent University” and is a delight to behold. Its large 12″ x 12″ pages are filled with numerous photographs of the studio, the people involved, and their many electronic creations and acquisitions, along with posters, LP covers and other historical documents. With a humorous nod to how the general public views experimental music, they’ve even included a hand-written complaint letter from one of the neighbours: “When you think you have to make ridiculous sounds; then be informed that your neighbours can hear them. So, please close the windows.  If not, we will take action. Thank you. And keep this in mind!!”
There’s also a feast of information to digest for those interested in history and how this incredible music came to be. The book’s foreward was written by current IPEM director Dr. Marc Leman. Post-doctoral researcher Dr. Micheline Lesaffre provides a history of the studio and the scientific research that it produced, while Pauline Driesen ruminates on the composers and their works, with detailed notes on each composition included on the accompanying CDs/LPs.
Which brings us to the real focus of this column: the music. Selections from across the history of the IPEM were lovingly selected by Metaphon’s Timo van Luijk and Greg Jacobs, with the assistance of Dr. Micheline Lesaffre and studio technician Ivan Schepers. There are two versions of the package on offer. The book arrives affixed to an accompanying 2-CD set featuring 18 of the IPEM’s wonderful sonic creations, many of which have never been released anywhere else. For those truly enamored with these strange and glorious sounds, the combo can be further enhanced with a triple LP version, the whole collection housed in a hard linen-covered box. I can’t stress enough how gorgeous this entire package is; it’s a thing of beauty!
Once again, I’ve selected a handful of the compositions featured in the collection that I found particularly interesting, on which to ruminate. That being said, there’s a lot of music to enjoy here so I recommend jumping in and purchasing this elegant package, which is available through Boomkat and elsewhere. Metaphon was kind enough to let us stream a few particular tracks, and others are available to stream at large, but where no resources are available I’ll include a link pointing to any further information.
Louis De Meester, “Incantations” (1958/1963)
De Meester’s initial foray into musique concrète and electronics was actually produced prior to the establishment of the IPEM, though the composer still revisited the piece once he was made the studio’s artistic director in order to expand the original source beyond the traditional two-stereo audio field into an expansive four-channel masterpiece. “Incantations” is primarily based upon the recitation of the eponymous poem by the lettrist poet Isidore Isou, by both female and male vocalists. The vocal tracks are subjected to a variety of effects, such that the textual meaning of the poem is obliterated into a hallucinatory cloud of spiraling sound. Other concrète and electronic sounds seek to invade this vortex first by jarring it open and then by seeping into it. It’s a wild ride and a wonderful way to open up this collection.

Lucien Goethals, “Studie I” (1962)
Goethals was involved with the IPEM from its inception, originally serving as assistant to De Meester, becaming artistic director of the studio in 1974.  “Studie I” is his first attempt at electronic composition, and was followed by several more studies – pieces that employed electronic sound generators designed and built by studio engineer Walter Landrieu and his team. These devices allowed the IPEM composers to produce multiple waveforms, including sine, triangle and square waves – sounds rich with overtones and ripe for filtering and modulating. For his first study, Goethals generated square waves, filtering the sounds to enrich them. The waveforms were fragmented and assembled into looping arrays of rhythmic patterns that evoke the image of wandering in a frozen cave which has walls made of large ice crystals. The sounds shimmer almost uncontrollably before they melt away completely in a slow fade.
One of Goethals’ more musical pieces is the cadenza from “Dialogos,” a piece which combined electroacoustic music with that of a traditional orchestra.  Even though it is part of a greater whole, the cadenza itself is considered a worthwhile example of tape composition in its own right.

David Van de Woestijne, “Les Céphalopodes” (1964)
Van de Woestijne worked alongside Louis De Meester at the Nationaal Instituut voor de Radio-omroep (a precursor to the BRT, who co-founded IPEM), producing radio programs and honing his sense for narration through sound. The tape composition “Les Céphalopodes” was originally crafted as the soundtrack for a film, and is essentially a number of short electronic vignettes edited together into a sonic story that runs for nearly six minutes. Alien tones wrestle with Earthly melodies on the lifeless surface of an unnamed planet. It’s an attention-grabbing piece that succeeds at drawing parallels between editing for film and electroacoustic composition.

Helmut Lachenmann, “Scenario” (1965)
When I first obtained my copy of the gorgeous IPEM book, I scanned the track listing of the accompanying sonic material and, surprisingly enough, the only name I recognized was that of German composer Helmut Lachenmann. Lachenmann is probably best known for producing compositions of what he referred to as “musique concrète instrumentale.” He bade his performers to use instruments normally associated with classical music, yet to employ extended techniques to broaden the sonic palette and to attempt to achieve concrete sounds using acoustic means. Traditionally, electronics and tapes didn’t figure into his oeuvre at all. Yet he ventured to Belgium to spend a few months at IPEM, producing a single electronic composition. Starting with a recording of one of his earlier compositions, Lachenmann sliced, diced and morphed the source material, assembling the pieces into a hallucinatory sound-world that would make today’s noise purveyors proud. Fractured sounds spray in all directions, waxing and waning as the music unfolds. To me, this piece completely captures the spirit of electroacoustic music, which is ironic given that this is Lachenmann’s only composition in the genre.

Frank Nuyts, “Chile (part 1)” (1980)
Jumping ahead in time, the composers and engineers of the IPEM were extremely excited to obtain what became to be a showpiece of the studio: an EMS Synthi 100 modular synthesizer; photographed below, the Synthi 100 was introduced by EMS in 1974, and designed to be decidedly non-portable). The mammoth synth was soon put to good use, as illustrated by this piece by IPEM student Frank Nuyts. Sweeping tones and subtle low-end maneuvering provide a poetic backdrop for Nuyts’ more jarring passages. This composition was assembled from tapes of sounds generated solely via the Synthi 100, and was meant to accompany a classical score that displayed the composer’s harsh stance against oppression, primarily the military coup in Chile. Though the track is not available independently elsewhere, it was included in The Wire’s Adventures in Sound podcast for May.
Stephen Montague, “Slow Dance on a Burial Ground” (1982-1983)
The lengthiest piece found in Metaphon’s collection belongs to American ex-pat Stephen Montague, who dabbled in minimalism and European romanticism. In it, the composer attempts to evoke the feeling of a live performance by a full band, hiding the fact that all sounds were actually performed by a single musician. Traditional instruments from around the world (whistles, a log drum, chimes, sleigh bells) were utilized alongside the Synthi 100. The entire piece is rooted in minimalism, with drones and repetitive percussion patterns being employed by Montague as he stretches the composition to almost a half hour in length. Listening to the piece outside of any context, one would be forgiven to mistake it for the latest missive from Tuluum Shimmering. For more information one Montague, you can peruse a bio and some reference pages here.
So, without sounding like too much of a fan-boy, I highly recommend taking an exploratory glance at this wonderful collection from one of history’s unheralded locations for extreme and experimental sounds. A lot of work, and a lot of love was put into the entire package, and anyone interested in the history of the avant-garde will not be disappointed. - -

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