utorak, 10. listopada 2017.

Paul Dolden - Histoires d’histoire (2017)

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"Apokaliptični zvukovni hipermodernizam."


Nobody – but nobody – makes music that sounds like Paul Dolden. His work typically exhibits unchecked exuberance, both his instrumental and electronic (and electroacoustic) music not merely firing on all cylinders, but with their inner workings ludicrously pimped and their processors absurdly overclocked, sounds and timbres piled on top of each other in extremis. His latest disc, Histoire d’histoire, on the Canadian acousmatic label empreintes DIGITALes, is therefore interesting as in many respects it shows considerable restraint. Much of the disc is devoted to Dolden’s five-movement work Music of Another Present Era, completed last year, in which he sets out to create a kind of deliberately inauthentic ethnographic artefact. Dolden uses our lack of knowledge about the music of ancient cultures to construct a free-wheeling flight of fancy, employing a “metaphoric use of myths” as inspiration rather than seeking to fabricate a pointless (and impossible) ersatz ‘reconstruction’. This imagined historical survey perhaps accounts in part for the demonstrable delicacy shown in this piece. Yet even from the opening moments, it’s unequivocally Dolden: microtonally unique instruments – implying the lack of a coherent, codified tuning scheme – wheeze into life as though summoning up their energy only with considerable effort, presenting a unified but ‘doddery’ demeanour. This is how first movement ‘Marsyas’ Melodies’ begins (evoking the Phrygian Satyr who was supposedly the first to create music for the flute), eventually restarting in order to find some clarity, whereupon Dolden’s characteristic dense polyphony swells up, leading to Zappa-esque florid percussion and strangely agile stodge. Flutes are featured even more in third movement ‘Entr’acte’, in which a solid chorus of them is created, so compacted that they constantly clash and jostle and scrape against each other to the point where they can hardly move.
The ‘doddery’ demeanour i previously spoke of, the result of both density and microtonal confusion, continually rears its head, resembling the effect of amateur musicians struggling with both their instruments and their ideas (think of the Portsmouth Sinfonia, sight-reading), resulting in by turns amusing and charming acts of weird articulation that sound more than a little the worse for wear. As such – particularly in ‘The Cosmic Circle Dance’, one of the most exhilarating movements – there’s a joyous sense of music that needs several attempts from different directions or angles, crossed with a Harry Partch-like weird and wonderfulness that causes things to unexpectedly break off into a solo, or a twanging group of Jew’s harps. We speak of performers ‘playing’ their instruments, and a quality of play (in all its meanings) permeates every aspect of this disc, as it does with Dolden’s work in general. Yet while uproariously unhinged it may be, there’s an earnestness that keeps the music real, makes it more than just an extravagant piece of melodramatically theatrical nonsense. In a manner not dissimilar to Jennifer Walshe’s equally fictitious Aisteach project, one is caught up in the zeal and gusto that’s entirely genuine and leaves one wishing that these really were, in fact, the sounds from a long-forgotten age. - Simon Cummings, 5:4

Unusually for this genre, the press release on “Histoires d’histoire” is sparse- a simple list of titles, durations, dates and credits. There’s no written rationale or post-justification with heavy use of adjectives- the music will justify itself. And it really does.It’s a collection of long, expansive and ambitious avantgarde classical pieces that combine ‘proper’ modern classical in the style of Lygeti or Bartók with a range of more Eastern-sounding percussive instrumentation, and gentle and occasional use of post-production, re-processing and resampling at unexpected moments. The histories being squared here are not purely Western, not purely any tradition, perhaps a history from a universe parallel to our own.
“Music Of Another Present Era” is the main work, in five distinct and individually named parts. After the warm overture of “Marsyas Melodies”, “Shango’s Funkiness” is a percussive workout, at times sounding like an improvised drum workshop descending into either confusion or ennui before repeatedly recovering. Shortest piece “Entr’acte” is the most Lygeti-esque, bursts of long and then short string sustains flirting with cacophony, segueing into “Air Of The Rainbow Robe And Feathered Skirt” which has a similar attitude with a broader, more operatic palette. It evolves further as “The Cosmic Circle” treats the same ingredients with an extra spark of spontaneity, before twisting into a kind of bizarre alt-jazz in the final third- an obtuse way to wrap up.
Two further long pieces, each a few years old, fill the CD almost to its brim. The eighteen-minute “BeBop Baghdad” is, despite the name, practically prog rock- long noodling guitar notes playing over sporadic percussion, like a kind of subdued and Eastern-influenced Yes or Robert Fripp piece in parts. The sixteen-minute “Show Tunes In Samarian Starlight” is similarly adventurous, but with the central instrument switched from Maurizio Grandinetti’s electric guitar to ukasz Gothszalk’s layered-up B-flat trumpet, bringing proceedings back into the weirder suburbs of out-there jazz.
It’s an extensive 80-minute journey through a whole heap of ideas, sounds and moods, a real patchwork quilt of organic ideas arriving and departing with plenty of energy and a hint of frivolity. That playfulness and slight shortage of coherence disempowers it somewhat from being a really ‘wow’-inducing listening experience, but it’s a very out-there listen.  - Stuart Bruce, Chain DLK

"A fascinating and intriguing release… A great addition to the quirky but ever interesting catalog of Starkland [that] is consistent with the high sonic standards by which Starkland is known… Highly recommended." - New Music Buff

"Extraordinary creativity… creating phantasmagorical universes… One of the most consistently interesting and inventive electro-acoustic composers-assemblers today." - Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

"Who Has the Biggest Sound? [offers] an incredible amount of information very well organized and reproduced… The Un-Tempered Orchestra… grows more beautiful within its murky dissonances with each listen." - The Wire
Paul Dolden’s Who Has the Biggest Sound? CD is the first recording in over nine years from this electroacoustic wizard. The album premieres two major works that feature the surreal blending of up to 400 layered studio tracks.

Dolden's music has been widely praised:
All Music Guide: "A leading figure in sound art."

Village Voice:  "Dolden’s apocalyptic hypermodernism so transcends what the 20th century had in mind that it opens up a whole new realm."

The Wire:  "Using studio electricity to jolt music way beyond the realms of musicianly possibility, Canadian composer Paul Dolden’s lush, bizarre concrete recordings have finally come of age in the speed-soaked digital era."

New releases from this Canadian composer are rare because of the extraordinary amount of time Dolden takes to build up his richly dense pieces. To create the CD’s major work, the 52-minute Who Has the Biggest Sound, he worked full-time over a 3-year period from November 2005 to December 2008, logging over 6,000 hours in the studio. The CD’s other work, the 18-minute The Un-Tempered Orchestra (2010), required about 1800 studio hours.

Who Has the Biggest Sound? features tongue-in-cheek questions such as: Who Can Play the Fastest? Who Has the Biggest Noise? Who Has the Nicest Melodies? Beyond these queries, however, Dolden develops some highly refined, imaginative, cultural-geographic intersections, such as linking howling dogs with country music and crickets (whose slowed-down chirps emerge in a 6/8 meter) with Spain’s flamenco. Along the way, we hear the Tremolo Trailblazers perform “The Saddle Song,” as well as a Tonic Tango. The work was commissioned by New York’s Diapason Gallery and Montreal’s Réseaux des arts médiatiques.
Noting the composer is “an unparalleled master of digital studio techniques,” Lawrence Joseph remarks that this work “displays Dolden’s talent for mixes that are dense in content yet retain transparency even when layering hundreds of tracks. His unique gift is the ability to imagine and then painstakingly realize orchestrations where the sum is not only greater than the parts, but the results are completely unpredictable from the parts.”
In The Un-Tempered Orchestra, a juxtaposition to Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier that explored the new equal-temperament tuning system (the basis for nearly all Western music since), Dolden uses non-tempered tuning systems to create a fresh multicultural space, where Western and non-Western musical practices can co-exist. Dolden first wrote simple diatonic melodies and chord progressions, then recorded Eastern and Western musicians performing these in their native tunings, finally retuning and editing all these together into an asymmetrically tuned whole. At one point, for example, jazz-like solos were retuned into ancient Greek, Babylonian, and Chinese tuning systems, thereby reflecting today’s style back to us altered by ancient tuning systems. The work was commissioned by Germany’s Sinus Ton Festival.
While at times listeners often think they are hearing electronic sounds in these two works, Dolden stresses that all the original material is purely acoustic. Elements may sound electronic because of Dolden’s complex layering, such as a section consisting of 10 dilrubas (an Indian violin), 4 western violins, and 7 Irish folk flutes, which slowly crossfades into 10 suonas (an oboe-like Chinese instrument), 4 western oboes, and 7 neys (Middle Eastern flute), all of which may be digitally retuned. Dolden was first heard on Starkland with his work Twilight’s Dance, in our first-of-its-kind Immersion DVD, for which Starkland commissioned Dolden and 12 other composers to create high-resolution, surround sound compositions exclusively for this DVD-Audio release.
about Paul Dolden
Canadian electroacoustic composer Paul Dolden began his career at age sixteen as a professional electric guitarist, violinist, and cellist. After extensively exploring the possibilities of recording technologies, he arrived at his unique approach of concocting otherwise impossible musical performances. The resulting compositions are characterized by a maximalist aesthetic, in which hundreds of digitally recorded instrumental and vocal performances are layered in up to 500 tracks, to create a new, virtual orchestra, conducted by Dolden with as much sensitivity and finesse as he desires.
Dolden was recognized as a composer of note when, at age 29, he won the first of over 20 international awards he has received, in a career now spanning over thirty years. Dolden has written over 30 commissioned works, including those for: orchestra (Esprit Orchestra, Canada; Phoenix, Switzerland); chamber ensemble (Stockholm Saxophone Quartet, Sweden; Bang on A Can All-Stars, New York); virtuoso soloists (Rivka Golani, Stefan Osterjo, Nancy Ruffer, David Brutti, Francois Houle); and pure electroacoustic music (Groupe de musique électroacoustique de Bourges, France; Réseau & Association de creation et recherché électroacoustique du Québec, Canada; and Starkland, USA).
Dolden’s 2-CD set “L’Ivresse de la Vitesse” (Intoxicated by Speed) from empreintes DIGITALes, widely regarded as a landmark recording, was selected by The Wire as “one of the top 100 recordings of the 20th century.”

L'Ivresse De La Vitesse

In the late 1970’s I started to write and produce music involving hundreds of parts or tracks. In the early days, the analogue recording medium was very noisy when bouncing (or premixing) tracks together. Things improved throughout the 1980’s and ’90’s, but a large multitrack digital tape recorder was still out of my financial reach. By the late 1990’s the new computer and hard drive speeds finally provided me with an affordable multitrack solution. For the first time in my life I was able to achieve the balance between individual voices that I had so carefully notated in the original scores. I achieved further musical clarity and a new depth of sound by using quality compression, equalisation and reverb. To remaster, I went back to the individual tracks. This was a huge undertaking. For example, a piece like Dancing on the Walls of Jericho (1990) may be only 16 minutes and 15 seconds long, but it is a large tape work comprising eighty hours of original recorded materials.
Recordings always ‘freeze’ or crystallise musical and spectral meaning for the listener. An odd sound combination that you have grown fond of in the old master may not appear in the same way in the new one. However, I think you will agree that I have stayed true to the original compositions. I changed some musical moments and transitions in Dancing on the Walls of Jericho, Beyond the Walls of Jericho, and the tape components for Physics of Seduction. Invocations #2 and Physics of Seduction. Invocations #3, all originally released on the L’ivresse de la vitesse CD in 1994. These changes were motivated by compositional concerns and were created using the musical materials from the Walls Cycle. The only new recordings made for the remastering process were the drum parts (performed by Philippe Keyser) in Physics of Seduction. Invocation #2 and Physics of Seduction. Invocation #3.
I invite you to discover many new levels of meaning and clarity in the new masters, which are much closer to my original artistic intention. - Paul Dolden

Canadian electroacoustic composer Paul Dolden (Canada, 1956) specialized in "maximalist" music for a computer-generated orchestra of instrumental and vocal snippets, a technique first documented on the cassettes Sonarchy (Underwhich Audiographics, 1986) and Sonarchy II (Underwhich Audiographics, 1988), that contain the early versions of Veils (28 minutes) The Melting Voice Through Mazes Runnning (21 minutes), and Caught In An Octogon Of Unaccustomed Light (18 minutes). Two of those collages surfaced again on The Threshold Of Deafening Silence (Tronia, 1990), namely Caught In An Octagon Of Unaccustomed Light and The Melting Voice Through Mazes Running, and the album added Below The Walls Of Jericho (14:33) and In The Natural Doorway I Crouch (14:56). Below The Walls Of Jericho is one of his terrifying apocalyptic visions: an ominous drone leads to an escalating explosion, but just when the world seems to come to an end silence happens, almost absolute silence; and then the vacuum begins to populate again with forms of life, which again quickly self-multiply and generate another protracted firestorm; and then quiet resumes, but this time as a more disturbing cyclical pattern that evokes industrial machinery; and robotic voices begin to populate the factory-like soundscape, shouting all at the same time until manic confusion reigns supreme, and that is when a grotesque dance begins that seems to involve every possible machine tool until it self-disintegrates. The double-disc album L'Ivresse de la Vitesse (Empreintes Digitales, 1994) contains collages composed in different years. The 16-minute L'Ivresse De La Vitesse is used as the manifesto for his "cut and paste" audio art that diverges significantly from traditional musique concrete because it embraces the whole instead of dissecting the parts. Where early scholars of sound manipulation favored an agonizing analysis of sound properties, Dolden does the exact opposite creating catastrophic hyper-percussive hyper-kinetic music according to a principle of endless apotheosis.
Dancing on the Walls of Jericho and Beyond the Walls of Jericho, complete the triptych that Below the Walls of Jericho started. Childish percussion chaos is the "theme" of Dancing On The Walls Of Jericho (16:14), peaking eleven minutes into the piece with a manic collective march and turning into a hysterical orgy.
Suspense and post-nuclear angst pervade the even more poignant Beyond The Walls Of Jericho (16:25), whose chamber cacophony rises to hurricane dimension with industrial/punk ferocity.
The three-movement suite Physics Of Seduction "remixes" material from the Jericho triptych. A feeling of string chamber music pervades Physics Of Seduction - Invocation #3 (18:28), that repeatedly implodes in pauses of quasi silence, but that feeling also comes with a parallel feeling of extenuating physical effort.
Physics Of Seduction - Invocation #2 (13:18) peaks with a swarm of staccato plucking, after which the harpsichord is used like a hammer; but then, about halfway, it gets too brainy and basically restarts from silence. Physics Of Seduction - Invocation #1 (15:47) is another piece split in two or more parts. At one point it is the most overtly "rock" segments of the album thanks to the use of the electric guitar. It also competes for the title of most violent (and loud) composition.
The two-movement suite Resonance is ostensibly a remix of L'Ivresse de la Vitesse. Surprisingly, Revenge Of The Repressed. Resonance #2 (7:10), driven by a saxophone, delves into a circus atmosphere with jazz overtones; and In A Bed Where The Moon Was Sweating - Resonance #1 (9:02) stages a clarinet trying to make sense of percussive and vocal madness.
The album also recycles the old composition Veils (28:30), this time divided into three sections: a massive spectral drone of instruments and voices, a slow but steady crescendo of metallic droning and clanging noise, and a less organic but occasionally more brutal third part, with sharper, and occasionally shrieking, wildly vibrating timbres. Delires De Plaisirs (2005) contains the 49-minute four-movement Entropic Twilights (composed 1997-2002), one of his most solemn works, and two "resonances": The Gravity Of Silence - Resonance #5 (1995) and The Heart Tears Itself Apart With The Power Of Its Own Muscle - Resonance #3 (1995). Who Has the Biggest Sound? (Starkland, 2014) contains two electroacoustic compositions that demonstrate Dolden's meticulous assembling method. The 52-minute suite Who Has the Biggest Sound (composed in 2005-08) employs music performed in different tunings (and often re-tuned at the computer). It is broken down into short segments (nine minutes the longest one, one minute the shortest one), a format that seems to betray the episodic nature of the composition. It is, however, a multi-genre experience, even more so than on previous albums: The Village Choir Asks the Important Questions of the Day evokes thundering choral religious music, The Village Wind Orchestra: The Answer Is Blowing in the Winds is trivial Michael Nyman-esque minimalism, Who Has The Biggest Noise borders on prog-metal, Who Can Play the Fastest crosses over into punk-jazz and drum'n'bass mayhem, The Village Wind Orchestra - More Blowing in the Wind mixes ethnic folk and cartoon soundtracks, etc. The least interesting sketches are the ones that sound like mere imitations (whether post-modernist or not), and there are too many of them. Even the longest piece, Who Has The Nicest Melodies, disappoints in that it doesn't exhibit any of the beastly insanity of his masterpieces. Frank Zappa's influence is stronger than ever on verbal and orchestral gags such as Who can Talk Faster Crickets or Man? (and its comic coda The Village Orchestra: Tonic Tango). The whole album is a lot of fun, but Dolden without his genocidal pathos is like Wagner without a choir.
The 18-minute The Un-Tempered Orchestra (2010), a reference of sorts to Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier, is also fragmented and relatively relaxed. Dolden is more interested in "conducting" his orchestra according to his algorithms than in triggering the end of the world. - www.scaruffi.com/avant/dolden.html

Paul Dolden begins his career at age 16 as a professional electric guitarist, violinist and cellist. Excited by the possibilities offered by recording technologies, Paul Dolden turns to contemporary modes of production and dissemination in the creation of his music. At age 29, he wins the first of a string of European awards that establish him as a composer. Now the winner of over twenty international awards, Paul Dolden’s music is performed in Europe and North America to wildly enthusiastic audiences.
In a career spanning over thirty years, Paul Dolden has perfected his unique approach to audio technology, using it as a platform from which to launch or capture otherwise impossible musical performances. In this way, he makes his computer behave like a new, virtual orchestra and manipulates it with as much sensitivity as he would a traditional one. His compositions are characterised by a maximalist aesthetic in which hundreds of digitally recorded instrumental and vocal performances are combined in multiple layers.
Paul Dolden’s music has been described as the “missing link” between jazz and rock and the high-brow concert tradition. Critics have called it “music for the information age, enlisting noise, complexity and beauty in its quest for excess,” and characterised it as “apocalyptic hyper-modernism.”
The early works employ a unified approach to timbral and harmonic variation. Under the influence of post-modernism, Paul Dolden’s concerns have shifted to include the juxtaposition and superimposition of disparate musical styles evident throughout the Resonance Cycle of works (1992-96). Always working to surpass himself, with the Twilight Cycle of recent years Paul Dolden boldly investigates the forbidden fruit of contemporary new music: melody and dance rhythms.
Since 2003 Dolden’s compositional approach has included detailed study of different musical styles and nature sounds to uncover their relationships. Dolden then recombines their unique properties to create an auditory bacchanal of otherworldly textures, polyrhythms and microtonal melodies. For example in the Who Has… Cycle of works (2005-09), nature’s handiwork is everywhere, from the massive swarms of insects to the busy sections of brass and winds which model the same intense microtonal and polyrhythmic patterns.
Dolden considers the relation between culture and geography and takes it to its logical extreme. He first recognizes it is no coincidence that country music sprang to life alongside the howling hounds of the open plains, and that Spain begat Flamenco alongside crickets that chirp in 6/8, and then complements these naturalistic sounds with live performers who accompany and comment on the musical circus. Throughout this cycle unity is maintained by recurring melodic themes, presented by a choir, shredded on guitar, barked by dogs and generally embedded and transformed throughout.
While listeners have always concluded that Dolden “has the biggest sound,” he instead suggests that it is nature itself. Scratching the surface behind the tropes and humor within the Who Has… Cycle reveals a desperate cry for both musical and environmental relief. If nature has the biggest sound, nicest melodies, and biggest noise, then it must be respected and protected.
Since 2010, in a series of works for soloist and tape, and in Music of Another Present Era (2013-16), Dolden is inspired by mythologies. Myths are featured in every culture and continue today in urban legends and in the expansive fictional mythoi created by movies and popular music. The works of this period play freely with our historical imagination, specifically, our ability to imagine another time and culture through its mythological stories. At the same time this imagining is always conditioned by our time and the current state of our own music. For example, Dolden imagines that the myth of Marsyas was like our Battle of the Bands, that Shango, the African God of Storms, had a laid back funky groove, that the original Moon festivals had Girly Songs, that the original Cosmic Circle Dance was like a big band swinging in 5/4, and that the Samaritans in the West Bank during Babylonian times performed Show Tunes.
In short, in Dolden’s most recent music, myths from the past collide with present musical styles in a quest for pure musical beauty. - https://www.electrocd.com/en/artiste/dolden_pa/Paul_Dolden

What is the speed of music? At what point does music red shift to ultrasonic velocity like all those spectral objects before it, break the sound barrier and then follow an immense curvature towards that point of incredible sound density, where music can finally move at such violent speeds that it can no longer be heard, even by mutant membranes. The final point, that is, where music breaks beyond the speed of light, falling onto a deep and immense silence.
In this wonderful world, as we drift aimlessly across the mediascape, floating among the debris of all the seductive objects of desire, voyeurs in the cultural boutiques of which our bodies are only random and transitory terminal points, we can finally know the terminal blast of music to be our very own lost object of desire, the field across which bodies are coded, tattooed and signified in an endless circulation of spectral emotions.
If music is so seductive today, that is because it finally delivers on the catastrophe that is our last historical illusion. Music as interesting, therefore, only in its dark and implosive side, in that impossible space where music prefigures our own dissolution into a spectral impulse in the circulatory system of the mediascape. The fascination with music today lies in its violence as a force-field that scripts bodies, codes emotions, processes terminal identities, and rehearses our own existence as crash bodies, by its violent alternation as a scene of ecstasy and inertia.
Sounds appear from nowhere and they decay rapidly. They move across the field of our bodies, and then disappear. They have no real presence, only a virtual and analogical presence. Sounds without history and without a referent.
The brilliant musical compositions of Paul Dolden are an emblematic sign of the times. Dolden is the high priest of crash music for the fin-de-siècle. A ‘DAT’ musician whose music is at the forward edge of the ’90s, Dolden hardwires us into the sounds of terminal culture. His crash music operates like a violent force-field: an oscillating field of energy where rolling walls of sound can achieve such maximal density that they suddenly fold back into perfectly eerie silences. Paul Dolden actually creates the crash sound of inertia and ecstasy.
(A fragment of this introduction is excerpted from The Possessed Individual: Technology and the French Postmodern (St Martin’s Press, New York City, 1992), a theory that parallels Paul Dolden’s crash music.) - Arthur Kroker

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