Six ans après la parution de son premier disque, Traces sur empreintes DIGITALes, Adrian Moore est de retour pour une nouvelle exploration d’électroacoustique introspective sur le label montréalais. Proches des musiques ambiantes par leur approche formelle très suggestive, les compositions d’Adrian Moore — dont Dreaming of the Dawn, une commande du GRM datant de 2004 - capturent les motifs sonores dans des structures mobiles où le compositeur peut ensuite à loisir faire intervenir un fourmillement de modulations. Dans ces conditions, le mixage des différentes pistes se révèle aussi précieux qu’excessivement sensible et évolutif, et donne une impression d’intervention live permanente. Sur certains morceaux, le croisement de ces variations sonores et de parties instrumentales plus posées (Piano Piece (for Peter)) offre un contraste saisissant.
Beide CDs definieren eindringlich den aktuellen Stand akusmatischer Musik: Darren Copeland (Toronto) und Adrian Moore (Birmingham) vermessen auf vorliegenden Platten Grenzzustände zwischen Wachen und Träumen, Wegfahren und Ankommen, Verlieren und Wiederfinden. Wie bei empreintes DIGITALes aus Montréal üblich, kommt ein vergleichsweise »poppiger« Zugang zur Elektroakustik zum Tragen; Nachzuhören besonders bei Moores Rêve de l’aube, das zwar praktisch die ganze Historie dieser Musik inkorporiert hat – so verwendet er großteils nach wie vor manipulierte Tapes, die dann digital bearbeitet werden –, gleichzeitig aber fast schon Ambient-Techno-geerdet ohne Beats daherkommt. Copeland dagegen nähert sich auf dieser Zusammenstellung von Werken zwischen 1991 und 2003 fast »klassisch« Themen wie dem Leben im Transit, 9/11 und zeitlichen Umschichtungen. Unterschwellig eingearbeitete Fieldrecordings ziehen eine thematische Metaebene auf, die von einer Zugfahrt von London nach Moskau bis zu in Musik gefassten, beinahe apokalyptischen Filmflickern reicht. Seltsam, dass»Perdu et retrouvé«als DVD-Audio aufgenommen ist: Auch wenn in bester Soundqualität, degradiert sich dadurch, dass nur ein statisches Manual am Bildschirm zu sehen ist, die Musik fast zum Hintergrundrauschen. Diese Stücke haben derartige imaginative Sogwirkung, dass sie diese Bebilderung echt nicht brauchen. Abgesehen davon lebt »Perdu« von der konzeptuellen Stärke und der kompromisslosen Umsetzung, bei der immer wieder versöhnlich-verspielte Momente durchblitzen.»Rêve de l’aube«des u.a. auf dem Londoner Label Sonic Arts Network veröffentlichenden Moore ist vergleichsweise zugänglicher. Die neun zwischen 2000 und 2004 komponierten Stücke kommen mit einer relativen Transparenz daher, die sie über verschlungene Pfade für mich eher der IDM als der Soundart verwandt erscheinen lassen. Dabei ist Moores Musik alles andere als ein Aufguss autodidaktischer Zufälligkeiten: Drone-Flächen wechseln sich unvermittelt mit energetischen Noise-Partikeln ab, traum-haft choreografiert, ab und an um sonische Stolperfallen sicher nicht verlegen. Eine gute und eine ziemlich gute CD, beide – wie für empreintes DIGITALes üblich – ansprechend verpackt und mit umfangreichen Linernotes in Englisch und Französisch versehen. Schau’n Sie sich das an: vive l’acousmatique!
Adrian Moore, born in 1969, is an acousmatic composer from Nottingham who studied among others with Jonty Harrison and collaborated with Birmingham’s BEAST collective. His music values the role of the tape medium in a live performance very highly, and his interest in the diffusion of sound explains the variegated pigmentation of the tracks presented in this CD quite well. Like it often happens with this kind of music, whose level of unpredictability is directly proportional to the multi-shade tonalities utilized by the creators, a host of influences and sources is at the basis of a continuous mutation of atmospheres and climates. The title track, named after a poem by Emily Dickinson, mostly uses woodwind instruments but sounds rather like a meeting of modular serendipities on the edge between blinding light and mind-warping speed. Power Tools was influenced by the noise of sources such as lawn mowers, hedge trimmers and steel factories, the piece akin to a congregation of percussive polyphonies camouflaged under a sensitive juxtaposition of studio manipulations. Piano Piece (for Peter) features Peter Hill in a piano-cum-tape half-romantic, half-atonal elucubration influenced in equal measure by Smalley and Scriabin. The six-movement suite Sea of singularity, lasting almost 32 minutes, closes the album with the most fascinating choices of colours, masterfully seaming environmental recordings from various European locations in which human presence is clearly audible, with otherworldly examinations of abstruse codes and expressive sonic entities, culminating in a fabulous implant of bleating sheep and lapping Venetian gondolas during the aptly titled Third mint sauce (or sheep appoggiatura). Here, like throughout the rest of the disc, Moore reveals himself to be a talented aural painter, his fantasies showing all the positive signs of a luminous future in the electroacoustic community.
In the world of composers like Adrian Moore things do not evolve around making CDs, but on playing concerts, preferable on multi-speaker systems for a seated audience (with an arty facial hair, thick glasses, sipping wine. I’m joking here, right?). So it’s been a while since we reviewed Traces, his previous CD by him — see Vital Weekly 298 — and Rêve de l’aube has pieces from the years 2000-04. Moore deals with electroacoustic music: from the power tools in Power Tools (not software, but let’s say real hardware such as a lawn mower) to field recordings of water, children, Venetian gondolas, horses and the piano — how lovely it is when these things are described on the cover. All of the sounds are fed through a wondrous mirage of electronics and bounces back and forth, up and down. Like music on empreintes DIGITALes usually does. It clearly defined style of music, which to my, perhaps perhaps, not enough trained ears, sounds like working through a formula. On one end you feed the sounds in and due to some trademark apparatus the music as we hear comes out at the end. Having said that, I think that Adrian Moore produces some nice music, especially the closing piece Sea of Singularity is quite moving: horses, ducks, the subway and in In Paradisum (the separate parts have titles) and perhaps the religious texture of that is what appealed to me. Not a spectacular disc, but certainly one of the better ones from the label.
This is the second time I have the pleasure of listening to a CD by British composer Adrian Moore in that cautiously attentive way that comes with reviewing music. The first time was when I reviewed his premier CD on Empreintes DIGITALes – Traces – in early spring 2001. I wrote then – and it’s still relevant today: “There is a new sophistication apparent in the brand new scope of electroacoustics coming out of Britain”. Since then I have been fortunate enough to make a memorable visit to Bristol, U.K., staying in the posh Clifton area in one of a series of six-story houses connected in a crescent called the Polygon, with my red-haired, Gaelic-looking fair friend Zoë, whom I encountered on a mountain hike in the Lapland north of Sweden.
The house itself has something important to say about British culture and sometimes odd thinking. Like I stated, it has six stories on top of each other. Each story is just very small, with perhaps one or two rooms, with a staircase running all the way up, but if you count the whole area in square meters, the house amounts to a sizable one. I lived in a room on the 5th floor, and believe me; I had ample use for all my bicycle exercise, running up and down those stairs – because there was no elevator.
These posh living quarters were oftentimes exchanged for rummaging the brick lanes of the down-trodden, marijuana choking Bristol district of Easton, where Zoë wanted to take me to Quiz Nights a local pubs or other fancy locations and events. In the late night darkness of Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes Night) on the 5th of November, we climbed an Easton hill, on top of which a band of wild Britons, resembling a timeless bunch of Medieval troubadours, 1960s’ hippies à la Incredible String Band and 1980s’ punks all got together in the common cause of gathering burnables for a mighty fire to light the night. Similar groups of villains and saints gathered all around the horizon, lighting the night with bonfires and never-ending ejaculations of fireworks!
This roundabout is inserted here because I believe it tells something about the quite peculiar human and cultural climate of old Great Britain, and the instinctive prerequisites of life on the Isles of the Kingdom, including its culture, out of which electroacoustic music is one of the most intuitive disciplines, drawing heavily on the subconscious flow of creativity, colored by and immersed in millennia of isle-culture, isle-thinking, isle-dreaming!
Back from this detour, a short swing back in time reveals that it was Denis Smalley who inspired Adrian Moore to start working with electroacoustics. The initial spark that set his compositional fire was ignited at a concert in Nottingham, England. His undergraduate study took place at City University, London, and later he studied with Jonty Harrison at the University of Birmingham. He had access to the immense possibilities of the BEAST facilities in Birmingham, but during his seven years there he also found time to work at CNSM in Lyon, France and ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany. He now (2007) works as a lecturer at Sheffield University, and is the director of the University of Sheffield Sound Studios (USSS).
On this new CD Moore presents new works, spanning the years 2001 – 2004.
Track 1. Dreaming of the Dawn (2004) [14:01]
This piece is called Dreaming of the Dawn, but spells Emily Dickinson! Inside my head a record starts playing, and I hear Joan Baez:
You read your Emily Dickinson, And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with bookmarkers
That measure what we’ve lost…
It’s from Dangling Conversation by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, but I heard it first with Baez, and it remains with her, for me.
Adrian Moore’s title comes from a short Dickinson poem, and in his commentary he is quite funny, stating that the work “has […] a kind of orchestral feel, partly due to the way in which the sounds were orchestrated…”
Moore utilizes the recorded sounds of woodwind instruments, treated almost beyond identification, but with traces of the atmosphere of these orchestral individuals fluttering about like markers from a more concrete and material world, in this fairytale of embellished sonic flowers that swing and nod, at the pleasurable mercy of transient powers.
It’s a bewildering molten mirror motion, colors shifting, views changing – nothing solid; everything drawn out of shape, extended in all directions: a swim through light honey; warm sunlight winding through any way it can, but never in a straight line.
It would be easy to brand this type of electroacoustic music submarine, the way sounds wave and swing, like seaweed torn by invisible currents below the surface of the sea – but there is so much more to this piece, in particular concerning this mystical orchestra that sometimes tend to come together not such a far cry from a real orchestra seen – and heard - through an aquarium, only to dissolve into its constituencies and become one with the bubbling, rippling flow.
Being a nitpicking old auditor from Scandinavia, I do testify to hearing a few echoes from Jean Schwarz’s Quatre Saisons, and generally a Moore commentary on his French connection to people like François Bayle and Bernard Parmegiani. The emerging and… dissolving orchestra at the heart of this beauteous audio may in fact be the sonic correspondence to an imagined view from inside a dewdrop hanging from a branch of as tree, pierced by a ray of starlight; the forces of surface tension, gravity and electromagnetism coming together in the French-flavored acoustic imagery of Adrian Moore!
Track 2. Power Tools (2004) [14:25]
The title does not refer to software like ProTools or similar fancies, but simply to the sounds of powered tools, like that of a lawn mover, a hedge trimmer and the general noisy sounds from a Sheffield steel plant.
I recall a time in the early 1980s when I took particular interest in the sounds of machinery, generators and so forth. Earlier I had been working many years in a steel plant on the Baltic coast, and I wanted to return to record the swooshing, banging sounds of red-hot slabs of steel being forcefully squeezed into sheet steel, as well as the many high-voltage generators that were found everywhere in this very dangerous place, so I applied for a grant to acquire a DAT-recorder; very expensive at that time. No one took me seriously, though, so I didn’t get any money for the apparatus I deemed necessary. I thought this was a bit too insusceptible, since renowned composer Karl-Birger Blomdahl (who also set music to the space opera Aniara, with text by Harry Martinson and libretto by Erik Lindegren) had gotten a commission to compose the inauguration music for the rolling-mill facilities at the very same steel factory in 1961, premiering the work on location at the steelworks in June 1961, in fact having the orchestral sounds that recapitulated the production process drowned in the sounds of the very process that they portrayed!
Adrian Moore swings his wand mercilessly, letting sounds appear and transform at break-neck speed, beginning with a steel factory echo, densifying and compressing into a thin, powerful upward glissando eventually falling back down into a coin rotating on a table, which in turn is smeared out across vast plains, rising into thin mist, through which huge, alien machines approach, swarming about you in murderous infra-vibrations that massage your bowels, eventually to rise into your ears in vicious, high-voltage whispers that affect your thought-stream. There’s no end to Adrian Moore’s ingenuity, and I find no way of keeping up with him at the computer keyboard while writing and listening and writing. Power Tools call for many, many reruns, to even get a remote idea of the composition, but it’s clear that the complexity is well-ordered and thought-through, and for a normal listener that has bought this CD, it should be a compelling challenge to just sit back and enjoy the intricate force!
Towards the end loose steel slabs swing desolately in the wind somewhere outside the dirty, black brick walls of the giant halls, like wind chimes down towards the icy winter surface of the Baltic, and the only sign of life is a slow, randomly pulsating glow in the dross piles unloaded at the end of the railway track, leaving you ousted from any warmth and comfort, save the last whimpering heat radiation from the steel process refuse of the dross…
Track 3. Piano Piece (for Peter) (2004) [7:19]
This is the result of a commission that Adrian Moore got from pianist Peter Hill for the 2004 Electric Spring Festival in Huddersfield. Moore recounts the influences of Denis Smalley’s Piano Nets and Alexander Scriabin’s Piano Sonata no 6, op 62. Moore describes his mixed feelings at writing again for instrument and tape, but he found a strategy, which meant “fusing piano and tape through pitch whilst keeping the pitch material quite flexible.” He also states that “the tape part should at times act as a wash, the pianist quite clearly having the dominant role, [while] at other times, however, the tape acts as a shroud through which the pianist forces his image.”
The beginning is crystalline, the body of the sound-vehicle black and shiny, the strings attached tense and vibrating as the felt hammers hit and retract like stylized hens picking! Yes, it begins just like any piano evening, but the tradition is soon cracked open, letting Adrian Moore’s electroacoustic mind games pour out like smoke on a rock stage, diffusing a sense of dimensional, time-wrecking mist, through which the body of the instrument hovers like a Scriabin dream, leaning this way and that, as distant thunder echoes between the walls of the concert hall; walls that travel outward at the speed of sound as long at the piece continues (7 minutes and 19 seconds) enlarging the room with 1577260 meters – 1577 kilometers; roughly the distance between Gothenburg and Kiruna - in all directions from the dreamy vibrations of the sometimes heavy, dense and gravity-ridden hull of the instrument’s body, and the sometimes transparent and slowly hovering dreamscape electroacoustics of the idea of piano per se, piano as such, the piano idea, Plato’s way.
Adrian Moore’s electroacoustics and Peter Hill’s piano playing work the sonic space very well, in tangible, elastic tendons of sonorous getaways and jubilant homecomings, wherein dream and dream reality mix – someone stirring the fluid in the test tube – and sometimes separate like oil and water. Magnificent! Music at the intersection of Here and Now!
Tracks 4 – 9. Sea of Singularity (2001 – 03) [31:48]
4. Becalmed [4:00] – 5. Mutiny on the Bounty [5:35] – 6. Third mint sauce (or sheep appoggiatura) [5:39] – 7. Horse with shouting [4:12] – 8. Still Life (as we know It) [7:03] – 9. In Paradisum [5:14]
When Adrian Moore composed this long work, consisting of six sections or movements, he was influenced by the working methods of an art movement from the early 20th century called Fauvism. On the Internet I found this characterization of Fauvism:
“The Fauvists formed the small group of artists who, shortly after the turn of the century, exploded onto the scene with a wild, vibrant style of expressionistic art that shocked the critics but has since been recognized as one of the seminal forces that drove modern art. They were called the fauves, French for wild beasts, a term of derision used to indicate their apparent lack of discipline. Today fauvism, once thought of as a minor, short-lived, movement, is recognized as having paved the way to both cubism and modern expressionism in its disregard for natural forms and its love of unbridled color.”
Moore explains the connection with the remark that he used “a blunt knife and relatively simple processes” when he mixed this witches brew of audibilities. Indeed, when I hear it, I get a notion of a work from the 1980s, the way some composers used to mix anything they found together and make a sweeping gesture of artistry across seamless transformations of unrelated sounds or soundscapes. Stockhausen calls these transformations, which never happen in “real” life, trans-realism. He elaborated on the concept in a seminar at his Courses in 2001. I get so affected by Adrian Moore’s trans-realism that I could call it trance-realism!
Some of the sounds are familiar to me; those golden, upper-atmosphere breaths of the angels that I find also in works like Songes and Sud by veteran Jean-Claude Risset. At other times this work comes across more like a mixture of various field recordings, with bird chirps, the sounds of traffic and a tantalizing accordion figure that dances by cheerfully in a coquetting swirl from time to time. I even hear Alain Savouret’s horse from Don Quixotte Corporation – i.e. Rosinante! – pass through the street at a walking-pace. I don’t suggest, though, that all these sounds retain their realism, oh no! They are used as markers or atmosphere-setters, only to be brought up into sweeping jet streams of dreams or dizzying shamanistic journeys into alien realms, at times descending back into breathable air for a while, but surely to swing through the trans-(trance)-realism of Moore wizardry into other dimensions before you can say the word prognostication!
It’s unusual these days to compose such long electroacoustic works as Sea of Singularity, and this property of the work alone – its duration – further serves to connect Adrian Moore to the great Frenchmen, with major works like Bernard Parmegiani’s La création du monde and François Bayle’s Les couleurs de la nuit in mind, though they are more programmatic.
Adrian Moore takes this grand tradition and makes the most of it, in a brilliant craftsmanship and sublime artistry that leaves nothing further to wish for. Adrian Moore has risen to the level of the internationally most renowned sound workers, like the aforementioned Parmegiani and Bayle, as well as Risset, Lejeune and… Ferrari, whose wind-borne voices on the beach from Presque rien can be heard hinted at momentarily somewhere deep in Adrian Moore’s spellbinding sound art of Sea of Singularity.
Bristish composer Adrian Moore continues his exploration into sound creation with this 2nd empreintes DIGITALes release. He writes that these new works are “a move forward, some new sounds, a different approach to texture and gesture and the nature of the dialogue that exists between composer and listener.”
A carefully crafted electroacoustic world approached from an unusual angle. Heavily relying on samples and source processing the fragmentary, transient atmospheres are created with utmost care, truly portraying a constantly moving sound medium that offers a new perspective on the accustomed narrative cohesion underpinning such pieces.