MICHAEL BONAVENTURE – IN TENEBRIS RATIONE ORGANI
The church organ has always been a fascinating instrument. Called both the ‘God Instrument’ and the ‘Devil Instrument’- it can sound subtle, but also overwhelming – ‘capable of inspiring wonder, awe, profound mystery and sinister darkness’.
The opening chord of the (first part of the) title track leaves no doubt about which side is explored. It is almost frightening, the kind of sound used in horror movie climaxes. And, at the same time, it is an invitation: this album is best played loud. Very loud.
Michael Bonaventure (a composer born in Edinburgh but currently living in Amsterdam) merges the impressive sound of the church organ with layers of synthesizers, percussions, samples and voices, to ‘explore ever more unearthly dimensions of darkness and mystery’, to create ‘a journey through imaginary realms’. It’s advisable to fasten your seatbelts, because it’s a high-speed journey and it may confront you with some of your deepest fears.
Although the organ is the protagonist of this album (there’s no mention where these parts were recorded by the way), this sometimes it only plays its part in the background, when samples and electronic shift to the foreground. At times, the church organ is hardly even recognisable anymore, overtaken by rather psychedelic samples and effect processing.
But it always returns, keeping the atmosphere creepy but spellbinding.
In Tenebris Ratione Organi (Google translates it as ‘the organ method of darkness’) is 75 minutes of pure bliss, but definitely not for the faint of heart.
TODOR TODOROFF – UNIVERS PARALLÈLES
I think I can safely say that the released on Empreintes Digitales are not the easiest ones to digest. Let’s just say that their electroacoustic/acousmatic music and musique concrète will not likely appear on the playlist of your yoga studio. But if you can appreciate exciting adventures in electronic music, their releases are not to be missed. Univers Parallèles is a fine example of what the label represents.
Todor Todoroff is an electrical engineer with a specialization in telecommunications. But he also received prizes for various electroacoustic compositions, researched speech processing, developed instruments used by composers like Leo Kupper and Robert Normandeau. Deeply involved in the creation of electroacoustic music, ‘with a special interest for multiphony and sound spatialisation as well as for research into new forms of sound transformation.’
Univers Parallèles presents six compositions that span quite some time: they were created between 1993 and 2017. The original pieces were created for 2, 4, 8 and even 12 channel installations. They are of course mixed down to stereo versions for this CD release, but still have a fascinating depth (Empreintes Digitales used to release their albums on DVD with full surround versions, but I see no mentions of this for this release, unfortunately).
Each track is extensively connotated, but the ‘music’ (if we can still call it music is of course open for discussion) is enough to spark your imagination, and see yourself entering a strange unknown world full of huge, seemingly autonomic operating, machines.
By nature, this kind of acousmatic music may feel remarkably detached from human emotions (depending on the listener of course). This is particularly NOT true for the closing track Requiem for a City, which is dedicated ‘to all the victims of blind violence, their friends and their loved ones’.
Todoroff wrote this composition after several (terrorist) attacks in Belgium and France.
“This piece makes use of a wide variety of sounds: field recordings, playing techniques specific to the viola, granulated excerpts of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and of the second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, modular analog synthesis and sounds extracted from radio and television news coverage following the November 13 attacks.”
Todor Todoroff – Requiem For A City