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Eric Cordier: Digitalis Purpurea

  • The title track begins as a barely audible background tone is interrupted by sudden tape-mangled explosions. The piece develops and builds into a deep shimmering drone- I found myself captivated by Cordier’s subtle layering of hurdy gurdy and church organ sound textures bathed in thick reverb and transformed into floating helicopter-like sounds fading in and out of the stereo field. At around the 12 minute mark the piece shifts gear and throws in some crazed variable speed tape games and Doppler effects that sound like a fleet of hurdy gurdys storming through a raceway. Things begin to slow down and fade away into silence as the piece comes to a somewhat sudden close. Track two, “dactyle aglomeree” uses a dulcimer as its sound source and features an opening of crazed multi-tracked string sawing and some nice stereo effects. The sounds grow higher in pitch, into something that resembles feedback squeals. Slowly the sounds begin to morph into a swarming mass of hiss that builds in volume and intensity until the string sounds are inaudible. This hiss begins to oscillate wildly as the composition’s pace slows down and fades to end. Sound source is field recordings on the third piece, “les os longs”- This piece appears to be very digitally transformed. Spacey and grainy, high pitched noises with some deep bass tones floating in the background. Around the 4-minute mark some creaks and stretched out horn-like tones appear which might be location recordings. The piece remains mysterious and impenetrable throughout. Sounds slow down for the piece’s second half, foghorns in the distance, slowly wavering tones that rise and fall slowly in pitch. This portion on the track might be the best thing on here. The disc ending “postface” is made up of church organ sounds- a note in the booklet says: “no tape manipulation”. This beautiful piece plays almost like a cross between thoughtful improv and a field recording of someone tuning a church organ- complete with glacially paced awkward pauses and randomly placed, gentle slivers of sound. All of these tape pieces were originally performed as sound environments through multiple speakers at venues ranging from a gallery to a factory tower. The idea of sitting through just one of those events is mouth-watering, but since that is not an option this recording is the next best thing. — Angbase



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