Boomkat Product Review:
First release of Éliane Radigue’s spellbinding 1980 live session for the Bay Area’s KPFA radio, including what she considers to be the best versions of’ Chry-ptus’ and parts to ’Tryptych’
Featuring full in-studio performances of ‘Chry-ptus’ and the world premiere of parts one and three of ‘Tryptych’, both remastered for posterity and optimal immersion, ’11 Dec 80’ is a most auspicious example of Radigue’s minimalist microtonal compositions for synth and tape. The recording hails to a time when Radigue’s music was the preserve of academic archives, with her only properly released recording to date ‘Vice - Versa, Etc…’ (1970) available on a self-released edition of 10 x Reel-to-Reel tapes, and three years before ‘Songs of Milarepa’ (1983) appeared on Lovely Music, Ltd., although she had makign personal recordings since the ‘60s, such as ‘Jouet électronique’, that would only emerge many decades down the line.
While nowadays she works exclusively with acoustic instruments, back in 1980, as on these recordings, Radigue was still eking out thee eeriest, introspective liminal spaces from an ARP 2500 synth and tape, keenly developing the tape feedback techniques that she honed during years working as Pierre Henry’s assistant at Studio Apsome, and later in the NYU studio she shared with Laurie Spiegel. By 1980, she had also become fascinated by Tibetan Buddhism, which would directly inspire the creation of ‘Adnos II’ (1979), and subsequently ‘Adnos III’ as well as ‘Songs of Milarepa’ the same year as this radio performance.
For KPFA, Radigue gave what she now considers to be one of her finest realisations of ‘Chry-Ptus’, with 24 minutes of pulsing microtones arcing practically imperceptibly, incrementally across the harmonic spectrum and calling to mind an abandoned space station humming a tone poem to itself. Likewise, the 63’ performance of ‘Tryptych’ depicts Radigue in masterful control of her machine, initially evoking a calming loneliness from elemental filter manipulation and purling bass, before the near-static centring of part II’s quivering harmonic partials play like light-spot hallucinations on the mind’s eye, and part III pulses and rings like intergalactic alien signals.