Boomkat Product Review:
Alga Marghen close out their archival series of Éliane Radigue's unreleased tape and feedback compositions with its most startling set yet: two pieces, recorded thirty years apart, that zero in on her trailblazing genius, linking electroacoustic music, industrial noise, and meditative drone like a waking dream reprised.
Radigue is the visionary electro-acoustic composer whose work with microtonal tape music pushed the material parameters of sound as we know it. She studied with concrète pioneer Pierre Schaeffer at RTF in the mid ‘60s and worked as assistant to another legendary figure, Pierre Henry, between 1967-69, before embarking on one of the most remarkable and singular paths in experimental music. This final unreleased part of her ‘Feedback Works’ plunges us into hitherto unheard 1969 recordings placed beside a keeling hybrid of tape, field recordings and ARP from 1998 that’s bound to send heads reeling.
Like a transmission received from another planet or a Conet Project number station signal resembling the atavistic vibration of one’s own atoms, ‘Memoriam-Ostinato’ (1969) returns us to uncannily familiar territory and temporality with a 23 minute play of feedback artefacts that appear to sing and keen like the elements. If you let your ears defocus and attune to her pace, the effect is powerfully hypnagogic, vacillating between alertness and stasis, eerie calm and ravishing noise, in subliminally effective transitions.
Stranger still is ‘Danse des Dakinis’, a breathtaking work made at Mills College in 1998. Unable to bring her trusted ARP to the campus, Éliane used tape recordings from previous decades, together with new recordings of the creek by the college, to conjure a momentous work inflected with her howling early feedback techniques as well as ARP synthesiser recordings. By this stage in her life Radigue was a practicing Buddhist, so the work inevitably absorbs an even more restrained sense of calm, even when balanced by aesthetically tense synthetic burrs and water rushes that mimic the frothy buzz of tape-crumbled white noise. Dark but never tonally self-involved or ego-driven, the piece is a lesson in thematic clarity and textural world-building - effectively a denouement of her c.20th path before she ultimately discontinued work with electronic music in favour of instrumental research and composition.
We really can't recommend it enough.