Boomkat Product Review:
Absolutely next-level abstracted new-age sensuality from French pioneer and GRM technician Ariel Kalma. The meeting point between Popol Vuh and Tangerine Dream's kosmische noodling and Terry Riley and Jon Hassell's avant-garde inversions. Timeless, transportive music.
'French Archives Vol. II' is the second archival collection of rare music from Kalma and follows the vanguard through his 1970s private press era, when he was stationed as a technician at Groupe de Recherches Musicales in Paris. Kalma had started his musical career as a saxophone player, touring with Salvatore Adamo and Brazilian performer Baden Powell, but during the mid-70s he ended up in India, where he became fascinated with meditation, drone and minimalist music.
He took this interest back to France, where he refined new-age ideas with the technical skills he acquired and perfected at the legendary GRM studios. Using drum machines, analog synthesizers and a library of high quality sounds, from church bells to flutes, Kalma developed his idiosyncratic concepts into psychedelic trip reports and explored the outer reaches of experimental sound. Decades later, they still sound fresh.
1978's 'Delirium GRM’ opens the set, and focuses on Kalma's most mysterious material, melting from the Cluster-esque headbuzz of 'Drum Machinery' into the astral traveling proto ambience of 'Delire Et Rire'. 'Oui Ah' makes a link between Christian church chimes and temple bells, overlaying decaying loops with flute and distorted vocals, sounding like Chris Watson on an ayahuasca retreat. 'Delirium in the Forest' travels even further off-planet, with psy-trance laser synths echoing around ominous drones that sound like a dark mirror of Klaus Schulze’s ‘Moondawn’.
'Dream Stars’ was recorded at the Paris Planetarium in 1977 and pushes Kalma's kosmische fetish even further, opening with the 20 minute title track's supernova of spiraling synth haze. Deeper and darker than most new-age music, this one. 'Kula Confidential’ transports this mood to Maui, where Kalma recorded long, slowly-evolving synth jams alongside experiments with local voices, saxophone loops and inverted rhythms.
'INAmix' might be the set's highlight, nestling a driving beat underneath reverberating layers of synth and the sounds of crashing waves. It shows exactly where Kalma's mind was as he was recording this music: desperate to explore the pineal-expanding newness of experimental electronics, but not willing to give up the real world just yet. So, so good.