Boomkat Product Review:
An eye-opening set of experimental electronic recordings made in the early 1970's by Italy's Teresa Rampazzi (1914-2001) - only the second collection of her work made available for public consumption - and an indispensible, crucial artefact if you're interested in the recordings of Daphne Oram, Tod Dockstader, Eliane Radigue or Delia Derbyshire.
As with the spellbinding Musica Endoscopica, this issue of Immagini Per Diana Baylon - one of her three known soundtracks for art installations - helps to place Teresa as Italy’s answer to Daphne Oram; that is, a pioneering female experimenter operating in a male dominated field since the ’50s, and an artist/musician/technician who was magnetically drawn to the emerging possibilities of analogue electronics (although she would also expand into computer composition as soon as the opportunity arose).
The 31’ 50” piece is cleft in two parts but was apparently intended to be looped for 180 minutes. Using analogue electronics as a malleable form or presence, like light itself, to subtly illuminate the pieces, and in turn create rich imagery in negative relief of the mind’s eye. The first side flows with an alien yet folksy, almost sing-song cadence, whereas the 2nd part really seems to conjure a more intense, head-long sort of e/motion from static sources, leading up to one remarkably sweet, harmonic passage that feels almost like a premonition of new age minimalism, before closing with a tract of needling, rapidly fluctuating timbres.
The coruscating, mirage-like sounds in Immagini Per Diana Baylon reflect a close understanding between both artist’s disciplines. As Teresa remarked in her notes; “The work is made of a series of sound events, with informal and aleatory features, in a continuous flux, and there is no planned predetermination in any of the various sections. This choice has been made for the sound space to adjust to the sculptor’s plastic and loose images.”
Diana’s anodised aluminium and iron on stone pieces, depicted in the accompanying insert, look to us like alien glyphs, aztec runes or debris from a space station that somehow managed to survive reentry to earth’s atmosphere, as Teresa agrees and expanded upon in 1974: “In her later artworks the objects of Diana Baylon are definitely taking flight - as if they has just gone through dense layers of atmosphere, as though they did so with the same intent… there are secret numerical ratios, symmetries not symmetrical, geometric shapes which escape the definitions of perception…”. That could arguably be a description of Teresa’s soundtrack, too.
This is definitely sound, or music, for art’s sake, as opposed to say the commercially-minded experiments of Suzanne Ciani over in America during the same era. Yet we can draw a line between the two via the balance of sleek sensitivity to timbre and austere geometry in Diana’s sculptures and Daphne Oram’s image-into-sound Oramics; a willingness and proclivity to explore synaesthetic relationships in a way which is nigh on impossible to articulate but which has provided this listener with goosebumps several times over.
Either way, it's is a recording of historical, experimental significance and a thing of great beauty - we urge you to investigate.