Boomkat Product Review:
Eliane Radigue’s first ever work for organ, composed at a sprightly 86 years of age and performed by Frédéric Blondy over an extended 45 minute session that will turn your insides out, opening from gut-wrenching microtonal subs or “bass pulsations" to ever-present higher frequencies to thee trippiest effect. A gorgeous package housed in an oversized/tall digipak including a 14 page booklet with photos and words by Radigue. Stunner.
In 2018, Claire M Singer’s experimental music festival Organ Reframed commissioned Éliane Radigue to write her first work for organ, 'Occam Ocean XXV'. Radigue worked closely with organist Frédéric Blondy at the Église Saint Merry in Paris before transferring the piece to Union Chapel for its premiere at Organ Reframed, with the recording here made at a private session at Union Chapel on 8 January 2020.
'Occam XXV' is the latest chapter of Radigue's broader series of works Occam Ocean which she has been composing over the last decade. For these recordings she collaborated with pianist, organist, composer, improviser, artistic director of the Orchestra of New Musical Creation, Experimentation and Improvisation (ONCEIM) Frédéric Blondy, their second collaboration in the Occam Ocean series. As Radigue explains:
"We live in a universe filled with waves. Not only between the Earth and the Sun but all the way down to the tiniest microwaves and inside it is the minuscule band that lies between the 60 Hz and the 12,000 to 15,000 Hz that our ears turn into sound. There are many wavelengths in the ocean too and we also come into contact with it physically, mentally and spiritually. That explains the title of this body of work which is called Occam Ocean.The main aim of this work is to focus on how the partials are dealt with. Whether they come in the form of micro beats, pulsations, harmonics, subharmonics – which are extremely rare but have a transcendent beauty – bass pulsations – the highly intangible aspect of sound. That's what makes it so rich.
When Luciano Pavarotti gave free rein to the full force of his voice the conductor stopped beating time and you could hear the richness in its entirety. Music in written form, or however it is relayed, ultimately remains abstract. It's the performer, the person playing it who brings it to life. So the person playing the instrument must come first. I've always thought of performers and their instruments as one. They form a dual personality. No two performers, playing the same instrument, have the same relationship with that instrument – the same intimate relationship. This is where the process of making the work personal begins. The purely personal task of deciding on the theme or image that we're going to work from. Obviously, because this is Occam Ocean, the theme is always related to water. It could be a little stream, a fountain, the distant ocean, rivers. Out of the fifty or so musicians I've worked with no two themes have been the same. Each musician's theme is completely unique and completely personal. The music does the talking. This is one of those art forms that manages to express the many things that words aren't able to. Even at an early stage, all those ideas need to have been brought together.”