Boomkat Product Review:
Decades into a career that began at Paris's fabled GRM, Argentinian innovator Beatriz Ferreyra is still worlds ahead, transmuting environmental recordings and snake-like foley rustles into cosmological whispers that ponder the universe's big questions.
Commissioned by the French state, "Senderos de luz y sombras" (or pathways of light and shadow) is the latest transmission from Beatriz Ferreyra, who composed the half-hour, 16-channel piece between 2016 and 2020. She was inspired by astrophysics (specifically the time before the Big Bang), and the world of the unconscious mind, and dedicates the composition to the memory of sound sculptor Bernard Baschet, electro-acoustic innovator Bernard Parmegiani, and her friend Carlos Pellegrino.
If you've heard her GRM releases, or Room40's two essential anthologies ("Echos+" and "Canto+"), then you'll no doubt already be intrigued - that material helped to cement Ferreyra's well-deserved place in the canon, her work speaks for itself. Ferreyra's fathoms-deep tape manipulation experimentation has inspired countless artists, from Keith Fullerton Whitman and Jim O'Rourke to Debit and Valerio Tricoli, and this latest full-length just reminds us how open-minded and freely experimental her compositions can be.
The piece is split into two side-long chunks, both of which tremble with eerie uncertainty. 'Senderos abismales' is gusty and effortlessly psychedelic, using carved-up field recordings to suggest familiarity before sending us wheezing into the cosmos. Ferreyra doesn't need much: the distinct sounds of tyres on wet tarmac, wind whispering in the distance, and distant birdsong are sculpted into a giddy, multidimensional lattice of chiseled sonics and ponderous philosophy. Her confidence is key here, and she never needs to do too much; the negative space is just as important as any chaotic moments, and the tiny breaths of harmony - from icy winds, spectral processing, or something else entirely - sound as if they're provoking life in a vacuum. Comparatively 'Senderos del olvido' is more upbeat, beginning with exploded star sound design that shifts thru a sci-fi spectrum without using any of the usual pneumatic sound effects that have become customary.
Ferreyra is too thoughtful to rest on obvious cultural totems. Her vision of cosmic emptiness is strikingly human; when she voyages into the abstract, her gurgling, digitally-reduced textures only remind us of the soul behind the complex processes. And just as her '70s tape music allowed us to feel an emotional connection to music that was too often lost in academia's back rooms, "Senderos de luz y sombras" reminds us that the same is true of contemporary computer music. If you enjoyed the run of recent Roland Kayn reissues, this one's gonna be absolutely required listening.