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21 June 2017
By Stuart Bruce in Chain DLK (USA), June 21, 2017

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“… the press release on Histoires d’histoire is sparse […] the music will justify itself. And it really does.”

Unusually for this genre, the press release on Histoires d’histoire is sparse — a simple list of titles, durations, dates and credits. There’s no written rationale or post-justification with heavy use of adjectives — the music will justify itself. And it really does.

It’s a collection of long, expansive and ambitious avantgarde classical pieces that combine ‘proper’ modern classical in the style of Ligeti or Bartók with a range of more Eastern-sounding percussive instrumentation, and gentle and occasional use of post-production, re-processing and resampling at unexpected moments. The histories being squared here are not purely Western, not purely any tradition, perhaps a history from a universe parallel to our own.

Music Of Another Present Era is the main work, in five distinct and individually named parts. After the warm overture of Marsyas’ Melodies, Shango’s Funkiness is a percussive workout, at times sounding like an improvised drum workshop descending into either confusion or ennui before repeatedly recovering. Shortest piece Entr’acte is the most Lygeti-esque, bursts of long and then short string sustains flirting with cacophony, segueing into Air of The Rainbow Robe and Feathered Skirt which has a similar attitude with a broader, more operatic palette. It evolves further as The Cosmic Circle Dance treats the same ingredients with an extra spark of spontaneity, before twisting into a kind of bizarre alt-jazz in the final third — an obtuse way to wrap up.

Two further long pieces, each a few years old, fill the CD almost to its brim. The eighteen-minute BeBop Baghdad is, despite the name, practically prog rock — long noodling guitar notes playing over sporadic percussion, like a kind of subdued and Eastern-influenced Yes or Robert Fripp piece in parts. The sixteen-minute Show Tunes in Samarian Starlight is similarly adventurous, but with the central instrument switched from Maurizio Grandinetti’s electric guitar to Łukasz Gothszalk’s layered-up B-flat trumpet, bringing proceedings back into the weirder suburbs of out-there jazz.

It’s an extensive 80-minute journey through a whole heap of ideas, sounds and moods, a real patchwork quilt of organic ideas arriving and departing with plenty of energy and a hint of frivolity. That playfulness and slight shortage of coherence disempowers it somewhat from being a really ‘wow’-inducing listening experience, but it’s a very out-there listen.

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26 April 2017
By Duncan Simpson in Musique Machine (UK), April 26, 2017

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Berezan is clearly a virtuoso of this kind of electroacoustic music. Hopefully more of his work will become available as it’s a rare treat to experience such compositional and sonic depth in what can be quite a stuffy field.”

Canadian David Berezan has since 2003 been director of the Electroacoustic Music Studios and the Manchester Theatre of Sound (MANTIS), both based at The University of Manchester, UK. His work tends towards a radicalising of the aesthetic and techniques first pioneered by Pierre Schaeffer and the GRM during the first wave of Musique Concrete. He describes his music as acousmatic and has travelled extensively collecting material for his compositions. Allusions sonores appears to be the first collection of his recorded works to be released.

There are five compositions presented here, each being around the ten minute plus mark in length, affording ample opportunity for the listener to lose themselves in the density of Berezan’s sound. The first piece is Buoy (2011) which builds its sound world around the characteristics and environment of sea buoys. Digital processing has affected a quantum leap in possibility for the composer of acousmatic music. Comparing the tape cutting techniques of Schaeffer and Henry to the array of digital tools available now is like holding up a stone axe to an eye surgery scanning laser. Berezan makes the most of his apparatus, contorting the signature bells and whistles atop of buoys into squealing artefacts of unidentifiable origin. The piece oozes atmosphere whether in the form of creaking metal or actual waves which frame the more abstract and uncanny sounds.

The most impressive piece for me — as it’s constructed via a highly limited range of sources, is Thumbs (2011). Spawned out of a single plucked sound from a Balinese thumb piano the composition is nevertheless layered with multiple manipulations and iterations of that same sound. It’s almost hard to believe that every click or drawn out intonation is derived from a single source. Where the fixation on such a limited pallet might have yielded to a sterile formalism (Schaeffer’s early studies are sadly a prime case in point) Berezan succeeds in drawing out the textural and harmonic complexity from his subject, weaving each derivation around the next and providing a fine example of how technical virtuosity rather than masses of sounds are key to this form of composition.

The last three pieces are perhaps more aptly described along the lines of Luc Ferrari’s anecdotal music, if only for the fact that each attempts through field recordings to capture something of a specific time and place. The first, Badlands (2008), uses material recorded in Berezan’s native Alberta, Canada evoking the environment of the prairie landscape. For such a seemingly pastoral image the music here is oddly alien sounding, full of drones, swirling swampy electronics and ghostly half-heard sounds. It invites comparisons with the darker corners of Roger Doyle’s Babel project or Bernard Parmegiani’s most out-there productions. Galungan (2010) takes us back to Bali, Indonesia where the minimalist pallet of sources from Thumbs is fully fleshed out into a sound world containing multiple timbres of Balinese instruments and voices. The composer took his microphones out into the rice paddies recording sounds of everyday work life as well as religious ceremonies. The result is a contemplative rather than exuberant study of tone and cultural soundscaping (as Hein Schoer might call it) where recognisable human elements are rather fleeting and the sounds in-between people and things are amplified.

Finally it’s Nijō (2009) that completes the set, taking us to Japan to explore the idea of “nightingale floors”. These are wooden floors in high status homes that cause a squeaking or chirping sound when walked upon, and acting like a primitive security system. There are some cracking (literally) processed sounds derived from wood in which splinters seems to fly off around the listeners ears, while huge tree roots grind against each other. There are more percussive elements here and there as is the occasional sonorous gong. But it’s the sudden passing of a bullet train that brings the piece into the 20th century along with some brief fragments of chanting, incidental speech and crowd noise that appear during the last quarter of the piece.

Berezan is clearly a virtuoso of this kind of electroacoustic music. Hopefully more of his work will become available as it’s a rare treat to experience such compositional and sonic depth in what can be quite a stuffy field.

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18 April 2017
By Simon Cummings in 5:4 (UK), April 18, 2017

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“The trajectory his music has taken over the last twenty years is markedly different from many involved in electronic music…”

It’s a real pleasure to present a new instalment in my occasional series The Dialogues. This episode is in conversation with composer Monty Adkins, whose music I’ve written about many times on 5:4 and hold in very high regard. Our discussion explores a wide range of topics, including the fundamental aspects of Adkins’ compositional aesthetic, the history and development of his practice, the influence of visual art throughout his output alongside musical influences, considerations of beauty, narrative vs abstract approaches to composition, the relationship between and implications pertaining to ‘authentic’ and artificial sonic environments, types of listening, perceptions of time, notions of the sacred, the imposition (and benefits) of compositional restrictions, the organisation / structuring of non-teleological music, combining electronics with live instruments, and Adkins’ relationship with the listener.

[…]

I want to thank Monty for generously giving me so much of his time, and for being prepared to talk so openly (and for so long!) about his life and work. The trajectory his music has taken over the last twenty years is markedly different from many involved in electronic music, and I hope both newcomers and long-standing fans of his work will find our discussion as fascinating and illuminating as I did.

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18 April 2017
By Marco Carcasi in Kathodik (Italy), April 18, 2017

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Bouchard, procede lasciando propagar nel vuoto, l’acustico ridefinito e l’accentuato ronzamento dronante di malinconiche prese elettriche.”

Un’insieme di nitide segnalazioni elettroacustiche in statica sospensione chiaroscurale. Il paesaggio urbano di sette città, osservato mutar nel corso di dieci anni, fra decadimento, nuova bellezza e reinterpretazione. Dodici tracce, figlie dell’inclusione del compositore elettroacustico canadese, nel decennale progetto espositivo del connazionale Derek Besant. Bouchard, procede lasciando propagar nel vuoto, l’acustico ridefinito e l’accentuato ronzamento dronante di malinconiche prese elettriche. Raga concentrici in disgregamento calcinoso, fotogramma dopo fotogramma. Consuetudini di passaggi vocianti in montaggio. Manco uno sputo sulla stronza terra, frequenze modulari e qualche eccesso astral/descrittivo.

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1 April 2017
By Rigobert Dittmann in Bad Alchemy #93 (Germany), April 1, 2017

Press Clipping

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1 March 2017
By Girolamo Dal Maso in Blow Up (Italy), March 1, 2017

Press Clipping

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