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Radio // Morphogenèse
Catabolisms (2011-12), 12m15s [excerpt]
Track 1 from Morphogenèse
CD: empreintes DIGITALes (2014) IMED 14129
29 July 2016
By Gunter Heidegger in The Sound Projector (UK), July 29, 2016


“… their interior lives bleeding into infinity as our own universe is condensed into one of many microdots that go pinging off your shiny surfaces and windows.”

‘Music that produces its own forms in the continual weaving of a spatial fabric’ is how Swedish sound engineer and electroacoustician Erik Nyström likens ‘his’ music to seemingly arbitrary cosmogonic forces as they pass almost accidentally through humanly appreciable forms. Something of a Serious Seeker of ‘spatial textures in acousmatic music’, the dazzling descriptions of his four compositions don’t quite deliver the shock of primordial violence I’m somehow expecting, though I do get the feeling that these pieces are quite happy to be left to their own devices.

Like a vague approximation of the Lorenz Attractor, the resounding void of Latitudes mutates like the weather filmed in time lapse, shifting too rapidly for our deep inner peace yet glazed with smoother surfaces than your usual jump-cut sound-editing shenanigans. This sounds quite typical of the empreintes DIGITALes establishment: sci-fi space-scapes and processed sounds turned inside out; their interior lives bleeding into infinity as our own universe is condensed into one of many microdots that go pinging off your shiny surfaces and windows.

Lucent Voids adds squelches of mechanised bird twitter and virtual reality sea spray to this vertiginous feat of sonic telescoping, but with a little more rough-housing before the end of the rainbow. Unsurprisingly, Cataract is of the same stratosphere, providing similarly psychotropic scenery and eventual pre-landing disillusion. While far from bucking this trend, Far-from-equilibrium is a sort of hapless A.I. accident that might have bubbled out from a table-top improviser’s set of material-testing stretch and strain. The most dynamically vivid of the four pieces, it seems designed to disorient the listener into seeking respite back at the start of the CD, where things are unlikely to have remained the way they were.

blogue@press-5554 press@5554
16 June 2016
By Martin P in Musique Machine (UK), June 16, 2016


“This was very enjoyable, and the kind of album that will always reward another listen.”

Here’s an unusually packaged CD, wrapped in layers of entangled card inlays. Pulled apart, they reveal an outer card slipcase, an inner card inlay — both covered in texts and largely abstract imagery — and an odd little piece of card that holds the CD itself. The texts reveal recording details, as well as annotating the pieces themselves, of which there are five. The tracks, all recorded between 2008 and 2012, vary in length from around twelve minutes to over twenty. All five are rigorous, ‘hard-boiled’ electroacoustic works.

I’m not going to pretend to remotely encapsulate what goes in Morphogenèse; given the lengths of the individual pieces, and the sheer amount packed into them, I will instead offer up some highlights and more general thoughts. As I said above, the album compiles five serious electroacoustic works, constantly shifting and developing. The first track, Catabolisms, doesn’t start off too staggeringly; however, before long, it establishes a very nice drone. This disappears into a section that sounds simultaneously like a sci-fi spaceship, and something more organic — rocks and water. The sci-fi atmosphere is also found in the ominous drones that underpin some of the tracks, as well as the ‘digital’ feel that pervades most of the album. Later, near the close of the track, the sounds quickly combust/rot to a deathly hush — it’s a really nice transition between sections. Latitudes, the second piece, is perhaps best represented by the snaking, strained, whistling drone that dominates the early sections. The next track, Lucent Voids, begins with a soundscape that seems to summon water movements and bird-song, before adding bell-like sounds and hard, spacey tones. After the 16-minute mark, there’s a sudden, outbreak of near-melodicism, with a section that lurches like court music from some alien civilisation. In the context of the album as a whole, this is quite a startling moment for the ear, and all the better for it. The fourth piece, Cataract, is perhaps more low-key, less showy in tone than it’s previous counterparts, often burbling along quite quietly. Though there are still points of darkness and near-whiteout. Far-from-equilibrium, the final piece (and oldest), might be my favourite track on Morphogenèse. It seems to carry a more visceral, even aggressive, selection of sounds than the other pieces. It also has sounds that are much less processed, even near-raw, and these add great colour in terms of texture and movement. There are some fantastic moments where Nyström pulls sounds inside out, tearing and straining them — it’s compelling and beautiful.

Like I said above, Morphogenèse is not a release suited to a short review — it’s arguably not really an album that I’m overly ‘qualified’ to give much insight to, given it’s clear academic designs. However, there is a wealth of material here to digest and peruse, all of which demands close listening. I’ll admit that the prevailing ‘digital’ feel to the sounds is not to my particular tastes, but Far-from-equilibrium, where this effect is less pronounced, more than makes up for this. This was very enjoyable, and the kind of album that will always reward another listen.

blogue@press-5525 press@5525
10 March 2016
By Vito Camarretta in Chain DLK (USA), March 10, 2016


“… an impressive electroacoustic translation of almost randomly self-generating entropic sonic entities and textures…”

British[-based] computer composer Erik Nyström seems to focus more on the process of making a shape than the shape itself in the explorations that got collected in Morphogenèse; the explanation of a process could be more or less an easy task, but rendering it by means of sounds is much more engaging and troublesome, but Erik managed to walk over this arduous and somehow trackless path by means of riveting sonic strategies, that he developed within pertaining conceptual field. A sort of elastic noise is the sparkle of the opening Catabolisms, whose thrilling sequence of aggregating and disgregating textures really mirrors the description of catabolic processes by German art theorist and perceptual psychologist Rudolf Arnheim in his essay Entropy and Art (“all sorts of agents and events that act in an unpredictable, disorderly fashion and have in common the fact that they all grind things into pieces.”), referred in the introduction of the track, which gradually reaches a sort of point of no return, where the breaking of all chemical bonding and the bursts of energy that followed each step of these catabolic processes pushes listener close to a sort of nowhere; similarly, a sonic sparkle — the elongation of a pure frequency of a sort of diapason — ignites the following Latitudes, a track which manages to evoke a generative process of gradual expansion that begins with a compressed sonic corpuscle. Lucent Voids, the longest composition of this collection, sounds like an unpredictable game, whose aim is the modelling and the thinning of the diaphragm between time and space, while Erik seems to add film and sheers to pure sounds on the track Cataract in order to render the analogy with the medical condition of the eye lens as well as the Greek etymology of the term “acousmatic” — its origin can be traced back to Pythagoras and should derive from the term akousmatikoi, the outer circle of the disciples of the Greek philosopher who could hear the lessons of their teacher, who spoke from behind a veil so that his presence could not distract them from the content of his lessons. These four pieces are stereo versions (for home listening) of pieces that were originally conceived for 8-channel concert projections, while “Far-from-equilibrium” — an impressive electroacoustic translation of almost randomly self-generating entropic sonic entities and textures — comes from a stereo tape. A pair of really good headphones is highly recommended.

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10 December 2015
By Jukka Mikkola in Yle Radio 1 (Finland), December 10, 2015


“Maailma ja äänet elävät.”


Ruotsalaissyntyinen, mutta tätä nykyä Lontoossa asuva Erik Nyström on sitä mieltä, että musiikki tuottaa kehittyessään ja rakentuessaan itse omat muotonsa. Hän puhuu fyysisen materian ja biologisen elämän suhteesta. Hän puhuu todellisuuden kudelmasta, joka muokkautuu kaiken aikaa. Näkökulmat, etäisyydet ja näkymät muuttuvat jatkuvasti. Maailma ja äänet elävät.

Tämän sävellyksen yhteydessä tekijä puhuu siitä, kuinka meidän kokemuksemme nykyhetkestä on elastinen. Hän kirjoittaa siitä, kuinka meidän havaintomme todellisuudesta ovat epävarmoja ja muuttuvaisia.


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1 November 2015
By Klaus Boss in Bitchslap Magazine (Denmark), November 1, 2015

Press Clipping

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5 June 2015
By Fabrice Vanoverberg in Le son du grisli (France), June 5, 2015


“Chemin faisant, et passées les premières minutes, Morphogenèse subjugue par ses innombrables variations, complètement à l’opposé d’une vision où les drones se noient dans la monotonie.”

Au premier abord, l’acousmatique d’Erik Nyström ne sort guère de l’ordinaire, pour autant que ce terme puisse être appliqué à une sortie du merveilleux label canadien Empreintes DIGITALes. Chemin faisant, et passées les premières minutes, Morphogenèse subjugue par ses innombrables variations, complètement à l’opposé d’une vision où les drones se noient dans la monotonie.

Tel un Markus Schmickler qui extirperait l’ombre de Fennesz sous le manteau de Robert Normandeau, l’œuvre du compositeur basé à Londres exploite à merveille une foule de registres des musiques électroniques abstraites, et sa force de conviction est telle qu’on se laisse emporter sans le moindre détour. Leçon numéro deux: aux trente premières secondes d’un disque, tu ne t’arrêteras pas.

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