Prix Opus 2016-17: Disque de l’année — Finaliste
Sublime. — SilenceAndSound, France
Nobody — but nobody — makes music that sounds like Paul Dolden. — 5:4, UK
- Total duration: 79:04
- UCC 771028214327
- IMED 17143 / 2017
- Label: empreintes DIGITALes
- 44,1 kHz, 16 bits
1Music of Another Present Era (2013-16), 44:18fixed medium
6BeBop Baghdad (2013), 18:03electric guitar and fixed mediumMaurizio Grandinetti, electric guitar
7Show Tunes in Samarian Starlight (2012), 16:32trumpet and fixed mediumŁukasz Gothszalk,
CDIMED 1714325,00 CADUS+3,00+4,00
Some Recommended Items
In the Press
Roland Torres, SilenceAndSound, October 11, 2017Sublime.
Simon Cummings, 5:4, September 10, 2017Nobody — but nobody — makes music that sounds like Paul Dolden.
Stefano Isidoro Bianchi, Blow Up, no. 230-231, July 1, 2017
Stuart Bruce, Chain DLK, June 21, 2017… the press release on Histoires d’histoire is sparse […] the music will justify itself. And it really does.
Lawrence Joseph, Musicworks, no. 128, June 1, 2017Amazingly, the whole somehow exceeds the sum of its uncountable parts on this CD, where traditional compositional techniques are brought to new extremes.
Guitariste, violoniste et violoncelliste, Paul Dolden est un compositeur touche à tout qui a su depuis ses débuts, combiner l’héritage musical de notre passé, au sens global du terme, et modernité, via l’utilisation des nouvelles technologies pour tisser des liens étroits entre racines disparues et imaginaire mondialiste.
Toujours à la recherche de ce que nos ancêtres ont composé et dont la plupart des œuvres ont complètement disparu, ne laissant pour toute trace que des systèmes de notations musicales au déchiffrage souvent approximatif, Paul Dolden invente un langage qui lui est propre, mixant sonorités du monde et approche contemporaine, dessinant de nouvelles contrées aux géographies abstraites, où l’on peut croiser harmonies moyen-orientales, free jazz, rythmiques tribales et expérimentations électro-acoustiques, le tout formant un conglomérat impressionnant, aux images cinématographiques puissantes.
Regroupant trois pièces créées entre 2012 et 2013, Histoires d’histoire manipule les temps et les astres pour nous faire voler sur des tapis volants au dessus de déserts magnifiés par les désaccords et les fuites en avant, plongée abyssale dans un chaudron magique aux vertus rafraichissantes, jonction entre les frasques de l’humanité et ses points communs, rapprochement des mondes et des modes, à coups de narrations sublimées par la richesse des vocabulaires employés, écourtant les distances entre l’histoire et l’infini. Sublime.
Nobody — but nobody — makes music that sounds like Paul Dolden. His work typically exhibits unchecked exuberance, both his instrumental and electronic (and electroacoustic) music not merely firing on all cylinders, but with their inner workings ludicrously pimped and their processors absurdly overclocked, sounds and timbres piled on top of each other in extremis. His latest disc, Histoire d’histoire, on the Canadian acousmatic label empreintes DIGITALes, is therefore interesting as in many respects it shows considerable restraint. Much of the disc is devoted to Dolden’s five-movement work Music of Another Present Era, completed last year, in which he sets out to create a kind of deliberately inauthentic ethnographic artefact. Dolden uses our lack of knowledge about the music of ancient cultures to construct a free-wheeling flight of fancy, employing a “metaphoric use of myths” as inspiration rather than seeking to fabricate a pointless (and impossible) ersatz ‘reconstruction’. This imagined historical survey perhaps accounts in part for the demonstrable delicacy shown in this piece. Yet even from the opening moments, it’s unequivocally Dolden: microtonally unique instruments — implying the lack of a coherent, codified tuning scheme — wheeze into life as though summoning up their energy only with considerable effort, presenting a unified but ‘doddery’ demeanour. This is how first movement Marsyas’ Melodies begins (evoking the Phrygian Satyr who was supposedly the first to create music for the flute), eventually restarting in order to find some clarity, whereupon Dolden’s characteristic dense polyphony swells up, leading to Zappa-esque florid percussion and strangely agile stodge. Flutes are featured even more in third movement Entr’acte, in which a solid chorus of them is created, so compacted that they constantly clash and jostle and scrape against each other to the point where they can hardly move.
The ‘doddery’ demeanour i previously spoke of, the result of both density and microtonal confusion, continually rears its head, resembling the effect of amateur musicians struggling with both their instruments and their ideas (think of the Portsmouth Sinfonia, sight-reading), resulting in by turns amusing and charming acts of weird articulation that sound more than a little the worse for wear. As such — particularly in The Cosmic Circle Dance, one of the most exhilarating movements — there’s a joyous sense of music that needs several attempts from different directions or angles, crossed with a Harry Partch -like weird and wonderfulness that causes things to unexpectedly break off into a solo, or a twanging group of Jew’s harps. We speak of performers ‘playing’ their instruments, and a quality of play (in all its meanings) permeates every aspect of this disc, as it does with Dolden’s work in general. Yet while uproariously unhinged it may be, there’s an earnestness that keeps the music real, makes it more than just an extravagant piece of melodramatically theatrical nonsense. In a manner not dissimilar to Jennifer Walshe’s equally fictitious Aisteach project, one is caught up in the zeal and gusto that’s entirely genuine and leaves one wishing that these really were, in fact, the sounds from a long-forgotten age.
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 Ligeti-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.
James O’Callaghan’s James O’Callaghan: Espaces tautologiques (CD) and Paul Dolden’s Paul Dolden: Histoires d’histoire (CD) are both nominated for the 2016-17 Opus Prize in the category “Disc of the Year — Musique actuelle, Electroacoustics”. The 21st Opus Prize Gala will take place on Febru…Monday, December 11, 2017 / General