The Electroacoustic Music Store

Works Obsession Charles Baudelaire, Todor Todoroff

Obsession

Obsession is a work of research / variation on the subject of Eros and Thanatos. The sonic materials of the piece were derived mainly from two types of sources whose multiple transformations occur successively or are blended through montage and mixing in such a way as to create poetic contrasts and coincidences.

The first type of source is comprised of stereo recordings of the sound of running water and the sound of waves, used in two different manners. Processed as a whole through filtering and spatialization techniques, they create a variable sonic mass that draws the listener into their whirlpool, spinning ever faster. These same sounds, when analyzed in terms of their energy distribution across multiple frequency bands, reveal the microscopic and chaotic nature of water which hides beneath the apparent overall serenity of movement. This analysis gives birth to a polyphonic texture which is divided between four acoustic signal paths (the four channels of a quadraphonic spatialization set-up). It (the analysis) is supplemented by a feedback mechanism which allows the development of the system to be influenced by its own history. By synthesizing notes from analyzed frequencies and reinserting them into the entry point of the system, the notes self-sustain until a sufficiently loud disturbance, stemming from notes generated from the analysis of water sounds, causes them to change. It is symbolic of life, where a multitude of external stimuli — often contradictory — will sometimes decisively change the course of one’s existence.

The second type of source is comprised of excerpts of poems by Baudelaire and other texts which have been read aloud and sampled. These samples have then been fragmented, transformed, joined together and spatialized. The piece begins by taking small fragments and progresses to complete sentences, passing through series of words which have been joined together (not always innocently) to create mental images which are more or less troubling as they associate pleasure with pain and love with death.

Composed for a quadraphonic set-up, Obsession makes extensive use of multiple localization points (back / front / close / far) and rotational movements.

[English translation: Stephanie Moore, iv-18]


Obsession was realized in 1991 in the ARTeM (Art, recherche, technologie et musique [Art, Research, Technology, and Music]) studio in Brussels (Belgium) and was premiered on August 2, 1991 during the Bunker 91 festival in Anvers (Belgium). Thank you to Sophie Beernaerts and Coralie Gary, whose voices I recorded. This piece tied for the Public prize at the 2e Prix international Noroit-Léonce Petitot (Arras, France, 1991) and was included on the CD Prix international Noroit-Léonce Petitot 1991 (NOR 2). In 1993, it was also included on the CD Presence One (DIV 02).


Premiere

  • August 2, 1991, Bunker 91, Antwerp (Belgium)

Awards

Albums