Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This Henri Pousseur album is TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!

Gorgeous, essential electronic noise from a pioneering Belgian dude. Or so sez my review of Parbolique d'Enfer ("something about parabolas in hell") at PopMatters. Here's some of what I also sez:

If you’re at all interested in electronic art music from the ‘50s on, you should hear this piece of music. For one thing, you’ve read about a similar mix, based on the same raw materials, in that dogeared copy of Björn Heile’s The Modernist Legacy on your nightstand. For another, Parabolique beautifully illustrates one solution to the problem of making old electronic works say new things. And it does so in a way that obviously parallels the contributions of reggae and rap producers, who make old recordings say new things all the time.

If you’re not interested in all that theoretical mumbo jumbo and you’re inexplicably still reading this, the 13 tracks of Parabolique are worth hearing for their sonic splendor alone. This mix is deep and layered, varied and surprising. It’s atonal and certainly nobody’s idea of easy-listening, but it’s no monolithic wall of noise either. Pure electronic squealing gives way to Ethiopian choirs, who are interrupted by angry blasts of squall, which melt into flitting synthetic insects and chimes. The music crescendos and morphs in gestures that are unpredictable but obviously intentional. At times it even settles into regular rhythms that are sort of catchy and bouncy. It’s arresting and devoid of cliché.

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