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Eight Parabolic Studies

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Album Review

Sub Rosa's director, Guy Marc Hinant, explains in the liner notes that this project is the result of a desire to achieve trans-historicity: the blend of music and techniques from different time frames. 4 Parabolic Mixes documents an evening of trans-historicity based on Henri Pousseur's 8 Études Paraboliques (8 Parabolic Studies), a cycle of pieces created in 1972 and released by Sub Rosa in 2001 as a limited-edition four-CD box set. Four artists from different generations were invited to create their own half-hour mix of the work using digital means (whereas the original was an analog razor-to-tape affair). Hinant is quick to stress that these are not remixes and he is right to do so: Pousseur's studies are meant to be combinable for simultaneous playing, so the "mixers" are simply doing their own interpretation of the "score." Of course, it's not as simple as that. The two-CD set begins with Pousseur's own mix, a surprisingly ambient, smooth soundscape. Robert Hampson (aka Main) takes a different approach, creating a suite of short pictures, each one exploring a certain type of sounds from the original. Philip Jeck gets the award for the most surprising mix. He adds extraneous material from record players to create a lugubrious work (slowed-down voices and all) that steps far from Pousseur's music, yet remains intelligible in the context of the project. His "Third Parabolic Mix" is the undisputed highlight. Oval closes the proceedings with a slab of "ovalprocessed" music. The original input is rendered unrecognizable by his complex trademark process of transubstantiation, oddly soothing despite all the digital noise, but the piece remains rather static and uninvolved. If the objective of 4 Parabolic Mixes was to show how technologies and generations can intermingle, mission accomplished, even though the results are a bit uneven. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Original (and best?).

The comments on this page refer to the album 'Four Parabolic Mixes' (SR 199). The 'Eight Parabolic Studies' (SR 174) is a collection of the original recordings Pousseur made in 1972. In the summer of 1972, Pousseur produced in the WDR's electronic music studio in Cologne a set of pieces entitled 'Eight Parabolic Studies'. These were pieces with an average duration of half an hour produced "in real time", that is to say, without resorting to any sound tape cut-and-paste techniques - although this was general practice at the time -, but rather, using modulation by voltage control. Pousseur used 8 revox reel-to-reel tape machines to produce his famous Parabolic Remix ('Paraboles-Mix'), which consisted of mixing up the 8 tracks during an improvisation over an hour. The eight pieces each have a different mood. If 'Hymn To Ornithological Zeus', 'The Wings Of Icarus' and 'Voyage To The Elements' are subtle explorations of celestial elements, 'Aerial View Of Haiphong', is like the sound of a menacing flight of superbombers, and it ends with a cut up of Karlheinz Stockhausen's voice. The original titles of the studies are: 1 Les Ailes D'Icare (The Wings of Icarus) 2 Liebesduett (Love Duet) 3 Viva Cuba 4 Voyages Aux Elements (Voyage to the Elements) 5 Hymne A Zeus Ornithologue (Hymn to Zeus the Ornithologist) 6 Aerial View Of Haiphong, Massachusetts 7 Mnemosyne Disparue (Mnemosyne Disappeared) 8 An Heinrich, Ping-Pong


Born: 23 June 1929 in Malmédy, Belgium

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Belgian modern composer Henri Pousseur wrote well over 100 works in a variety of styles, and served as a music educator for several decades. By the time he was finished with his music studies in the early '50s, Pousseur was already active in avant-garde music, influenced by and creating music not unlike that of Stockhausen and Berio. Pousseur's works included serial music, experimental operas like "Electre" (1961), and electronic music such as "Scambi" (1957). He began his longstanding collaboration...
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Eight Parabolic Studies, Henri Pousseur
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