ALBUM REVIEW
Edoardo Maggiolo

In a synergy between our two great houses, each month the Monolith Cocktail shares a post (and vice versa) from our Italian pen pals at Kalporz. This month we relay Edoardo Maggiolo erudite piece on the latest project from the pioneering composer Éliane Radigue.

ÉLIANE RADIGUE ‘Occam XXV’
(Organ Reframed, 2022)

If you have ever stopped to look closely at any textile work, you will surely have noticed how, when seen up close, the filaments of the fabric draw textures and arabesques of subtle finesse. The same can be said of music: if we play a note and let it spread in the air, we realise how in reality this is a precious container of harmonics, true filaments of sound.

Few have explored this fundamental acoustic impression like Éliane Radigue, a French composer who has plunged into the study of sound over the course of several decades: first as a student at the Studio D’Essai in Paris, the former place of choice of the French Resistance and then immediately after the war it became both the national radio centre and the electroacoustic and concrete music laboratory of the pioneers Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry; then as a precursor to the study of tape feedback, and finally he was one of the leading voices of experimental electronics of the 70s thanks to her compositions for her modular ARP 2500 synthesiser, which she tenderly baptised with the name of Jules.

Today Éliane is a fresh ninety year old who lives in an apartment in Montparnasse and who for at least ten years has discovered the way to her fourth musical life, which began with the cycle of works dedicated only to acoustic instruments called Occam Ocean. Radigue writes with a particular instrument and a particular performer in mind; she invites the latter into her apartment, the two sniff each other a little and, if they like each other, she starts the job tête-à-tête. 

Occam XXV is a composition for organ and features the French organist Frédéric Blondy as performer. Here the instrument is completely stripped of any past sacred majesty, becoming the protagonist of what appears to be an icy stasis, but which in reality, despite its bare structure, is a slow but constant emergence from dark and humid mists until it becomes ineffable flight. . If listened to with a receptive ear and not just lazily reclining, on the one hand you notice how within the timbral staff that makes up the piece there are hidden minimal rhythmic impulses, fluttering harmonics and precious subharmonics that make up the wave movement of the individual notes and that they are the real underwater vegetation of this superficially placid sound lake; on the other hand, how a melodic progression of meticulous musical indolence is slowly drawn which, with wise calm, reaches passages of concretely pure beauty. Only in this way is it possible, albeit with difficulty, to describe how in these forty-five minutes one passes almost imperceptibly from the timbral-oceanic depths of the first part to the sonic ascensions of the finale; and in this journey into the unfathomable, the organ is transfigured, looking as much a bubbling synthesiser as a string section with very acute timbres. An ascent of vibrations markedly faded with the sound that, once it reaches the top, transcends itself becoming silence.

Like a thoughtful walk, in which only when we regain the sense of reality do we realise where we have arrived, Occam XXV is the sound of small steps on an acoustic path of mysterious fullness, which challenges even the totally inexpressive form in which is presented. One of the greatest works of a composer who has lived for a lifetime in the only fundamental element of music: pure sound.

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ALBUM REVIEW/Dominic Valvona

Acid Mothers Reynols ‘Vol. 2’
(Hive mind Records) 27th January 2022

Interstellar overdrive time once more as the long-standing Krautrock replicants, torchbearers Acid Mothers Temple join forces with the Argentine avant-garde rock leftfielders the Reynols for a second volume of mushroom incantation space, acid-rock psych and outer limits tripping.

The constantly regenerative Acid Mothers collective, who’s only mainstays, guides are the founding members Kawabata Makoto and Higashi Hiroshi (though it should be noted that one-time Boredoms founding guitarist, the Japanese legend and serial Acid Mothers offender Tabata Mitsuru appears on this invocation of the group), embarked on an extensive tour of the South American continent back in 2017. It was during this sojourn, a year before the Mothers 2018 Reverse Of Rebirth personnel change, that the collective also took time out to record and play shows with the Reynols, whose own haywire provenance dates back decades, with the group formulating their outsider credentials from the outset in 1993; dropping the original ‘Ensemble’ from their name three years later.

The fruits of this kool-aid venture fill up another record of enlivened experimenting, both groups coalescing into what sounds like a barely contained freak-out on untethered lunar surfaces of blancmange: an improvised communion in the light of a melted moonbeam primal soup.   

Acid Mothers Temple fans won’t be surprised to hear that their contributions sound like the creeping stirrings of Phallus Dei era Amon Düül II, a bit of Guru Guru (who they have of course collaborated with in the past), the Cosmic Couriers, Xhol Caravan and Ash Ra Tempel. Meanwhile the Reynols loudest, most obvious contribution comes from Miguel Tomasín’s erratic and excitable, hard-hitting piano improvs. Sharing room on the piano stool with Anton Webren, György Liget, Cage. Mike Garson and Oscar Peterson, the free-range pianist goes to work in conjuring up the avant-garde, Fluxus and crashing chords show time Brecht on Broadway. This is all in contrast to the gravity-less atmospherics, more comfortable rhythm section and mumbo-jumbo mantra vocals on the second jam, ‘Antimatter-Sound Milkshake’ – I’ll order just the one of those please. Chaos is somehow kept together: although the drums occasionally seem to slip timings and lose the feel, preempting where this 18-legged beast is going.

Speedball rushes and highs are the order of the day as whistling shooting stars cross the astral charts and warped guitars provide a shifting mood of cosmic cowboy blues, space bird rock, post-punk, heavy meta(l) and of course Krautrock magnificence.

The Acid Mothers, more than willing to open up the sound and mind to let in this Argentine chapter of the universal acid avant-garde lodge to feast on the cosmic soup, trade blows with the Reynols who offer up piano mayhem, transmogrified flute and obscure sounds to an already fuzzed and gnarled hallucination.

The good folk at Hive Mind (yet to release anything that’s not essential in my opinion) have guided this one to vinyl. So, do yourselves a favour and add it to the psychedelic mind melt section of your collection.

From The Archives:

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. Ft. Geoff Leigh ‘Chosen Star Child’s Confession’  (2020)

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. ‘Reverse Of Rebirth In Universe’  (2018)

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. ‘In C’ & ‘La Novia’. (2018)

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Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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