Ferreyra / Mènard / Smalley - Fylkingen Electronic Music Competition 1975 ( LP Fylkingen)
As the title suggests the album documents the 'winners' of the competition held in the Spring of '75. Less of a competition and more of a presentation of what was then current in the experimental electronics world, what was produced then remains a benchmark of the genre.
Denis Smalley's 'Gradual (1974)' is a product of his interest in the listeners perception of sound. A mouth produces the sound from a reed, the recorder is an extension of that, the effects devices are an extension of that, and so on. (The composition is more focussed and self-critical than that description may suggest!) There is a persistent awareness of what a particular sound is doing, where it is and how it becomes different because of its relation to what else (if anything) is happening. Kjell-Inge Stevensson performs the piece with clarinet, bass clarinet and trombaphone.
He's currently a professor at the City University of London and concentrates on what he calls 'Spectromorphology', the shaping of sound spectra through time.
Argentinian born Beatriz Ferreya also worked at INA-GRM but the track here is quite distinctive from others that work with electro-acoustics and tapes. The track begins with a tango by the marvellous Astor Piazzola but suddenly clicks into finely placed organ drones. These layers of organ tones vary in pitch and tone at their own pace. The 14 minute track, 'Siesta Blanca (1972), has defined sections, ending in plonked keyboard (?) tones that burn and fade. An excellent composition and a highlight of the album.
Philippe Ménard's 'Reel-à-Phil (1974)' churns voices and machine sounds, loops, speeds up, slows down, spins out. Cut-ins of more voices and chains, clunky floorboards. It's a collaged and builds into a rhythmic progression that splutters and tumbles like some sort of berserk cartoon soundtrack about a car gone wonky. And it's hugely funny. I can imagine him at the reel-to-reel machines chuckling merrily away to himself. Reading the sleeve-notes it says the track’s is about a 'Reel' folk dance that they do in his native Quebec. Makes sense.
Carsten Regild did the pen and ink cover drawing which reflects the contents of the album accurately - disassembled and yet connected. HM