Geelriandre/Arthesis by Éliane Radigue


Éliane Radigue | Geelriandre/Arthesis
Important Records (LP)

Released tomorrow, this welcome reissue is the first vinyl pressing (1000 ltd ed; black + clear) of this work by the lauded French composer Éliane Radigue which was originally recorded back in 1972-73 (previously released in 2011 by Senufo Editions on CD). They have put each singular, lengthy composition on one side, giving these works the space and grooves they require to open up like a fine wine. Radigue will be 87 years old this month, so this treatment is a warranted tribute to her legendary career as a composer of delicate, complex work that truly stands alone.

Geelriandre is breathtaking from the very first note, “realized on an ARP 2500 synthesizer in 1972, featuring Gérard Fremy on prepared piano, for whom the piece was originally composed.” It moves slowly, with a hyper slow, breathless motion. The piano is styled in such a way that its dialed down romanticism lurks lazily behind a dragging bell-like, stretched-out and slightly reverberation of drone. Time seems to stand still for this half hour as your arrested attention lay bare. Its title is of unknown Dutch origins which only adds even more mystery to the already confounding foggy emissions here. Her composition could easily be described as being on pins and needles, yet also has this opulent, trance-inducing overarching schema. An inward reaching work of graceful minimalism.

Though the atmosphere is thick with secrets and rapturous timing by midway you start to get a tiny pit in your stomach. Is this the calm before the storm, is this the first glimpse of the dark side of the moon, or is the listener being courted to the subconscious? Whatever the risk, there seems a reward to the durational power of suggestion in this leftfield masterwork. It’s all quite cosmic, yet at the same time I’m reminded of the timbre of gongs and other Asian influences, though there aren’t any in earshot. Radigue, instead, offers impressions of what lies just above/beyond the surface.

Arthesis, was created with the University of Iowa’s Moog in 1973 and is a perfect complement to the A-side here, thoroughly doused in a low-form drone of sound separation and hum. This is a work of great patience, persistence, and subtlety. Its striations are modulated over time, so much so that it will be barely audible to the passive listener. Though the composer had access to the modern equipment of the time, her gently contorted cadence leans into something much more like an industrial cavern, or taking apart the innards of a giant bell in 5fps or less.  The composer was long inspired by Tibetan Buddhism, and it shows dramatically here. Though this work is easily zoned out to, it is quite far from background noise. The post-apocalyptic vibration of the piece is polar opposite to the hippy movement in the time in which it was created. The final minutes are the combination of sounds that resemble a distant alarm and a whispering wind that disintegrates into space. You are left with this faint echo — a tingling hollowness, which can only be described as sacred acoustics for the body.

Grab one for your collection.

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