Chry-Ptus by Eliane Radigue

Eliane Radigue | Chry-Ptus
Important Records (2xLP)

Important Records adds a new release to the ever-growing collection of reissues of historically relevant electroacoustic music works. After a wide release of reissues of works by Pauline Oliveros and Alvin Lucier, the last publication by the American label presents the first work of the French composer and drone pioneer Eliane Radigue ever composed on a modular synthesizer.

The sound materials of Chry-ptus were in fact made on a Buchla 100 system installed at NYU by Morton Subotnik and then recorded on two tapes that would be played back together, with small time difference, that would ensure a different sonic result every time. A solution, this one, that would not only quickly solve a bunch of technical issues but that would also include a small aleatoric component, as in the fashion of the music composed in those years. 

The track-list offers four slightly different versions of the piece. The first and third one, named respectively Chry-Ptus I and Chry-Ptus II are original remastered recordings from 1971. Tracks two and four are instead two newer versions done in 2001 and 2006.

The main difference in the pieces, besides the materials of the first and third tracks, is mostly in the synchronization. It is therefore not very easy to highlight them at first glance, but deep immersive listening reveals all the different nuances in the beatings and the overall feeling flowing throughout the whole performance of the piece (my favourite one is the one from 2001). 

The magic aspect of this Chry-Ptus and its beauty lay in the apparent lack of structure. The piece seems, in fact, composed by a single flowing texture of sound that unveils itself for about twenty minutes, but it is much more than this. Internal changes, happening at different speeds, microtonalities and chaotic subtle polyrhythms keep these single loops intrinsically alive and generate new life each time they are played back together, demonstrating that the one is more than the sum of its parts.

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