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    Pierre Schaeffer – L’Oeuvre Musicale

    Pierre Schaeffer - L'Oeuvre Musicale

    Any article on electronic music would be woefully incomplete if Pierre Schaeffer were omitted. He invented a new form of music in 1948 called musique concrete, which involved mixing together sound effects records via multiple turntables through a disc lathe–just before the tape recorder appeared–into abrupt collages of real-world noises. This 4-CD set is a comprehensive overview of his work from 1948 through the ’50s. Volume 1 “Les Incunables” contains the very beginning experiments from 1948-1950. The charming, crudely-recorded, archival crackle of “Cinq Etudes De Bruits” (1948) is comprised of trains, industrial knocking, whistles, repetitious sound “loops”, cut-up sounds, somber echoes, twirling lids and cans, diced vocal samples—years before these features would appear elsewhere. “Diapason Concertino” (1948) is a foray into piano music with strange, quiet rumbles and static. “Variations Sur Une Flut Mexicaine” (1949) is a brief work for Mexican flute; strange, twittering, dripping sounds; echo-knocks, plus frantic and mysterious tapping. “Suite Pour 14 Instruments” (1949) is a lenghty 25-minute piece full of damaged instrumental music with a small bit of concrète garble bandied about later on. “L’Oiseau RAI” (1950) closes the disc with odd-sounding bird calls and subtle, quiet tapping.

    Volume 2 “Les Oeuvres Communes” includes three works made with Pierre Henry from 1950-1953—with one revised in 1988. “Symphonie Pour Un Homme Seul” (1950) is crammed full of knocks, yells, vocal slices, drums, instrumental bits, and chaotic collage work that segues into more advanced industrial echo-pulses. “Bidule En Ut” (1950) is a brief study of prepared piano-sounding clatter with one electronic chirp and an echo at the end. “Echo d’Orphee” is apparently comprised of early ’50s materials reworked by Pierre Henry in 1988 into a vast, 40-minute dark and drifting dream-realm. Knocks, echoes, cymbal washes, classical singing, dimly swirling murk, deeply reverbed vocals, indecipherable whispering, harp and violin meld together into very nice, floating echo-washes.

    Volume 3 is comprised of works from three distinct periods, most of which were revised in 1971. “Les Revisions” spans 1948-52, while “Les Oeuvres Postérieures” spans 1957-1959 and 1975-1979. “Quatre Etudes De Bruits” (1948) and “Concertino Diapason” (1948) are reprised and revised from Volume 1. Myriad instrumental styles are butted up against one another in “Suite 14” (1949) along with loops, cut-ups, strange chirps and echoes thrown all over the place. “Masquerage” (1952) is filled with prepared piano, muffled voice samples, mysterious knocking, abrupt steel interjections, an alp horn call, percussion madness and skittered electronics. Speech, backward electronic shimmers, lots of spoken dialog interrupted by harsh jet noise, distant echoes and short instrumental bursts characterize “Les Paroles Degelees (1952).

    Three noisy little etudes follow in succesion: “Etude Aux Allures” (1958) presents bashed metallic and electronic tones, abrupt noises, drones, gong-like wheedling, static interjections and reverb echo, while “Etudes Aux Sons Aimés” (1958) shows off lots of beeps, metal clangs, creaks, bell tolls, taps, clang echoes, squeaks, and layered chaos. “Etude Aux Objets” (1959) finishes with a lengthy array of whistles, backward masks, violin, reverb knocks, and electronic glimmers that are extended, multiplied and reassembled. Jumping ahead two decades, “Le Triédre Fertile” (1975) is chock-full of deep, echo-beeping; corroded rustling and reverbed shimmers plus much accelerating electronic chaos and scouring pads of noise. This is by far the harshest Schaeffer music of all time. It’s also interesting that there’s not much in the way of concrète sounds. The disc is topped off by “Bilude” (1979), a nice little slice of melodic piano lines layered with concrete rubbing, snipping, squeaking, and more can twirling.

    Volume 4 “Documents” 1948-1990 is almost all comprised of French dialogs, speeches and interviews regarding musique concrete recorded over four decades. With Pierre Schaeffer, Jean Toscanne, René Farabet, Antione Goléa, Oliver Messiaen, Cécile Barra, Pierre Henry and Marie-Claire Schaeffer. L’Oeuvre Musicale was reissued in the United States as a 3-CD set (pictured above, and minus the Volume 4 spoken word disc) by Electronic Music Foundation, with English notes as well.

    Label: INA-GRM Catalog Number: INA C 1006, 1007, 1008, 1009 Format: 4-CD Packaging: Slipcase with four jewel cases and book Tracks: Disc 1: 16, Disc 2: 26, Disc 3: 21, Disc 4: 16 Total Time: Disc 1: 58:31, Disc 2: 63:30, Disc 3: 71:57, Disc 4: 44:27 Country: France Released: 1990 Related Artists: Francois Bayle, Luc Ferrari, Pierre Henry, Bernard Parmegiani More: All Music, Discogs, Electronic Music Foundation, Forced Exposure

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