Year of production: 2001
Type: CD, Jewelcase
Palle Dahlstedt (1971) was born in Stockholm where he also studied mathematics,
philosophy,cembalo, piano and composition. He continued his studies
in Malmö and later in Gothenburg, specializing in electroacoustic
music. He works as a programmer and improviser.
"The acoustic, musical material and form are all about rubber. The basic
sound material comes from ordinary balloons which I have treated in
many different ways like blowing up, scratching, rubbing, banging, drumming
on, etc. Some of the sounds were even made with the microfon inside
a balloon. I then sorted out a small collection of attacks from this
material, partly using them in dynamic loops, partly in a more natural
way. The sounds are often transposed but otherwise not manipulated in
any other way. In that respect it is a very concrete piece of music.
is not about balloons. It deals with movements, accelerating
and retarding, set against steady pulses. The piece has several parts,
testing different ways to create and transform these phenomena. I suppose
is about to move or not to move."
Blomqvist: Spårar (Traces) 9'10"
Anders Blomqvist (1956) was born in Falun and has been active as a
composer of electroacoustic music since the beginning of the 1980s.
His long list of works includes pieces for tape, instrument and tape,
film music, music for ballet and music for installations. Blomquist
has also gained a reputation for his contribution to works involving
electroacoustic music and images, composed together with photographer
Josef Doukkali. He is also a leading figure in sound diffusion in
"The piece is a sequel to Löpa varg (Wolf Run)
from 1995 containing texts by Bengt-Emil Johnson. It relates to the
the same theme - the wolf as a biological animal, myth and metaphor.
Some of the sound material also harks back to Löpa varg.
Although Spårar does not contain any explict textual
elements, it was my intention that the piece be leavened by the spirit
of Bengt-Emil's poetry. I was once given a book by Bengt-Emil (actually
in Paris of all places) with a dedication that ran 'Welcome to the
quiet festivity.' Since it was rather gloomy in the room I read it
as 'Welcome to the unquiet festivity.' In some way it's rather significant
that life at this moment is an 'unquiet festivity,' no matter how
much we search for solidarity and seek nearness, we are and remain
hopeless recluses, incapable of communicating, even in theory. Alienation,
here viewed from a 'wolf perspective.' Spårar was composed
during the summer and early autumn 1997 in the electroacoustic music
studio of Växjö and was commissioned by MEDIA ARTES and
Lindblad: Optica 2 8'20" (1960)
Rune Lindblad (1923-1991) was born in Gothenburg and after extensive
art studies started teaching painting and graphic arts. He also graduated
in chemical engineering. He first began composing in 1953. Lindblad
was the first composer in Sweden to work only with electroacoustic
sound material. This was a time when Cologne and Paris were fighting
over the aesthetical differences between oscillator tone music and
musique concrete on tape. Lindblad however did not see those genres
as mutually exclusive. In fact he extended his work to incorporate
other media besides music. In 1957, in Gothenburg, he gave a public
performance of his earlier works. Critics slated him brutally and
described his concrete music as a "fad" and "pure torture." Rejecting
the concert hall, Lindblad began experimenting with optics and sound.
The following three years, he produced five works on 6000 feet of
film. The last of these was Optica 2. The film, coated with
black sealing-wax, was passed through a 35mm film camera, over cogs,
to a construction containing three photocells and direcly linked to
a tape recorder which recorded the material without any electroacoustic
modification. Variations in pitch were made by manipulation of the
apparatus. Unfortunatly the film caught fire and was destroyed.
Note: The cover has Optica 1 as the title of this
track. This is an error, Optica 2 is the correct title.
Hanson: Les sabots du bouc (The Hooves of the
Buck) 11'20" (1997)
Sten Hanson (1936) has been an experimental poet and composer since
the early sixties. His works include multimedia art as well as electroacoustic
compositions. Hanson is a leading figure in Swedish musical life and
internationally. From 1984-1994 he was chairman of the Society of
"After many years of work with my 'recyclings,' a number of compositions
in which I have mixed other musical genres into the electroacoustic
sphere and treated them according to the composional and aesthetical
principals of that genre, I felt an urge to make something completely
different, a musical drama without words. A piece in which the music
itself could tell an interpretable story. This resulted in Les
sabots du bouc following the pattern of a medieval morality,
where faith is is a concrete living force and the devil a power to
be taken seriously. In the medieval moralities the devil usually gets
the worst of it in the end, which, as we all know, does not always
happen in real life. Consequently I let the prince of darkness win
in my version and shame upon him who thinks ill of it. There is also
a motto to the composition, taken from the great work by Carl Jonas
Love Almqvist: On Swedish Rhyme.
Who in all the world is it lying in the gutter there
Ah, I see it is my bosom friend Sten
But Sten, what has made you so clumsy, so fumble-footed?
That, said he, is a question, by heavens,
well-founded and natural too,
but understood by none save true fiddlers.
Olof Hellström: Prequel 5'39" (1997)
Sten Olof Hellström (1956) started working at EMS in Stockholm
1980 after finnishing his studies in music and mathematics. At EMS
he studied composition for one year. After masterclass studies in
composition at Lund University he was invited to the University of
East Anglia to study composition with Denis Smalley which led to a
Master of Music degree in 1990. Hellström's works have been played
at concerts, festivals and on radiostations throughout the world.
"Some years ago I had a conversation with a radio-producer about 'acoustic
cinema.' This talk led to number of ideas resolving themselves into
three compositions of mine: SEQUEL, PREQUEL and
EQUEL. One of my methods of structuring thoughts, during
the process of composition, has been to imagine different worlds with
different physical characteristics. The interactions between musical
objects belonging to either one 'world' or the other, some times co-existing,
have been of great importance to me as sources of inspiration. When
I, about two years after the conversation earlier mentioned, considered
composing a piece originating and and taking place in one and the
same 'world,' those earlier born ideas insisted on coming to the fore
again. Then the 'cinema world' appeared a natural choice. Prequel
is a kind of sequel to Sequel but relating to older material."
Sten Olof Hellström
Zielinska: Schon wieder diese weissen Mäuse
Lidia Zielinska (1953) studied composition in Poznan, at the same
time playing violin in the Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra. She continued
composition studies in France, Holland and Switzerland. Zielinska
has written music for a wide variety of instrumental combinations
of instruments ranging from solos to orchestral works, and multimedia
pieces. She has also lectured, led summercourses, workshops and seminars
for composers, and presented the twentieth century music on Polish
radio. Zielinska is also co-editor of a music quarterly and runs a
music publishing company.
"Where an Anglo-Saxon sees pink elephants, a Pole (or a German or
Scandinavian) just encounters white mice. Be it a partygoer's morning
or a workaholics rare break, or anyone's moment of distraction, there
are always small gaps in our perception, barely visible shapes in
corner of your eye, reiterating echoes, lots of deja-vus. The composition
is by no means a a hangover piece, its sound is clear and cool, its
silences refreshing and it dwells on that borderline between sound
and silence, dream and reality, half-filled and half-empty, using
limited resources (sound of water drops and rubbed and stroked glass)
with utmost accuracy and not without a hint of subtle humour."
Thorell: Ma 10'52" (1996)
Patrik Thorell (1963) started his career in music as a rock musician.
He became interested in electroacoustic music through works by the
Swedish pioneers Rune Lindblad and Åke Hodell. Studied at EMS
(Stockholm) with, among others, Bo Rydberg, Rolf Enström and
Lars-Gunnar Bodin. Thorell likes to collaborate with other artists
and his pieces often relate to the text-sound tradition for which
Sweden is well-known.
"'Ma' is a japanese word which, in its most simple form means 'between.'
The composition is a story in two parts running in parallel, the poem
beeing one part and the sound image a response to that. It is a story
about the nature of a meeting between two people, one telling a story
and one listening. When we listen to something recounted in a foreign
language, we realize what is really being said. The words themselves
turn into a thin surface and the meaning, intonation, rhythm and other
qualities freely overflow. This also requires much more from the listener:
to be able to understand what is really being said, he must get immersed
in the voice and be carried away by the story. The poem can speak
for itself. The sounding part makes a journey from the objective world
into the depths of the most isolated subjective experience, from the
concrete and extrovert to the artificial and introvert. The source
material consists of concrete sounds and analog feedback. The piece
was composed at EMS during 1996.
To people I meet I always say:
I wish the hot sun of the desert would set fire to my body
I wish to drink the burning thirst to the dregs
I wish to climb sharp-pointed rocks
barefoot and with empty hands
and, standing close to heaven,
lick the blood from torn wounds
Oh, the place I love is the deep black blue sea
I want to breathe its unbreathable air.
But it is not true,I am lying.
After all I do not want to go anywhere
Only to listen attentively to the frozen calls of the heat
and rest for a thousand years in the ice river of sleep
Kyung Hye Lee: Texts and voice
For a while there it seemed that electroacoustic music had faded
somewhat, in phase with the general availability of both hardware
and software, i.e. computers and sound programs. Once upon a time
it was a treat just to enjoy the weirdness of sounds produced by the
gurus in their hinterland studios, but given that the opportunity
to make sounds digitally is widespread these days, good old compositional
thinking has gained justified recognition again, which is why – in
the last few years – really high quality electroacoustics has been
produced and diffused. Elektron Records – initiated by famous composer
of electroacoustics; Rolf Enström – is the label of SEAMS; The Society
for Electroacoustic Music in Sweden (former ICEM). This is the label’s
Connecting back to the matter of compositional skill in the electroacoustic
idiom, it is obvious that anything really worthwhile in this musical
discipline – which some people of late thought was the ultimate free-form,
available to anybody for instant artistic utilization – always has
been the fruit of skilled compositional work and talent. If we glance
back at earlier pieces in the vein of musique concrète and electronic
music we find that those works that remain fresh and bright till this
day are those that have risen out of the creative act of an artist
in a thought-through composition. We might for instance dwell on Herbert
Eimert’s “Epitaph für Aikichi Kuboyama” (which also revealed a political
standpoint), Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Gesang der Jünglinge” and “Kontakte”
(and much much more!), Gottfried Michael Koenig’s “Funktion Rot” (with
the variations “Grau”, “Violett”, “Blau” and “Indigo”), Henri Pousseur’s
”Trois visages de Liège”, Bruno Maderna’s ”Le Rire”, Pierre Henry’s
”Voile d’Orphée” and a few years later “Bernard Parmegiani’s ”La Création
du Monde” and ”De natura sonorum”, as well as François Bayle’s ”Grande
Polyphonie” – just skimming the surface of the wealth of classical,
now historical electroacoustic compositions. Sweden has had a disproportionate
part in the electroacoustic genre, especially if you allow text-sound
composition under the arch of the electroacoustic definition. Sweden
has harbored and nourished giants like Åke Hodell and Öyvind Fahlström,
as well as pioneers like Lars-Gunnar Bodin (I remember how I heard
Bodin’s “For Jon III” like a sonorous revelation out of hitherto unknown
Among true masterworks with a rare radiance in the realm of Swedish
electroacoustic composition I have to mention Rolf Enström’s “Final
Curses”, Pär Lindgren’s “The Room” and Tommy Zwedberg’s “Bavarde”.
I return to these works frequently, whenever I want to sharpen my
attention to discern what is highly qualified and what is not in the
batches of music that arrive at the Sonoloco reviewing desk.
The composers of the works mentioned have in common the knack of utilizing
their sound tools as a means – not as an end – and they own a deep
artistic ability, which reaches its expression in the composition.
There are no short cuts! However, lately a set of new, very qualified
electroacoustic compositions has reached us from all ends of the world,
which feels very gratifying indeed!
This new CD from Elektron Records contains both old and new in a nice
“Rubber” (1996) by Palle Dahlstedt (1971) is a charming and ingenious
balloon story. It is easy to extract an array of sounds out of a balloon,
and Dahlstedt has achieved a funny variant. For comparison, listen
to Jonty Harrison’s magnificent “Hot Air” (1995), or Swedish Renaissance
man Sune Karlsson’s “Wet Balloon” (1988). Perhaps Dahlstedt doesn’t
really reach that intensity, but he achieves enjoyable electroacoustics.
“Spårar” (“Traces” ) (1996) by Anders Blomqvist (1956) has been circulated
on tapes off of the radio long before this issue. Blomqvist is one
of the veterans (though comparably young…) of Swedish electroacoustics.
This story is inspired by a text by Bengt-Emil Johnson, and constitutes
a sort of runner-up to “Löpa varg” (1995) by the same composer. He
joins a Swedish electroacoustic tradition; to apply small, flaky,
close-up sounds, spattering forth in hasty swarms on a backdrop of
a sweeping, distant wall of extended, droning events, sort of punctuating
the foreground in sudden cuts. It is an effective method to achieve
a stubbornly spatial experience of the musical space.
Rune Lindblad (1923 – 1991) is represented by “Optica II” (1960).
It is the oldest work of the compilation. “Optica II” is one of three
works that Lindblad based on studies of sound sketched on frames of
film. First he used a 16-millimeter projector wherein the lens system
had been modified to enable usage of the whole width of the film for
sketching. Eventually he switched over to 35-millimeter film and projector.
He drew with thin black enamel on the film, in the shapes of arabesques
and short signs. The film was registered through a photocell unit
at varying speeds, while the resulting sound was taped on reel-to-reel
machines. Since I have in my possession – transferred for me by Rune
Lindblad himself shortly before his untimely death – copies of about
75% of his vast output, in its entirety kept under lock and key at
the Musical Science Department of Gothenburg University, I know that
there are much more interesting works hidden in the Gothenburg institution
than has been hitherto released commercially. I would sincerely hope
for a retrospective Rune Lindblad box to eventually rise out of these
It is exemplary of Elektron Records to include Rune Lindblad on this
CD. Lindblad was looked upon as a rather dubious figure by the more
established culture mafia back when, which makes his posthumous recovery
all the more welcome. It is true that his works are distinguished
by a certain roughness, lacking much of the sophistication of the
works of Lindblad’s contemporaries – but when you get accustomed to
the roughness, it almost feels like a liberation to dwell inside long
Rune Lindblad works, which emit a luster of poetic energy seldom experienced.
Sten Hanson (1936) has been around since the start, so to say, both
as a composer of electroacoustics and as a textsound author. In this
work – ”Les sabouts du bouc” (1997) – he shuffles and deals. A medieval
ring is inserted into the clattering and accelerating harshness, and
the human voice is never distant, in an atmosphere of the happy and
thirsty sittings of Rabelais, right in the dreary ravages of the Black
Death, which released the lecherous lusts of Man in the Valley of
the Shadow of Death.
Sten Olof Hellström (f1956) entered the electroacoustic stage as a
full-fledged composer. I recall how impressed I was when I heard his
first works on the radio. Here he presents his ”Prequel” (1997), which
belongs in the triptych ”Sequel”, ”Prequel” and ”Equel”. In these
works you find reverences to Denis Smalley and Jonty Harrison, and
you will recognize fine influences from the French musique concrète
school, skillfully administered by Hellström. Here alien layers of
sound out of different sonorous worlds converge in a mix, which probably
is the most enjoyable on the CD. It’s a true adventure to join Hellström
for a ride through his world of electroacoustics. He’s generous with
his electronic gunpowder, but he never lets go off the compositional
structure, running through the musical construction like the girders
of the Eiffel Tower, and he is in full control. This is a very good
example of genuine, consummate electroacoustics!
Lidia Zielinska’s ”Schon wieder diese weissen Mäuse” (1996) is a child
of the same thought as Hellström’s ”Prequel”, but depicted in a sparser
phenomenology, on a string of beads of clearly distinguishable moments;
gleaming pearls on black velvet. Close your eyes and listen. Very
beautiful (and I choose to forget all about those little rodents…)
Patrik Thorell (f1963) was introduced to the world of electroacoustics
through works by Åke Hodell and Rune Lindblad. His “Ma” (1996) consists
of a poem written and recited by Kyung Hye Lee, electronically permuted
in a kind of counterpoint with the electronic sounds. I detect a clear
lineage back to ”Aikichi Kuboyama” by Herbert Eimert from 1962 and
Pierre Henry’s ”Voile d’Orphée” from 1953, so in this relatively young
composer there is a connection back to the classical electronic works.
I personally harbor a certain faiblesse for this type of electroacoustics,
and lift my hat for Patrik Thorell!
I've rarely had as neutral expectations for an album as I did with e
1999:1, a compilation from the Swedish electro-acoustic label Elektron.
I must admit that I was completely unfamiliar with both the label and
the artists represented on the disc. But since listening is the best
way to find out, I dove in the contents of Pelle Dahlstedt'd almost
12-minute piece Rubber (1994-1996). As you can almost tell from the
name, the whole track has been made by manipulating (scratching, rubbing,
slapping, drumming, piercing and blowing) ordinary rubber balloons connected
to microphones. The sounds have then been looped while trying to keep
the soundscape as authentic as possible without manipulation. The idea
itself is very clever, despite the fact that for example Japanese artists
like Aube and Keiji Haino have experimented with similar organic and
inorganic sound sources. Had this been presented to me as "new amaterial
by Aube", I would have believed it to be just that. I can't nevertheless
say that I would have been inspired to listen to it several times, as
the piece would probably function much better as a live performance.
The next track is Andreas Blomqvist with Traces (1997). In it the artist
seeks mood to the central theme of alienation. The chosen method is
ambient, and I must admit that Blomqvist - who has been composing music
since the 80's - manages quite well, as the entire 9 minutes consist
of quite competent (not extremely original, though) soundscapes. The
closest suitable comparison is another Swedish artist, Raison D'etre,
close whose work the song occasionally comes to, while at other times
sounding like the soundtrack to a horror movie.
Continuing with the first-and-last-name artists is Rune Lindblad's Optica
II (1960). The track has sounds reminiscent of the acceleration effects
in ancient Commodore 64 formula racer games. Thus it's a trip to old
times and screaming oscillators, but then again it is a piece that has
to be examined in the same light as the works of Erkki Kureniemi, i.e.
that of a pioneer of the genre. The track is, after all, over 40 years
old, and Lindblad (1923-1991) himself has been dead over a decade. If
I understood correctly, the piece is an experiment with sounds and optics,
with a 35mm film linked to a tape recorder. If Mr. Lindblad were still
alive, and would do such stuff now, a good contemporary comparison sounds-wise
could be found in the Finnish tape-loop duo Mnem. One of the best tracks
of the album.
Sten Hanson's The Hooves of the Buck (1997) follows the Medieval morality-pattern
in which faith is the true guiding force of life and the Devil is a
real, serious threat. Normally in that context evil gets what it deserves
in the end, but since that doesn't always happen in real life, Hanson
lets the Prince of Darkness win in his composition. Musically the piece
contains sometimes very annoying sounds, but as their opposite also
a short clip of truly beautiful Medieval chorals. Even though one could
see the analogy with the back of one's head, I must admit that I really
liked this slightly over a minute long slice of "real music" more than
the confusing mass of hisses, grunts and clicks that gets the major
part of the track. A slightly more refined production of the idea would
have been necessary.
The shortest track on the record (5:39) is Prequel (1997) by Sten Olof
Hellström. A method of the composer is the use of imaginary worlds and
combining the products of those worlds into the same piece. Despite
the creative idea, the music itself doesn't sound as interesting in
this case, but rather like simply mediocre experimental music. A certain
amount of psychedelic feel exists, though. A disquieting track. The
only artist on the album who isn't a born Swede is the Polish Lidja
Zielinska. Her track is called Schon wieder diese weissen Mäuse (1996).
White mice are in Polish (and German, for example) tradition an equivalent
of the "mandatory" pink elephants people supposedly hallucinate when
they're hung over or very tired. It's precisely that disturbing feel
which Zielinska transforms into music with the use of clear sounds,
so this is not in the least a slack piece. Unfortunately this song too
fall victim to the most typical sin in experimental music.- it leaves
an empty feel as the dissonant sounds simply fail to raise enough interest
in the listener.
The last track is Patrik Thorell's Ma (1996). The word is Japanese,
and means "between". This almost 11 minutes long piece has thus two
levels, one of them being a Japanese poem and the other the musical
soundscape. A lot is staked on the idea that the listener immerses into
the poetry reading's intonation, rhythm and emphasis of the words. Through
that the poem starts living a life of its own within the track, with
the listener placed "between" it and the music. Again, an interesting
idea, but that doesn't mean I like stuff like that, because it too easily
leaves a sense of an improvisation instead of a track with carefully
As a general positive comment, the record contains only tracks that
have a clear idea or motivation in them, executed by the artists. This
is definitely not always the case in industrial music, where the message
often nowadays is just" I made some tracks, because I felt like it".
(Which isn't bad, but not as good as being able to read about the real
intent of the song.) The downside of the album was that the pieces would
feel more at home as parts of art installations or performances, a use
where the artists probably do aim most of their work. Unfortunately
only a few tracks were strong enough by themselves to be truly of interest
when listened to at home.
Kimmo Niukko, Kuolleen Musiikin Yhdistys