Paul Dolden; L'ivresse de la vitesse 1

Paul DoldenL’ivresse de la vitesse 1
Empreintes DIGITALes IMED 0317
Duration: 71:32

1. L'ivresse de la vitesse (1992 -1993) [15:49]

2. Physics of Seduction. Invocation # 3 (1992) [18:30]

3. Revenge of the Repressed. Resonance # 2 (1993) [7:12]

4. Dancing on the Walls of Jericho (1990) [16:15]

5. Physics of Seduction. Invocation # 2 (1991) [13:19]

Paul Dolden and Empreintes DIGITALes throw three new Dolden CDs at us simultaneously, in an unparalleled marketing of one single composer’s work. However, it’s not as strange as it may sound, but really quite an interesting and rewarding venture, because it has to do with reissues of old material, remastered by the composer with modern equipment. Dolden is one of the most prolific electroacousticians, and for sure his oeuvre deserves to be revisited, especially after its recent technical and artistic brush-up.

Paul Dolden explains [a text included in all the three CD jackets and also in all three subsequent reviews by
Sonoloco here, since one cannot tell which review a reader stumbles into… and in fact, the whole introduction, until reaching the individual tracks, is identical in all three reviews of this triptych of Dolden’s, so you can jump it if you’ve read another of these three reviews before, and browse directly down to the track reviews]:

In the late 1970s I started to write and produce music involving hundreds of parts or tracks. In the early days the analogue recording medium was very noisy when bouncing (or premixing) tracks together.
Things improved throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but a large multitrack digital tape recorder was still out of my financial reach. By the late 1990s the new computer and hard drive speeds finally provided me with an affordable multitrack solution. For the first time in my life I was able to achieve the balance between individual voices that I had so carefully notated in the original scores. I achieved further musical clarity and a new depth of sound by using quality compression, equalization and reverb. To remaster, I went back to the individual tracks. This was a huge undertaking. For example, a piece like
Dancing on the Walls of Jericho may be only 16 minutes and 15 seconds long, but it is a large tape work comprising eighty hours of original recorded materials.
Recordings always freeze or crystallize musical and spectral meaning for the listener. An odd sound combination that you have grown fond of in the old master may not appear in the same way in the new one. However, I think you will agree that I have stayed true to the original compositions. I changed some musical moments and transitions in Dancing on the Walls of Jericho, and the tape components for
Physics of Seduction, Invocations #2 and #3, all originally released on the L’ivresse de la vitesse CD in 1994. These changes were motivated by compositional concerns and were created using the musical materials from the Walls Cycle. The only new recordings made for the remastering process were the drum parts (performed by Philippe Keyser) in Physics of Seduction, Invocations #2 and #3.

I invite you to discover my new levels of meaning and clarity in the new masters, which are much closer to my original artistic intention.

Paul Dolden
(Photo: Mark Mushet)

1. Track 1 is the title track; L’ivresse de la vitesse (Intoxication by Speed) (1992 – 93).


The title […] is an allusion towards my current artistic intentions which involve the speeding up of an excess of musical ideas so that the composition and its materials exhaust themselves in the shortest time possible. The intoxicating aspect of speed is evoked by using primarily fast tempo markings and rapid changes in orchestration, density and dynamics. These elements can be particularly sped up to the point of exhaustion and intoxication in the digital audio studio which is limitless or virtual in its color and density possibilities.

There is no mercy administered, and no time to adapt; you’re in the surging midst of sound the second it commences. However, the rush of grainy properties very soon take on more familiar guises, as male and female choirs rise, in a strictly vocal kind of soaring surge, gushing forth like mountain rapids below the glaciers. Sure this is intoxication by speed, secularly perhaps a shoot down the rapids, but in s shaman way perhaps a transposed inner journey of the Bardos… A creaking violin – bow pressing hard on the strings – open up a closed room of whispers, eventually pulling threads and shreds of surrounding reality along in marked pushes and layers of audio, snow-balling, mud-sliding into an immense might, eventually sneaking up on a hasty march of sorts, comically and quire remarkably, all behind a curtain of a certain unreality…
There are, however, short retreats of church-like bliss here and there, before the blushing hell of over-intensified motion again grabs you by the neck and throws you downtime, as age and matter are subsequented…

2. The second work is
Physics of Seduction. Invocation #3 (1992) for cello and tape; Peggy Lee [cello].


By using an extreme amount of ordinary musical sounds and gestures, their reality becomes more real than real. In other words, the sounds escape the networks of meaning and association, which have built up the reality of our world. This compositional strategy, involving an escalation to extremes, means that the materials themselves disappear as they implode inward and take on new appearances. The realm of seduction involves the strategies of appearances. As a contemporary composer, all that I can hope for is that I have provided the physics, or the interaction of motion and energy, for your own seduction.

This long work opens in an industrial scenery; at least this is the initial impression: steelworks or shipyard – but soon, very soon, the cello comes to the fore or semi-fore, out of a layer of thick and dense material where it seems caught and predestined to a captive state of existence, albeit sometimes really in front of the wobbling, dancing, heavy backdrop. I’m talking about the first couple of minutes.
The cello sets out on strutting, daring escape routes in and out of the seaweed density of sounds, and I imagine someone’s arms feeling their way through the dense and the dark, a grainy and not completely wholesome kind of predicament. Dolden has taken all he’s got and filled up life to its hypothetical rim.
The cello saws frantically at some aspects of reality, like an insect inside a jar, desperately trying something impossible, as burning thoughts come up for air and light up matter from inside like electric impulses flaring through cerebral cortexes…
Slow, meditative solo parts are offered the cello, as the barnstorming audio completely disappears below and behind. The cello talks like a candle in a nocturnal forest, or like a thought roaming a closed-down mind; a Moomin Troll waking in the middle of Finnish winter, rising prematurely out of hibernation to roam the snowy pastures, discovering unknown properties of existence.

Revenge of the Repressed. Resonance #2 (1993) for soprano sax and tape; François Houle [soprano sax], is the third entry.


As the end of the second millennium approaches [remember, these remarks were written for the original release], we increasingly deal with the angry fallout from our historical legacy. Society turns into a constant search for what has been repressed and denied and we search for some form of revenge for our victimization. However, given that our lives have basically become an extension of the mediascape, and real power lies elsewhere, we become trapped in an endless life-sized Nintendo game seeking justice and revenge.

A jazzy, feverish jinglish kind of beginning moves through the Coltrane-scape of late day paraphernalia, surprisingly slowing down into mild brass sections in a golden hue – only to pick up speed and frantics again, leaving you… breathless and thoughtless, screwing those saxophones right down into the rock bottom, for what it’s worth…
I have no idea how Dolden’s words above correspond to these sounds, mind you… but the show goes on, with or without whatever one is with or without… In here Dolden even manages to sound like Dutch hey-day desperado Louis Andriessen in
De Staat, punching those semi-jazzy stanzas at you, like sleet blowing in your face on your way to colon x-ray…

4. Fourth track is
Dancing on the Walls of Jericho (1990).


Dancing on the Walls of Jericho is the second of a three-part composition, which philosophically addresses the idea of revolution. Part two continues from where part one, Below the Walls of Jericho, had ended. Part one acted as a metaphor for the idea of social change through revolution. Therefore part one was primarily concerned with the vertical monolith and its tearing down by the anonymous massed texture of four hundred tracks of sound. By contrast, part two celebrates this tearing down with a constant polyrhythmic dance on the rubble and the use of extroverted solistic gestures.

Polishing sounds wipe the curving walls of a contrast medium drenched tunnel, which eventually is filling up with a torrent of audio from the treacherous ill will of the toppling-over sonic ingenuity of Mr. Dolden. This boy certainly wants to invade all your senses and completely take them over. He needs your FULL attention, and if he doesn’t get it right away, he just stuffs you like a fat duck and leaves you sleepless.
Much to my surprise, though, the frenzy cools off here, into a gamelan-like limp through the tunnel, and is it the tunnel that near-death experiencers experience on their near-death sojourns, or is it just a leaking realm of boring through the mount, to have you pass ten minutes faster on the train for a sum of 10 billion dollars? No idea! [Swedish readers; compare Hallandsåsen!]
There isn’t much time to contemplate suicide, though, since I get caught up in more sturdy, bouncing limping down the path Dolden doodles, and I fill a spacious glass with much white German wine (Zeller Schwarze Katz) from a bottle presented to me earlier today from a farmer friend in the rain who flies to Germany regularly on Ryanair, and I let things and desperations be the way they please; no shooting out of the anatomy tonight!
There is no real hard sense in trying to categorize Dolden’s music; it’s futile, pointless – but I’m filling my quota anyway, and I can throw in words about the enjoyment of living inside this music, ‘cause that’s what it’s about; not listening but living.
The constellations stomp like horses in their boxes, like Tomas Tranströmer said (or something like it); thoughts gather in scattered herds through the shadows, the night sky is cold and star sharp; Death laughs inwardly across the wooded horizon…

Ingvar Loco Nordin:
Shitville Street Pattern

5. Physics of Seduction. Invocation #2 (1991) for harpsichord and tape; Vivienne Spiteri [harpsichord] is the fifth and last track on this CD.


Speed creates pure objects. It is itself a pure object, since it cancels out the ground and territorial reference points, since it runs ahead of time to annual time itself, since it moves more quickly than its own cause and obliterates that cause by outstripping it. Speed is the triumph of effect over cause, the triumph of instantaneity over time and depth, the triumph of the surface and pure objectality over the profundity of desire. Speed creates a space of initiation which may be lethal; its only rule is to leave no trace behind. Triumph of forgetting over memory, an uncultivated amnesic intoxication.

It gets worse, worse… It gets worse… as jittering atoms gather for a mingling vernissage evening at the horizon of events, right around that black hole in the midst of all our lives, or in a laid-back agony at the Restaurant at The End of the Universe (I bow to Mr. Adams who gave some meaning to my meaninglessness).
Dolden produces full-blown, full-fledged assumptions of the totality of life and universe, and batters the humpty-dumpty, forlorn jesters of doubt, in a massive grandeur of psychic wonders, out of which a stellar harpsichord rises, glowing like sought-for venom though our arteries…
I think of Elisabeth Chojnacka and I think about Jukka Tiensuu – and I leave it to you to figure that one out! Ah, Mr. Dolden! We tremble at these auditory messages from the core of emotional might, from the center of intellectual attention, from the venomous pit of the essence of pain of this existence…