Nicholas Szczepanik: composition, all sounds
“Not knowing” that this is a deliberate “merci” to Eliane Radigue – whose L’Île Re-Sonante apparently helped Szczepanik through a grueling period in his life, and I tend to believe him completely – it would seem rather simple to dismiss it as a mere replication of atmospheres recalling illustrious sources from the past. We were alerted in advance, though, therefore let’s treat this music with the due respect (also because its narcotic consequences are super welcome in these days of exiguity of hope for the so-called future). The piece’s structure is quite clear, kind of an arc that starts and ends with a very deep subsonic throb similar to the purr of a huge cat, accompanied by higher frequencies, more or less unmoving. In the middle, we find ourselves somewhat displaced across a couple of prolonged passages permeated by brumous sadness. What at first appears as a Keith Berry-esque vague memorial finds its completion via a fully fledged phantom orchestra that gradually occupies the stage. A point of interest lies in a quasi-parabolic moan assisting the whole, sort of a plane flying at remote distance as invisible players transmit sorrow all over the place. Then the orchestral sound becomes almost entirely underlaid, its remnants a representation of concentrated muteness that still lets us intuit a melodic path imbued of doubts and fears, an out-of-sight female voice indicating that nothing is left for us to jubilate. After something resembling the stretched-to-forever resonance of a Tibetan bowl, the opening purr returns and remains: an erstwhile animate thing delivered from any residual activity except a slow pulse, just waiting for the moment in which the plug gets pulled once and for all. Dolorously ineluctable, beautiful to hear.