Another Timbre

A man whose job is organizing and maintaining Eliane Radigue’s archives can be considered a lucky man, in spite of his statements about the deliberate choice to live below the poverty line. But Emmanuel “Manu” Holterbach is also a composer influenced by the sheer breathing of what lives, grows, changes and moves around him; plus, an inventor of instruments, not a bad kind of response to an existential stimulus. Holterbach’s encounter with the Italian ensemble Blutwurst – of which you can read personnel and instrumentation at the label’s link – allowed him to materialize sonic visions inspired by nature and cosmos at large, now digitally crystallized in Ricercar Nell’Ombra (“researching in the shadow”).

As expected given the aforementioned connection with Madame Radigue, the composition – coherently organized by Blutwurst after a series of recording sessions – is definitely drone-based. However, the contrapuntal resonances do not overlap in massive, monolithic or invariable ways. Rather, there is an impression of gaseous matter in slow motion, or of a damp flower opening at the very first lights of dawn. A meditative delicacy emerges from every pitch, yet the inner tremors conveyed by the parallelism of certain frequencies suggest even more unexpected levels of depth. As if the energy of a natural event of enormous magnitude produced calmness in lieu of awe.

In exquisitely acoustic and foolishly comparative terms, the piece’s impact on this listener often evoked a cross between Discreet Music (I’m referring in particular to Eno’s renowned alteration of Pachelbel’s Canon) and the rumble of a military aircraft flying at high altitude on a silent sunny afternoon. Stretches of dissonant pseudo-stasis are an important component as well. When, in the midst of all this, transient traces of melodic melancholy appear, one does not know whether to be completely pervaded by the sound, or to let the unhappy realization of being part of a generation sans futur prevail. Whatever your position within the universe’s wholeness, Holterbach’s music represents a complement of somewhat sorrowful purity, capable of momentarily easing the pain caused by the behavioral aberrations of so-called evolved beings.

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