Peter Batchelor’s Kaleidoscope is an acousmatic work meant to model in sound the kinds of dynamic patterns visible through a kaleidoscope. The five pieces that make up the work were composed for a listening environment situated in the middle of eight speakers arranged in a circle; listening to the recording can only approximate the spatial effects obtainable in such a setting, and to that extent is something like listening to a reduction for piano of an orchestral work. Still, there’s much to like when these pieces are listened to just for the way they organize sound.
For the first four tracks, Batchelor arranges digital samples to trace the trajectory of things breaking apart, the pieces diverging and converging again. Drawing on a variety of sound sources, including field recordings of natural and artificial phenomena, and using looping, repetition, and granular manipulation, Batchelor juxtaposes similar and contrasting sound colors of varying intensities, density and dynamics to achieve his aim. Though the identity of the sound sources is for the most part obscured by manipulation—this is acousmatic music, after all—sometimes, as in Fuse’s recognizable samples of rainfall, they reveal themselves. The final piece, an aural portrait of a gaming arcade, evokes its subject through chirps, beeps and buzzes that will elicit memories in anyone who’s ever played a game of Space Invaders in a public space.
Kaleidoscope comes as a two-disc set. A DVD-ROM contains the work in its full, original eight channel format, while a stereo CD is included as well.