No less than the synthesizer, the electric organ, with its versatility of compass and timbre, can create electronic music of uncannily evocative sounds. Klaus Schulze’s Irrlicht deftly demonstrated this back in the early 1970s; now comes the solo organ work In Tenebris Ratione Organi by Michael Bonaventure, whose universe of electronic sounds follow a creative logic uniquely his own.
Bonaventure, who is based in both Edinburgh and Amsterdam, is a composer and concert organist whose performances include new music as well as the organ works of Messiaen. His own compositions have been written for organ, piano, carillon, and choir; the eleven-track Works 2008-2017, available from the Unexplained Sounds Group netlabel, is a good introduction to some of his recent output.
Intriguingly, some of the sounds of the instruments and groups he composes for in other contexts obliquely find their way into In Tenebris Ratione Organi. Through the shimmering washes of bright timbres and richly constructed chords there emerge the sounds of a strangely altered choir of human (or synthetic?) voices; resounding, bell-like tones saturated in delay; and a musical rhetoric that at times recalls the retro-futurist murmurings of analogue synthesizers. Throughout all of the overlays and distortions the organ’s essential voice remains intact. Bonaventure characterizes the music as a kind of alchemy, and it’s clear that the basic organ sound provides him with the prima material he needs to work his often stunning sonic transmutations.