Provençal-born, Brazilian musicologist and composer Didier Guigue has been creating provocative works of electroacoustic and electronic music for several decades both as a composer and as a bassoonist / contrabassoonist; he’s also written open-form works in non-standard notation. In addition to being on the faculty of the Universidade Federal da Paraíba, where his research has focused on the computer analysis of orchestration, he founded the IRCAM-associated Mus3 Research Group and was a co-founder of the Log³ Laptop Orchestra. In recent years Guigue has been working almost exclusively with electronic media and has been turning increasingly toward improvisation. In fact, he’s described much of his more recent work as “improvisations assembled and fixed.” As this background would suggest, much of Guigue’s music falls within the tradition of electronic music and musique concrète, and of experiments in avant-garde compositional methods more generally.
Enquanto ainda é tempo—“while there is still time”–is a collection of nine recent electronic pieces and Guigue’s fifth album. The pieces were realized by Guigue as well as by the Log³ Laptop Orchestra, Coletivo de Performance Artesanato Furioso, and Paralelo Cia de Dança. The music largely consists of sound collages blending elements of musique concrète, field recordings and anecdotal sounds, and electronic processing and synthesis. The title track exemplifies Guigue’s collage work. It combines recordings of what sounds like a political rally with a recording of a relentlessly steady drumming, segueing into a sampled recording of Baroque music, a manipulated recording of a female voice speaking, all followed by a long quite, electronic coda. Other pieces, like the electronic Elemens Part II and the drifting Eri Asai Awakes, take Guigue’s timbral free associations into more abstract and atmospheric territory, while Lori dans la neige, with its heavily processed recordings of the spoken word, is closer to pure musique concrète.
Guigue describes the album has having been meant to express “the last breath of optimism” in the Brazil of the late 2010’s. And while some of the sounds can be harsh and dark, there is in much of the music a contrasting lightness and openness to provide a sober balance.