AMN Reviews: Beatriz Ferreyra – live ateliers claus (2021; les albums claus)

Here we have another wonderful release by Beatriz Ferreyra, a live album recorded in Brussels in 2018 but only recently released.  There are three extended pieces presented, all of them being varied in style and intent.  The album has a very “live” sound which gives it a nice ambience that you don’t often hear in Acousmatic recordings.  The only downside (and it’s minor) is, I found myself adjusting the volume level on the first piece down a little to compensate for the loudness of the electronic organ, that at times was a bit overpowering. 

The album starts off with Siesta Blanca (1972) which is In Memoriam Astor Piazzolla.  After about a 15 second recording of one of Piazzolla’s Tangos as introduction, the piece abruptly morphs into an extended atmospheric organ workout.  Ghosts of Piazzolla’s music randomly materialize, but only for a few seconds before they are abstracted away by Ferreyra’s processing.  At times, the organ is used to create long-form drones only to deconstruct into short bursts creating a playful dialog with the occasional sample of Tango music (which is also processed to barely recognizable levels).  I didn’t take to this piece immediately but after 2 or 3 listens, it really started to click for me.  Strangely enough it has a sort of 1970’s Krautrock vibe and at times I felt it was channeling early Ash Ra Temple or Amon Düül II.  I haven’t heard this side of Ferreyra’s music before and it was a refreshing change.

The second piece  L’Autre … ou le chant des marécages (1987) is described by Ferreyra as such:  “I was deeply impressed with Blaise Cendrars’s paradoxical personality, his terrifying Double which strips itself with a naked extreme and sadistic cruelty in his book Moravagine, It was impossible for me not to record the depth of my feelings in a brutal and wild vocal composition.”  I haven’t read this book personally, but from what little I know of it Ferreyra seems to have succeeded in giving us an accurate aural document of the depravities contained within.  She has worked with the human voice quite a bit throughout her career and I’ve greatly enjoyed the pieces that I’ve heard…this piece is certainly no exception to that string of successes.  There seems to be less processing in this work, but that is counteracted by the actual voices stretching to their natural limits.  You’ll hear shouts, screams, wails, what sounds like speaking in tongues and general vocal histrionics all woven together to form a very disturbing sound entity.  When she does layer in the audio processing over this backdrop, it becomes a uniquely strange thing indeed…and yes, it’s quite scary!

The final piece, Lautre rive (2007) is the longest clocking in at almost 17 minutes…and it’s 17 minutes of sonic excellence.  This work was inspired by the Bardo Todol (the Tibetan Book of Death) and was composed for percussion and electroacoustic sounds.  (I should say that the previous piece, and this one sound fantastic at loud volumes.)  On Lautre rive we are treated to a complex array of various percussive objects and instruments some being electronically manipulated while others are not.  As the piece progresses, it begins to manifest itself in many different ways, culminating finally into a shifting organic mass of sound.  It’s one of the most exotic, detailed things I’ve heard within the Acousmatic/electroacoustic space… and provides a very fitting tour de force to end the album.

live ateliers claus gets a huge thumbs up from me!  I’m anxiously awaiting her split release with Natasha Barrett that drops in a couple days and I’m quite sure I’ll have some words on that one too.  In the meantime, don’t hesitate to check this one out.

Mike Eisenberg

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