Thomas Bjelkeborn

Past Time

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Most electro-acoustic music composers are loquacious when it comes to the how and why at the core of their works, but Thomas Bjelkeborn released the six pieces found on Past Time without even a word of explanation. If the music is evocative and compelling that's not a problem, but otherwise the decision can bite back in the...well, where it hurts. And there is a bit of both extremes on this album. Bjelkeborn is a plastician more than a storyteller. He molds sounds into architectural perspectives and large sculptural gestures, sticking for the most part to sounds obtained through synthesis. Except for a voice sample appearing at the beginning and end of "Within Without," the source material (when it exists) has gone through enough transformation to irreversibly occult its nature. These pieces evoke the British and French schools of electro-acoustic music, from Jonty Harrison's "Klang" to Francis Dhomont's Cycle de l'Errance. Dense and rich in "Within Without" and "Mèlquíades," the music becomes cold and highly academic in "Do It Again" and "Ex." Here, liner notes could have brought an erudite dimension, an intellectual stimulus to appreciate the labor that went into the pieces. Most of these works date from the late '80s and early '90s. They follow the developments then current in the field of electro-acoustics without making a contribution original enough to let them stand out. Bjelkeborn's music is serious and skilled, but a bit sterile.