Paul Dolden

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Canadian electro-acoustic composer Paul Dolden managed to work from within the musique concrète institutions even though his art should have placed him at its very margin. Known mostly for what has been…
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Canadian electro-acoustic composer Paul Dolden managed to work from within the musique concrète institutions even though his art should have placed him at its very margin. Known mostly for what has been coined his "esthetics of excess," he stirred the otherwise very calm waters of the genre with his works for tape in which he piles up hundreds of layers of acoustic instruments. His two-CD set L'Ivresse de la Vitesse remains a classic of fin de siècle electro-acoustics.

Born in 1956 in Ottawa (Canada), Dolden studied in Vancouver, where he still resides. At first an electric guitarist, cellist, and violinist, he toured across Canada and Europe. This hands-on experience with "real" instruments explains his decision to approach tape music without the use of acousmatics. The composer does not use the standard techniques to mold the sounds. He works instead by accumulation, mixing together up to 500 tracks of individually recorded instruments, in order to obtain the textures he wants. The 1990 Tronia CD The Threshold of Deafening Silence presented his first results and sent an initial shockwave into the academic musique concrète community. L'Ivresse de la Vitesse (Empreintes DIGITALes, 1994), a longer and more conceptualized album, consecrated him as a leading figure in sound art. He was invited to numerous festivals, had residencies at the Groupe de Musique Experimentale de Bourges in France and the Electronic Music Studio in Sweden, and won an impressive number of awards since his first steps in 1981, including three first prizes at the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (in 1986, 1988 and 1990).

Dolden collaborates regularly with artists of the Vancouver new music scene. He wrote for John Kosrud's Hard Rubber Orchestra and helped Francois Houle for the tape part of his conceptual album Au Coeur du Litige.