Sub Rosa's director, Guy Marc Hinant, explains in the liner notes that this project is the result of a desire to achieve trans-historicity: the blend of music and techniques from different time frames. 4 Parabolic Mixes documents an evening of trans-historicity based on Henri Pousseur's 8 Études Paraboliques (8 Parabolic Studies), a cycle of pieces created in 1972 and released by Sub Rosa in 2001 as a limited-edition four-CD box set. Four artists from different generations were invited to create their own half-hour mix of the work using digital means (whereas the original was an analog razor-to-tape affair). Hinant is quick to stress that these are not remixes and he is right to do so: Pousseur's studies are meant to be combinable for simultaneous playing, so the "mixers" are simply doing their own interpretation of the "score." Of course, it's not as simple as that. The two-CD set begins with Pousseur's own mix, a surprisingly ambient, smooth soundscape. Robert Hampson (aka Main) takes a different approach, creating a suite of short pictures, each one exploring a certain type of sounds from the original. Philip Jeck gets the award for the most surprising mix. He adds extraneous material from record players to create a lugubrious work (slowed-down voices and all) that steps far from Pousseur's music, yet remains intelligible in the context of the project. His "Third Parabolic Mix" is the undisputed highlight. Oval closes the proceedings with a slab of "ovalprocessed" music. The original input is rendered unrecognizable by his complex trademark process of transubstantiation, oddly soothing despite all the digital noise, but the piece remains rather static and uninvolved. If the objective of 4 Parabolic Mixes was to show how technologies and generations can intermingle, mission accomplished, even though the results are a bit uneven.
AllMusic Review by François Couture