The 1996 International Electroacoustic Music Competition featured five categories, even though the Quadrivium of the album title only indicates four. Winners in each of the five categories, plus the two grand-prizewinners, are presented on this long, two-CD set, one of the best in the series. The two grand-prizewinners, Francesco Boschetto and Lothar Voigtländer, both use the rich sounds of stringed instruments as source material, Boschetto with a dreamy, evocative homage to Pier Paolo Pasolini for violin and tape, and Voigtländer using string bass pizzicato as one of the primary sound sources. Only two works feature the voice this particular year: John Christopher Nelson's setting of a Robert Gregory poem for the ever-amazing Joan La Barbara and Daniel Zimbaldo's radiophonic work featuring Gladys Cohen and the Ensemble Logos based on a Camilo Jose Cela novel, which blends popular music with more experimental material. Several pieces for tape alone are superb. Both Alain Michon and Erik Mikaël Karlsson use various percussion instruments as source material, and both of their pieces are sparse but powerful, presenting slow, reverberating gestures on many different levels. Jonty Harrison's piece is an extended sonic metaphor of looking for the exit (sortie is the French word for exit), with crowd noises and different sections of the piece punctuated by closing doors, and Jukka Ruohomäki's powerful and loud manipulation of a huge piece of roof metal wouldn't be out of place on a power electronics collection by Daniel Menche. One of the most unusual pieces presented in this competition is not an electro-acoustic piece strictly speaking, but a recording of a sound sculpture by Garnet Willis. His Clusterflux is a self-playing instrument that generates compositions in real time, based on various environmental constraints without the use of speakers. The recording here is a short excerpt of the instrument composing in real time, and is a superb metallic drone-based piece in the same league as contemporary ambient artists like Alio Die or Jonathan Coleclough.
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AllMusic Review by Caleb Deupree
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2