Arne Nordheim

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Dodeka Review

by Fran├žois Couture

The material on Dodeka comes from the same reels as Electric, released in 1998 by Rune Grammofon. Between 1968 and 1972, Arne Nordheim often traveled to Warsaw, where the studios of Polish radio were better equipped than their Norwegian counterparts. There, the composer experimented with electronics, but the 12 three-minute pieces on this CD never sound like experiments. They are ripe works, among the most graceful and urgent -- in short, the best -- from that period one is likely to hear. Sure, they sound crude, as any other "early electronic" piece, but they don't sound clumsy or arid. The tones are bright, even when drowned in their own reverb, and they move around with a freedom that makes you enjoy just lazily following them around, forgetting about how a piece is structured. Nordheim explores the whole sonic spectrum, from menacing low growls (the bass range on this CD is stunning) to high-pitched chirps. Each piece develops a well-defined idea or mood, but the first 11 of them all share the same raw components. Their combination and the effects and filters used change, giving each of them its own personality. The last track, "Summa," culls elements from each track to create a maximalist conclusion that is not completely convincing. Favorites include "Searching," "Crossroad," and the echo-drenched "Return."

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