In 2003, the small Italian label fringes, which had specialized in recordings of music on the farther edges of contemporary electro-acoustic improvisation, released the first disc on its archival sub-label: two earl- 70's performances by minimalist pioneer Eliane Radigue. It might seem an odd choice, but Radigue's steady-state, pulse and drone oriented works for synthesizer had cast a wider and wider influence over younger improvisers over the years, especially those concerned with the layering of extended tones and the unanticipated patterns that emerge. "Geelriandre," from 1972, created on the ARP synthesizer, begins with muffled bell tones nestled inside a drone that's just this side of harsh. Small sounds are added or removed over the piece's half-hour length, not through any strict system but rather intuitively, stressing the subtle placement of the notes within the drone-space, their sonic ripples the aural equivalent of pebbles tossed into a stream. At times, in its subtle complexity, the work comes very close to the sort of atmosphere generated by late AMM. It ends having, in one sense, traversed only scant territory; in another having opened huge vistas to explore. "Arthesis", performed the following year on a Moog synthesizer, largely dispenses with the personal flourishes and invests heavily in the essence of the drone itself, here a throbbing weave in which a given strand will occasionally rise to the surface and inevitably be subsumed, giving way to another. Choices are, of course, still being made by Radigue, but the overall effect is of experiencing some vast process of, for instance, leaning against the housing of an enormous generator, feeling its sounds and physical vibrations as one. It's ear-opening, invigorating music. Listeners who enjoy the work of practitioners such as Keith Rowe and Toshimaru Nakamura will be delighted at this possible antecedent.
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