Roger Doyle

Roger Doyle: Time Machine

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Little about the graphics on this release of music by Irish electronic composer Roger Doyle tells you what you're getting or suggests how pleasing the whole thing is. Time Machine is a collection of answering machine messages received by the composer in the late 1980s, with music added; the music involves a keyboard, electronic sounds, and manipulation of the messages themselves. Younger readers may require an explanation: an answering machine in the days prior to cellular telephony would record messages, often by means of a microcassette; presumably those were what Doyle rediscovered here. Some of the messages are mundane (congratulations from parents and friends, messages from the composer's young son); some are less so (expressions of support after the composer's hospitalization with asthma, a disturbing crank call, a sort of improvised poem from a friend). The text is slightly broken up electronically: it is generally intelligible, but the instrumental sounds are not "background music," they are polyphonically woven into the text. Doyle is adept in varying the mood to match the words, and in general it would be hard to find electronic compositions more approachable and varied than these. There are three non-texted compositions, and at the end, the technology is brought up to date with a setting of a modern voicemail, telling the composer that he had become a grandfather. Time Machine will certainly make you reflect on the impermanence of voicemail, and it's a great introduction to the composer known as the godfather of Irish electronic music.

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