Roger Doyle - Passades Volume 2 [BVHAAST - 2005]Just over a year after Roger Doyle released the first part of Passades, the promised second and concluding part arrives with not a little anticipation from yours truly. The slow motion grandeur of the first instalment was a mouth watering blend of electro-acoustics and computer manipulations that when listened to, seems to slow and stretch time allowing fresh, wild tones and textures to flow from the speakers. The second part follows along similar lines with some minor stylistic and materialistic shifts.
The album opens naturally with The Opening, a track that builds up ever so slowly over the first 90 seconds before disintegrating into waves of stretched and processed electronic and acoustic sound. Unlike the first sets there is a greater use of silence. The coalescing banks of granulated sound sometimes fall off into voids of pregnant pauses before sliding back into audible view. The human voice is never far away and it’s distinctive timbre imparts a human aspect which could have been lacking otherwise.
Frozen in Stereoscope is a special piece in that it is derived not from the Babel material from which most of the Passades are worked, but from Doyle’s masterpiece Rapid eye movements. This classic piece of Musique Concrete is given the same drawing out and stretching treatment as the other pieces but the wider range of field recordings and acoustic sounds create a palette of sound that is for me far more entrancing than some of the other Passades. The chords of a piano and children’s voices emerge from huge swaths of digital sound like angels flitting among clouds. At only eight and a half minutes it lacks the time to really build and assert itself like the original material (which was almost 30 minutes in length) but it is nevertheless an excellent revisiting of a classic work.
There are three Link/Separators spread across the disk, these short tracks ranging from 40 seconds to almost four minutes act as more dissonant breaks from the flow of the Passade sets. The first one is almost staccato in it compositional and is quite similar to some of the fast cut passages from Babel. Lots of disembodied voices and noisy elements. The second link is again noisier but this time has suggestions of a distant orchestra trying to fight it’s way through the squealing mass of digital screen and static. More use of silence and emphasis on bizarre effects make this more of a distraction than a genuine link to the music to come. Link/Separator 3 is even further removed from the other music. It is only 40 seconds long and consists of a few random glitches of voice mutated, glitched more and fragmented in between stabs of silence.
The two other Passades on the CD (the Sixth and Seventh set) are beautiful webs of sound draped over the lightest of acoustic and vocal backdrops. Alien sound, ambience from the third place if you like. They jump out at you more than the first few sets on Passades Vol 1 but have the feel of a more composed and orchestrated agenda. The themes and textures flow, rise and fall with more purpose and direction. Short passages of silence and variations in tone and mood are gratefully received.
The two other works included on the CD are The idea and it’s shadow and Virdissa. The former is a vocal narration about compositional theory in which the word of the narrator triggers a sampled piano. The sound of the Piano eventually crossfades over the voice of the narrator, and is joined by minimalist strings and some odd percussion before the voice falls back into the mix accompanied by the percussion. It’s an interesting trick but a trick is all it is.Duncan Simpson
Virdissa is a piece commissioned for Doyle’s performance art group Operating Theatre and is a three part suite of processed voices. Lasting almost 25 minutes you can kind of see that it’s purpose was more of a musical backdrop to the Passades show and it’s slow movement of voice and tone are a little dry on record without the excellent visuals that went with the show.
It’s a mixed bag and probably doesn’t reach the heights of the first volume but the Passades project as a whole is a rewarding and worthwhile venture that deserves all the exposure it can get.