Bernard Parmegiani - Stries [Mode Records - 2020]
Stries is a three-piece work for synthesizers and tape- it was originally composed back in the year 1980 by French electronic/ acousmatic composer Bernard Parmegiani. Here on Mode is a CD release of a 2016 recording of the work- and it certainly is some of the most panic-inducing, and anxiety racked modern compositions I’ve heard in some time.
The CD comes presented in an old school grey-backed jewel case- this features a six-page inlay booklet, taking in a lengthy write-up, discussing how the players went about bringing the work to the modern world, it's playing, and Parmegiani composition. On the booklets cover we get a nice moody black and white shot of the bearded Parmegiani with his arms crossed. On the CD’s back cover we get a shot of the wire busy electronics used to create the work. So, a nice simple, yet a moodily sleek bit of packaging.
Stries was composed by Bernard Parmegiani(1927−2013) in 1981. It’s a work in three parts based on the tapes of his work Violostries for violin & tape from 1963. The tape element is created completely from recordings of the violin which Parmegiani alters create at times extremely dense, often shifting and intense soundscaping. With the synth elements added, warped, and presented around it.
The three players on this 2016 recording are Ghent, Belgium based Colette Broeckaert-she teaches piano, experimental music and philosophy of music, and she is also a visual artist and co-founded ‘het balanseer’, a highly acclaimed Belgian publishing house for experimental literature. German-based pianist, performer and composer Sebastian Berweck. And Zurich based composer/ performer Martin Lorenz. Each player is credit with synthesizer, which of course is blended with the Violin tape elements.
The total work played here comes in at just shy of the forty-four-minute mark- with it split into three distinctive, though linked pieces. We open up with the nearing seventeen and a half minutes of “Strilento”, and this really starts the whole work in a most dissonating manner- as we find a blend of purring hoover, sudden jarring ‘n’ jangling key strikes, and meaty to mid-range darts. As it progresses we get modified string like scuttles ‘n’ neck fondles, cable taps ‘n’ crinkles and a rapidly shifting mix of high pitched picks, swoons, and scrubs. The track summons up such a feeling of nervous tension that's laced with unease thoughts- like a slowly building panic attack, put into sonic form.
Next up we have the seven and a half minutes of “Strio”- it opens with two slight different rising synth tones, which create a feeling of shadowy awe. As we move in high pitch sweeps come into play- spinning ‘n’ spiralling in a spacy, if at times slightly painful manner. Moving deeper into the track, we start to get more prolonged spins ‘n’ spirals of electro tone, and these are joined by more sustained and searing tone hovers.
Lastly, we have the longest track here the title track, and this slides in at the twenty-minute mark. It begins with a blend of brooding low-end climbs, rattling and twisting electro texturing, and woozy tone washes. As we move further in we get sudden intense dense swells of swarming wash and dart tone grain, and fiddling electro anxiety edged picks, where you can clearly make out the stretched/ modified violin elements. There are also hints of manic sort of computer made jazz composition coming into play too, as things start getting more and more shifting, angular and manically darting. Later one we get lulls with ringing and whistling tone shimmers, though things start to become more manic/ busy again. Also now the tolling and toning low end has a rather Tangerine Dream quality about them, which works wonderfully with the scuttles, simmering shifts, and angular electro washes.
Stries is my first taster of Bernard Parmegiani work- and I must say I was most impressed. The work presented here sits somewhere between rewarding and tense electro improv, shifting to manic modern composition, and a blend of modified string meets brooding-to-panic ridden synth scaping. If you fancy picking up a copy, please head to Mode here, where you can buy one directly from the source. Roger Batty