Monday, 13 May 2013

IPEM: Institute For Psychoacoustics And Electronic Music: 50 years of Electronic And Electroacoustic Music At The Ghent University (Metaphon)

Tape compositions, electronic sound layers, looped fragments and concrete sounds - Lucien Goethals described his first forays into electronic composition as 'journeys' and we too journey through 18 tracks on the two CDs accompanying this book. It's one hell of a trip. Mind-bending, you might say; a fantastic voyage into a body of work made at the Institute For Psychoacoustics And Electronic Music starting in 1962 and ending in 1999.

Record, filter, decelerate, reverse and distort; such treatments suggest both an anarchic and reverential approach to sound - the search for what sounds right in a sonic universe free from rules. When is a piece finished and where to start? Of the concrete elements, there's a mezzo-soprano messed up and fused with electronics on Boudewijn Buckinx's 'Simparolo', folk whistles and log drums married with a Synthi 100 on Stephen Montague's 'Slow dance on a burial ground', and a six-piece acoustic performance warped beyond recognition on Helmut Lachenmann's 'Scenario'. Excuse the cliché but the latter, from 1965, sounds like it could have been made yesterday by the best modern exponents of electronic music. 

If you want pre-Hauntology (oh, I'm sure you do), look no further than Louis de Meester's 'Incantations', an astounding piece previewed at the 1958 Brussels World Fair featuring a cut up reading of text by Isidore Isou. Isou wrote: 'Each poet will integrate everything into Everything', and this compilation demonstrates the art of musical integration superbly; disparate elements made whole by these 'poets' of the studio.

Available from Boomkat 


Composer Louis De Meester at work in IPEM's Technicum
studio (circa 1963).

Generator bank with sine wave oscillator group,
developed by Walter Landrieu.
The mechanics lab at IPEM's Muinkkaai space (1965–1970).
Composer Robin Heifetz on the piano at IPEM's Muinkkaai studio.


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