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Pousseur-Main-Jeck-Oval - 4 Parabolic Mixes

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Artist: Pousseur-Main-Jeck-Oval

Album: 4 Parabolic Mixes

Label: Sub Rosa

Review date: Oct. 6, 2003

The pulsing waves, static hissing, and hollow silence of electronic music always seems to act as a demilitarized zone of sorts in the eternal war between high art and low art. Acting as a point of departure from chords or melody, electronic music can take the listener to a place, as Lou Reed might say, between thought and ensuing expression. The four "composers" who contribute to 4 Parabolic Mixes not only show the limitless variations of sounds that are possible to any given piece of music, but also show how malleable the genre is in the hands of a given artist. Using Henri Pousseur's Parabolic Studies as "source material". Main, Philip Jeck, Oval and Pousseur himself provide new, live mixes to the original pieces.

Moving between the worlds of seemingly random repetition and subtle layering, "Second Parabolic Mix" recalls the work Robert Hampson did with Jim O'Rourke as Indicate. Ever, the reformed "rocker". Hampson incorporates his theory of drumless space into "Second Parabolic Mix", adding touches of both Main's glacier soundscapes and Loop's trance inducing bliss. Markus Popp (a.k.a. Oval) bases his "Fourth Parabolic Mix" around the simple rise and fall of synthesized drones surrounded by vast gaps of silence. Again, much like Hampson, Popp takes the raw materials of Pousseur's music and injects his on unique vision on to it. Popp liters his mix with fragments of sounds that sometimes rise out of nowhere to dissolve into an amalgam of sine waves, only to repeat the process again and slowly substitute with each revolution.

Like most composed electronic music the works found on 4 Parabolic Mixes required both an open mind and a fair amount of patience to appreciate. While not as abrasive as say Metal Machine Music or the Soundtrack to Eraserhead, 4 Parabolic Mixes fluctuates from soothing examinations of space to complete atonal surface noise.

The intentions of 4 Parabolic Mixes sometimes outweighs its practicality. With the mixes ranging from 27 to 34 minutes, listening to every one during one sitting is an undertaking. After 40 minutes or so, a person's ears could become deadened to the slight subtleties found on each work.

All four soundscapes are filled with great ideas and interesting techniques, but they sometimes get buried under the more cerebral leanings of each creator. Patience allows for the natural evolution to unfold, but self-indulgence, even when under the cloak of minimalism, puts a slight damper on what could be an interesting exercise.

Granted, all of this is just opinion anyway. At the end of listening to these recordings, it’s not about structure, length or theory. At its root, the music of 4 Parabolic Mixes and music concrete in general is about pure exploration for the sake of doing so. As an example of how far the imagination and sound can wander in unison, 4 Parabolic Mixes does the job.

By Paul Burress

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