Eliane Radigue | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Eliane Radigue 

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An increasing number of musicians pander to the public's dwindling attention span, but there are still some folks who like to take their time. French electronic composer Eliane Radigue is one; if you want to get anything out of her work, you'll have to surrender yourself to it for more than an hour. During the 1950s Radigue studied with Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry--heavies of musique concrete and electroacoustic music--but she eventually broke rank. As she told the British music magazine the Wire, "The first time Pierre Henry listened to what I was doing, he was furious. He said I was gifted, and he had hoped I would be a faithful follower." Initially she created feedback with microphones, which she manipulated with tape playback loops and electronic editing. Since 1971 she's generated the raw materials for her pieces on the analog ARP synthesizer, but her primary tools remain the electronic filters and mixers with which she alters those basic sounds. Like minimalists La Monte Young and Phill Niblock, she's not much for action on a superficial level; nearly all her compositions take the shape of a warm, enveloping, and uninterrupted drone that almost imperceptibly changes shape over time. With each piece, Radigue subtly varies the density of the sound and frequencies of the oscillations. This is heavy-duty meditation material, though its industrial hum is also unsettling. A few months ago Table of the Elements released Adnos I-III, a remarkable trilogy of pieces composed during the 70s; in the midst of making this music Radigue discovered Tibetan Buddhism. As on the more recent three-disc opus Trilogie de la mort (XI, 1988), each section gives the illusion of stasis but takes its own distinctive, surprisingly detailed journey. In this rare appearance Radigue will perform a new piece called "L'ile re-sonante." Saturday, September 28, 10 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago; 312-666-0795 or 773-227-3617.

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