Futura ’09

Futura ’09 was the second Futura festival Asymmetry has been able to attend. It is a short festival, only a weekend, but it is jam-packed with electroacoustic goodness. The initial draw for me in ’09 was the chance to hear another Bokanowski piece live (Trois chambres d’inquietude) as well as Ferrari’s Danses organiques. I have recordings of these, of course. And while electroacoustic music does sound more natural on a home stereo than does music for acoustic instruments–being made to sound through loudspeakers, after all–it is still true that hearing electroacoustic music live is much better than hearing it at home.

The festival opened with a really interesting piece by Claude Hermitte, La mille et unième nuit. Although a piece of sudden starts and stops and of tiny sounds at the very edge of audibility, it somehow managed to create the effect of continuous activity. Considering the title of the piece, one can’t help but think of Sheherazade constantly thinking about stories, even when she wasn’t narrating an evening’s offering. How Hermitte managed to convey that musically, I have no idea, but convey it he did. (The effect of continuous activity, just by the way, was something I noticed in concert without paying any attention to the title. I only noticed that when preparing this report.)

Jean-Louis Dhermy’s Pauéphonê also did a fair amount of starting and stopping, and was also mostly quite soft. The one moment when the sound was loud (a kind of drumming on wooden tubes sound) was also the one moment when he used the rear speakers, too. Very simple. Very effective. In the preceding piece of that concert, Florent Clolautti’s A fleur de peau, there was a more subtle (disturbingly so) use of speakers–there were places where there were some swirly sounds, but they did not move around the speakers, something I expected given the nature of the sounds.

Two interesting and effective uses of multiple speakers.

And while there were a lot of nice other things on this first day, including another first live hearing for me–Chion’s 17 minute long Dix-sept minutes, the highlight of the day was Warhol Memory Disorder 11 by Otomo Yoshihide and Sachiko M. Slow, soft wind sounds and art gallery conversations interrupted by bursts of loud electronic mayhem. What fun!

Day two started off with some Dhomont, always welcome. Corps et âme. There was more Chion, On n’arrête pas les regret, the Bokanowski Trois chambres, and a piece by Vincent Laubeuf, Seuil terrítoires, that had a lot of resonant metal sounds, cymbals and kettle lids and the like, done like I’d never heard them done before. I was intrigued by how many pieces used metal sounds–I have noticed in other festivals other examples of dominant patterns (regardless of any theme for the show). My favorite was a year at Bourges where it seemed that every other piece featured an accordion in some way or other.

On n’arrête pas le regret

The piece I had most looked forward to hearing on the third day was Lo inefable by Maria Cristina Kasem, whose mentor Ricardo Mandolini had praised her highly to me the year before and whose solo violin piece, which she had played in Växjö some months before, had so wowed me. (Scroll down to the first video clip.) Fortunately, Kasem’s piece was in every way satisfying. It opens with the sound of air forced through an accordion. Once more. Exhale, inhale. Then some very soft singing comes in and then a low frequency rumble under that. As the rumble continues, the (singing) voice turns into breathing, and all the other elements return as well for a powerful and engaging ending for an engaging and powerful piece.

Futura ’09 was a very satisfying weekend on the whole. I just wish I could manage to get to this festival more often than once every three years.

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