Thursday, 1 May, 2008

Natasha Barrett - Isostasie (2002)

"Not so long ago, electronic music was the province of those lucky enough to be able to gain access into the squeaky clean labs of IRCAM or similar institutions, where large, impossibly expensive boxes festooned with dials and flashing lights awaited the bidding of the composer. Now that a similar level of wizardry is achievable with just the aid of a laptop, and contemporary electronica made in bedrooms all over the world enjoys cutting edge status, it's tempting to wonder what the point of 'classical' electronic music actually is. Records like this one may be the answer...

A graduate of Jonty Harrison's B.E.A.S.T. project, Natasha Barrett's approach is highly rigorous, borne of compositional rather than improvisational process. Though on paper her methods can seem a little dry, her music is possessed of an overtly sensual and often awesome power that rivals anything else you're likely to hear. Her 'acousmatic' techniques transform field recordings, percussion and voices into restless soundscapes that conjure up strange geographies buffetted by even stranger meteorological phenomena, cosmic forces on a massive scale or hallucinatory rainforests straight out of J.G Ballard.

Barrett's structural precision gives her pieces a strong sense of narrative as well as place. Tiny sonic fictions unravel throughout; footsteps recede over glassy, gong like tones. A door is opened, a cat enters, draws near, purrs and eats from a bowl seemingly placed in your left ear. You're dragged through dense undergrowth packed with insects, or sat in a dripping cave listening to distant machines devouring the landscape. But most of all it's her control of timbre that catches the ear again and again.

At times during the opening "Three Fictions" the immersion factor almost sent me into some deep alpha state, or the abstract sweep of millions of tiny oscillations produced such strange sensations in the small of my back I had to take my headphones off to catch my breath. One of Barrett's interests is in manipulating the listener's perception of time, and it's something she does with consummate ease.

Lush, disturbing and beautiful all at once, Isostasie at once connects with the rich and strange concoctions of classic musique concrete, coupled with a timeless quality lacking in the ephemeral world of contemporary electronica. Stunning."

by Peter Marsh, in BBC experimental review, January 2003

"A former student of Jonty Harrison and Denis Smalley — two important figures of the British electroacoustics school — Natasha Barrett integrates the approach of these two composers into a proposition which recalls both sound ecology and properly abstract composition. Isostasie is full of these poetic, disconcerting environments, impressionistic pictures of various formats, evocative of her country of adoption, Norway. In this CD, one will encounter various meteorological happenings, the midnight sun, Red Snow (a phenomenon due to the growth of algae or diatoms), as well as an ode to the forest, Viva la Selva!. Plenty of illustrations and impressions of the Norwegian landscape, postfaced with an «exploration of spatial musical structure» (The Utility of Space), all fabricated with utmost delicacy by a young composer with an attuned ear, of whom this is the third album already (following two self-produced CDs, Rocks & Wraiths and Chillies & Shells.)"

in electrocd website

Isostasie (empreintes DIGITALes | IMED 0262 | 2002)

Three Fictions (Northern Mix) (2000) 10'34''
1. In the Rain 3'51''
2. Midnight Sun: Midday Moon 3'35''
3. Outside Snow Falls 3'02''

Displaced:Replaced (2001)
4. Fog, light wind 2'46''

5. Red Snow (2001) 15'39''

Displaced : Replaced (2001)

6. Wet and gusty 1'42''

7. Viva la selva (1999) 17'28''

Displaced : Replaced (2001)

8. Gathering wind 2'50''

9. The Utility of Space (2000) 13'25''

10. Industrial Revelations (2001) 11'32''

total duration: 76'41'

link1 | link2@320

(note: track 8 is in the first folder for uploading space optimization)


Anonymous said...

no link2? :(

bravo juju said...

It's already there the link, the upload is finished!


Anonymous said...

boa, joy!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

superb recording. thank you JuJu for introducing it to me.

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